Urban explorer dies of thirst trying to walk to Baikonur cosmodrome in restricted Kazakhstan desert region


An urban explorer has died after trying to walk to the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, from which Russia launches its rockets into space.

The 25-year-old Frenchman died of dehydration on Monday, RIA reported, citing an anonymous Baikonur official.

Another French national, 27, who was with the deceased is reportedly now in custody.

The space center, which is leased by Russia, is a restricted area It is heavily guarded by security teams from the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs – although tours are sold for those who want to watch a spacecraft launch.

The massive facility is located deep in Kazakhstan's desert steppes, more than 20 miles from the nearest city for which the spaceport is named.

Temperatures at the space base range between 33 and 39 degrees Celsius this week.

Baikonur was the world's first space launch facility, where both Sputnik 1 (the first Earth satellite) and Yuri Gagarin's Vostok 1 (responsible for the first manned space flight) were launched.

Today it remains the largest launch facility – but Baikonur's security teams often have to deal with intrepid explorers desperate to sneak into restricted areas and access a treasure trove of Soviet-era spacecraft and technology still lying there.

A Soyuz-2.1a booster rocket lifts off with a Progress MS-27 cargo spacecraft from the launch pad at the Russian-leased Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, Thursday, May 30, 2024.

The Soyuz MS-25 spacecraft with Expedition 70/71 crew members to the International Space Station lifts off from the launch pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, March 23, 2024.

The Soyuz MS-25 spacecraft with Expedition 70/71 crew members to the International Space Station lifts off from the launch pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, March 23, 2024.

Part of the Baikonur Cosmodrome is shown in this aerial shot

Part of the Baikonur Cosmodrome is shown in this aerial shot

Baikonur's security teams often have to deal with intrepid explorers desperate to sneak into restricted areas and access a treasure trove of decommissioned Soviet-era spacecraft.

Baikonur's security teams often have to deal with intrepid explorers desperate to sneak into restricted areas and access a treasure trove of decommissioned Soviet-era spacecraft.

Mounting pads for the reusable Soviet/Russian Buran space shuttle at Baikonur Cosmodrome

Mounting pads for the reusable Soviet/Russian Buran space shuttle at Baikonur Cosmodrome

Life-size model of the reusable Soviet/Russian Buran space shuttle at the assembly and refueling complex at Baikonur Cosmodrome

Life-size model of the reusable Soviet/Russian Buran space shuttle at the assembly and refueling complex at Baikonur Cosmodrome

Life-size model of the reusable Soviet/Russian Buran space shuttle at the assembly and refueling complex at Baikonur Cosmodrome

Life-size model of the reusable Soviet/Russian Buran space shuttle at the assembly and refueling complex at Baikonur Cosmodrome

Officials later told Russian news agency TASS that the Frenchmen were traveling through an area near the space base when one of them fell ill.

The other asked for help from guards at a security checkpoint in Baikonur, but his compatriot died before he could be helped.

It is unclear what the French citizens were doing before the fatal accident, but Russian authorities have launched an investigation.

In 2018, Russian explorer and blogger Konstantin Kosmodemyansky recounted how he and a small team drove thousands of miles from Moscow to Baikonur before heading into the desert without lights or GPS to avoid detection by rangers.

Once there, they infiltrate a facility intended to house ancient Soviet and Russian space technology They were simply left to rust in the desert — including a pair of decommissioned shuttle models from the Buran space program.

The Buran program was an attempt to rival the US space shuttle, and two Soviet models sitting in a warehouse at Baikonur bear a striking resemblance to the US space shuttle Columbia.

Both the US space shuttle and Buran had the same shape and size, the same vertical tail structures and even similar colors – white with a black edge.

The Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft carrying the crew of Russian cosmonauts Sergei Prokopyev and Dmitry Petlin and astronaut Frank Rubio launched to the International Space Station from the Baikonur Cosmodrome leased from Moscow in Kazakhstan.

The Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft carrying the crew of Russian cosmonauts Sergei Prokopyev and Dmitry Petlin and astronaut Frank Rubio launched to the International Space Station from the Baikonur Cosmodrome leased from Moscow in Kazakhstan.

A Soyuz rocket is seen after being launched by train to the launch pad at Site 31, Tuesday, September 12, 2023, at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

A Soyuz rocket is seen after being launched by train to the launch pad at Site 31, Tuesday, September 12, 2023, at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

Buran space shuttle, Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan

Buran space shuttle, Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan

The Buran program was an attempt to rival the US Space Shuttle, and two Soviet models sitting in a warehouse at Baikonur bear a striking resemblance to the US Space Shuttle Columbia.

The Buran program was an attempt to rival the US Space Shuttle, and two Soviet models sitting in a warehouse at Baikonur bear a striking resemblance to the US Space Shuttle Columbia.

Documents that emerged in the late 1990s revealed how the KGB stole American shuttle designs in the 1970s and 1980s, enabling the Kremlin to build a carbon copy of the American system.

A 1985 CIA report said there was “espionage by hostile intelligence officers, overt rounding up by Eastern Bloc officials, takeovers by scientific exchange program participants and illegal trade-related activities.”

“The documents obtained covered airframe designs (including computer programs for design analysis), materials, flight computer systems, and propulsion systems,” the report said.

“This information allowed the Soviet military industries to save years of scientific research and testing time as well as millions of rubles as they developed a very similar space shuttle vehicle.”

The Soviets were able to launch one unmanned flight of the Buran shuttle On the Energia missile carrier from the Baikonur Cosmodrome on November 15, 1988.

It completed two orbits around the Earth before landing safely at Yubileiny Airport in Baikonur.

But high costs meant the Buran program was halted in 1993 after the collapse of the Soviet Union, and it never took humans into space.

Spacecraft that had already flown into space were destroyed in the collapse of the roof of the Baikonur hangar in 2002, but one The surviving Buran flight module and a mock-up of the spacecraft remained at Baikonur.

The operations and departure facility where the reusable Soviet/Russian Buran space shuttle was destroyed

The operations and departure facility where the reusable Soviet/Russian Buran space shuttle was destroyed

Buran was launched on the Energia missile carrier from the Baikonur Cosmodrome on November 15, 1988, made two orbital orbits and landed at the Yubileiny airfield at the Baikonur Cosmodrome.

Buran was launched on the Energia missile carrier from the Baikonur Cosmodrome on November 15, 1988, made two orbital orbits and landed at the Yubileiny airfield at the Baikonur Cosmodrome.

Skyrocketing costs led to the Buran program being discontinued in 1993 after the collapse of the Soviet Union, and humans never traveled into space.

Skyrocketing costs led to the Buran program being discontinued in 1993 after the collapse of the Soviet Union, and humans never traveled into space.

Two years ago, a British YouTuber was arrested along with a Belarusian woman after they sneaked into Boran's barn

Two years ago, a British YouTuber was arrested along with a Belarusian woman after they sneaked into Boran's barn

In May 2022, British YouTuber Benjamin Rich was arrested near one of the launch pads in Baikonur and detained by city authorities.

In May 2022, British YouTuber Benjamin Rich was arrested near one of the launch pads in Baikonur and detained by city authorities.

Benjamin has over 4 million followers on his YouTube channel

Benjamin has over 4 million followers on his YouTube channel

Two years ago, a British YouTuber was arrested along with a Belarusian woman after they sneaked into Boran's barn.

Benjamin Rich, known by his vlog account “Bald and Busty,” was arrested at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in May 2022. Authorities.

Dmitry Rogozin, then head of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, said on Telegram that Benjamin and Belarusian Alena Tsylyuba were “connected with organizing illegal actions.”

But it later emerged that Benjamin was detained for a few hours and forced to pay a fine before being released.

Benjamin has over 4 million followers on his YouTube channel where he shares videos of his travels around the world – often to remote or off-limits locations.



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