Thursday, October 17th 2019

The only in Ukraine space exploration museum

I bet you don’t know where a town of Zhitomir is located. Ok, maybe some of you. I am more than sure you don’t know who Sergey Korolev was. But I believe you know who Yuriy Gagarin is. If not, you probably have a serious gap in your education.

Gagarin was the first person in the history who completed a full orbit around our planet Earth. This happened on 12 April 1961. Since then 12 April is celebrated as the day of space exploration in some parts of the world.

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Yuriy Gagarin and Korolev (top left)

Now you probably want to ask me what is the connection between Gagarin, Korolev and Zhitomir? To make the long story short – Gagarin was flying on space crafts designed by Sergey Korolev, who is considered the father of the Soviet space and rocket industries. And Sergey Korolev happened to be born in Zhitomir. Besides being of the oldest towns of Ukraine (claimed to be more than 1100 years old) Zhitomir houses the only in Ukraine museum of space exploration named after Korolev.

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The museum tells the history of Soviet space program & rocket design, and houses an interesting collections of materials, space probes, satellites and other space related artifacts. You can even see tiny particles of ground from the moon; or a moon exploration vehicle “Lunokhod-2” (Model 1:2).

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Lunokhod 2 was the second of two unmanned lunar rovers landed on the Moon by the Soviet Union as part of the Lunokhod program.

Wikipedia: Lunokhod was a series of Soviet robotic lunar rovers designed to land on the Moon between 1969 and 1977. The  Lunokhod 1A (1969) was destroyed during launch, the  Lunokhod 1 (1970) and the Lunokhod 2 (1973) landed on the moon and the new Lunokhod of 1977 was never launched. The successful missions were in operation concurrently with the Zond and Luna series of Moon flyby, orbiter and landing missions. The Lunokhods were primarily designed to support the Soviet manned moon missions and to be used as automatic remote-controlled robots to explore the surface and return pictures. The Lunokhods were transported to the lunar surface by Luna spacecraft, which were launched by Proton rockets.

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Korolev was the lead Soviet rocket engineer and spacecraft designer in the Space Race between the United States and the Soviet Union during the 1950s and 1960s. He is considered by many as the father of practical astronautics.

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Although Korolev was trained as an aircraft designer, his greatest strengths proved to be in design integration, organization and strategic planning. Arrested for alleged mismanagement of funds (he spent the money on unsuccessful experiments with rocket devices), he was imprisoned in 1938 for almost six years, including some months in a Kolyma labour camp.

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Following his release, he became a recognized rocket designer and a key figure in the development of the Soviet ICBM program. He was then appointed to lead the Soviet space program, made Member of Soviet Academy of Sciences, overseeing the early successes of the Sputnik and Vostok projects. By the time he died unexpectedly in 1966, his plans to compete with the United States to be the first nation to land a man on the Moon had begun to be implemented.

Wikipedia: The Space Race was a mid-to-late 20th century competition between the Soviet Union (USSR) and the United States (US) for supremacy in space exploration. Between 1957 and 1975, the Cold War rivalry between the two nations focused on attaining firsts in space exploration, which were seen as necessary for national security and symbolic of technological and ideological superiority. The Space Race involved pioneering efforts to launch artificial satellites, sub-orbital and orbital human spaceflight around the Earth, and piloted voyages to the Moon. It effectively began with the Soviet launch of the Sputnik 1 artificial satellite on 4 October 1957, and concluded with the co-operative Apollo-Soyuz Test Project human spaceflight mission in July 1975. The Apollo-Soyuz Test Project came to symbolize détente, a partial easing of strained relations between the USSR and the US.

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Zhitomir museum of space exploration tells the history of the prominent figures who were the pillars of the Space Race in the Soviet Union, about successes and disasters. You can see pictures of all the dogs which were sent first to the outer space, where Belka and Strelka are the most famous ones.

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You will see models or originals of various space exploration equipment, vehicles and space crafts. Tools, space suits and food for astronauts are among the exhibits of the museum.

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Not every text or exhibit note is in English. Don’t get upset though. Just get yourself a booklet in English about the museum; or go deeper into the atmosphere of the outer space by listening to some mysterious sci-fi music in one of hanging armchairs equipped by head phones.

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In case you are a fan of cheesy pictures you can get yourself a memorable picture of your face in a space suit hanging hundreds of kilometeres in the outer space. Maybe you can even imagine yourself a great explorer of the Moon or Venus.

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Mara exploring the outer space

In any case the museum is a great place to visit being the only one of this kind in Ukraine. So in case you are passing Zhitomir or have a couple of hours to kill here, the museum would be a good choice to learn more about the history of Soviet space exploration and “touch” some of the artifacts of the Space Race.

The entrance fee is 10UAH = 1EUR. The museum is located in Dmitrevska str. 5, Zhitomir.


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4 Comments on “The only in Ukraine space exploration museum”

  1. I was almost to go to Zhitomir, but I found another opportunity – the museum from Pervomaisk with the strategic missiles. So, i chose this one… And I did not regret. Chernobyl and Zhitomir next time when I’ll get in Ukraine, although on my A-list are Cetatea Alba, Lvov and Odessa :)

    1. Pervomaisk museum is really cool. I personally have not been to Chernobyl yet but have decided to skip on that for now.
      Lvov and Odessa are very different but both are really cool. Have not been to Cetatea Alba. We are going to Odessa in two days, i may plan a day trip to the castle.
      I also recommend to visit Khotyn castle and Kamanets-Podolsk if you have not been yet. Plus the Crimea military locations from WW2.

  2. I’ve been to Hotin, Cernauti and Kamyanets-Podolsky :) Odessa very long time ago, in 1997, need to go back

    1. We have liked Odessa very much. I am sure we will return here again. The seaside is not really good though. But the atmosphere of the city is really cool, with a lot of cosy little cafes and restaurants. The architecture is very beautiful. Definitely a must to visit in Ukraine.
      I have been to Khotin and Kamyanet-Podilsky long time ago. Would need to re-visit some time in the future.

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