Cosmonauts: Birth of the Space Age

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 (Yuri Gagarin before the first space flight, April 12 1961, c. RIA Novosti)
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Yuri Gagarin before the first space flight, April 12 1961, c. RIA Novosti
 (Boris Staris, "The fairy tale became truth", 1961. Published by The Young Guard (Molodaya Gvardia), Photo: Memorial Museum of Cosmonautics)
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Boris Staris, "The fairy tale became truth", 1961. Published by The Young Guard (Molodaya Gvardia), Photo: Memorial Museum of Cosmonautics
 (Chibis (Lapwing) Lower Body Negative Pressure Suit, 1971 – present. c. The Memorial Museum of Cosmonautics / Photo: State Museum and Exhibition Centre ROSIZO)
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Chibis (Lapwing) Lower Body Negative Pressure Suit, 1971 – present. c. The Memorial Museum of Cosmonautics / Photo: State Museum and Exhibition Centre ROSIZO
 (Dog ejector seat and suit ca. 1955, c. The open joint-stock company ‘Research, Development & Production Enterprise “Zvezda”’/ Photo: State Museum and Exhibition Centre ROSIZO)
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Dog ejector seat and suit ca. 1955, c. The open joint-stock company ‘Research, Development & Production Enterprise “Zvezda”’/ Photo: State Museum and Exhibition Centre ROSIZO
 (Valentina Tereshkova’s Vostok-6 descent module, 1963, Photo: State Museum and Exhibition Centre ROSIZO)
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Valentina Tereshkova’s Vostok-6 descent module, 1963, Photo: State Museum and Exhibition Centre ROSIZO
 (Alexei Leonov, Over the Black Sea, 1973 Oil on canvas, C. The Memorial Museum of Cosmonautics)
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Alexei Leonov, Over the Black Sea, 1973 Oil on canvas, C. The Memorial Museum of Cosmonautics
 (Lunokhod-2 lunar roving vehicle, 1973 c. Lavochkin Research and Production Association / Photo: State Museum and Exhibition Center ROSIZO)
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Lunokhod-2 lunar roving vehicle, 1973 c. Lavochkin Research and Production Association / Photo: State Museum and Exhibition Center ROSIZO
 (Alexei Leonov, The Rising of the Sun – View from Orbit, 18 March 1965. Pencil on paper. )
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Alexei Leonov, The Rising of the Sun – View from Orbit, 18 March 1965. Pencil on paper.
 (Tissue-Equivalent Phantom Mannequin flown around the Moon on Zond-7 (1969). c. The Polytechnic Museum/Photo: State Museum and Exhibition Centre ROSIZO)
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Tissue-Equivalent Phantom Mannequin flown around the Moon on Zond-7 (1969). c. The Polytechnic Museum/Photo: State Museum and Exhibition Centre ROSIZO
 (Vostok VZA ejection seat (engineering model) and SK Suit as used on Vostoks 1–6, 1961-1963. Photo: State Museum and Exhibition Center ROSIZO)
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Vostok VZA ejection seat (engineering model) and SK Suit as used on Vostoks 1–6, 1961-1963. Photo: State Museum and Exhibition Center ROSIZO
 (SOKOL space suit worn by Helen Sharman in 1991, manufactured by Zvezda, c. Science Museum / SSPL)
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SOKOL space suit worn by Helen Sharman in 1991, manufactured by Zvezda, c. Science Museum / SSPL

An exhibition telling the remarkable story of how Russia launched the space age

Once upon a time, only 70-odd years ago, space travel was just a twinkle in the eye of astrophysicists. But in 1957 Sputnik was sent up there, followed four years later by the first human to enter space, Yuri Gagarin. This exhibition tells the story of how Russia won the race and became the first country to explore the galaxy that lies beyond our own planet. The capsule flown by Valentina Tereshkova, the first ever woman in space, and find out what gadgets astronauts need to perform everyday tasks up there. See moving testimonies and memorabilia from some of space travel's biggest names and hear how its pioneers made lift off happen.

