At the end of 1970s, the the US reconnaissance satellites conducting regular surveillance of the Soviet test and space site near Tyuratam detected intensive construction in the eastern section of the facility. The new concrete roads with wide turns and extensive grid of power lines started branching out from the main artery of the cosmodrome. It was becoming clear that a new generation of missiles was about to arrive to the site for flight testing.
As Russian sources revealed decades later, in 1969, the 2nd Test Directorate, NIU, which was responsible for testing of Mikhail Yangel's missiles at the range, started preparation for the tests of the 3rd generation of ballistic missiles.
Special test units, or OIICh, No. 34200 led by Lt. Colonel V. A. Kondratiev and OIICh No. 74829 led by Lt. Colonel I. I. Uminsky were put responsible for testing of heavy R-36M and lightweight MR-UR-100 missiles, respectively.
The chief of the 2nd Directorate B. E. Aleksin also ordered formation of two groups, responsible for the testing of the "cold launch" concept of the new-generation missiles. Major Vlasenkov was put responsible for the "throw tests," designated BI, of the R-36M missile, while captain A. I. Fetisov for the similar tests with the MR-UR-100 missile. M. I. Galas and V. V. Grachev represented KB Yuzhnoe during the tests. (166)
Site 103, 104, 106, 109
In 1970, Department 8 (PKO-8) of KBTM development bureau started the development of the launch complex for the R-36M missiles. After the completion of the preliminary design, the further development of the complex was transferred to the KBSM design bureau.
The facility was reportedly designed to withstand a direct nuclear attack. (103)
After the end of the Cold War, the silo complex at Site 109 was used for the launches of the Dnepr-1 rocket. The first Dnepr-1 blasted off from Site 109 in April 1999.
The command post and observation point for the launches of the R-36M missiles from the silo facilities is located at Site 111.
Launch of the R-36M-based rocket from Site 109 in Baikonur. Click to enlarge. Credit: KB Yuzhnoe
Two lighting towers mark the location of Site 109 with the silo, which has been used for the launches of the R-36M ICBM and the Dnepr-1 rocket. Copyright © 2000 by Anatoly Zak.
Cutaway view of the silo launch complex for the R-36M ICBM. Credit: KB Yuzhnoe