Baikonur Cosmodrome is world's first and largest operational space launch facility. It is located in the desert steppe of Kazakhstan, about 200 kilometres (124 mi) east of the Aral Sea, north of the Syr Darya river, near Tyuratam railway station, at 90 metres (300 ft) above sea level. It is leased by the Kazakh Government to Russia (until 2050) and is managed jointly by the Roscosmos State Corporation and the Russian Aerospace Forces. 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 its space program. Under the current Russian space program, Baikonur remains a busy spaceport, with numerous commercial, military, and scientific missions being launched annually. All manned Russian spaceflights are launched from Baikonur.
Both Vostok 1, the first manned spacecraft in human history, and before it, Sputnik 1, the world's first orbital spaceflight of any sort, were launched from one of Baikonur's launch pads, which is now known as Gagarin's Start, named after Yuri Gagarin.