On a recent trip to London, I took a trip to the London Science Museum, specifically to see the new and limited time Cosmonauts exhibition. I’ve been to the museum before. If you get the opportunity and like this sort of thing, I highly recommend you visit. And, for a family day out, you can’t beat the value. As with most of the major attractions in London, entry is free, though there is sometimes a separate charge for special exhibitions such as this one. This really is a once in a lifetime opportunity to see items that have never been on display before. These items have been loaned by the Russian government to the museum for the display. It seems some of the bigger items have never been on display anywhere else before, including in Russia. In talking with one of the staff (after being reprimanded for taking photos! In my defence, there was no signage and you can take photos everywhere else), I was told that the moon lander was ‘found in storage’ by the Russian curator and even had to be specially declassified prior to being allowed to be shown in public.
I grew up on this stuff. Looking at pictures of luner rovers in books etc. To see that kit really close up after all this time really is something else. Gives me goose bumps!
Some interesting take-aways from the exhibition.
The Russian Astronaut selection process at the time was more of a ‘find the smallest, lightest military Pilots we have’ process.
The Russian kit seems quite a bit smaller than the US kit of the time (which makes sense given what they were trying to achieve)
Yuri Gagarin’s first state visit was to the UK. There is a photo of them having lunch with the queen on the lawn. Given the cold war stuff going on at the time, this was surprising to me. The British people warmly welcomed him.
Gagarin was greatly promoted a couple days after his successful flight.
Today, they still have troubles replicating the success of these missions.
You can take a look at some of the photos of the exhibits I took below.