Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Roscosmos Tour!


Pinch me, I must be dreaming! The MIR Corporation, a Seattle-based travel tour entity un-related to the Space Station of the same name, is now offering an exclusive tour that allows access and even optional Cosmonaut training tasks inside the Russian Federal Space Agency!

That last part is contingent on a medical exam, but... still... WOW. This gives a whole new meaning to Space Camp. And the 10-day package will only set you back $14,000 dollars -- or about 415,000 roubles.

Soyuz Simulator Star City
GCTC's Soyuz Simulator

Scheduled for October 2012, the tour will be led by Dr. Steven Lee of the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, who also has Hubble history on Mars, and served as a research scientist at Boulder's Space Science Institute (SSI).

First stop: Moscow! Well, northeast of Moscow. The Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center (GCTC) in "Star City" is obviously no longer a TOP SECRET kinda site if they allowing Yankee tourists! Here, one can enter the MIR and ISS simulator mock-ups, see the world's largest centrifuge, and tour the esteemed Star City Space Museum, which includes Russian and Soviet space program artifacts. Among each era are the space capsules and space suits, the original launch pad from the Sputnik missions, the Cold War Bunker, and even a reproduction of Yuri Gagarin's office.

(Note: Not to be confused with the Memorial Museum of Cosmonautics inside the Moscow metropolis near Ostankino.)

Tour of Roscosmos
Mother of all Centrifuges

Next stop, Baikonur! Just a short jaunt to Kazakhstan to watch the rollout of a Soyuz rocket at the Cosmodrome, ho hum, how ordinary. NOT. As long as you're there you may as well tour the old Buran hangar where Russian rockets are now assembled, and a visit to the Energia and Proton launch pads.

On October 15th, the Soyuz TMA-06M will blast off from The Gagarin Start, carrying three Expedition 33/34 crew members to the ISS that you will get to meet, prior to flight (NASA Commander Kevin Ford, and RFSA Flight Engineers Oleg Novitskiy and Evgeny Tarelkin).

Moscow Mission Control
Moscow Mission Control: пилотирyемые полеты в CCCP
Translation of text on top left: "Piloted Flights in USSR"
or what we'd call "Manned Spaceflight Missions"
(Click picture to see larger image, compliments of Mike Allyn)

And as if the rest of us don't already hate you enough for being able to go to this when we mere impoverished mortals cannot, the last two days will be a return to Moscow for a tour of Mission Control, and the vast Energia Space Museum.

You'll also have time to see the usual touristy sites such as the Kremlin and Red Square – and if you're still just dripping money by then, you can take an optional travel package to St. Petersburg.