Star City Moscow
The centre for Russian Space Training
This picture of Mir was taken from the Space Shuttle Discovery during
STS-91 in June 1998. NASA photo
From the 1940s to the 1990s, the secretive USSR created a massive constellation of ghost geography. Hundreds of cities. Over a million people living off the map. Not "off the grid"—towns were literally left off of Soviet maps, kept from prying eyes. If you lived there, your city had no public name and as a citizen you were a non-person.
In one of these secret cities, established in 1960 and known as "Military Unit 26266 in closed town number one," young Russians were trained to be launched into the skies and beyond. Star City, located just east of Moscow, became the home of the Cosmonauts.
During the 1960s the Soviet Union planned extensively for a lunar landing and trained over 60 cosmonauts. Star City blossomed into a real town with its own post office, movie theatre, railway station, and a couple of schools—all very, very secret. Its citizens were given special passports so they could enter and leave. Star City was a small world onto itself, kept hidden not just from other countries but from fellow Russians.
The space program was once a powerful point of pride within the great communist dream, but in 1991, when the Soviet Union collapsed, it left Star City and the cosmonauts in serious trouble. At the time, cosmonaut Sergei Krikalev was on board the Mir space station, with the landing site in Kazakhstan suddenly no longer part of the USSR. Sergei was left on board Mir for months as Russia struggled with the Kazakhstan government.
Star City adapted and began working more closely with NASA. By the mid 1990s, the curtain of secrecy of Star City had lifted slightly. For the first time, visitors could catch a glimpse of the tank where cosmonauts practice their space walks under water, or the gigantic centrifuge where the soon-to-be space travelers are swung around at dizzying speeds under eight times the force of gravity.
In 2008 control of Star City was officially handed over from the Russian military to space agency Roscosmos, making it a civil rather than military organization. It marked the first time since its establishment in 1960 that Star City became open to the general public, though still only with permission.
Full Day Tour
The cost of standard Star City tour
including visiting three main GCTC objects (Soyuz spaceship simulators hall,
ISS hall, Mir space station hall) on weekdays is 400 Euro (for a group up to
10 pax). At the weekends the price doubles and since Jan, 8 is still a New
Year Holiday the price for the tour is 800 Euro.
|Yuri Gagarin||Star City Cosmonauts Badge||Star City guide book cover|
|Russian space suit||Museum exhibits||Historical Projects|
And whilst you are in Moscow don't forget the Cosmonaut and Space Museum