Report from GN Conference and
Study Tour to Russia
From: Dave Webb
April 25 - May 9 2019
The best way to travel around around Moscow must be via the amazing metro system.
The metro was opened in 1935 with one 11-kilometre (6.8 mi) line and 13 stations, now it has 224 stations (255 with Moscow Central Circle) along 381 km (237 mi), making it the fifth longest in the world. It also offers a brilliant service, with trains arriving everything 2 or 3 minutes.
The statue in the subway (top right) honours the resistance to the German Nazi occupation during WW II.
Saint Basil’s Cathedral was commissioned by Tsar Ivan the Terrible during the 16th century after his victories over the Muslim khanates of Kazan and Astrakhan. The Museum of the 1812 Great Patriotic War in Revolution Square was opened in honor of the 200 Anniversary of the war. The exhibition is arranged in chronological order: from the events before the War of 1812 to foreign campaigns of Russian Army in 1813–1814. There are awards and uniform of French and Russian soldiers, maps and documents, household items and equipment among the rarities.
The Historical Museum of Russian history lies between Red Square and Manege Square. Its exhibitions range from relics of prehistoric tribes that lived on the territory of present-day Russia, to artworks acquired by members of the Romanov dynasty. There are millions of objects in the museum's collection.
The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is located at the Kremlin Wall in the Alexander Garden and is dedicated to the Soviet soldiers killed during World War II.
I was particulalry interested in visiting this museum and it was well worth the visit!
The museum opened on April 10, 1981 to mark 20 years since Yuri Gagarin became the first person to orbit the earth. It celebrates the history of Russia’s 20th-century space travel achievements, with around 85,000 items on space technology, astronomy, and space travel. The museum is contained in the base of the Monument to the Conquerors of Space.
Konstantin Eduardovich Tsiolkovsky (1857 – 1935) Russian rocket scientist and pioneer of the astronautic theory. Considered to be one of the founding fathers of modern rocketry and astronautics, along with the French Robert Esnault-Pelterie, the German Hermann Oberth and the American Robert H. Goddard. He later inspired leading Soviet rocket engineers such as Sergei Korolev and Valentin Glushko and contributed to the success of the Soviet space program.
Sergei Pavlovich Korolev (1907 – 1966) the lead Soviet rocket engineer and spacecraft designer during the Space Race between the United States and the Soviet Union in the 1950s and 1960s. He is regarded by many as the father of practical astronautics. He was involved in the development of the R-7 Rocket, Sputnik 1, and launching Laika and the first human being into space.
On entering the museum
Laika was a stray dog from Moscow who was selected for her hardiness and docile behaviour. She was trained in a centrifuge to get her used to the g-forces of launch, trained to eat a high-nutrition gel as food, and trained in progressively smaller cages to replicate the spacecraft size.
On 31 October 1957, several days before launch, Laika was strapped into her satellite on top of a modifed R-7 rocket where she sat until the early morning of 3 November. During launch her heartbeat soared to 240 beats per minute but she was calm enough to eat food once she was weightless, proving that eating in space was possible.
It was revealed in 2002 that unfortunately the spacecraft’s heating never worked properly and Laika died due to heat exhaustion only about five hours (four orbits) into her flight. Sputnik 2, continued to orbit the Earth for another five months until it re-entered Earth’s atmosphere in April 1958.
The world reacted to Laika with a mixture of astonishment, humour (endless variations of ‘muttnik’), and admonishment. Britain took the side of the dog and phone lines were jammed with animal rights activists trying to reach the Soviet Embassy in London.
Belka ("Squirrel" or "Whitey") and Strelka ("Little Arrow") spent a day in space on 19 August 1960 before safely returning to Earth. They were accompanied by a grey rabbit, 42 mice, two rats, flies and several plants and fungi. All passengers survived. They were the first Earth-born creatures to go into orbit and return alive.
Korabl-Sputnik 2 also known incorrectly as Sputnik 5 in the West, was the third test flight of the Vostok spacecraft. It was the first spaceflight to send animals into orbit and return them safely back to Earth. Launched in 1960, it paved the way for the first human orbital flight, Vostok 1, launched less than eight months later.
It was the second attempt to launch a Vostok capsule with dogs on board. The first, on 28 July, carried a pair named Bars (Snow Leopard aka. Chaika (Seagull)) and Lisichka (Foxie)), had been unsuccessful after a fire and breakdown 19 seconds after launch. Flight controllers sent a command to jettison the payload shroud and separate the descent module, but due to the low altitude, the parachutes only deployed partially, and the dogs were killed on impact with the ground. The accident encouraged the development of an ejector seat for the cosmonaut to escape from the capsule in the event of a launch failure.
Strelka went on to have six puppies with a male dog named Pushok who participated in many ground-based space experiments, but never made it into space. One of the pups was named Pushinka and was presented to President John F. Kennedy by Nikita Khrushchev in 1961. A Cold War romance bloomed between Pushinka and a Kennedy dog named Charlie, resulting in the birth of four pups that JFK referred to jokingly as pupniks.
Vostok 1 was launched from Baikonur Cosmodrome on April 12, 1961. It’s spaceflight consisted of a single orbit around Earth which skimmed the upper atmosphere at 169 kilometers (91 nautical miles) at its lowest point. The flight took 108 minutes from launch to landing. Gagarin parachuted to the ground separately from his capsule after ejecting at 7 km (23,000 ft) altitude.
