This article is available also in spanish here

Star City, where astronauts live and train

My list

Author | M. Martínez Euklidiadas

The USSR space program that launched the first human, Yuri Gagarin, into space in 1961, would not have been possible without Star City. This urban-type support center also recruited the first group of female cosmonauts and sent Valentina Tereshkova into orbit in 1963. What happened to Star City? Where is it? Is it possible to visit it now?

History and origin of Star City

star city 06

Star City was the first training center designed specifically to send people into space. Built in 1960 next to a secret Air Force facility, for years this enclosed urban development was hidden by the forests surrounding Moscow.

As future cosmonauts and their families arrived, the city grew during the Cold War in the 1960s, during what became known as the Space Race (between the Soviet Union and the United States). Star City quickly became a state-of-the-art laboratory, a launching point for a technology unseen until then.

As the cosmonauts brought their families with them to the city, soon services such as schools, institutes, cinemas, theaters or sports centers were needed. What started as a town quickly grew into a small city connected to Moscow by rail and road.

In around 1990, its location was filtered and a slow reconversion process began, coinciding with the end of the Soviet Union. Star City opened up to NASA, even leading to the construction of low-rise American-style homes. On July 4, a public holiday in the United States, some of these houses are even decorated.

Where is Star City?

Star City, formally transliterated as Zvezdniy gorodok (Звёздный городок), is an urban area located in Moscow Oblast, approximately 40 kilometers from the capital. It is located near the towns of Leonikha and Chkalovsky and the Chkalovsky airport.

star city 02Star City Flag | Георгий Долгопский * Isolated and almost entirely surrounded by forests, Star City consists of numerous important sites. The most famous of these is the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center, inaugurated in 1960 in honor of the cosmonaut *Yuri Gagarin, the first human to be sent to space** on April 12, 1961, just a year after the creation of the center.

Although there are still some public photographs of the area and various galleries available on the official website, the truth is it is impossible to access it with Google Maps or zoom in without pixelating the closed-off facility. The city still maintains part of the secrecy that characterized it at the end of the USSR.

Functions of the Star City

The Gagarin center is still in operation today, training future cosmonauts and, in fact, it also helps with the training of American astronauts and those from other countries. In the video below, the ESA astronaut Andreas Mogensen, tells us what it is like to live in the city.

Star City is now under the control of ROSCOSMOS, Russia's State Corporation for Space Activities, and it collaborates with NASA, ESA, CNSA or the JAXA, among other space agencies.

How do astronauts and cosmonauts train?

The scientist and engineer Sergei Pavlovich Korolev was the designer behind nearly all the cosmonaut training programs. Programs designed to evaluate cosmonauts' physical and mental abilities that required a unique physical infrastructure. Within this infrastructure are numerous laboratories and testing centers.

Weightless environment training facility

star city 03

Also known as the hydro lab, the weightless environment training facility is a giant building characterized by a cylindrical water tank in its center. This tank is used to train astronauts in near neutral buoyancy conditions. It has been used since 1980 and all kinds of underwater tests are performed in it such as extravehicular activity training or module assembly.

Centrifuge or centrifugation simulators

star city 04

Centrifugation simulators are cylindrical facilities with a machine that simulates the acceleration astronauts are subjected to when they leave Earth. The CF-7 centrifuge was built in 1973 and it measures cosmonauts' tolerance prior to acceleration. The TsF-18 centrifuge is shown below.

Space flight simulators

All Russian space missions have used some kind of equipment. For example, Soyuz crafts or rockets. For cosmonauts to get used to the environment and be able to operate in all types of conditions, they often have to train in these laboratories that simulate different scenarios. For example, the TDK-7ST3 simulator can create pre-launch conditions or the Soyuz-TMA, which simulates the ascent into space. In a way, these environments are like digital twins.

Flying laboratories

Although they are not formally in Star City, flying laboratories such as the IL-76 MDK are a critical part of the cosmonaut training program. The IL-76 served to simulate zero-gravity conditions.

Can you visit Star City?

star city 05

Although, to a large extent, Star City is still a secret, it can be visited, however, only with a special permit. This permit must be approved within a period of one month by the Russian authorities and it is processed through private companies that offer vacation packages to the city. These are in charge of compiling requests.

