Destinations Europe Russia

Visiting The Museum of Cosmonautics in Moscow

Visiting The Museum of Cosmonautics in Moscow is one of the things that I recommend doing if you are in Moscow. Russia, and before it, the Soviet Union, has a very long, and proud, history of space exploration. If you have even just a little interest in the cosmos or in engineering, then I guarantee you that you will love visiting this museum. I spent three hours at the museum and probably could have spent even longer.

 

Entrance to the museum - note the queue

Entrance to the museum – note the queue

 

Getting There

The easiest way to get to the museum, and anywhere in Moscow for that matter, is to use the underground metro system. You want to use the orange line, number 6, and go to the VDNKh station. From here, you can easily walk to the museum. Just look for the tall, metallic monument of a rocket – it’s supposed to resemble a rocket during take off.

 

Rocket during take off (this is on top of the museum)

Rocket during take off (this is on top of the museum)

 

The Monument to the Conquerors of Space

The Monument to the Conquerors of Space

 

4th October 1957 - Sputnik 1 is launched

4th October 1957 – Sputnik 1 is launched

 

12th April 1961 - Yuri Gagarin becomes the first man in Space

12th April 1961 – Yuri Gagarin becomes the first man in Space

 

Monument to Yuri Gagarin outside the museum

Monument to Yuri Gagarin outside the museum

The museum has a numbered set of halls or areas, probably to make it easier to navigate the museum. I am pretty sure I didn’t do it this way and took many ‘wrong’ turns. I will describe some of the different types of items and exhibits in the museum.

 

Space Stations – Soyuz

On 14th January 1969, the Soyuz 4 spacecraft was launched from the Baikoner Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The next day, the Soyuz 5 spacecraft was launched. The two craft would dock on the 16th January, the firs time any craft would dock together and the crew transferred from Soyuz 5 to Soyuz 4.

 

Soyuz 4 and Soyuz 5

Soyuz 4 and Soyuz 5

 

The habitable module of a Soyuz craft

The habitable module of a Soyuz craft

 

A lone occupant in the module

A lone occupant in the module

 

The control station

The control station

 

Space Stations – MIR

MIR was a space station which operated from 1986 until 2001. It was the first modular space station and was continuously inhabited for 3644 days – a total which was broken by the ISS in October 2010. In total, the station was occupied for 4592 days out of its 5510 days life. The station also holds the record for the single longest flight in space – that of Valeri Polyakov who spent 437 days on the station in 1994-5.

The MIR space station

The MIR space station

 

Airlock of the MIR space station

Airlock of the MIR space station

 

Sleeping quarters

Sleeping quarters

 

Hard at work

Hard at work

 

Model of MIR

Model of MIR

 

Space Stations – ISS

The International Space Station (ISS) was launched in 1998 and has been continuously inhabited since 2nd November 2000, the longest continuous human presence in low earth orbit. The station is expected to be used until 2028 and to date astronauts and tourists from 18 different countries have visited the station.

The ISS (International Space Station)

The ISS (International Space Station)

 

Model of the ISS (International Space Station)

Model of the ISS (International Space Station)

 

 

Satellites and Rockets

The automated inter-planetary Mars-1 station was launched on 1st November 1962. It was the first probe to be sent to Mars. The model in the museum is in 1:3 scale.

Mars 1 Station

Mars 1 Station

 

The third Earth satellite was the first ever automated space station and was launched from the Baikonur cosmodrome on 15th May 1958, remaining in orbit until 6th April 1960.

Third Earth Satellite

Third Earth Satellite

 

Everyone will have heard of Sputnik. Sputnik 1 was the first artificial item to make it into orbit on 4th October 1957. The satellite was 58 cm in diameter and orbited the Earth every 96 minutes until it burned up reentering the atmosphere on 4th January 1958.

Sputnik

Sputnik

 

On 19th August 1960, the dogs Belka and Strelka, along with a rabbit, 42 mice. 2 rats, flies and plants were launched into space on board Korabl-Sputnik 2. They spent a day in orbit before all returning to Earth safely. One amusing story is that Strelka would go on to have multiple puppies, one of which was presented to JFK as a gift by Nikita Khrushchev in 1961.

