BAIKONUR COSMODROME

To present this gallery appeared to be quite a challenge for me. From one hand there are tons of stuff that can be associated with Baikonur – from the first satellite launch in 1957 through Cosmodrome special cancelations towards flown space mail postmarked in Baikonur; on the other hand I was keen not to produce a lot of duplicates over the website and wanted to make somewhat interesting and unique. I had different thoughts until occasionally found a great article by Jim Reichman in ORBIT magazine regarding Baikonur postmark evolution! This lit an idea in my head and I made up my mind regarding this gallery layout and content. I feel this is an interesting direction and of cause there are many things to be added.

In the course of time and looking through this page I was not really satisfied as it looked messy and lacked information. This pushed me for a further research until I found some interesting covers on Delcampe auction and remarkably – Sergey Poznakhirko started to place his book “Cosmodrome Baikonur Post” on his forum. This was what I needed! I rearranged the entire page to mirror the book structure and used some info as well. Despite listed in the book, I do not want to show special cancellations as they come in relevant sections. As I mentioned, my idea is to show the evolution of postmarks. By doing this I do not pretend to have a full coverage, just a different angle or way of seeing some stuff from my collection.

25th anniversary
25th anniversary
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30th anniversary
30th anniversary
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35th anniversary
35th anniversary
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Baikonur Philatelic Club
Baikonur Philatelic Club
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Baikonur mix
Baikonur mix

Kazakh stamps on USSR surcharged cover

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Soviet and Kazakh mix
Soviet and Kazakh mix

1993

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40th anniversary
40th anniversary
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45th anniversary
45th anniversary
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50th anniversary
50th anniversary

Pskov club cover

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50th anniversary
50th anniversary
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50th anniversary
50th anniversary

Field Post 08814

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50th anniversary
50th anniversary

Field Post 14400

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50th anniversary
50th anniversary

Field Post 89751

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50th anniversary
50th anniversary

Moscow FDC

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50th anniversary
50th anniversary

miniature sheet

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60th anniversary
60th anniversary
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60th anniversary
60th anniversary
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60th anniversary
60th anniversary
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60th anniversary
60th anniversary
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60th anniversary
60th anniversary
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Towards the exhibition TO STARS 1991 and 30th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin spaceflight a special inflight cover cancellation was done. 3000 covers were flown from Moscow to Baikonur and back on a special NPO Energia flights. The covers got Baikonur (Leninsk) postmark on the reverse, TO STARS 91 special cancellation, Vnukovo airport and Moscow postmarks and inflight cachet. The flight cachet was prepared by ITC Marka but it was not delivered to Baikonur as planned and the private cachet was used during the flight (crafted by Yuri Galkin). All the covers that were originated from Baikonur were cancelled in Baikonur post office on Cosmonautics day – Apr 12, 1991. All the Moscow covers were delivered to Baikonur only a day later – Apr 13 and got backdated postmarks in Leninsk. 200 covers were cancelled aboard the plane during the flight to Moscow. All the covers got Vnukovo airport post office postmark while in transition to Moscow via Vnukovo hub.

Note the Mriya – Buran complex has no connection to the project, the covers were flown by civil airplanes of NPO Energia.  

posted on Russian Astrophilately forum

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First Baikonur field post unit – 14400, was established in 1955 by the directive of Taiga firing rage organization. This unit was stationed on the 10th launch-pad.  In the first couple of years until 1958 the postmarks had no unit number. In 1962 a second field-post unit was opened on the 2nd launch-pad – 08814.

 

In late 80s due to the planned usage of various launch-vehicle types and subsequent increase of military personal, additional field post units were established – 26575 (43 l-p), 26649 (32 l-p) and 89751 (95 l-p). Nevertheless, late 80s economy degradation fallout took its toll and the plans vanished even decreasing the number of servicemen thus no additional postmarks were used besides existing 14400 and 08814.

Finally from Feb 1995 the planned postmarks prepared in a previous decade, entered the service bearing the non-existing country name – USSR (CCCP).

 

From June 1998 all the postmarks were replaced by the Russian Federation seals but in the coming years the field post units were gradually reduced and finally vanished in the mid-2000s when all military personal was replaced by civilians.

Interesting point that the fields post units used privately crafted special cancellations for a number of events like 40th anniversary of Gagarin and Tereshkova flights and 15th anniversary of Energia-Buran launch plush a special private postmark “Gagarin Launch” was used by 08814 unit post-office.

