Friday, December 28, 2012

A while back in Russia.... Pt.6

  As I mentioned yesterday, you've now followed me on this journey reliving my adventure from almost eighteen years ago. It has truly brought back many fond memories and I hope I got most of the facts correct as well as my memory can place them. It was really fun not just scanning the images from the photo album but also digging up the souvenirs that were brought back from this once in a life time trip. It was cool to sort through the old papers, rocket caps and covers, shuttle tiles and of course that fancy and stylish Ushanka hat that's now too small for my big head.
Luckily I had Penny around to add her memories and correct me on several points.

  I also mentioned yesterday that there was one other thing that we did while on this trip that was almost as cool as witnessing the launch but first we had to get a decent lunch. And what better place to go for lunch in Moscow then McDonalds! Seriously, it was the best food we had on this trip only because it reminded me of home a bit.
Stitched Panorama
I'll have the Четверть фунта с сыром or the Биг Мак Please!
Yes, I brought the tray paper mat home with me.....


  Now on to the more serious part of the trip, still in Star City we were able to take a tour of the training facilities and get yet another glimpse of the behind the scenes workings in the Russian space program.
Russia - Mir Launch - Normand Thagard

Standing at the entrance to the Star City training facility.

One of the first locations we are taken to is the large area where they have a full scale model of the MIR Space Station that is used for training the cosmonauts.

 Russia - Mir Launch - Normand Thagard
Here is the model. I think I was most impressed with the wood steps and railing. Very nice work.
Russia - Mir Launch - Normand Thagard
This appears to be the docking module where the Soyuz spacecraft would dock to the MIR.
Russia - Mir Launch - Normand Thagard
Just before leaving this area we notice three men walking up the stairs and if my memory serves me correctly we were told they are the three U.S. astronauts that will be docking with MIR aboard the Space Shuttle Atlantis on STS-71. I'm fairly sure the gentleman on the right was shuttle commander Robert Gibson but the other two I can identify from online images.
 Russia - Mir Launch - Normand Thagard
Our next stop is the centrifuge room where the cosmonauts are trained to handle the G's during liftoff and reentry.

  And finally we are given a tour of the museum where many of the original space capsules are on display. This is where I had the chance to experience something almost as cool as the launch.
Russia - Mir Launch - Normand Thagard
We are taken down this line of old space capsules and our translator begins to explain to us the significance of each one.
Russia - Mir Launch - Normand Thagard
We come to this one first and it's obvious by the writing and plagues that is was the capsule used during the Apollo-Soyuz mission in July, 1975
Russia - Mir Launch - Normand Thagard
And finally, for me, probably the coolest part of the trip. I was allowed to actually cross the barrier, look into and lean against Yuri Gagarin's capsule. This is the actual spacecraft that the first human went into space aboard. Even more amazing to me is immediately after taking this photo I notice my right hand and jacket sleeve are covered in what appears to be soot. This craft hasn't been wiped down proably since it was placed here and I've now got the charred remnants of Yuri's spacecraft on my hands. Sadly I had to wash them later.....
Just look at this craft and you have to me amazed. A human being actually rode this into orbit atop a rocket and then reentered the atmosphere at thousands of miles per hour. Looking at the bottom you can see where the heating burned away till it turned white from the flames of reentry.

And THAT is the end of this adventure. I hope everyone enjoyed it. Feel free to leave comments below.

Also, here's a few miscellaneous images of some of the souvenirs I returned home with and still have to this day.
 Russia - Mir Launch - Normand Thagard
A couple of brochures from Mission Control

Russia - Mir Launch - Normand Thagard
Russia - Mir Launch - Normand Thagard
Front and back of a medal commemorating the mission.

Russia - Mir Launch - Normand Thagard
That traditional Russian Ushanka hat. Still the warmest thing I've ever put on my head. With our normal winters here my head would boil after only a few minutes wearing this thing.

Russia - Mir Launch - Normand Thagard
A few pieces of the decaying concrete from the launch pad. I still can't believe I took these.

Russia - Mir Launch - Normand Thagard
The caps and covers picked up at the launch pad as souvenirs. I Actually carried with me for many years the shiny pin at the bottom of this image. One day I thought I had lost it and found it many months later under my truck seat. After that it's been kept safe.

And as Porky Pig would say... Th..Th.That's all folks.