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RE: Plesetsk Cosmodrome
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On 26 June 1973, 9 people were killed by an explosion of Cosmos-3M rocket, ready for launch at the Plesetsk Cosmodrome.
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Plesetsk Cosmodrome is located about 800 km north of Moscow and south of Arkhangelsk

At the beginning of the 1960, US intelligence has already placed Plesetsk high up in the list of suspected ICBM sites. Francis Gary Powers' reconnaissance flight on May 1, 1960, which resulted in famous U-2 incident, had both Tyuratam and Plesetsk among its primary surveillance targets. In August 1960, after numerous previous failures, the Corona spacecraft, delivered first photos of the Plesetsk area. Despite low quality, they did reveal railway lines not found on the German military maps from the World War II era - the best reference on the Soviet geography US intelligence had at the time.

It was originally developed by the Soviet Union as a launch site for intercontinental ballistic missiles. Construction started in 1957 and it was declared operational for R-7 rockets in December 1959.
The village of Plesetsk in Arkhangelsk Oblast had a railway station, essential for the transport of missile components. A new town for the support of the facility was named Mirny, Russian for "peaceful". By 1997, more than 1,500 launches to space had been made from the site, more than for any other launch facility.

Plesetsk is used especially for military satellites placed into high inclination and polar orbits since the range for falling debris is clear to the north which is largely uninhabited arctic and polar terrain. It is situated in a region of taiga, or flat terrain with boreal pine forests.


Position: 62 53′ 0″ N 40 42′ 0″ E

By 1968 all the four Angara launch complexes had been taken out of service and were converted to space launch complexes.
The first to be converted was SK-1, renamed LC-41/1. By December 1965 it underwent two test exercises leading to the first space launch from Plesetsk on 17 March 1966. It was modernised in 1976 and finally disassembled in 1981, having been used for 2 R-7A ICBM and 308 R-7 space launches. The last launch from this pad was the Bion launch of 15 September 1989. Reconstruction of SK-1, for use in launch of the modernised Soyuz-2 launch vehicle, began in 1997.
SK-2 (later LC-16/2) was disassembled in 1966 and used to reconstruct LC-31 at Baikonur, which had been badly damaged in the explosion of the booster after an on-pad booster shutdown. It was rebuilt in 1979-1981, with the first launch on 19 February 1981.
SK-3 (renamed LC-43/3) was first used in 1970-1973 but was badly damaged in a rocket explosion on 18 June 1987. After restoration it returned to service in December 1988.
SK-4 (renamed LC-43/4) was used continuously from 1970 until it burned down in the failed launch of a Tselina-D ELINT satellite on 18 March 1980. It was restored to service in April 1983.

A new category of orbital launcher was added when in March 1967 the LC-133 'Raduga' complex for the Kosmos-2 light launch vehicle became operational. Up to its closure in 1977 164 launches were made.
The more powerful Kosmos-3 launch vehicle was first launched at Plesetsk from 1967 to 1969 from the LC-131 'Voskhod' complex. It was then replaced by more permanent facilities at LC-132 for the Kosmos-3M version of the vehicle.
The Tsyklon-3 medium launch vehicle was based on the Tsiklon-2 but featured automatic launch features.
Launch complex 32 for the Tsiklon-3 began construction at the beginning of the 1970's at Plesetsk. The first pad was put into operation in 1977 and the second in 1979. This launch complex was developed by KB Transmash Minoshchemash, Chief Designer V N Solovyov.



Additional launch sites at Plesetsk were used for suborbital sounding rocket launches and tests of military missiles. Among these are the LC-158 used for RT-2PM ICBM tests and Start orbital launches.

In the 1980's work began on launch complex 35 for the new medium Zenit launch vehicle. This was not completed before the fall of the Soviet Union. Work was then abandoned since the rocket was built by a company now in the Ukraine, making it unsuitable for military use. The pad is now to be completed for use with the new all-Russian Angara rocket.

The use of the cosmodrome will likely increase in future, though, the site is not ideally suited for low inclination or geostationary launches because of its high latitude.
In spite of this, the new all-Russian Angara rocket is designed to be launched primarily from Plesetsk when it comes into service.
Currently, the Soyuz launch vehicle, Cosmos-3M, Rockot and Tsyklon are launched from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome. The heavy Proton and Zenit rockets can only be launched from Baikonur.

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