Baikonur Field Post
Baikonur Field Post

СССР - 08814 letter A

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Baikonur Field Post
Baikonur Field Post

СССР - 08814 letter A

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Baikonur Field Post
Baikonur Field Post

Russia - 08814 letter A

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Baikonur Field Post
Baikonur Field Post

Buran 15th anniversary special cancellation

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Baikonur Field Post
Baikonur Field Post

Russia - 08814 letter B

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Baikonur Field Post
Baikonur Field Post

Russia - 08814 letter Г

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Baikonur Field Post
Baikonur Field Post

Russia - 14400 letter B

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Progress M1-10
Progress M1-10
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Progress M1-7
Progress M1-7
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Progress M1-4
Progress M1-4
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Baikonur Field Post
Baikonur Field Post

Russia - 89751 letter A

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Baikonur Type A-1 marked
Baikonur Type A-1 marked
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Baikonur Type A-2 Kniga marked
Baikonur Type A-2 Kniga marked
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Baikonur Type A-3 fake marked
Baikonur Type A-3 fake marked
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Soyuz-30
Soyuz-30

International space flights press center stamp

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Soyuz-34 landing
Soyuz-34 landing
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ASTP USSR club Baikonur Soyuz landing
ASTP USSR club Baikonur Soyuz landing
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Baikonur Type B-1
Baikonur Type B-1
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Baikonur Type B-2 Kniga marked_edited
Baikonur Type B-2 Kniga marked_edited
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Type B diff_edited
Type B diff_edited
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Korolev 75y Baikonur
Korolev 75y Baikonur
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Soyuz T-2 (1)
Soyuz T-2 (1)
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Salyut 6 - Soyuz-40 rev
Salyut 6 - Soyuz-40 rev
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Baikonur Type C-1
Baikonur Type C-1
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Baikonur Type C-2 Kniga marked
Baikonur Type C-2 Kniga marked
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Baikonur Type C diff_edited
Baikonur Type C diff_edited
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Gagarin Orenburg Airplane
Gagarin Orenburg Airplane
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Soyuz T-8
Soyuz T-8
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ORM-65
ORM-65
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Baikonur Type D-1
Baikonur Type D-1
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Baikonur Type D-2 Kniga marked
Baikonur Type D-2 Kniga marked
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Baikonur Type D diff_edited
Baikonur Type D diff_edited
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Buran Baikonur (1)
Buran Baikonur (1)
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Fobos Baikonur start
Fobos Baikonur start
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Gagarin 1981 Baikonur
Gagarin 1981 Baikonur
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Baikonur Type E-1
Baikonur Type E-1
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Baikonur Type E-2 Kniga marked
Baikonur Type E-2 Kniga marked
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Baikonur Type E diff_edited
Baikonur Type E diff_edited
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MIR Soyuz TM-19 (EO-16)
MIR Soyuz TM-19 (EO-16)
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MIR Kvant-2 launch
MIR Kvant-2 launch
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MIR Soyuz TM-21 (EO-18) (4)
MIR Soyuz TM-21 (EO-18) (4)
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In 1958 a settlement nearby 10th launch-pad got the name – LENINSKIY (ЛЕНИНСКИЙ) and from 1966 it started to use relevant postmarks bearing its name. In 1970 it became a town called LENINSK (ЛЕНИНСК) and acquired its own state postal hub (государственный узел связи – ГУС) with 17 affiliates – 15 numbered and two in Tura-Tam settlement. In 1996 all LENINSK postmarks were replaced by new Russian Federation BAIKONUR postmarks.

Here are some examples I have in my inventory.

Leninsk-3
Leninsk-3
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Leninsk-7
Leninsk-7
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Leninsk-8
Leninsk-8
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special postmark "The last day of USSR stamps usage"

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Leninsk-9
Leninsk-9
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Leninsk-10
Leninsk-10
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Leninsk-12
Leninsk-12
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Leninsk-14
Leninsk-14
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Leninsk-15
Leninsk-15
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Leninsk GUS
Leninsk GUS
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Leninsk GUS
Leninsk GUS

big type

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The name of Cosmodrome Baikonur first appeared on the newly issued postmark towards the joint US-USSR space mission in 1975. In late April 1975 the postmark was first used by the mobile post office that was acting in Cosmonaut hotel. From now on it was applied on the special events only most of the times along with special cancellations to commemorate launches, anniversaries and Cosmonautics days. The postmark was replaced by the next generation postmark on April 12, 1980. In different catalogs it has different names (type A, KB-1, etc.) so it’s really doesn’t matter.

