Baikonur Cosmodrome: The Soviet Gateway to the Stars


On the remotest reaches of the Kazakh steppe
sits one of the few true Soviet success stories. Covering over 5,000 sq km, it exists as a
slice of Russia within modern Kazakhstan, a place that’s frozen in winter, and suffocated
by heat in summertime. Yet this unprepossessing place has a significance
that dwarfs almost anywhere else in the former Soviet Union. That’s because this place is Baikonur Cosmodrome,
the Soviet gateway to the stars. One of the world’s most iconic spaceports,
Baikonur first arose in the chilly depths of the Cold War as a place to test secret
long-range missiles. Under the watchful eye of its chief scientist,
Sergei Korolev, it blossomed into something more. It was from these launch pads that Sputnik
I made its historic flight; that Laika the dog began her journey to the stars. It was also at Baikonur that Yuri Gagarin
ushered in the Space Age, changing humanity’s destiny. In the video today, Geographics is stepping
both back in time… and out into the depths of space. The Missiles are Flying
In the middle of the 1950s, the USSR found itself with something of a problem. This wasn’t one of those bad problems like
only having one clean sock to wear. This was a good problem. A very good problem, at least from a geopolitical
view. The Soviet Union, you see, was just getting
too damn good at designing missiles. In the wake of WWII, the victorious powers
had all scrambled to get hold of Nazi V2 technology, recognizing this weapon could change the world. From 1946, the USSR had been testing missiles
from Kapustin Yar, near what is today Volgograd. But, by 1954, that nearness had become a huge
liability. Famed Soviet rocket scientist Sergei Pavlovich
Korolev was close to perfecting a long range missile, the first Intercontinental Ballistic
Missile – or ICBM – in world history. But testing such a weapon from Kapustin Yar
would likely result in both missile parts falling on populated areas, and the radio
operators on the ground losing contact with the rocket mid-flight. So Moscow decided Korolev needed a new site. A new place where he could test his toys for
the glory of the motherland. It was from this defensive necessity that
Baikonur Cosmodrome would be born. The search began on March 17, 1954. These were the dark times of the Cold War,
before the Khrushchev Thaw, and the Soviets were terrified the Americans might beat them
to an ICBM. After all, it was the US that had spirited
Nazi V2 scientists away, that had taken the lion’s share of Hitler’s superweapons. So more than just finding a new test site,
they needed to find one fast. Across 1954, sites were rejected: along the
Caspian Sea, up near Europe. Finally, a specialist pouring over an old
map hit the jackpot. Out in the vast emptiness of the Kazakh steppe
lay a remote railroad. The closest real settlement was over 320km
away, while a convenient branch of the rail line led to an abandoned mine. It was remote. Secretive. It seemed to good to be true. And, of course, it was. The area of steppe this anonymous official
had selected was as inhospitable as Mars. In winter, temperatures plunged to minus 40C. In summer, they hit plus 45C. There were duststorms. Blizzards. Plagues of rats that carried the actual Plague. But it was also the only place that could
be ready in a tight timeframe. In short, this was a case of: “in Soviet
Russia, missile test site choose you!” In January, 1955, the first survey team arrived. Legend has it one of them hammered an upturned
piece of railroad into the ground, its tip pointing to the stars. It was at this spot that Baikonur’s first
launchpad would be built. Finally, on June 2, 1955, it came. The orders were given to start building. And so it was that, on that very day, anonymous
builders toiling in the baking heat of the Kazakh summer broke first ground on what would
become humanity’s gateway to the universe. The Sky’s (No Longer) the Limit
Picture the worst vacation you’ve ever had. The one where everything went wrong and your
luggage was accidentally sent to Albania, while the hotel turned out to be cold and
filled with rats. Are you picturing it? Good, because that awful vacation of yours
was a non-stop, all-expenses paid party at the Ritz compared to what Baikonur’s builders
had to suffer. Given the nature of the project, the authorities
decided early on that experts were needed. This meant bringing the 217th detached engineering
battalion over from the Semipalatinsk nuclear test site. Also located on the Kazakh steppe, Semipalatinsk
was a health and safety nightmare, a place awash in radiation where overhead nuclear
tests were conducted without warning. Yet even those who’d worked in Semipalatinsk
found Baikonur hard to bear. When the 217th Battalion arrived in August,
1955, there was no infrastructure. Although 3,000 workers were already at Baikonur,
they were busy on the non-sensitive stuff. The 217th Battalion’s whole raison d’etre
was to build the sensitive parts. So they were driven two hours into the wilderness,
dumped on the plain, and told to get to work. The trucks that accompanied them then drove
away, having only given each man enough rations and water for one day. For the next few weeks, the 217th was forced
to sleep on the hard ground under the stars, in an area crawling with rats, never knowing
when – or if – the next truck might show up with more rations. Under those conditions, it’s a wonder they
didn’t all just start eating one another. Yet, bad as they had it, the 217th weren’t
alone in their misery. No structures were built to house workers
until early spring of 1956. Throughout the Kazakh winter of 1955 – when,
remember, temperatures could drop so low they’d give brass monkeys nightmares – Baikonur’s
