Take the metro to the VDNkh station, walk outside and across the street and this is what you see, the Monument to the Conquerors of Space erected in 1964. While getting to the moon was one hell of an achievement for the United States, my affection is still for the Russian space program and what they achieved with determination, ingenuity and bravery. Had things gone just a little differently, well maybe there’d by a Tsiolkovsky lunar encampment in the sea of Tranquility today…
In the base of the monument is a space museum which is where we headed after admiring the monument in the somewhat frigid temperature. FYI it’s not made very obvious but you need to buy an extra ticket to take photo’s, and there are photo police wandering the exhibition (which annoyed the crap out of G). Despite that this is a great little museum brimming over with history, but still suffering from the hangover of soviet circumspection about it’s failures. To my mind it could be so much better by talking honestly about the near misses, disasters and tragedies of the program as well as showing more of the story of all those involved in the program e.g. the engineers and technicians, as well as the husbands, wives and children* of the cosmonauts. Definitely worth the visit, and worth being pestered by the photo police. Oh and the idea of making the monument out of titanium, literally priceless.
*For example Elena Yurievna Gagarina the eldest daughter of Yuri Gagarin is the director of the Kremlin State museum (The Armoury) which we’d visited yesterday.
Looking down Cosmonauts alley towards the space stella
Konstantin Tsiolkovsky looking suitably prophetic
Frieze at the base of the monument celebrating all the people who made it possible
Yuri Gargarin’s spacesuit the SK-1 (Skafandr Kosmicheskiy) it’s more of a pressure suit intended to protect you from depressurisation (and during ejection) rather than a true space suit for work outside the capsule
The hero’s medals
The Vostok (East) 1 capsule, only one driver low mileage
The little beeping ball that started it all
Little Laika’s capsule
Belka and Strelka, and a space capsule built for two very small furry cosmonauts
Leonov’s Berkut (Golden Eagle) space suit, a modified Vostok Sokol-1 intravehicular (IV) suit.
No it’s not a zero g shower, this is an inflatable airlock used by Alexey Leonov to carry out the first spacewalk during the Voskhod 2 flight.
The Soviet E6 Luna lander in cruise mode enroute to the Moon
Luna 9 lander
The Soviet E3 lunar orbiter, that first took pictures of the far side of the moon
Zvezda developed KP-V-3A ejection seat, for emergency use in the ascent phase and normal ejection before landing, no soft landing system on Vostok!
Yastreb (Hawk) developed to be more rigid after the problems on Voskhod 2 suit used once during a crew transfer, it was not a good design and discontinued.
Yastreb (Hawk) helmet closeup
Sokol (Falcon) spacesuit, what every well dressed cosmonaut wears on a trip to the ISS. This is a strictly keep you alive suit, not intended for EVA.
Orlan (Sea eagle) spacesuit in airlock mockup
Orlan spacesuit in EVA, with space girl
The Krechet (gyrfalcon) was a semi-hardshell space suit developed for the Soviet manned lunar program, a lot more advanced than the equivalent generation of Apollo suits. It was designed by NPP Zvezda.
Luna 24, soil sample return mission
Soyuz capsule, heat shield jettisoned showing the retro rockets and emergency placards
And soviet space poster art
‘Wow dad, is that an RD-214 ?’, ‘Why yes it is the RD-214 engine, did you know that it used a storable mixture of Nitric Acid and Kerosene, and was developed for ballistic missiles with a short readiness time requirement?’, ‘Geee…’