The main controversy is about fakes. At least four deviations from the original example are known but probably there are more. I have three in my collection so I will show and talk about them. The first one is “Kniga” fake – according to the research done by Jim Reichman and Julius Cacka, this type was officially produced and used by Kniga in Moscow to serve western philatelic requests. We can find a lot of German originated stuff postmarked by this type … but nothing more. Sergey Poznakhirko in contrarily considers this type is a pure western fake crafted and applied by the dealer. The minor differences from the original one promoted the fancy story of Kniga using the postmark in Moscow same manner it used ASTP Baikonur special cancellation.

The next type is a pure western originated fake, confirmed by all parties – the “dancing K” as I call it. This one is very similar to the original postmark but has a glitch in the letter K in BAIKONUR, thus it resembles X. Some covers received this postmark mainly distributed and catalogued by Lollini setting enormous prices.

The last one in my inventory is a “scrambled date”. Generally similar to the original with sort of intuitive differences but has an awkward date lookout. In many cases its ink appears to be thicker than usually used for the original postmark.

Baikonur geniune postmark
Baikonur geniune postmark
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"Kniga" fake
"Kniga" fake
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"dancing K" fake
"dancing K" fake
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"scrambled date" fake
"scrambled date" fake
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There is a one notable extension to the first Baikonur official postmark. Actually the word Baikonur appeared on postmarks long before the Cosmodrome started to use its own – Baikonur settlement and Baikonursky collective farm nearby, some 250 km away in then Karaganda region has used the postmarks since late 50s. This settlement had no connection to Soviet space program activities but its name was used by a military to confuse western intelligence. In the beginning of 1960s, a couple of sneaky dealers from Moscow started to visit the settlement cancelling covers and selling them to Lollini firm via Odessa or Leningrad sea communications. The postmark used was bearing the text “БАЙКОНУР.Н.Т. КАРАГ. ОБЛ.” with short date format. At first they cancelled some covers making arrangements with locals but then succeeded to buy out the genuine postal device and postmarked a huge number of philatelic covers. The first of such covers can be found as early as 1963-64 and the latest go through 1974. Though we cannot define the exact location where the postmark was applied but despite all the suspicions we can say that the cancellation is genuine.

Another settlement postmark with “БАЙКОНУР КАРАГАНД. ОБЛ.” inscription and short date format was genuine at the time of usage but got its clone, most likely of western origin that differed by the long date format and was slightly bigger. Probably the dealers could not get an access to the device but had some cancelled covers for copying – this is only my imagination. So, this forged cancellation was used literally for every known space event since first satellite launched on 4.10.1957 and through the late 70s (1978 at least) widely distributed and catalogued by Lollini.

Along with Baikonur settlement the dealers visited Baikonursky collective farm and cancelled some covers with its post-office device. The cover in my collection is regular Soviet pictorial unstamped cover that was postmarked on the date of Luna 10 launch (31.03.1966) and shows Lollini “Baikonur First Day” logo and numbering. Interestingly it bears Kaliningrad postmark on the backside and I assume the cover was send abroad via Kaliningrad seaport. According to the rarity of the Baikonursky postmarks, the fact of it being applied in collective farm post-office and being regular Soviet pictorial cover, I assume that this was the beginning of the whole operation.

As for the genuine postmarks, in 1972 Baikonur settlement moved from Karaganda region to Dzhezkazkan and got new post-office devices. The question flashed in my mind regarding the ability of these sneaky guys to arrange such an operation in USSR in 1960s and 70s - but the answer was very simple – those were the years of “warming” relations with the west plus the two dealers were disabled and the authorities tried not to notice their “small philatelic tricks”. So we got many thousands of such covers that any astrophilately collector has in its inventory.

The story came from the Russian Astrophilately forum

Baikonur settlement
Baikonur settlement
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Baikonur fantasy
Baikonur fantasy
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Baikonursky
Baikonursky

collective farm

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April 12, 1980 a new Baikonur postmark appeared, this time it was cloned officially to be used by Kniga in Moscow, that differed in some small details from the Baikonur source. Many western covers were processed by Kniga and received this postmark. As usual a fake was crafted but I don’t have an example in my collection to show. The last day of this type of postmark application was Sergey Korolev 75th anniversary. Being used together with dedicated special cancellation the couple produced a lot of well-known covers.

On April 12, 1982 a “launch-pad” postmark appeared. As its predecessor it had a clone in Moscow used by Kniga for servicing all-around-the-globe requests. In 1984 a date mechanism has been replaced resulting in small date format layout.

