Monday, October 26, 2015

Cosmonaut Training Centre

In addition to visiting the Mission Control Centre in Korolev, visitors to Russia can see the place where Russian cosmonauts receive training for their travels into space. The Cosmonaut Training Centre is in Star City, another formerly closed city near Moscow. The statue above is of Yuri Gagarin, the first Soviet cosmonaut.

The centre has training models of the devices used by cosmonauts to reach the international space station. For anyone interested in space exploration it is a must, provided you have sufficient time for advance planning. In general, 45 days notice is required to book a tour, and tours are given in Russian so an interpreter will probably be needed.

On the tour you learn how cosmonauts deal with living in zero gravity for long periods and how they handle basic tasks of living such as eating, exercise and elimination. Seeing the tight quarters they live in gives you a new respect for the patience and forbearance the select few must exercise. They must have, as Tom Wolfe said, "The Right Stuff."

For a while it looked as if our group might not get in to the site for our scheduled tour, since we were held up for a long time at the gate. At last, though, our hosts managed to convince the guards that we were simple tourists, not spies for a foreign power. Speaking of foreign spies, I recently saw the film "Bridge of Spies" and thought it did a good job of conveying the tense atmosphere that existed between the Soviet Union and the West during the Cold War.


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