It’s impossible to understate the contribution Russia has made to the field of space exploration. This is especially true when it comes to human space exploration.
Russians launched the first satellite, put the first man in space, put the first man in orbit. They executed the first successful spacewalk. Russia also launched the first woman to space, decades before any other country. Their progress in the Space Race propelled the U.S. to the moon 50 years ago. Today, Russian Soyuz rockets carry astronauts from around the world to the International Space Station.
If you want to learn about Russian aerospace history, don’t go to Wikipedia. There’s no better place to see incredible technology and strength of the Russian spirit than at Russian space museums.
As part of my degree in tourism, I interned at the Memorial Museum of Cosmonautics in Moscow. I also pulled together a comprehensive list of the space museums and other experiences around Russia. Here are six of the best Russian space museums you can visit if you come to Russia.
1. The Memorial Museum of Cosmonautics (Moscow)
Situated under the Monument to the Conquerors of Space, the Memorial Museum of Cosmonautics is the oldest and one of the most reputable space exploration museums in Russia. The monument opened to honor the world’s first artificial Earth satellite in 1964.
There’s also the Cosmonauts Alley – a nice place for a stroll. The museum has a wide collection of machinery. This includes satellite replicas and a full-scale replica the MIR space station you can walk in and look around.
Prospekt Mira, 111, Moskva, Russia, 129223, kosmo-museum.ru
2. Aviation & Space Centre (Moscow)
The Aviation & Space Centre is a brand new space museum not far from The Memorial Museum of Cosmonautics. It’s located in a restored pavilion with a huge spherical roof made from the glass. It’s a spacious and bright place. As all modern museums, it has a lot of interactive surfaces and exhibits. The most interesting things inside are exhibits that were brought and/or made exclusively for this museum.
Prospekt Mira, 119, Moskva, Russia, 129223, cosmos.vdnh.ru
3. Planetarium #1 (St. Petersburg)
Planetarium 1 claims to have the biggest projection dome in the world, at 37m²! The total area (4000m²) includes the star hall, the museum of space exhibits, VR and interactive rooms, educational area and prototyping laboratory.
The main hall equipped with brand new star projector, 50kW of surround sound and interactive tables with multi-touch controllers. These give you the opportunity to control the dome of the starry sky.
In short, you’re in for a real treat if you attend a planetarium show here!
Obvodniy Channel Embankment, 74 Ц, Sankt-Peterburg, Russia, 190013, planetarium.one
4. Tsiolkovsky State Museum of the History of Cosmonautics (Kaluga)
The Tsiolkovsky State Museum of the History of Cosmonautics is the first and the biggest museum in the USSR. Yuri Gagarin actually laid the foundation stone for this museum.
Its collection consists of two parts. The first part is dedicated to Tsiolkovsky’s research on rocketry. It has a model of the rocket designed by him as well as copies of his scientific works. The second part of the museum contains replicas of spacecraft like Sputnik 1, samples of moon dust, and an original Vostok rocket. This was the rocket that was on standby while Vostok-1 was preparing for launching.
Ulitsa Akademika Koroleva, 2, Kaluga, Kaluzhskaya oblast’, Russia, 248000, gmik.ru
5. Valentina Tereshkova Cultural & Educational Centre (Yaroslavl)
Dedicated to the first woman in space, the Tereshkova Cultural & Educational Centre is the most famous place in the city. The Centre has its own planetarium with 3D visualization, observatory and diverse collection. It includes an exposition on the history of cosmonautics, entertainment complex “Trance-Force” with a virtual part of the Russian Museum, interactive class, and media-cafe.
Ulitsa Chaykovskogo, 3, Yaroslavl’, Yaroslavskaya oblast’, Russia, 150000, yarplaneta.ru
6. Baikonur Cosmodrome (Kazakhstan)
Technically, Baikonur is a property of Kazakhstan, but tourists who come here for launches usually buy tours through authorized Russian agencies since 2016. To be approved for a pre-planned visit, all tourists go through a long background check; tour agencies make the whole process easier and less stressful. Several tour providers, including Star City Tours, offer this service.
During the tour, you’ll see not only the famous cosmodrome, launch pads, integration and checkout buildings, museums and historical places. Depending on your timing, you can also be a witness to all the launch preparation stages – the rollout and the installation of the rocket, the cosmonauts’ farewell ceremony, the space crew ready-to-go official report, pre-launch excitement and finally – the launch of the rocket.
Which of these Russian space museums do you want to visit?