 

On Cosmonautics day of 1988 a “launch-pad” postmark was replaced by a “monument” successor together with Kniga clone. The new one lived briefly until September 1989 and has been replaced by a “transporter”, this time having two duplicates in Moscow and subsequent fakes. One of the duplicates became a real rarity as it was used briefly in 1990 and disappeared – officially lost.

Baikonur
Baikonur
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Kniga postmark
Kniga postmark

the main differences are in star and Y letter

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Baikonur cancellation has a "dull" sickle and round Y

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Baikonur
Baikonur

big date

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Baikonur
Baikonur

small date

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Kniga postmark
Kniga postmark
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Baikonur
Baikonur
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Kniga postmark
Kniga postmark
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Baikonur
Baikonur
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Kniga postmark
Kniga postmark
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"big date" fake
"big date" fake
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In 1994 an agreement has been signed and Russian Federation Post became responsible for all postal operations in Baikonur Cosmodrome. In 1995 Leninsk was officially renamed and became BAIKONUR. On March 1, 1996 new Russian Federation postmarks have been introduced to replace the old ones for five post offices plus a central hub (numbers 1-5 and unnumbered). All but one (except Baikonur-2) were located at the 10th launch-pad premises. The second affiliate was placed on 95th launch-pad. Each post office had several devices marked by different letters – A, Б, B Actually the old postmarks were not forgotten and due to the lack of appropriate devices can be seen used after 1996.

From March 1st 1996 Russian Federation stamps began to be used in Baikonur for postage items according to Russian rates. The postage to Kazakhstan and to Russia can be also paid by Kazakh stamps according to CIS rate. There is no possibility to make mixed franking. Worth to mention the local Kazakh rate is used only for in-town postage. Worth to mention that up to 1993 the postage could be paid by Soviet or mixed Soviet-Kazakh stamps, as the official Kazakh currency was Soviet ruble. So we can some “awkwardly” franked covers for this period. But back in 1996 all the “lego” issues were ruled out.

Baikonur
Baikonur

letter A

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Baikonur
Baikonur

number 2

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Baikonur
Baikonur

letter B

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Baikonur-1
Baikonur-1

letter V

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Baikonur-2
Baikonur-2

letter A

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Baikonur-3
Baikonur-3

letter B

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Baikonur-4
Baikonur-4

letter B

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Baikonur-5
Baikonur-5

letter A

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In 1994 an agreement has been signed and

A new “rocket” postmark was introduced on August 17, 1996 – the day of Soyuz TM-24 launch, replacing the “transporter” used in Baikonur from 1989. We can find this postmark with two types of date format – long year and short year with hours. Additional postmark – “international flights” appeared on August 5, 1997 – the day of Soyuz TM-26 launch. Both postmarks were used on the days of launches and special events at stationary post-offices and by mobile station at Cosmodrome press-center. These and many other Baikonur cancellation and cachets were produced with the assistance of Fedor Zemskov.

long date format

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short date format

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purple ink

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missing number from date

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Baikonur International Flights
Baikonur International Flights

long date format

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Baikonur International Flights
Baikonur International Flights

short date format

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In June 2000, towards a 45th anniversary of Cosmodrome, a new set of Baikonur postmarks began its career. There were 5 letter variations plus a couple for each of the affiliates. Interestingly that all the devices were ordered from Perm factory and a small financial glitch led to appearance of additional 14 postmarks.

The order for original postmark and the subsequent payment have been sent to Perm by the Baikonur postal authorities but when the devices came to the customer a copy of the bill was attached that has been properly paid once again by the finance. When the double payment issue has been revealed, Perm workers admitted their mistake but instead of returning the money they proposed to produce something else. After a couple of days of meetings and considerations Baikonur Municipal Telecommunications and Post Enterprise (МПТиП) Director decided to order additional 14 devices with special inscriptions. The story seems to me quite vague but in a result we have quite a number of different postmarks some of them were widely used (like SOYUZ, MKS, PROTON) the other are barely seen (MBR, MIR, NAVRUZ).

These postmarks became available for cancellations one by one during the two year period beginning from June 12, 2000 with PROTON-type used for marking ISS Zvezda module launch. The last one used was DNEPR-type to mark converted SS-18 ICBM launches with small satellites. The one that remains questionable is ROKOT-type postmark planned to be used on Dec 24, 2004 to mark the 10th anniversary of Rokot launch vehicle (UR-100N ICBM). I do not know whether it was actually used? These postmarks can be found for the events as late as 2009.

