Category Archives: Fun Facts

Ten Facts About the Baikonur Cosmodrome

It’s been nearly five months since the successful launch of Anik G1 from Kazakhstan. We think this was a very proud moment in the history of the Baikonur Cosmodrome, but there are plenty of other neat things to know about it. Here are some notable facts about the Baikonur Cosmodrome:

1. The Baikonur Cosmodrome was founded in 1955.

2. Sputnik, the first artificial satellite to orbit Earth was launched from here on October 4, 1957.

3. Yuri Gagarin became the first man in space on April 12, 1963. He completed a successful orbit of the Earth in a Vostok 3KA spacecraft (Vostok 1). The launchpad is now known as “Gagarin’s Start.”

4. Valentina Tereshkova followed Gagarin shortly afterwards, becoming the first woman in Space on June 16, 1963 in Vostok 6.

5. The first piece of the International Space Station (called Zarya) was launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome on November 20, 1998. The main component of the Russian section of the ISS (Zvezda) was later launched on July 12, 2000.

6. A town named Leninsk was built around the Cosmodrome to provide housing, schools, and other amenities to those who worked there. Leninsk was renamed to Baikonur in 1995.

7. Baikonur is home to the world’s largest industrial railway, which is used to transport spacecraft and other parts required through all stages of launch preparation. The railway is 1524 mm gauge (also known as “Russian gauge”), which means that there is 1,524 mm – five feet – between the wheels on the train cars.

8. The Cosmodrome takes up more than 14,000 square kilometres, stretching 160 kilometres east-to-west, and 88 kilometres north-to-south.

9. The Russian government leases the land that the Baikonur Cosmodrome is situated on land in Kazakhstan for a fixed rate of $115 million USD per year. The agreement lasts until 2050, although Russia is in the process of building the Vostochny Cosmodrome to reduce dependency on Baikonur; construction is slated for completion in 2018.

10. Czechoslovakia, Poland, India, and France were among the countries that began developing their space programs at the Baikonur Cosmodrome under the Interkosmos Program.


Beam Barrage

largeRemember Space Invaders? We loved that game so much that we decided to give you an updated version of it called Beam Barrage. We’re beaming down over 210 HD channels – the most in Canada – and we need your help!

See how much content you can beam, and you’ll even be entered for neat daily and weekly prizes. Check it out here! (Please note that this is a Flash game, so it won’t work on mobile devices. But hey, it’s pretty fun to smash the space key to shoot the beam!)

The Anik Satellite Series

As you’ve likely heard, Anik G1 successfully launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on April 16, 2013. G1 is the newest member of the Anik family, which has a proud spot in Canadian satellite history. Here’s a brief rundown of the rest of the Anik series:


The name “Anik” means “little brother” in Inuktitut. The name was submitted in a national competition in 1969 by Julie-Frances Czada of St. Leonard, Quebec. It was selected due to the symbolism of bringing Canadians together and building a national brotherhood. The Anik series has been developed by Telesat, a Canadian company headquartered in Ottawa.

Anik A Series

Satellite Name Date Launched Date Decommissioned
Anik A1 November 9, 1972 July 15, 1982
Anik A2 April 20, 1973 October 6, 1982
Image from Telesat Canada

CBC was able to reach the Canadian north, and allowed extended phone service to the region as well. CBC was the first broadcaster to use a satellite for distribution of service on a full-time basis.

Anik B Series

Satellite Name Date Launched Date Decommissioned
Anik B December 15, 1978 December 1, 1986
Image from Online Journal of Space Communication.

Anik B was used by the Globe and Mail to transmit copy to printing plants across Canada, and carried eastern and western feeds of CBC, CBC Parliamentary Television Network, CITY-TV Edmonton, CHCH Hamilton, and TVOntario.

Anik C Series

Satellite Name Date Launched Date Decommissioned
Anik C1 April 12, 1985 May 5, 2003
Anik C2 June 18, 1983 January 7, 1998
Anik C3 November 11, 1982 June 18, 1997
Sally Ride in space. Image from NASA.

Anik C3 was used to carry Canada’s first pay-TV networks, including Superchannel (now Movie Central), First Choice (now The Movie Network), Premier Choix (Now Super Écran), Knowledge Network, and more. C3 was launched by the Space Shuttle Columbia, which disintegrated during re-entry on February 1, 2003. Anik C2 was launched by the Space Shuttle Challenger, which disintegrated after launch on January 28, 1986. The mission that launched C2 was also saw the first American woman in space, Sally Ride.

Anik D Series

Satellite Name Date Launched Date Decommissioned
Anik D1 August 26, 1982 December 16, 1991
Anik D2 November 8, 1984 January 31, 1995
Image from the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada.

The D series carried channels from CANCOM (now Shaw Broadcast Services), who was the first carrier to offer consumers direct broadcast satellite (DBS) services for their television needs.

Anik E Series

Satellite Name Date Launched Date Decommissioned
Anik E1 September 26, 1992 January 18, 2005
Anik E2 April 4, 1991 November 23, 2005
Image from the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada.

Anik E1 was the most powerful satellite in commercial use for North America at the time of its launch. It was able to carry 56 television channels, compared to the standard of 16 during this period.

Anik F Series

Satellite Name Date Launched Date Decommissioned
Anik F1 November 21, 2000 Still in service
Anik F1R September 9, 2005 Still in service
Anik F2 July 17, 2004 Still in service
Anik F3 April 10, 2007 Still in service
Image from Boeing.

When it was launched, Anik F1 was the most powerful communications satellite ever built. This was Star Choice’s (Shaw Direct’s) first satellite in the Anik series. The solar panels degraded faster than anticipated, so Anik F1R was launched as a replacement for North America; F1 is still in use for South America.

Anik F2 is more than ten times larger than A1, and is still one of the largest and most powerful satellites in use. It introduced the use of Ka-band transponders, which allowed low-cost two-way satellite delivery of broadband Internet in remote regions of Canada through Xplornet.