builders slept in flimsy tents and did their business outside. Despite this, slowly, and surely, Baikonur
began to grow. Not that it was actually known as Baikonur
at this point. Officially, the new test site was nameless. Unofficially, it was referred to as Tyuratam,
after the nearby branch in the railroad. But since everyone today knows it as Baikonur,
we’re just gonna use that name throughout the video to avoid confusion. So, now you know. By early 1957, the site had gotten so big
that word had leaked to the Americans that there was a new missile facility under construction. Over the next few months, U2 spyplanes hummed
over the empty steppe, desperately trying to photograph the Soviets’ secret new project. Finally, in August, an ariel photo of Baikonur
landed on Eisenhower’s desk. Using old Nazi maps of the USSR, the CIA was
able to pinpoint the complex’s location. But by then, it was too late. On August 21, Baikonur announced itself to
the world in spectacular fashion. While building work had been going on, chief
scientist Sergei Pavlovich Korolev had finished his design for an ICBM. That hot day, he launched his prototype from
Baikonur, sending it streaking across the pale blue skies; a glowing dot capable of
bringing untold destruction. The R-7 flew nearly 6,500km, from its launchpad
on the steppe, all the way to the remote Kamchatka peninsula. It was the first successful ICBM launch in
history, a full 15 months before the Americans would launch their own. But brilliant as Sergei Korolev was, he wasn’t
interested in simply building missiles. No, he was a man with a plan. One that would go far beyond the confines
of the Earth. Satellite of Love
OK, we’re gonna step back in time now. Away from Baikonur’s missile tests, away
from Kazakhstan, all the way back to 1907, to a small city to the west of Kiev in Ukraine. It was here, one freezing January night, that
Sergei Korolev was born. Since the early story of Baikonur is as much
the story of Korolev’s genius as it is of the cosmodrome, it’s worth us getting to
know him. To understand just how truly unconventional
his life was. As a teenager, Korolev was obsessed with aeronautics. As his country fell to civil war in the 1920s,
he designed aircraft. When the dust settled on the civil war, he
took that passion all the way to university in Moscow. Like many in those early days, Korolev was
a true believer in the Soviet system. He held onto that belief even as Stalin rose
to power. As brutality became commonplace. At first, this belief rewarded Korolev well. He graduated and became a Soviet rocket designer. But not even loyalty was enough to save him. On June 27, 1938, at the height of the Great
Purge, four men broke into Korolev’s apartment. They tied him to a chair, beat him senseless. Korolev’s teeth were knocked out, his jaw
shattered when they smashed a glass jug across his face. At the end of it all, Korolev was made to
sign a confession. Then he was dragged away to Siberia, to the
Gulag. In the years of punishment that followed,
Korolev never would find out what his crime was. In Siberia, the Gulag broke the tall, heavyset
scientist. Reduced him from a man into a wounded animal,
barely clinging to survival. That Korolev survived at all is thanks to
Adolf Hitler. In mid-1945, just as Korolev’s body was
on the verge of giving out, he was abruptly released. Not only that, he was made a colonel in the
Red Army and sent to Germany. It wasn’t until he reached Berlin that Korolev
understood. At a secret site, he was given access to V2
parts the Soviets had captured. Faced with such sophisticated tech falling
into American hands, Moscow had decided it needed all its best rocket scientists back. Luckily for Moscow, no rocket scientist was
better than Sergei Korolev. From 1945 to 1957, Korolev toiled away, unlocking
the secrets of the V2. Building on it. Expanding its reach. Finally, on August 21, 1957, his R-7 ICBM
was sent up from Baikonur, proving Soviet supremacy. But, by now, Korolev had developed bigger
plans. Still intensely loyal to the Soviet system
despite his years in the Gulag, Korolev followed up his R-7 launch by immediately getting to
work on a different type of payload. A payload that was about the size of a beachball,
with four long, thin antennas sticking out like spindly limbs. Korolev christened this payload Sputnik I. At 7:28pm on October 4, 1957 – mere weeks
after the successful R-7 launch – Baikonur cosmodrome shook with an almighty rumble as
the rocket carrying little Sputnik blasted off into the skies. By just after 9pm that evening, Korolev’s
creation had made a full orbit of the Earth, the first manmade satellite to ever do so. With the launch, Baikonur had just fired the
starting gun on the Space Race, on the obsession that would drive the US and USSR for the next
fifteen years. And if you think Sputnik is impressive, just
wait till you see what Korolev does next. The Madman and the Eagle
The early days of Baikonur under Korolev often sound like a collection of firsts. First #1. November 3, 1957: a stray dog named Laika
becomes the first animal to orbit the Earth. First #2. September 14, 1959: the probe, Luna 2, becomes
the first manmade object on the Moon, after it crashes into the Sea of Serenity. First #3. August 19, 1960: two dogs, Belka and Strelka,
become the first animals to orbit the Earth and – unlike poor Laika – return alive. Not that everything went swimmingly. It was under Korolev in 1960 that the Nedelin
Catastrophe also took place, when an ICBM exploded on the launchpad, killing up to 150
of Baikonur’s staff. Yet such setbacks didn’t stop Korolev from
soon hitting the greatest first in scientific history. In October, 1959, teams seconded to Baikonur