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4.3 / 5

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Tastemaker

Write a review...Cosmonauts is a paid exhibition on the floor above the entrance to the Science Museum, which charts the development of the Russian space programme from inception through to the modern day. The museum begins with artwork and even prison clothes and letters from people who dared to dream and were put in the gulag for their beliefs, we are then shown Sputnik, how dogs were used, Yuri Gagarin, Valentina Tereshkova, the first lady in space and then how astronauts go about their duties today on the ISS. There's a variety of scale models, real artefacts and actual space capsules that went into space and it's all very interesting. It's a little short though, which is a tad disappointing. If you're the kind of person that doesn't read all the info as well, you could be in and out in 5 minutes! I think there could have been room for some more experiential stuff as well. I had no issues with taking photos. Nobody stopped me so I'm not sure if that's a policy.

Tastemaker

The space part is always my favourite part of the Science Museum, so I knew I had to visit the Cosmonauts exhibition (along with my 2 for 1 voucher of course!).


It is very informative and gives a good insight into the USSR Cosmonaut space programme.  There are a lot of exhibits, some of which I'm sure must have inspired Doctor Who characters or 'wrong trousers'!  One thing that really disappointed me was the fact that you weren't allowed to take photographs, which became more frustrating when I saw others taking photos and the staff not telling them not to - it was near the end of the exhibition by then, but I would have loved to been able to have taken some.


I have watched a lot of programmes on space, so thought there would be no new information here, just a chance to see the exhibits, but there was a lot of interesting information, some of which has only become known since the end of the cold war.  One other criticism is that the labelling of the exhibits wasn't always clear, so you couldn't necessarily always tell which sign related to which exhibit.


I also particularly liked the way the exhibition was designed and the font they used (I know it's a bit geeky to say this!)  I also liked the posters displayed and I actually bought a similar poster on a school trip to USSR in the 80s, so it brought back memories - I'll have to check the loft and see if I still have it!


Definitely one to see.


This exhibition offers an exceptional collection of probes, satellites, luna landers, spacesuits, drawings, sketches, and footage relating to Russia’s space exploration. Russia led the way, leaving other countries behind, and was first many times: first satellite in space, first animal, man and woman in space, first spacewalk, first on Mars and Venus.

As part of this exhibition, the museum arranges a series of lectures and workshops on space. I managed to get hold of the tickets to attend talks with Alexei Leonov, first man to do spacewalk. It was absolutely incredible to see such a legendary man. The representatives of the museum said that night that this exhibition was the greatest of all they had had in recent years. Couldn't recommend highly enough!

Tastemaker

Informative, comprehensive and moving are three words I would use to describe this exhibition.


Cosmonauts strikes the right balance between technical information to personal stories. Not only does it displays memorabilia and incredible items, including the actual space capsule that launched the vey first few Soviet astronauts into space, but Cosmonauts also recalls the stories, both success and tragedies of the Soviets formative space programme.


Inside, you'll see the various different space suits used by astronauts to survive in space, the food they ate, memorabilia and the pioneers who drove the space programme which lifted The Soviet Union to the forefront of space technology. 


At school, very little is taught about space age from the Soviet side and for those who studied the Cold War at school, this is the perfect opportunity to discover space age from the perspective of the Soviet Union. There is just so much history that I never knew about.


It's a wonderful exhibition and one I would definitely recommend seeing. It's large enough for you to take in a lot but l think the price is a tad steep and and the only thing that let's it down here.

Tastemaker

Informative and entertaining, this exhibition gives a comprehensive overview of the development of space exploration programme over the past century. It is well curated, has a good balance between technical details and personal stories, all set in context of the socio-political climate of the Cold War and the Khrushchev Thaw.

The exhibition is as large as it needs to be for you to be able to take all the information in in one go, but it should have been half the price to make this worth your money.

Tastemaker

It's easy to forget what amazing achievements have been made in space exploration and the great strides of progress that have been made in the past 70 years but this beautifully designed and curated exhibition evokes the wonder and awe of the origins of the space race. There are some amazing items in this exhibition that really amaze, such as the capsules that the first cosmonauts flew in as well as more practical items which bring to life the experience of space travel such as the dining tables from space stations. The last room in particular is breathtaking and gives you room to ruminate on all that you've seen and could see in future.

Tastemaker

Where to start with this - Im an avid space fan so this was always going to get top marks from me. I was incredibly amazed by this exhibition and it really is worth a look. They have some wonderful pieces, including lots of the actual landers/rovers and the rockets that have actually been in space. The context of the cold war and the space race are wonderfully described, the space suits on display, and of course the designs of Sputnik really are amazing to behold. The artwork from this era, is in itself striking, using as it does, classic soviet colours, red black and white. It's around for a while yet, so make sure you check it out.