Virtual tours are available on the city's official website. Visits to the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center, a museum of space travel and human exploration, the Space Center and the Center's Medical Infrastructure can be visited, and the pressure chambers.

Images | Neutral Buoyancy Trainer, Георгий Долгопский, PDXdj, Centrifuge, Pavel L Photo and Video/Shutterstock, fractalmonster/shutterstock

Recommended profiles for you

Remember to activate your profile to network!
Activate profile
Chirag Mistry
Chirag Mistry
Furniture Arts
Business Development
Claudia Delgado
Claudia Delgado
Universidad del Atlántico
Coordinator
DD
DEV Dhaketa
Venus Global Overseas
Founder
Juan Francisco Poveda
Juan Francisco Poveda
William Prym Holding GmbH
Global Category Manager
VM
Vinicio Martinez
www.mecanicaluminica.com
PROJECT MANAGER
PC
Paulo Cesar Calderón Tapia
iGlu Smarthome
CEO
CristianFabián Gómez Ramírez
CristianFabián Gómez Ramírez
Indicios Studio
Architect designer
Ciaran Gilsenan Gilsenan
Ciaran Gilsenan Gilsenan
Dogpatch Labs
COO
SA
Suchandra Addya
Intec infra Technologies Pvt Ltd
Project manager Architect
Pia Fischer
Pia Fischer
Nordic Edge
Chief Concept Manager
Abebe Dress Beza
Abebe Dress Beza
University of the Basque Country
I am an Erasmus Student in the Smart Cities and Communities (SMACCs) program
LR
Laura Rey
LUJING
Inspección de productos
AA
Agusti Agut
Microarquitectura
Sales Manager
Javier  Brenes
Javier Brenes
Next Curve
COO
IG
Ivan Gimeno
RITTAL
Business Development Manager
NA
Nicolas Architector
Bim Academy
Smart City Manager
JS
Juan Santiago Leon
Itys
Sales engineer
Jörg Schneck
Jörg Schneck
LVX Global Deutschlang GmbH
GM BDM
BE
Browarski Eric
Brobatiment
Chef
GS
Guillermo Sepulveda
UABC
Professor Assistant

Related content

Recommended profiles for you

Remember to activate your profile to network!
Activate profile
RM
Rob MacGregor
StrategyCore K.K.
Sales and business dev for smart city technology distribution and services.
TH
Tomas Hanus
Citron, s.r.o,
business owner of the company
RICARDO MARTIN ALVAREZ CARRION
RICARDO MARTIN ALVAREZ CARRION
UNIVERSIDAD NACIONAL DEL ALTIPLANO PUNO
STUDENT
EJ
Eric Jondot
Atrait Consulting
Director
RC
Robert Cheng
JRCA
Land Surveyor / Owner
Agustín López Branchadell
Agustín López Branchadell
Pop arquitectura
Architect
EM
Eugenia Martín Alegre
FIRA BARCELONA
Commercial and business development director
OM
Oscar Marti
ACCIO-Catalonia Trade & Investment
Director, UK & Ireland
SM
SAHI MALEK
enab
edie weintraub
edie weintraub
terra alma
Founder and CEO
DL
David Libatique
Port of Los Angeles
Deputy Executive Director, Port of Los Angeles
MU
Modery Ulrike
IHK Region Stuttgart
Country Manager
RD
Roger Dueñas Baylon
-
Student
AF
Alena Frenkel
RA
Специалист проекта BIM технологий
Omar López
Omar López
UTEC
student
Liudmyla Lemrini
Liudmyla Lemrini
Unitsky Technology Park (String transport SkyWay)
Co-founder
MV
Mariana Vale da Silva Vale da Silva
SS
Sukham Romen Singh Sukham
NG College
Assistant Professor
NS
Nur Sinta Aulya Sinta
Universitas Adibuana Surabaya
Student
RG
Romain GENESTE
Groupe PARERA
Responsable Projets, Communication & Marketing

Only accessible for registered users
This content is available only for registered users
TO: $$toName$$
SUBJECT: Message from $$fromName$$