fanned out across the USSR, visiting air bases, subjecting pilots to a series of tests. These tests were so rigorous, so damn difficult
that only 20 pilots passed them. Of those 20, only two made it to the final
stage. One of them, Gherman Titov, was the educated,
poetry-quoting son of a teacher. The other was a former peasant from the sticks
with a hardscrabble background. His name? Yuri Gagarin. But Korolev would come to know him as “my
little eagle”. By April, 1961, it was clear one of these
two men would be first into space. But which one? They were both excellent pilots. Both in excellent physical health. But Gagarin had something Titov didn’t. A powerful backer, working behind the scenes. At that time, the premier of the Soviet Union
was Nikita Khrushchev, himself from poor, peasant stock. So when Korolev mentioned that he was down
to choosing either a middle class boy or kid from a peasant family to go into space, Khrushchev
immediately started pressuring for the peasant boy. And that was how, on the morning of April
12, 1961, Yuri Gagarin found himself strapped into a Soyuz rocket at Baikonur, waiting to
make history. Inside the control room, there was silence. There was no countdown, which Korolev thought
was a dumb, American affectation. At 09:06am, the chief science officer pressed
the ignition key. There was a rumble, the rocket started to
shake, and then nothing but Gagarin, wildly yelling “Poyekhali!”, or “let’s roll!”. 11 minutes later, at 09:17am, Yuri Gagarin
became the first human being to reach space. For over an hour, Gagarin circled above the
Earth, seeing things no-one had ever seen before, and only a handful have seen since. “I can see clouds. I can see everything. It’s beautiful,” he said. Controlled by Korolev back in Kazakhstan,
he circled the Earth as Radio Moscow broadcast news of Baikonur’s triumph, as people took
to the streets to cheer. Finally, at 10:20am, Korolev pressed a button,
and Earth’s first-ever spaceman returned home. Gagarin landed outside the village of Smelovka
just before 11am. According to Gagarin, as he approached the
ground, he saw a village girl and her mother watching him in awe. “I began to wave my arms and yell. I said I was a Soviet and had come from space.” The woman and girl weren’t the only ones
awestruck that day. Across Europe, across the Americas, as news
broke of Gagarin’s flight, people looked to the skies and felt the faintest tingle
of awe. Newspapers from across the world contacted
Moscow, desperate to know where Gagarin had flown from. To cover up the cosmodrome’s true location,
some anonymous official instead supplied them with the name of a town over 320km away: Baikonur. Barely a month later, JFK pledged to put a
man on the Moon. But the initiative seemed to be with the Soviets,
seemed to be with Communism. Until, suddenly, it wasn’t. In January, 1966, Korolev collapsed, having
never recovered from the injuries he sustained in the Gulag. When he was rushed to hospital, doctors tried
to run an oxygen tube directly into his lungs. But Korolev’s jaw was so badly malformed
from his interrogation in 1938 that it proved impossible. Korolev died that day, taking Baikonur’s
dreams of greatness with him. Just two years later, Gagarin was dead too
– killed in an aircrash. Shorn of its leading lights, Baikonur faded. In summer, 1969, just weeks before Neil Armstrong
set foot on the Moon, Baikonur tried to test launch the Soviet lunar rocket, N1. Instead, the rocket exploded on the launchpad,
causing untold damage. It was a symbol of the way the Space Race
had changed with Korolev’s passing. Never again would the Soviets be dominant. Never again would Baikonur be the world’s
gateway to the stars. Or would it? As we’re going to see, reports of the cosmodrome’s
death were greatly exaggerated. Magic and Ritual
After Korolev died, Baikonur didn’t exactly fall into disuse. It continued to send cosmonauts into space,
including hitting a small number of firsts: from the first woman in space, to the first
spacewalk, to the first rover on another celestial body. In 1978, the Soviets even signed an agreement
with a dozen other countries to send astronauts from all over the world into orbit. Over the hundreds of missions that followed,
a strange belief system began to grow up around the launches. A set of rituals hovering somewhere between
tradition and religion. Let’s take a little look at them, shall
we? The first thing you need to know about flights
from Baikonur over the last few decades is that they’ve all run like clockwork. At precisely 7am, the Soyuz rocket is always
drawn out of its hanger. Weirdly, the vehicle that does the towing
only has one functioning headlight. No-one really knows why, except it’s meant
to bring good luck. And, when you’re sat atop a gigantic bomb
aimed at the inky depths of space, good luck is something you’ll definitely be needing. After the Soyuz takes its place on the launchpad,
it’s blessed by Russian Orthodox priests, who sprinkle it with holy water. They then step back and wait for the cosmonauts,
at which point the rituals get really weird. The night before any flight, anyone taking
off from Baikonur is expected to stay in the same hotel, where they all watch the 1969
Soviet comedy-musical western White Sun of the Desert. We’ve only seen clips from this movie on
YouTube, but it looks like what you’d get if you mixed Monty Python with a box of your
grandpa’s old Hustler magazines and topped it off with a sprinkling of Das Kapital. Utterly bizarre in other words. Marxy Python movie over, the cosmonauts then
all sign their names on their hotel room doors in black sharpie pen. Come morning, a bus takes the riders to the
recently-blessed Soyuz… but not all the way. First, it must stop en-route so the male cosmonauts
