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Moscow: in the footsteps of space explorers

Published time: March 04, 2010 21:21
Edited time: March 04, 2010 21:21

When it comes to space, Russia has had many firsts – the first satellite, the first man in space, the first space station. And in the north of Moscow is a whole area celebrating Russia’s fascination with the stars.

Everything there is about space: Rocket Boulevard, a hotel called Cosmos, and Cosmonauts’ Alley – a pedestrian street with Soviet-era monuments to Russia’s space-pioneering heroes. There is the legendary Yury Gagarin – the first man in space, Valentina Tereshkova – you guessed it, the first woman to fly into orbit – and Aleksey Leonov, who performed the first space walk.

After a recent large-scale restoration, the Alley now boasts a brand new solar system and Walk of Fame-like stars, with the big names of Russia’s space Odyssey.

Especially designed to look like a runway, it finally leads us to what has been dubbed one of Moscow’s most impressive Soviet constructions – the monument to the Conquerors of Space, an enormous silver rocket soaring into the sky on a more-than-100-meter-tall stream of glistening titanium.

It was built in 1964 to commemorate the launch of the world’s first artificial satellite, Sputnik. The original plan was to make the trail of fire behind the rocket out of glass, but the father of Russian rocketry, Sergey Korolyov, himself insisted that the statue should be built of metal used in spacecraft construction.

The monument is graced with a statue of Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, an early pioneer in the theory of space travel, and is decorated with scenes of scientists and engineers hard at work, as well as Lenin leading the Soviet people into space.

But perhaps the most interesting part is inside.

The Cosmonautics Museum is reputed to be one of the world’s top space museums. Opened to mark the 20th anniversary of Gagarin’s flight and newly revamped, it has plenty of gadgetry and a most fascinating array of all things handy for escaping the Earth – from cosmonauts’ suits, including Gagarin’s one, to the legendary Soviet space shuttle Buran.

It boasts a full-size model of the iconic Sputnik, replicas of Belka and Strelka, the first dogs to safely return after a space flight, and the capsule that Yury Gagarin used to orbit the Earth.

What a great place for children! But grown-ups too have lots to enjoy there, even without any special space knowledge.

One can explore the Mir space station, discover the cosmonaut in themselves using training simulators and even try some cosmonaut food. So whether you want to know more about the heady days of the space race or just have a day of fun, take a trip to the stars right from the heart of Moscow!