The Vostok 1 capsule was designed to carry a single cosmonaut. Yuri Gagarin, 27, was chosen as the prime pilot.
Yuri Gagarin (1934 – 1968) - Vostok 1 was his only spaceflight, but he served as the backup crew to the Soyuz 1 mission, which ended in a fatal crash. Gagarin later served as the deputy training director of the Cosmonaut Training Centre outside Moscow, which was subsequently named after him. Gagarin died in 1968 when the MiG-15 training jet he was piloting crashed.
Valentina Vladimirovna Tereshkova was the first woman is space. As well as a cosmonaut she was also an engineer and a member of the Russian State Duma. She flew a solo mission in Vostok 6 on 16 June 1963.
While Vostok 5 had been delayed by technical problems. Tereshkova maintained a flight log, took photographs, and manually oriented the spacecraft. Her photographs of the horizon from space were later used to identify aerosol layers within the atmosphere. Vostok 6 was the last flight of a Vostok 3KA spacecraft.
Venera 1 (aka Venera-1VA No.2 and in the West as Sputnik 8) - the first spacecraft to fly past Venus.
Venera 13 and 14 were identical spacecraft launched 5 days apart (on 30 October and 4 November 1981) to take advantage of the 1981 Venus launch opportunity. The lander functioned for at least 127 minutes (the planned design life was 32 minutes) in an environment with a temperature of 457 °C (855 °F) and a pressure of 89 Earth atmospheres (9.0 MPa). The descent vehicle transmitted data to the satellite, which relayed it back to Earth.
Microphones on the probe recorded atmospheric wind noises in an effort to measure wind speed (they also recorded noises associated with the probe's equipment). This was the first recording of sound on another planet. The recording was repeated with Venera 14.
On Jan. 16, 1969, Soyuz-4 and Soyuz-5 performed the first-ever docking of manned spacecraft in orbit, the first-ever transfer of crew from one space vehicle to another, and the only time such a transfer was accomplished with a space walk.
Buran ("Snowstorm" or "Blizzard") was a spaceplane produced as part of the Soviet/Russian Buran programme. Buran 1 completed one unmanned spaceflight in 1988, and was destroyed in 2002 when the hangar it was stored in collapsed. It remains the only Soviet reusable spacecraft to be launched into space. The Buran-class orbiters used the expendable Energia rocket, a class of super heavy-lift launch vehicle.
Mir - the first continuously inhabited long-term research station in orbit. It held the record for the longest continuous human presence in space at 3,644 days, until it was surpassed by the International Space Station on 23 October 2010. It holds the record for the longest single human spaceflight, with Valeri Polyakov spending 437 days and 18 hours on the station between 1994 and 1995. Mir was occupied for a total of twelve and a half years out of its fifteen-year lifespan, having the capacity to support a resident crew of three, or larger crews for short visits.
Moscow Park of Soviet Achievements
The space museum is in the Park of Soviet Achevements which akso includes:
The Cosmos Hotel complex was built to serve the XXII Summer Olympic Games held in Moscow in 1980.
The Museum of the Great Patriotic War is in Poklonnaya Gora in Moscow, is a museum of World War II, known in Russia as "The Great Patriotic War". It was opened to the public on May 9, 1995 and features exhibits and memorials of the war from a Russian vewpoint. It has 14,143 square meters of exhibit space for permanent collections and an additional 5,500 square meters for temporary exhibits
In the museum were a number of rooms with large scale paintings and dioramas depicting important battles of the war:
The Battle of Stalingrad (23 August 1942 – 2 February 1943) was the largest confrontation of the war for control of the city of Stalingrad (now Volgograd). On19 November 1942 Soviet troops launched a counterattack, Operation Uranus, encircling the city and trapping the German Sixth Army within it. It was not possible to get enough supplies in by air and on 2 February 1943, the Germans surrendered their remaining 91,000 troops- it was seen as a key turning point in the war. The battle involved fierce close quarters combat and air raids, it was the largest (involving nearly 2.2 million personnel) and bloodiest (with 1.8–2 million killed, wounded or captured) battle in the history of warfare.
The Battle of Moscow (October 1941 and January 1942). A Moscow Counter Advance was launched in December 1941 - the picture depicts Soviet troop reinforcements approaching the Moscow-Volga canal heading towards the city centre.
Taking of Berlin on the night of 2–3 May, the commander of the III Panzer Army and commander of the XXI Army, surrendered to the US Army. The II Army, that had been fighting north-east of Berlin surrendered to the Soviets on 9 May.
The Battle of Kursk in July 1943 in western Russia, as Germany launched Operation Citadel, Hitler’s response to his defeat at the Battle of Stalingrad. Germany’s last chance to regain dominance on the Eastern Front - it would be their final blitzkrieg offensive. A massive assault on Soviet troops had been on the cards but postponements by Hitler gave the Soviets time to prepare.
Germany amassed over 500,000 men, 10,000 guns and mortars, 2,700 tanks and assault guns and 2,500 aircraft to attack the Kursk Bulge and take Kursk. But the Soviets’ war machine went into overdrive, the Red Army dug in and amassed almost 1,300,000 men, over 20,000 guns and mortars, 3,600 tanks, 2,650 aircraft and there were five reserve field armies of another half million men and 1,500 additional tanks.
It is estimated that there were up to 800,000 Soviet casualties, 200,000 German casualties; the Germans lost 60 tanks and Soviets 822.
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