can urinate against the back wheels. Supposedly, this is something Gagarin did
before his legendary flight, and no-one wants to break the tradition. When the now urine-soaked bus finally drops
them at the launchpad, a group of Kazakh cheerleaders waving gold pompoms welcomes everyone off
the bus. They then walk through a tree-lined avenue
to where their rocket awaits. Incidentally, this avenue is another ritual. Everyone cosmonaut who flies from Baikonur
is asked to plant a tree before they go. Finally, as the crew sits in their capsule,
ready for lift off, ground control plays them a mixtape of four songs; traditionally Russian
love songs, although things like Elton John’s Rocketman have been known to sneak in. This done, the rituals are finally complete. Assured they will return safely, the cosmonauts
then lift off for the stars. The thing is… the rituals kinda do work. In all its history, Baikonur has only suffered
a handful of cosmonaut fatalities (if you exclude the Nedelin Catastrophe, which was
a faulty missile). Its safety record on the launchpad is one
of the best in the entire world. If that requires urinating on a bus and planting
a tree to maintain, then so be it. But don’t go thinking this is just something
the crazy Soviets did. Everyone, from Russians, to Japanese, to Americans
are expected to partake in these rituals when flying out of Baikonur. How did Americans come to be flying out of
a Soviet cosmodrome, we hear you cry? We’re glad you asked. The Gateway Closes
The end nearly came to Baikonur in 1991. That year, the Soviet Union unceremoniously
collapsed, leaving 15 brand new states blinking in the harsh daylight. The collapse actually happened halfway through
a Soviet mission to the Mir space station. Cosmonaut Sergei Krikalev became trapped up
there for nearly a year when the USSR’s dissolution left him with no return ticket. But Krikalev wasn’t the only one jeopardized
by the sudden geopolitical shift. Baikonur was almost destroyed by the collapse,
too. On December 16, 1991, Kazakhstan became the
last of the Soviet Republics to declare independence, taking the cosmodrome with it. Although Russia and Kazakhstan urgently signed
a joint agreement to keep cooperating on Baikonur that same month, practical problems soon got
in the way. At the time of Kazakhstan’s independence,
only a third of Baikonur’s workforce was Kazakh. This created widespread resentment when the
chaos of the post-Soviet years led to food and fuel shortages. In 1992, there were riots at Baikonur. The following year, 1993, there was serious
unrest. At the same time, a lack of resources meant
parts of the ailing cosmodrome were lost to anything from wear and tear to fires that
may have been started deliberately. For a short time, it looked like Baikonur
might become yet another post-Communist tragedy. Something else swallowed in the flames of
the economic shock therapy applied to the region. Luckily, help came just in time. In 1994, NASA began diverting money to Biakonur
to help with upkeep. The worst problems dealt with, Moscow and
Almaty came to an agreement on the cosmodrome’s future that same year. For a cost of $115 million annually, Russia
would rent Baikonur until 2050. Until that time, both would work to maintain
it. And they would invite the entire world to
fly from there. The first American to take off from Baikonur
was Norman Thagard, in 1995. Although he was the first – likely intended
as a goodwill gesture from Washington towards future scientific cooperation – he wasn’t
the last. Over the next few years, several Americans
flew out of Baikonur, their numbers increasing as the International Space Station took shape. It briefly looked like Baikonur might have
found its groove at last, as a second tier space port, behind those operated by NASA. But then events conspired to take it right
back to the very top. In 2011, NASA retired the shuttle service,
stating that the agency would transition to using commercial services. With the shuttle gone, Baikonur and its Soyuz
rockets were suddenly the only major gateway humanity had left to the stars. Since then, Baikonur has remained just that:
our best portal to space, the place all cosmonauts and astronauts have to go to if they’re
serious about leaving the Earth. Oh, it’s not the only one. China’s manned space program has been growing,
and Beijing operates its own launch sites. But, for most potential spacemen, Baikonur
is the place to go. At least, for now. At time of this video’s writing, space travel
appears to be on the cusp of change. In the US, SpaceX could be launching manned
missions from American soil within months, ending Washington’s reliance on Baikonur. In Russia, construction of a new cosmodrome
near the Chinese boarder is underway, one which will take most Russian traffic from
the early 2020s. When both those things come to pass, Baikonur
may suddenly find it is no longer so important. But all that is still to come
For now, this monument of Soviet engineering in the bleak grasslands of Kazakhstan’s
steppe remains the best there is, an icon from the past that’s still leading us into
the future. Baikonur may have begun life as a weapons
testing range, a place where machines were designed that could end human lives. But, thanks to the genius of one man, it became
something so much more. It became the place from where we humans took
our first baby steps out into the Cosmos. All that exploration that lies in our future
– the first human on Mars, the first robot probe to the surface of Jupiter’s moons
– all of it began here, with one man’s extraordinary vision. It’s usefulness may be coming to an end,
but Baikonur’s influence will be felt for centuries
to come.