Interesting point is about the mistakes in postmarks used in Baikonur and Kazakhstan in general. One good example is EPAS (ASTP) type that appeared second in turn on July 15, 2000 to commemorate 25th anniversary of Apollo-Soyuz flight. The postmark came with erroneous inscription ЭПОС (instead of ЭПАС) and letter O has been corrected a bit before usage. This postmark was used one additional time only in 2005 for 30th ASTP anniversary.

On June 27, 2003 additional general postmark started to be used – letter X. This one was ordered by Baikonur Municipal Telecommunications and Post Enterprise (МПТиП) and crafted privately in Moscow. The device was produced from plastic and rubber as all new Russian Federation post-office devices but remained the only one of this kind in Baikonur inventory for that period.

additional  info taken from UUU forum

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PROTON
PROTON
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ASTP
ASTP
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ZENIT
ZENIT
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FIRST DAY
FIRST DAY
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SOYUZ
SOYUZ
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MKS
MKS
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C - letter
C - letter
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TSIKLON
TSIKLON
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CITY DAY
CITY DAY
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On June 27, 2003 additional general postmark started to be used – letter X. This one was ordered by Baikonur Municipal Telecommunications and Post Enterprise (МПТиП) and crafted privately in Moscow. The device was produced from plastic and rubber as all new Russian Federation post-office devices but remained the only one of this kind in Baikonur inventory for that period.

In 2003 Russian Space Agency prepared five dedicated cancellations to be used in Baikonur post office for event commemorations. Four postmarks were dedicated to particular launch-vehicles and the fifth to the Baikonur city. According to the information I have, only two have been used once each – SOYUZ and PROTON. Around 50 postcards were cancelled on each day of respective launches.

In 2009 a new "international flights" postmark appeared. Currently I don't have any info re it's usage details but it replaced the old one.

One unusual postmark has been used from 1991 till 2000 - International School of Young Cosmonauts. The school was founded in December 1990 and after the breakout of the Soviet Union has been renamed to Chelomey International Space School. The covers having this postmark are quite rare.

In 1987 a special postmark “Progress 33 start” was prepared to be used on the flown covers upon the agreement with American stamp dealer Kurt Weishaupt. Although the postmark referred to Baikonur it was applied in Moscow and all the “serviced” covers are fully or partially forged.

A very unique occurrence in the Baikonur postal history was a usage of Polish special postmark in 2003 to commemorate 25th anniversary of Soyuz 30 flight with Polish cosmonaut. The postmark was mostly applied to philatelic covers while the serviced ones had to use Polish stamps in addition to the Russian.

MBR
MBR
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MIR
MIR
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DNEPR
DNEPR
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X-letter
X-letter
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PROTON RKA
PROTON RKA
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Young Cosmonauts School
Young Cosmonauts School
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Progress 33
Progress 33
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Progress 33 fake
Progress 33 fake
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Soyuz 30
Soyuz 30

25th anniversary

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State Unitary Enterprise BaikonurSvyazInform (BSI) is a successor of Baikonur Municipal Unitary Telecommunications and Post Enterprise (МУПТиП) that became a representative of Russian Federation Post in Baikonur Cosmodrome premises. Actually it has just inherited this function since 2005 and remained the same postal service provider in a status of “offshore affiliate”.

 

I have seen BSI postmarks along with the previous ones from as early as 2006. All the postmarks provided by BSI did not refer to the Russian Post though lately it started to use RUSSIA-type postmark (N-letter). Along with general (calendar) postmark BSI is using SOYUZ and INTERNATIONAL for marking the launches to ISS that replaced respective postmarks used from mid-1990s. On specific occasions ITC Marka special cancellations are used in BSI post-offices bearing the name – Russian Post along with BaikonurSvyazInform general postmarks.

 

Besides general postmarks BSI is using its own special souvenir cancellations and privately designed postcards and covers for philately collectors. Such special cancellations have a status of “unofficial” and can be used with general postmarks only (sort of “club” covers). The covers and cards are printed in limited quantities of 100-150 pieces and mostly used as stationary "philatelic souvenirs” but sometimes you can find a serviced piece. Interestingly that for a long time these souvenirs were almost unreachable for Russian collectors mainly available from the German dealers like Torsten Gemsa who had a close relationship with one of the BSI key persons. With the course of time this barrier has been breached however the good pieces remain somewhat uncommon.

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