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It‘s Monday morning, 26th of May 2014. I‘m sitting at the Moscow airport waiting for our flight to Baikonur, which got delayed twice by now. So why not use the waiting time to write another blog post.
I remember an astronaut once told me, that if you want to go to space you need be very patient, as you‘ll have really long waiting times: Waiting for the launch day, waiting to get dressed up for the launch, waiting inside the rocket etc. I wonder how the three astronauts (Gerst, Surajew, Wisemann) are feeling at the moment, watching their Soyuz rocket erected at the launch pad.
Well back to Moscow: Yesterday we first went to the memorial museum of Cosmonautics. The museum is located underneath the beautiful monument „To Conquerors of space“. Russian do have a impressive way of building heroic monuments. I‘ve never seen something similar before. The museum features not only Russian spaceflight history in detail, they do also mention cooperation in space which started with the Apollo-Soyuz docking in 1975. Unfortunately most of the space probes are mock-ups, but there are 2 flown Soyuz one from 1980 (Soyuz 37) and the Soyuz TMA-4 were apparently Dutch astronaut Andre Kuipers flew in 2004 to the ISS. Of course they list also all cosmonauts who flew with Soyuz into space like our only Austrian astronaut Franz Viehböck. If you plan a visit to the museum keep in mind most of the exhibition is in Russian only.
After the museum visits we went to Sergei Korolev house, which is located nearby. You wouldn‘t expect to find such an idyllic house with garden in the middle of Moscow. Korolev lived here only 6 years until his early death in 1966. All clocks in the house were set to the time of Korolev‘s death. We got a private tour through the house which now serves as museum. It‘s also an historic document of how people lived in the 1960’s. In the entrance there is a nice statue which Korolev got from the first cosmonauts, they engraved their signatures after his death.
As Korolev worked hard, approximately 18 hours a day, he had a projector in his house so he could enjoy movies at home. He was also a fan of classical music, so he did have a good collection of records. Upstairs on the first floor you immediately see a big moon map on the wall. When the map was produced, we didn‘t know how the back side of the moon looked like. To me it seemed that the moon craters were drawn by hand. The guide told us, that the map served as inspiration for Korolev, thinking about how to get to the moon. So every time Korolev went to his office on the 1st floor or to his bedroom he had to pass by the moon map.
In the garden Korolev sat together with cosmonauts on a bench and had probably interesting discussion with them. When sitting on this bench I could breathe space history. It must have been exciting times back in the 1960‚s and it reminds me of a similar bench in Alpbach.
Korolev house was definitely a highlight on Sunday. We went also to All-Russian exhibition center, which is a huge park area with pavilion from former soviet countries but also theme pavilion like food or space. This park is a very popular area for Russians especially during summer time, so the area was crowded with at least 1000 people who enjoyed the cold water of the fountains, skating or cycling on the street. Moreover there was also a science festival with lots of hands-on-activities for kids. Near the space pavilion there is also a Vostok rocket. I‘m not sure if it was a real one, but it was very impressive.
Our next stop is Baikonur. We are ready for the launch.
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