100 Comments

  1. Garbagebandit DayZ said:

    I’d just like you guys to know that every time I watch your videos I eat Raviolis and drink a can of Coke

    February 9, 2020
    Reply
  2. Ted Smart said:

    23:32 Fact: SpaceX is 4 years late in putting a person in orbit and is likely another 4 years away from making it happen.

    February 9, 2020
    Reply
  3. Vincent Frisina said:

    That green reflection in his glasses is almost all I can even see.

    February 9, 2020
    Reply
  4. benracer said:

    For all you destiny heads too

    February 9, 2020
    Reply
  5. tsartomato said:

    korolev korolyov
    and that's why people have to stop arguing for removing umlaut from ё in russian

    February 9, 2020
    Reply
  6. TheDoug2103 said:

    THERE IS NO "GATEWAY TO THE STARS" !!! WE ARE NOT GOING TO ANY FREAKIN STARS !!! MAN WENT TO THE MOON AND STOPPED BECAUSE PEOPLE GOT BORED WITH IT, THEN NASA SAT WITH THEIR THUMB UP THEIR ASS IN ORBITDRAGGING SHIT OUT AS LONG AS THEY COULD SO THAT THEY COULD GET ENTIRE CARREERS SPENT LITTERALLY GOING IN CIRCLES. I WAS OBSESSED WITH APOLLO BUT MANNED SPACE FLIGHT HAS LET US DOWN SO BADLY THAT I SAY JUST STOP SPENDING THE MONEY.

    February 9, 2020
    Reply
  7. tsartomato said:

    and now russian rockets crush into sky's solids because patriarch didn't bless them enough with holy water +4

    February 9, 2020
    Reply
  8. tsartomato said:

    white sun is drama eastern

    there is some comic relief but it's pretty everyone dies by the end

    February 9, 2020
    Reply
  9. tsartomato said:

    there are no cheerleaders or golden pom poms in CIS countries

    February 9, 2020
    Reply
  10. ezzz9 said:

    It's only a fool that belives a ritual has power. In this case, they just build better rockets we know this. This is why space x bought 6 rocket engines from the Russians. It was not to use them but to reverse engineer them.

    February 9, 2020
    Reply
  11. Paul Gracey said:

    I have to assume that a complimentary contemporary history of the U.S. space program is in the works. From being a space enthusiast from the late1940s of my childhood to today, I can compare the similar line of government fiats that determined our U.S. search for launch sites, and the similar commonality with our earliest nuclear test locations. Trinity site is not too far from Holloman near Alamogordo NM, and the White Sands Missile Range that was soon out grown like Kaputin Yar. Indeed apparently a V-2 test was set up wrong there once, and the missile ended up in Mexico. Once the V-2 was mated with an American made upper stage, and Wallops Island VA was declared also unsuitable it became necessary to set up shop in the alligator infested swamplands in Florida.

    Looking forward to your take on this bit of history.

    February 9, 2020
    Reply
  12. tackytrooper said:

    The irony of a bearded man advertising Dollar Shave Club is not lost on me.

    February 9, 2020
    Reply
  13. Jere Lull said:

    Here's the ONE area where Russia, the USSR beat the US: Maintaining a functional space program after the Moon race. I'd rather be lofted by the Saturn V than the current Soviet heavy-lifter, but they don't know how to build the V's anymore. NOW, If I had to get it up, I'd rather use Virgin Galactic, where most of the heavy lifting is done by the white knight, a truly full-reusable airplane, and the rocket part not so damned big and complex.

    February 9, 2020
    Reply
  14. Darkess343 said:

    if that requires urinating on a bus and planting a tree to maintain then
    "SO-VI-ET" ba dum tssss…

    February 9, 2020
    Reply
  15. G. A. Molnar said:

    3:53
    😂❤️

    February 9, 2020
    Reply
  16. Anhedonian Epiphany said:

    So, how were female cosmonauts/astronauts supposed to go about pissing on the wheels of the bus?!? Perhaps no women flew after the ritual was instigated, though I find that difficult to believe (and I can't be bothered checking).

    February 9, 2020
    Reply
  17. P Maitra said:

    @13:45, When Khrushchëv heard the name German Titov, he asked, “Why is his name German? Is he German?” It was the decision of the Soviet authorities, and not Khrushchëv’s alone, that the first Soviet cosmonaut (first man in space worldwide) couldn’t have the name German, as it might start speculation that he was from an early German settler family, ergo, German Titov was rejected, and Yuri Gagarin was chosen.

    February 10, 2020
    Reply
  18. David Hughes said:

    My favorite episode yet. Simon is the best narrarator on you tube. Do more videos about the soviet union please.

    February 10, 2020
    Reply
  19. GenuineBronxite said:

    Sergei Korolev needs a Biographics video!

    February 10, 2020
    Reply
  20. Lick said:

    1:20 Heavy lemmino vibes out here

    February 10, 2020
    Reply
  21. Vikingdescendent said:

    18:01 mark is the N-1.

    February 10, 2020
    Reply
  22. Mark Plain said:

    Baikonur was also chosen as it is one of the most Southern points of the Soviet Union. The closer one launches a rocket to the Equator the more "free load" you can carry into orbit. Hence the Baikonur's location us a geographic requirement.

    February 10, 2020
    Reply
  23. Mark Plain said:

    Titov was a Ukrainian and Gagarin was Russian. Need I say more.

