We must begin the story of this military range in the year 1945, when victory over Germany gave the Soviets access to the outstanding rocket technologies of Wernher von Braun's team. Wernher von Braun, along with about 400 of his best technicians and scientists, ended in the custody of American soldiers, and they continued their work in the United States. Practically all the special machinery and documentation from testing grounds and science centers, including several dozen completed Fau-2 rockets, had already been shipped to the United States when the first Soviet scouts and experts came to the broken rocket cradles. After collecting the remains of German documents, and rummaging through the waste-baskets of the science centers, the experts managed to gather a sufficient amount of materials to reproduce the designs of the V-1 and V-2 rockets. Immediately, science institutes and construction bureaus were created in the USSR for the purpose of accomplishing this task, which created a need for a specialized military range to be built.
In May of 1946, from White Sands, New Mexico, Americans conducted the first launching of A-4 rockets, which had been acquired from Germany. In May of the same year, the decision was made to create a similar military range in the Soviet Union. Major-General Vasiliy Ivanovich Voznyuk was assigned leader in the quest for the location of the new range. In a short time, seven different locations were scrupulously inspected; for potential construction, communication, hydrology, and meteorology. Of the seven, two were chosen as the most suitable.
The first was near Stalingrad (now Volgograd), next to the village of Kapustin Yar (which would eventually give its name to the range), in the Astrakhan region. The second option was in the Cossack village of Naurskia in the Grozny region. Until June 1947, archives show that the likelier candidate was Naurskia. In the records of the Marshal of Artillery, Nikolai Yakovlev, it said: 'the building of the national central range in Naurskia, allows for not only experimentation with long-range rockets but with all types of reactive missiles." This option will also require less spending for the relocation of local residents and factories. Only the Minister of Livestock, Kozlov, spoke out in opposition of the missile range based on his reluctance to give up valuable grazing lands. On June 3, 1947, the fate of Kapustin Yar was sealed when the USSR CK VKP(b) Order No. 2642-817 determined that it would be the location of the new range. This same decision entrusted Major-General Voznyuk with its construction and appointed him to be the future chief.
The first officers arrived on location on August 20, 1947. They raised tents for sleeping quarters, organized a kitchen, and set up a hospital. With soldiers came the army builders. The living conditions were expectedly rough on the bare steppe. On the third day, ten kilometers from the village of Kapustin Yar, the construction began for a concrete bunker, for the fire testing of A-4 rocket engines. It was built using German schematics, and furnished with materials brought over from Germany. Construction also began for another bunker from which testing was to be observed. Later this area came to be known as "1-Ploshadka". In September of 1947, from Thuringia, Germany came the special brigade of General Alexander Fedorovich Tveretzkiy along with two cargo trains with German equipment.
Within one and a half months of work, a launching ground was built on O'1 PloshadkaO^, along with its own observation bunker, a temporary technical position, and a hanger. Also constructed were a road and a 20-kilometer railroad track with a bridge over a deep chasm, which connected the range with the main highway to Stalingrad (now Volgograd).
They built all this for the sole purpose of testing the A-4 rockets, which was considered top priority. The construction of the shelters for personnel was not even commenced until 1948. The builders and future testers either lived on the bare steppe in tents and temporary shelters, or were quartered by the nearby villagers. The superiors lived inside the luxury cars of the stationed cargo trains, which provided both ample living space and a restaurant car. On October 1, 1947, news of the rangeO`s completion reached Moscow, and on the 14th the first shipment of V-2 (A-4) rockets arrived, after having been assembled partially in Germany and partially in Podlipki.
On the 18th of October at 10:47 Moscow time, the first launching of a ballistic rocket by the USSR took place. The rocket rose to a height of 86 kilometers, and exploded upon reaching the denser layers of the atmosphere. It flew 274 kilometers from its starting position, with a 30 kilometer deviation from its target. From October 18 O" November 13, 1947, a series of V-2 rockets were launched. Of the eleven launchings (ten according to another source), nine had successful flights, though also with rather large deviations, and two suffered failures.
For the next ten years, Kapustin Yar became the only launching ground of Soviet ballistic rockets. Testing was carried out on the rockets R-1 (September-October 1948, September-October 1949), R-2 (September-October 1949), R-5 (March 1953), R-12, R-14, the sorrowfully-remembered last rocket of the Cold War: the SS-20 RSD-10, the world-famous "Scud", as well as a huge quantity of other small and average range rockets and winged missiles.
During the first series of launchings, from October to November 1947, geophysical rockets also began being launched from Kapustin Yar. On November 2, 1947, a V-2 rocket was launched equipped with scientific devices. That tradition was upheld until the creation of specialized geophysical rockets, B-1 and B-2, which also continued to be launched from Kapustin Yar. The next additions were meteorological rockets. In June of 1951, the first Soviet rockets with dogs onboard were launched.
In the early 1950s, other than an active launching program, Kapustin Yar grew as more complexes, launch pads, and observations bunkers were built. On February 20, 1956, the range launched its first test rocket with a live nuclear warhead.
The R-5M missile reached the pre-Ural Mountains steppe where it delivered an explosion. From 1957 to 1959, launchings of trans-continental long-range Burya rockets took place. Then, on March 16, 1962, Kapustin Yar, turned from a missile range into a cosmodrome. That day marked the launching of the satellite, "Cosmos-1". From the cosmodrome, small research satellites were launched, using weak rockets of the "Cosmos" series.
On the 14th of October 1969, O'Intercosmos-1O, a satellite created by the specialists of socialist nations, was launched. Now the range became an international one, and from it were launched two Indian satellites, Aryabhata and haskara-1, as well as the French satellite, Signe-3. Kapustin Yar played a large role in the preparation of qualified personnel for new cosmodromes. It became a cosmodrome for O'small rockets and 'small satellites, observation, and research. This specialization remained until 1988, when the necessity for satellite launchings significantly decreased, and they were discontinued. Furthermore, the arms reduction treaty signed with the U.S. in 1987 brought the research at the range to an almost complete halt. Starting and technical positions were shut down for about 10 years, but were constantly kept in ready condition to be used at any time. The last famous launching occurred on June 22, 1988; it was the sixth and last launching of the BOR-5 project.
Останки стенда и бункера 56 лет спустя.
In 1998 came the long-awaited rebirth of the range and cosmodrome. After many
years of inactivity, a commercial rocket named "Cosmos" 11K65MO was launched carrying a French satellite. On April 28, 1999, the ABRIXAS and Megsat-0 were also launched. In addition, the range resumed its experimental work. Kapustin Yar became a range for the entire armed forces of Russia. In 1999, the Emba and Sary-Shagan testing ranges were relocated there.