Baikonur is like the “far west”! Thomas Pesquet would know and judging by these images taken from space we tend to agree.
Today Thomas Pesquet will be launched from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. An isolated place in the steppes of Kazakhstan, Baikonur features railway tracks, abandoned launch facilities and over 50 years of space history. The facility covers an area 75 km by 90 km.
Astronaut launches occur from two places, launchpad one and launchpad 31. Thomas will depart Earth from launchpad one, the same place Yuri Gagarin left Earth in 1961!
The image above shows the railway tracks that transported the Soyuz MS-03 to the launchpad from its assembly hall on 14 November. To the right of the image is the large cement block that will guide the flames and vapour away when the rocket’s engines are lit.
Compare the picture taken by Pleiades to the picture taken by Thomas’ colleague ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst from the International Space Station on the right. See more of Alexander’s pictures of Baikonur from space here: https://www.flickr.com/search/?user_id=72482589%40N07&view_all=1&text=baikonur