    February 10, 2020
    Reply
  24. Life in the 413 said:

    "If that requires urinating on a bus and planting a tree to maintain then Soviet."

    February 10, 2020
    Reply
  25. John Daniel Esguerra said:

    Wasn't Valentin Glushko, whom traitored Korolev?

    February 10, 2020
    Reply
  26. vikingboy9090 said:

    yall remember this black ops mission?

    February 10, 2020
    Reply
  27. Martin Wilson said:

    How about Crimea? That’s an important Slavic location with history today.

    February 10, 2020
    Reply
  28. KingLev5150 said:

    I've been listening to you not to long after you started the TIFO podcast. For every major part of my later life, your voice is in the background lol. Thanks for the years & years of content

    February 10, 2020
    Reply
  29. Jason King said:

    LOL nice segway to the sponsor LOLOLOLOL

    February 10, 2020
    Reply
  30. Brian Smith said:

    you mention Cannibalism a lot in your videos. Why is that?

    February 10, 2020
    Reply
  31. Ynse Schaap said:

    Experts were needed……you don't say

    February 10, 2020
    Reply
  32. Alter Schwede said:

    No way to the stars within 10000 years. Idiot

    February 10, 2020
    Reply
  33. Allen Hamilton said:

    I want to hear about George Soros, Simon. His activities during WWII and what he's done since then. Let's explore all his activities. I know I won't get any truth on this matter from you. You're a tool, Simon. None the less, it should be entertaining. You are always entertaining on matters that do not pertain to current issues. I'll even subscribe to you for a short time in order to hear what you have to say.

    February 10, 2020
    Reply
  34. Эдик Левин said:

    This video is a terribly clueless story. Space is one of the few successes of the USSR? Victory over Nazi Germany and Japan are the greatest military victories in history. Those rights that you have at work, such as sick leave, paid holidays, bonuses, first appeared in the USSR, and in the West they appeared only because your presidents and Prime Ministers, felt that the smell of fried and made concessions for their workers. Further, the creation of the first peaceful nuclear reactor belongs to the USSR. Sport in the USSR was the best in the world. Half of the Olympic gold was taken home by Soviet athletes. Despite all the engagement, a very large number of Nobel prizes were awarded to Soviet scientists. And 50 thousand factories were built during the Soviet period. This concerns the success of the Soviet Union. Next, what is this nonsense about cannibalism? Is this bald guy really sick? Maybe you in the West call for eating the dead and children. But we, in civilized Russia at all times, did not even dare to talk about it. And even joking about it was the worst tone. No one left the builders to their fate. I was on Baikonur, unlike the author of the video and there are no rats anywhere. Only horses, camels, ground squirrels and jerboas. A terrible photo of Gagarin. Where he only found one. And Gagarin flew into space not because of his origin, but because he was the only fully trained pilot for this first flight. Titov was not fully prepared and was therefore a budler. What is this disgusting description Of the white sun of the Desert? Did you even watch it bald? What Monty Python? Are you sick? This is a film about the Civil War in Russia. About the fight against bandits, about loyalty to the Motherland and life trials. Stupid humor about funny gaits and jumping out of Windows is not here at all. And your American stupid assholes are delivered to space only thanks to Soviet and Russian technologies. Your " soon-soon drug addict Musk will take us to space is already causing laughter." Okay, in 15 years, we may be taking you to the moon for a housewarming party at our new Russian Lunar base.

    February 10, 2020
    Reply
  35. Александр Гашило said:

    The spacecraft on which Yuri Gagarin first flew into space was called not the Souz, but the Vostok 1
    "Souz" mean Union
    "Vostok" mean East

    February 10, 2020
    Reply
  36. Александр Гашило said:

    The film "White Sun of the Desert" is rather a western genre.

    February 10, 2020
    Reply
  37. satchell78 said:

    How many channels do you need? I've already blocked one

    February 10, 2020
    Reply
  38. Rob B said:

    Anyone struck by the similarity of Gagarin in the photo and Armstrong?

    February 10, 2020
    Reply
  39. dave manning said:

    Gateway to the stars maybe, but not the moon !

    February 10, 2020
    Reply
  40. Jamie-Sue Ferrell said:

    Love the Yaakov Smirnoff reference

    February 10, 2020
    Reply
  41. A J said:

    Any fellow Kazakhs here? 🇰🇿🇰🇿🇰🇿

    February 10, 2020
    Reply
  42. alpaccaa said:

    "the only major gateway…" what about french guiana and esa? 😮

    February 10, 2020
    Reply
  43. Guðmundur Ingi Guðmundsson said:

    Oops..
    Ehh.
    I find my self half undressed in a silly position in an ill lit strange room that is these days.. my own and! I FIND MY self.. realizing I have never ever given the slightest hint of a anything in my brain ever regarding the what should by all probabilty definately have been but was not. Kind of a Hitchhiker's Guide vibe going on here wtf is this. I'm still but now laying trousers and the rest of the wardrobe at knee level and anything might be just a few feet away behind that wall..

