Gagarin, Sputnik, Laika, Soyuz are words that recall the space race between the Soviet Union and the United States, that lasted from the late 50’s to 1975.
- While the Apollo XI and Neil Armstrong were the first to reach the Moon in 1969, the real pioneers of space exploration were the Soviet cosmonauts, taking the first satellite, the first human being and the first orbital station into space.
- These cosmonauts were trained in Star City, a secret place in those years, and that still works today and can be visited.
1. Star City
Star City (or Zvyozdni Gorodok in Russian) is the training center where Russian cosmonauts were trained to be the first to get to space.
Since the end of the 60s, this training center is called Yuri Gagarin (abbreviated GCTC), in memory of the first cosmonaut to travel to outer space.
Sergei Pavlovich Korolev was the architect of the training programs for the cosmonauts, who were subjected to hard exercises to improve their mental and physical resistance.
Star City became a laboratory in which the experiments with the future cosmonauts were carried out.
The different exploits carried out by the Russian cosmonauts placed Star City at the forefront of the space race, innovation and technology.
In the eighties and nineties, the space policy suffered a great stagnation. However, the participation of investment capital from European countries and the United States made it possible to start new joint projects
Currently, cosmonauts of the Russian Federal Space Agency (and former Soviet Space Program), as well as their families, live in this secret city, which has schools, institutes, cinemas, theaters, sports facilities, a train station and a museum of the space age where you can find a statue of Laika, the little dog, the first animal to orbit around the earth.
The current population of this city is about 5,500 inhabitants
- Official website (in Russian): http://www.gctc.ru/
- Official website (in English): http://www.gctc.su/
- Virtual tour: http://www.gctc.su/main.php?id=152
2. Location of Star City
It is located about 40 kilometers northeast of the city of Moscow. This small town didn’t appear in past decades on any map, since it was a secret and restricted place, as it was the training base for Russian cosmonauts during the Cold War era.
3. It is possible to visit Star City?
Yes. Even though it continues to be a quite secretive place, since it is still the training place of the cosmonauts, it is already possible to visit it by means of a special permission.
Obtaining the permit is not complicated, though it must be requested 1 month in advance before the Russian authorities, through one of the agencies that are responsible for private tours.
For example, through the GetYourGuide platform it is possible to hire the Star City Guided Tour (in English). For this excursion you must dedicate 1 whole day and the visit is made only on working days in small groups. It costs from 13,246 rubles per person, and it includes the guide and the hotel pick-up.
During the tour you will see a full-scale model of the MIR space station, the largest centrifugal machine in the world (which reproduces the G force that the cosmonauts experience during each of the phases of space flight) or the hydro-laboratory to simulate space weightlessness.
¿ Have you visited the City of Stars? What has been your experience? Below you can leave your comments