The Kapustin Yar range is a Russian rocket launch and development site near Volgograd in southern Russia. It was established on May 13, 1946 and initially used to test military as well as meteorological and geophysical rockets.
Numerous launches of test rockets for the Russian military were carried out at the site, as well as satellite and sounding rocket launches.
The first Soviet ballistic missile, the R-1, designed by the “father” of Soviet cosmonautics, Sergey Korolev, was launched on October 18, 1947.
In a bid to increase the rocket’s range, the R-2 rocket was supplied with a nose system that could be jettisoned. This was done to discard the rocket’s first and only stage once the rocket’s booster stage was over.
On May 16, 1957, an R-2A rocket ferried two dogs, Ryzhaya (Redhead) and Damka (Damsel), and scientific equipment 210 kilometers up into space.
It successfully returned to earth with both dogs alive.
In all, there were 13 launches of R-2A rockets between 1957 and 1960, putting several more canine passengers in orbit.
But the record flight some 453 kilometers up into space was made by dogs Belyanka (Blondie) and Pestraya (Motley) on an R-5A rocket on August 27, 1958. Both made it back to Earth, stressed out, but healthy.
Meanwhile, on June 21, 1956, the R-5M became the first Soviet nuclear-capable ballistic missile officially adopted for deployment.
The famous R-7 rocket used to put the first manmade object into orbit, the famous Sputnik, was also initially tested at the Kapustin Yar range before being launched from Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
Since 1962 the facility has been used for performing space launches of small-sized satellites and for testing all Soviet and Russian military rocket systems.