Ejection Container for "Guinea Pigs"

Ejection Container for “Guinea Pigs”

 

Strelka

Strelka

 

Belka

Belka

 

The RD-214 was a liquid rocket engine designed between 1952-1957. It was influenced by the V2 rockets from the 2nd World War. If you are a bit of a geek, you will like some of the figures regarding the engine: it weighed 645kg (755kg including fuel) and it was 2.38 metres tall and 1.5 metres in diameter.

Liquid Rocket Engine: RD-214

Liquid Rocket Engine: RD-214

 

The Flying Laboratory IL-76 was used to train astronauts in zero-g conditions. The aircraft was able to simulate 10-15 cycles of zero-g, each one lasting between 25-30 seconds.

The Flying Lab IL-76

The Flying Lab IL-76

 

Yuri Gagarin was launched into space using a Vostok launch rocket.

Vostok carrier rocket used to send Yuri Gagarin into space

Vostok carrier rocket used to send Yuri Gagarin into space

 

The Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan is where many of the ‘firsts’ in space exploration happened. It is from here that Yuri Gagarin launched into orbit. The site is still in use and is currently leased to Russia. There is a 1:72 model of the site with a Soyuz launch rocket.

Baikoner launch complex with Soyuz launch rocket

Baikoner launch complex with Soyuz launch rocket

Spacesuits

There are a number of spacesuits and uniforms on display in the museum, including the very first suit ever used in outer space, the Berkut which means golden eagle. On 18th March 1965, Alexei Leonov made the first exit from a ship into outer space. In total he was exposed for 24 minutes 12 seconds. The suit weighed 20kg and the backpack an additional 21kg and had enough oxygen for 45 minutes life support. I can’t imagine it was very comfortable or allowed much freedom of movement.

The Berkut Spacesuit

The Berkut Spacesuit

 

On 21st July 1969, Neil Armstrong and Edwin ‘Buzz’ Aldrin walked on the moon. With them on their mission was a 3rd astronaut, Michael Collins. His suit was donated to the museum by its designer.

 

Michael Collins Suit

Michael Collins Suit

 

Spacesuit number 3

Spacesuit number 3

 

Another spacesuit

Another spacesuit

 

The Moon

On 3rd February 1966, Luna 9 made the first ever soft landing on the moon in the Ocean of Storms. There is a 1:1 scale of the station in the museum.

Luna 9

Luna 9

 

The Luna 9 descent capsule

The Luna 9 descent capsule

 

On 20th September 1970, the unmanned Luna 16 landed on the moon in the Sea of Fertility. 105kg of lunar soil was collected and returned to Earth via the return capsule. The capsule landed on 24th September in Kazakhstan. This was the first time that soil samples were brought back from the moon in an automated mission.

Luna 16

Luna 16

 

The first men on the moon

The first men on the moon

 

People in Space

Photos of people who have been in space.....

Photos of people who have been in space…..

 

...wall of photos continued

…wall of photos continued

 

Space Food

The museum has a relatively basic cafe where you can grab a coffee and a snack or just to sit for a while. If you are feeling adventurous, you can even sample some astronaut food.

Space food in all its 'glory'

Space food in all its ‘glory’

 

The prices

The prices

When To Visit

The Museum is closed on Monday and is open from 10:00 to 19:00 everyday apart from Thursday and Saturday, when it is open to 21:00. Museums in Russia have some quirky free days and in this museums case, that is on the third Sunday of every month. I have no idea why it is so specific but there you go! I would advise going early. Even when i visited in early January, it took 1 hour to get to the front of the queue. Some of this is probably related to the holiday time but, when visiting the museum of cosmonautics in Moscow, in January,  you really don’t want to be standing still, believe me!

