The space program of Kazakhstan is originated from the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, when Kazakhstan declared their independence. The Kazakh space program consist of cosmonaut and satellite missions. The only launch site situated at Kazakhstan is Baikonur Cosmodrome, which is leased to Russia. The program is led by KazCosmos since 2007.
The first Kazakh person to go to space is Toktar Aubakirov in 1991, followed by Talgat Musabayev in 1994. On 7 January 2000, the government of Kazakhstan decreed it would form a cosmonaut corps. Out of 2000 candidates, two were selected, Aidyn Aimbetov and Mukhtar Aymakhanov, in 2002. Aymakhanov left Kazakhstan in 2012 to become a Russian citizen to pursue a cosmonaut career. Aimbetov was selected for Soyuz TMA-18M/Soyuz TMA-16M in June 2015.
On 18 June 2006, the KazSat-1 was launched from Baikonur Cosmodrome, marking the beginning of Kazakhstan's independent inflight space operations. In 2008 communications with the satellite ended, and it was declared lost. The next satellite, KazSat-2, experienced a series of delays, but was launched on 16 July 2011 on board a Proton rocket. KazSat-2 was built by Krunichev and Thales Alenia Space. KazCosmos signed a contract with ISS-Reshetnev and Thales Alenia Space Italy on 21 June 2011 for the third telecommunications satellite, named KazSat-3 and launched it in 2014. Two more satellites, KazEOSat 2 and Al Farabi-1, were launched in 29 June 2014 and 15 February 2017, respectively.
The Baikonur Cosmodrome (Kazakh: Байқоңыр ғарыш айлағы, romanized: Baiqoñyr ğaryş ailağy, [bɑjxɔˈnər ɣɑˈrəʃ ɑjlɑˈɣə]; Russian: Космодром Байконур, romanized: Kosmodrom Baykonur, [kɐsməˈdrom bɐjkəˈnʊr]) is a spaceport in an area of southern Kazakhstan leased to Russia.
The Cosmodrome is the world's first spaceport for orbital and human launches and the largest (in area) operational space launch facility. The spaceport is in the desert steppe of Baikonur, about 200 kilometres (120 mi) east of the Aral Sea and north of the river Syr Darya. It is near the Tyuratam railway station and is about 90 metres (300 ft) above sea level. Baikonur Cosmodrome and the city of Baikonur celebrated the 63rd anniversary of the foundation on 2 June 2018.
The shape of the area leased is an ellipse, measuring 90 kilometres (56 mi) east–west by 85 kilometres (53 mi) north–south, with the cosmodrome at the centre. It was originally built by the Soviet Union in the late 1950s as the base of operations for the Soviet space program. Under the current Russian space program, Baikonur remains a busy spaceport, with numerous commercial, military, and scientific missions being launched annually. All crewed Russian spaceflights are launched from Baikonur.Both Sputnik 1, the first artificial satellite, and Vostok 1, the first human spaceflight, were launched from Baikonur. The launch pad used for both missions was renamed Gagarin's Start in honor of Russian Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, pilot of Vostok 1 and first human in space.