Ian Wright prepares for lift off
Where: Zvezdnyy Gorodok, nr Moscow, European Russia
What’s it About: Once secret headquarters of the Soviet Space Programme now open as a space-science museum
Top Attraction: Take a trip into Zero Gravity – the closest on earth experience to moon life – expensive, but life changing!
Where It’s At
Star City, home of the Russian space programme is located outside Moscow inZvezdnyy Gorodok. In Russia, it is known as the ‘Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre’ in honour of the first human in space and was created in 1960. Every cosmonaut since Gagarin has trained in Star City, which was once a top secret location.
Life on Mars
The cosmonauts spend approximately 30 weeks at Star City, where they learn about Russian-built systems, from the electrical power supply to the communications system, and also go through a gruelling period of survival training. They are sent to remote areas, such as the desert or tundra snow belts. While there, they are expected to use minimal emergency supplies and self-defence skills to build their own shelter, start a fire and prepare food. The exercises also strengthen the bonds of camaraderie and teamwork.
From the outside, the home of the cosmonauts looks like a housing development at the end of a tree-lined back road. Compared to NASA’s setting in Houston, it’s positively pastoral, but the military sentry reminds you that Star City is no ordinary suburb. In 1960, the whole housing of Star City consisted of two five-storey buildings, whilst today, 10 000 people working in Star City have all the necessary living comforts.
Russia’s Mir Space Station has been in orbit since 1986 and an exact replica of the space ship can be seen at Star City, it gives you an idea of what life in space must have been like for the cosmonauts.
Walking on the Moon
Since the station has opened up to the world since the collapse of Communism, visitors can grab their own slice of space life. A popular but expensive experience in Star City is a voyage intoZero Gravity. Zero gravity experience is recreated in a special training jet, used to prepare cosmonauts for space travel. At 33,000 ft, the engines are powered back and the plane plummets to earth causing everyone inside to experience zero gravity up to 30 seconds at a time, initially under the force of 2G, before you begin to float around in ‘free fall’ – as if you were walking on the moon! There is also a gigantic centrifuge which is used for spinning purposes and an area where cosmonauts are trained to space walk under certain environmental conditions. The sensation itself lasts about 30 seconds at a time, and at a cost of around $4,000 dollars, it could be the most expensive but inspirational moment of your life!
Space Adventures: Zero Gravity
Walk like an astronaut with this unique holiday on the outskirts of space.
By Susi O’Neill