    But anywho I find it [email protected] that I haven never given even one jot of regard to how the people who were watching our hero a delightful one at that and what he said to the babes.. Bill and Ted said it best. Yuri Gagarin our hero was.. celebrated by people.. yes.. duh.. but… and about then I 'accidentally; if I was to lie.. hit a comment section… why are we allowed 24 7 .. cuz we dont regard it normal yet to get help limiting outmr expoosure and.. stuff.. these … things section on a brick in my room.. wtf is that too. Two wtfs in one boom. Love 🎩👍🦋

    February 10, 2020
    Reply
  44. GhostDogg o said:

    You have a beard and promote razors, it's like a legless man selling boots

    February 10, 2020
    Reply
  45. William R. Porter said:

    Sorry Simon but Sergei Pavlovich Korolev had nothing to do with the Nedelin catastrophe that costume party belonged to rival design bureau leaders Mikhail Yangel , Valentin Glushko. They used storable missile used a hypergolic bipropellant combination of unsymmetrical dimethylhydrazine like the Titan II but very very explosive . Sergie Korolov like good old Kerosene and liquid oxigen. So don't paint him that debacle.

    February 10, 2020
    Reply
  46. William R. Porter said:

    A friend of mind as part of a launch and tour group got to go in the flame trench and scrounch for stuff. I got a big washer.

    February 10, 2020
    Reply
  47. Mozzy Cloudflare said:

    jokes on you i havent been on a vacation!

    February 10, 2020
    Reply
  48. kill dozer said:

    Its a bummer Korolev died when he did. lost a smart guy.

    February 10, 2020
    Reply
  49. Tamburello_1994 said:

    Could have stuck with Tyuratam as that's how referred to back in my SAC days.

    February 10, 2020
    Reply
  50. M92Brigadier said:

    The White Sun of the Desert is absolutely nothing like Monty Python… it's a wonderful movie.

    February 10, 2020
    Reply
  51. Paul Schaefer said:

    Simon could definately be a renown college professor.

    February 10, 2020
    Reply
  52. Christian Meier said:

    you forgot to mention the Buran Shuttle….

    February 10, 2020
    Reply
  53. tankninja1 said:

    I think you meant to say So-vi-et

    February 10, 2020
    Reply
  54. Caroline Shelsher said:

    What about Vladimir Ilyushin ?

    February 10, 2020
    Reply
  55. Matt Clare said:

    Great video. Surprised the N-1's July 1969 explosion (one of the largest in human history) was not mentioned.

    February 10, 2020
    Reply
  56. Mylum O'Shinn said:

    The Russians called, Simon and they are wondering why you are picking on them so much LOL

    February 10, 2020
    Reply
  57. Doc Huard said:

    What about Vladimir Ilyushin, son of Soviet airplane designer Sergey Ilyushin, who is alleged by many to have actually been the first man in space on April 7, 1961

    February 10, 2020
    Reply
  58. Rick C said:

    Dollar Shave Club: it ain't rocket science.

    February 10, 2020
    Reply
  59. dvwegner said:

    You should do a biographics on the R-7/Soyuz rocket. One design, with progressive modifications leading to the current version that is still used to transport people to/from the ISS. It's not a person, but it does have a lengthy and important role in history.

    February 10, 2020
    Reply
  60. Alex Crouse said:

    The silly traditions are extremely effective at raising spirits and easing the nerves. Calm cosmonauts live longer.

    February 10, 2020
    Reply
  61. Alexander Snellman said:

    19:10 I guess you could say yurinate

    February 10, 2020
    Reply
  62. Sail Pat said:

    "In Soviet Russia, missle choose you" – Simon Whistler, Feb. 2020

    February 10, 2020
    Reply
  63. Mr Sporty said:

    USSR

    February 10, 2020
    Reply
  64. Fred Krazé said:

    Seriously, every time i hear "it gets down to -40c" i laugh and remember my time living on the Canadian parries.
    Entire weeks of -40 weather and ide walk out to the end of our stupid long drive way to wait for the school bus, they only ever canceled buses if it hit -44 where their engines just wouldn't start, or if there was way too much snow, which was way more rare than a freeze day.
    And once got stranded on the farm for 3 days because none of our vehicles could start.

    February 10, 2020
    Reply
  65. Kevin Rice said:

    Would be nice to have a link to the movie title, and pics of the hotel where they stay. I've been in post-soviet hotels and it's a decorating style that's fun to witness.

    February 10, 2020
    Reply
  66. Rob Anybody said:

    Please do an episode on Poveglia, an island constructed on battlements near Venice in the late 18th century to quarantine plague sufferers.

    February 10, 2020
    Reply
  67. kasey mattingly said:

    This was a mission in Call Of Duty BlackOps right?

    February 11, 2020
    Reply
  68. mxt mxt said:

    The Russians will launch a whole new family of rockets at Baikonur starting 2025.

    February 11, 2020
    Reply
  69. Ебурдей Гордеич said:

    Holly shit. A half of an our video about Soviet asset from popular American blogger almost without a word of angry USSR, child eating regime and billions of dead. Applause! Looks like Soviets had something except of rocket weapon for destroying civil planes, right? So, good!

    February 11, 2020
    Reply
  70. DUBSTEPandKUSH said:

    -40 degrees and plus 45 degrees. How is that inhospitable? That's your average Canadian year

    February 11, 2020
    Reply
  71. David Roberts said:

    Yuri Gagarin looks a little like Pete Buttigieg. Let's launch Pete in his honor.

