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24 Oct, 2010 14:07

Baikonur remembers killed testers

Baikonur Cosmodrome has suspended its work on Sunday as it remembers test engineers who were killed in a disaster exactly 50 years ago.

Early in the morning on October 24, relatives of the testers who died gathered at the grave site for a memorial service. Later they proceeded to Platform 41 for a mourning meeting.

Exactly 50 years ago, on October 24, 1960, Platform 41 saw a terrible disaster which claimed the lives of at least 74 people.

Shortly before its first launch, an R-16 intercontinental ballistic missile exploded on its launch pad. Burning fuel spilled over an area of about 100 square meters. The explosion killed at least 74 people and injured at least 50.

You can see video footage of the tragedy on YouTube website.

Three years later, on October 24, 1963, another fire on a Baikonur launch pad killed eight testers.

In memory of these disasters, October 24 was proclaimed a remembrance day at the Cosmodrome. On this day, the facility suspends all work and launches.