The opening hours for Visiting The Museum of Cosmonautics in Moscow

The opening hours

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17 Comments

  • Reply
    Jas
    April 29, 2018 at 20:25

    What a cool experience!!!!! I’m totally adding this to my bucket list for when I visit Moscow and I wonder what astronaut food tastes like hahaa. Did you end up trying it???

    • Damien
      Reply
      Damien
      May 9, 2018 at 20:43

      Haha I am afraid that I chickened out a little. That and I had a big breakfast that day so wasn’t really that hungry. I hope you like it as much as I did!

  • Reply
    Helena
    April 27, 2018 at 02:00

    I have always found space to be so interesting but also quite scary. I always enjoy going to space centres and with Russia being a lead in this area I would imagine it would be awesome to see and experience!

    • Damien
      Reply
      Damien
      May 9, 2018 at 20:42

      I agree with you completely on this. I actually wanted to walk on Mars as a child. I think I would go tomorrow if I could!

  • Reply
    melody pittman
    April 27, 2018 at 00:59

    I loved this post because I live near and visit NASA in Cape Canaveral, Florida quite often. I’m obsessed with meeting astronauts. What a cool museum! I’m curious, did they have space ice cream? That is a real treat in the US. I couldn’t make it out by the packaging but just curious. Thanks for sharing. I enjoyed reading about it.

    • Damien
      Reply
      Damien
      May 9, 2018 at 20:41

      Thanks very much. I am afraid that I cannot remember for certain but I am leaning more towards that they didn’t have it. Maybe I will get to try it if i visit NASA in Cape Canaveral sometime.

  • Reply
    Renata Green - www.byemyself.com
    April 26, 2018 at 22:42

    Although this isn’t a topic that usually fascinates me, from your pictures alone I find it very interesting. I find the first pix with the stern, socialist, determined faces quite funny – very ‘Russian on a mission’. It definitely looks like a great museum.

    • Damien
      Reply
      Damien
      May 9, 2018 at 20:40

      Thanks for the comment and yes you are right regarding the stoic type faces. There are a lot of those figures and statues all over Russia from my experience.

  • Reply
    Anja
    April 26, 2018 at 17:31

    Space travel always fascinated me, so I would be very interested in seeing all of it in person (especially the interior of the air crafts). When I was in elementary school, space station Mir was very much current, and we learned about it in physics classes- now I feel a bit old! 🙂 🙂

    • Damien
      Reply
      Damien
      May 9, 2018 at 20:40

      It has always fascinated me too and believe me, I know what you mean about feeling old!

  • Reply
    Bernie
    April 25, 2018 at 21:21

    What a fascinating place! I was intrigued by Mir; that level of confinement for so long needs a particular kind of mindset, although I guess that the spectacular view would help. I tried freeze dried ice cream once; the flavour was lovely, but the texture would take some getting used to!

    • Damien
      Reply
      Damien
      May 9, 2018 at 20:39

      I think you are right. Its probably why it takes such a long time in training before anyone can go to space for prolonged periods.

  • Reply
    Danila Caputo
    April 25, 2018 at 20:30

    My husband would absolutely love to visit this museum! He’s space-bsessed! And it’s definitely great that you can get there using the metro, in stead than having to get a taxi: I think the rocket would be impossible to miss, too 😀

    • Damien
      Reply
      Damien
      May 9, 2018 at 20:38

      You are right. As soon as you exit the metro station the rocket is the easiest way to find where to go. No signs are needed 🙂

  • Reply
    Amy Alton
    April 23, 2018 at 17:44

    We had some Russian exchange students we took to Space Center Houston. One of the girls was trying to think of the English word for cosmonaut and came up with “space man”. Having grown up around JSC it would be interesting to see the Cosmonaut museum.

  • Reply
    Maggie
    April 23, 2018 at 17:41

    I live right next door to the American Air and Space museum, so it would be sort of interesting to learn about the history of space travel from the Russian perspective

    • Damien
      Reply
      Damien
      May 9, 2018 at 20:32

      I think you are right. The museum definitely has a Soviet/Russian feel so would be good to compare.

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