It was constructed by the Soviet Union, initially as a test site for intercontinental ballistic missiles. The location is near the Kazak village of Tyuratam which was a station on the main Moscow to Tashkent railway. A new city was constructed to service the cosmodrome; the city was renamed Baikonur in the 1990s. The name "Baikonur" was originally a futile attempt to hide the location of the massive facility, chosen during the publicity of the first manned space mission: the original Baikonur is a mining town a few hundred kilometres northeast.
All Russian manned space missions and launches to geostationary orbit take place at Baikonur.