    February 11, 2020
    Reply
  72. DR. PHIL GOOD said:

    DOLLAR SHAVE CLUB ONLY $5.00 LMAO

    February 11, 2020
    Reply
  73. huh wtf said:

    all fictional with nasty attacks Russophobia

    February 11, 2020
    Reply
  74. Nihal Kenkre said:

    Kazakhstan….hmm

    February 11, 2020
    Reply
  75. yetisuncle said:

    but you forgot the most important ritual of them all…. the one where they kick the boarding cosmo/astronauts in the ass as they walk up the stairs to the lift. look into it, its been going on for decades, and i cant figure out why it got started. ive come up with a theory that it had something to do with a pessimistic cosmonaut that just needed a little "encouragement" and thru the years its turned into a symbolic kick in the pants. whereas i imagine the root of the ritual involved a much more realistic kick in the ass. look into it and see if you can put my silly theory to rest.

    February 11, 2020
    Reply
  76. Andy Fahey said:

    Promotes Dollar Shave Club and has s full beard. He really believes in the product.

    February 11, 2020
    Reply
  77. theVulcanGuy said:

    So Baikonur is actually crewed by the adeptus mechanicus… I wonder where they keep the holy oils.

    February 11, 2020
    Reply
  78. Luai Almarzouq said:

    please do "Saudi Arabia"

    February 11, 2020
    Reply
  79. John Straube said:

    Good episode… but I would have expected a channel named geographics to have, like, maps, showing the location within Kazakistan, perhaps the flight path of the many ICBM test flights out of Baikonur, and even Garagarins landing

    February 11, 2020
    Reply
  80. Geographics said:

    Thank you Dollar Shave Club for making this one possible! Get Dollar Shave Club here! http://dollarshaveclub.com/geographics

    February 11, 2020
    Reply
  81. Larry Trail said:

    Q: why would a guy with a full beard advertise Dollar shave Club unless he's shaving,,,,ah,,,,something else?

    February 11, 2020
    Reply
  82. Karel Novotny said:

    Before speaking too fast, please double check your facts. With the rituals, you are almost completely wrong. Thank you for the video . thumbs up

    February 11, 2020
    Reply
  83. Huey Iroquois said:

    5:20 They didn't need rations. They had plenty of rats to eat. The marvels of socialism.

    February 11, 2020
    Reply
  84. Mihail Kondov said:

    Krushchev backed Gagarin not because he particularly liked him, but rather because he was from the working class. The communist ideal was everyone to be equal. Showing that a boy from a poor family can reach the stars was an undeniable example that the regime was progressing towards the communist utopia. A teacher's son on the other hand was considered to be privileged. Sending him to space instead could have been interpreted as contradicting the ideology.

    February 11, 2020
    Reply
  85. HPL* Arkham said:

    3:53 this is one of the main reasons I love anything Simon does…….. 🙂

    February 12, 2020
    Reply
  86. Colton Falusi said:

    How many channels is this guy the host for??

    February 12, 2020
    Reply
  87. HPL* Arkham said:

    The Shuttle Program was shut down by Obama to save money and also because he's an idiot who has no grasp of how valuable the Shuttle Program was.

    February 12, 2020
    Reply
  88. jespersaron said:

    US astronauts launching from Cape Canaveral are quite lucky – they are not expected to pee where Shepard did…

    February 12, 2020
    Reply
  89. Robert E. Waters said:

    Vostok, not Soyuz.

    February 12, 2020
    Reply
  90. Sprunk Soda said:

    Okay Korolev, enough fun in the gulag! Time to make Sputnik!

    February 12, 2020
    Reply
  91. Megamoose said:

    Of all the people selling razors.. 😛

    February 12, 2020
    Reply
  92. Conor Corrigan said:

    USSR citizens in 1950s: "Please help! We are starving to death!"

    USSR government: Screams in Soviet and sends dogs to space

    February 12, 2020
    Reply
  93. Jesus McBeth said:

    Let's roll – po-ye-ha-lee

    February 12, 2020
    Reply
  94. David Viklund said:

    More than a handfull people have seen what Gagarin saw since there has been over 500 people in space.

    February 12, 2020
    Reply
  95. thefamousemickey said:

    Since you've featured a lot of remote russian locations and austrian royals recently, what about an episode about Franz Joseph Land and it's discovery?

    February 12, 2020
    Reply
  96. Chris hitch said:

    Please do the Russian metro system always wanted to know its history 😀

    February 12, 2020
    Reply
  97. Alex Miller said:

    My grandmother met my grandfather on one of the Baikonur construction sites, she was a civil engineer, he was an officer in the Soviet army combat engeneers.

    February 12, 2020
    Reply
  98. Tony Kennedy said:

    Fantastic! Great video 👍

    February 12, 2020
    Reply
  99. Sir Prize said:

    Would love to see a video about Venice.

    February 12, 2020
    Reply
  100. David Ranlet said:

    Speaking of shaving, and "Dollar Shave Club", if you say "Rise up lights"…you have just said "Razor blades" with an Australian accent! SCIENCE!!!!

    February 12, 2020
    Reply

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