Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Some of the many memorabilias of Yuri Gagarin in the Museum

We arrived in Moscow on the morning of 27th September. It was approaching winter, and colourful autumnal trees, bustling in all hues of red, orange, yellow and the occasional green, were busy shedding their leaves. It was cold although not as cold as we expected. For sure it was going to get colder.

A few days passed before we embarked on a short trip to our real destination, Star City, where Sheikh and I will be based to undergo our training. The Russian name for Star City is Звёздный Городо́к (Zvyozdny gorodok), which
literally means little town of stars. It is where the Russians and the old Soviet Union train their cosmonauts, and for
the next 12 months, this will be our temporary home. This will be our second trip to Star City. The first time was earlier in the summer during the final four stages of the selection process.

Star City is not that far from Moscow, about 25 km to the northeast of the Russian capital, and our journey to Star City took only about an hour. On the way, we passed through wide open Russian countryside along small lonely roads weaving through thick forests of tall thin trees.

A view of Star City

Star City is also known as the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center, named after the world's first space traveler and the first to graduate from the Star City regiment of tests and simulators. It was set up in 1960, and the first cosmonauts and their family members, including Yuri Gagarin, moved in the new facility at the beginning of June 1960.

Yuri GagarinIn actual fact the Training Centre is only one aspect of the city. Like any other permanent military base, it is self-contained. It has 3 grocery stores, a bank, a school, a tiny post office and other regular amenities that fulfill your basic needs. In fact, outside of the Training Centre, it is a normal rural city – a very nice one, with lakes, forests and very fresh air. Kids go to school and the mothers go to shop. An interesting fact is that many cosmonauts, including those who were there during Yuri Gagarin’s time, still live here with their children and grandchildren.And there is the much-visited Yuri Gagarin Memorial Museum, which houses the largest collections of documents and materials on history of manned cosmonautics in Russia. It is housed in a building called House of Cosmonauts or 'Dom Kosmonavtov' in the Russian language, which is like a big community centre. The museum's four halls contain unique displays reflecting all stages of manned spaceflights - from the legendary VOSTOK spacecraft through the MIR orbital complex, as well as development of international cooperation in space.

I hope I have done some justice to Star City in my description. I wish I
can do better, and there is so much more I want to say, but I’m just not that
good at writing like this. I just feel very honoured to be here, and to say that
I’m feeling overwhelmed by the whole experience is an understatement.In the next
entry, we will try to describe what our life in Star City is like.

To my fellow Malaysians, and to others who have sent their support to us,
we like to thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

Angkasawan Malaysia


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