Today is a big day in space history. April 12th, 2016 marks the 55th anniversary of Russian Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin’s historic space flight. And, on April 12, 1981, 20 years after Yuri became the first man in space, the US launched its very first space shuttle.
Eight years ago, I had the privilege of visiting Star City, home of the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center. I received a private tour of the facility and had the opportunity to step inside a real Orlan Space Suit….that’s the suit worn during a space walk outside the space station. (I used to have trouble remembering which suit was which…now I think “Orlan” starts with “o” like “outside” and is worn outside the space station and “Sokol” starts with “s” like “Soyuz” and is worn inside the Soyuz capsule.)
We’ve been offering a variety of space suit training programs at Star City since 1994. Take it from me. If you’re the least bit claustrophobic, steer clear of the Orlan suit and opt for Sokol suit training.
Star City is not open to the general public. Security clearance is required and visits must be arranged more than a month in advance. If you’re interested in going behind the scenes of the Russian space program, let me know. Maybe I’ll go with you. I’m due for a return visit!
Ran into a relative of my favorite mouse outside the Beverly Hills Diner in Moscow. He was hugging Russian grandmothers as they exited the nearby upscale Nikolskaya Plaza. I’m pretty sure there’s an ice cream shop and upscale shopping center on every corner in Moscow.
It’s a good thing I am walking a lot because I have been eating way too much Russian food. From Chicken Kiev to Borsch. Don’t add a “t” to the name of one of Russia’s best known soups. That’s only an American thing. I also learned Borsch is like chili – there are many different versions.
The incredible dining room at the Metropol Hotel. The breakfast buffet is unbelievable.
If we’re ever audited by the Internal Revenue Service, there is sure to be some chuckling at our expense reports. We’re probably one of the few companies in the world that’s been required to pay for “vomit”. (Please get plenty of rest the night before your MiG flight, remember to eat breakfast, and consider taking anti-motion sickness medication if you think there’s a chance extra cockpit and flight suit cleaning will be required after your flying adventure.)
We also pay for “underwear”….the full body garment, similar to “long underwear” that is worn beneath a Russian flight suit to absorb the sweat produced by a whole lot of adrenaline.