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Putin Marks 50th Anniversary of Baikonur Cosmodrome

Russia and Kazakhstan are celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Baikonur Cosmodrome, the facility that launched the first man into space and is currently sending crews to the international space station.

Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev and Russian President Vladimir Putin toured the cosmodrome Thursday in remote western Kazakhstan. They also visited an assembly and testing plant.

The Soviet Union built the facility in 1955 as a missile testing ground. Sputnik, the first satellite to orbit the Earth, was launched from Baikonur in 1957, and Yuri Gagarin blasted off from the cosmodrome in 1961 to become the first man in space.

Baikonur is currently the only lifeline to the International Space Station until NASA resumes space shuttle flights.

Russia now leases Baiknour from the Kazakh government.

Some information for this report provided by AP.