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[i]Originally, Soviet authorities would make sure that all spent stages were properly recovered and returned to Baikonur. In July 1956, a detached test station, OIS, subordinated to the chief of the armaments service of Baikonur was formed. It was deployed at the village of Ladyzhenka in the Akmolinsk Region (Oblast) and tasked with the recovery of spent rocket stages. In 1971, the unit was moved to Tselinograd, (Astana).
In May 1960, the OIS-7 base was formed based in Dzhezkazgan, which would be located in the path of the rockets heading to the Earth orbit with the inclination 51.6 degrees, which would eventually become a trajectory of choice for the manned space program.
Yet, another OIS unit was formed in January 1967, with its base in Ust-Kamenogorsk, in the Eastern Kazakhstan Region. It included at least 100 soldiers and sported its own farm.
However as number of launches grew and the secrecy around rocket technology was relaxed, more and more space junk remained rusting in the grasslands. In the 1970s, the construction of the monumental launch complex for the Energia-Buran system prompted the authorities to "cannibalize" the workforce dedicated to the cleanup of drop zones. The Soviet leadership even considered to disband the task force involved in the effort. As a result, countless debris, often containing toxic propellant components, were littering virgin lands of Kazakhstan. Mixed with rising anti-Russian sentiment and ill-informed public opinion about real dangers of rocket debris, this political and environmental minefield finally exploded in the face of Russian officials on the eve of the Soviet collapse at the beginning of the 1990s.
In the spring of 1990, a 500-man-strong battalion was formed to jump-start clean up efforts downrange from Baikonur. According to the leader of the group, considerable progress was made in both cleaning the impact zones and in getting the new experience in the utilization of large pieces of debris. The compaign was repeated in 1991, and, according to its participant, resulted in significant cleanup of impact sites.[/i]
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