Man Dies of Thirst While Trying to Walk Through Kazakhstan Desert to see Russian Launchpad for Spacecrafts

The Baikonur cosmodrome
The Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Twitter

A French man has died after he tried to walk to a spaceport in the middle of a sweltering desert where Russia launches rockets into space.

As reported by The Mirror, the 25-year-old French citizen died from dehydration at the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Monday, which saw soaring temperatures of 39 degrees Celsius this week. A second man, 27, who had joined the deceased on the trek is now reportedly in custody, according to Russia's RIA news service.

Officials later said the two Frenchmen were trekking past the cosmodrome when one of them fell ill. The man sadly died while his friend rushed to a security checkpoint in Baikonur to get help. Russian authorities have since launched an investigation into the incident.

Despite being located deep within Kazakhstan's desert Steppe, the cosmodrome is rented by Russia and is closely guarded by security teams from Russia's Ministry of Internal Affairs. Visitors can only access the area through a pre-booked tour which allows them to witness a spacecraft being launched.

The Baikonur Cosmodrome sits in a remote area over 20 miles away from the nearest city after which the spaceport is named. It was the world's first space launch facility, with both Sputnik 1, the first artificial Earth satellite, and Vostok 1, the first human orbital spaceflight in history, launched from it.

Today it remains the largest operational space launch facility, but is often subject to daring intruders breaking in to explore the Soviet-era spacecraft stored there. In 2018, Russian explorer Konstantin Kosmodemiansky revealed how he and a small team snuck into the dessert without lights or GPS in a bid to go undetected by guards. The group then made their way into a facility housing old Soviet and Russian space technology.

Two years ago, Benjamin Rich - a British YouTube blogger known for traveling to remote and dangerous places was arrested along with a Belarusian woman at Kazakhstan's Baikonur Cosmodrome. Rich, who has more than 4 million subscribers on YouTube, was held for a few hours and forced to pay a fine before being released.