Well-known sightseeing attractions in Kyiv and Lviv gather attention of millions tourists every year. However, not many dig deep enough to find out about a place that draws the curtain of the Space Race era in Ukraine. Serhiy Pavlovych Korolyov Museum of Cosmonautics located in Zhytomyr welcomes all space enthusiasts to explore its numerous artefacts, some of which have been to space and back again. Mission control, we're a GO!
It all started way back in 1907, when Serhiy Pavlovych Korolyov was born in Zhytomyr. At the age of six he visited an air show, which ignited his interest in aero engineering. He began designing and building gliders. Test flying those, by the way, were a reason of broken ribs during his later studies in Kyiv. Unfortunately, all attempts to open a full-time aircraft faculty in Kyiv were futile at the time, so young Korolyov was transferred to Bauman Moscow State Technical University and graduated from it with major in aircraft construction. In 1930s, Korolyov became interested in rockets and establishes a Group for the Study of Reactive Motion - one of the first rocket organizations in the USSR. Two years later, he was fully involved in construction of experimental missiles and rockets, which led to being promoted to a deputy director at the Jet Propulsion Research Institute.
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Unfortunately, like many bright minds in the Soviet Union, Korolyov was unreasonably imprisoned in Gulag in 1938 —1944 and only after numerous letters to Stalin, he was allowed to work on the USSR aircraft defense. During the years of WWII, along with pioneering spacecraft engineer Andrei Nikolayevich Tupolev, Korolyov has been working on Tu-2 — the Soviet high-speed bomber. Finally, in 1946 he was released and appointed as chief designer of ballistic missiles and head of Research Institute group NII-88. The most notable achievement of Korolyov's missile era — the first in the world intercontinental ballistic missile R-7 — was successfully launched on August 27 in 1957.
In late 50s, Korolyov turned his attention to space. His designs and constructions were the reason of one more pioneering event: launch of the first artificial 'Sputnik' satellite in 1957. This marked the beginning of so-called Space Race: a competition between the Soviet Union and the USA for dominance not only on Earth, but far beyond its borders. Fueled by success, Korolyov began work on another spacecraft. In 1961, the world celebrated the first manned spaceflight in history — the Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin on board of the Vostok-1 spacecraft, designed by Korolyov.
Merely two years later, another spacecraft Voskhod, this time for 3 people, was successfully launched in space. Korolyov then worked on series of pioneering space crafts: Luna, Venera, Mars and Zond. The Soyuz spacecraft project hasn’t escaped his attention as well — Korolyov's designs and construction plans are used to build and launch Soyuz till this day. Moreover, after the U.S. Shuttle program end, Soyuz rockets are the only in the world that provide transport for astronauts at the International Space Station.
Located in a quiet, far-away corner, Serhiy Pavlovych Korolyov Museum of Cosmonautics is nevertheless very hard to miss: two real rockets, R-12 and R-5V, are located right in its yard. The main Kosmos exhibition building meets visitors with a Latin proverb carved on the top: 'Per aspera ad astra', which means "through hardships to the stars". Inside waits a dimly-lit exhibition, dedicated to the history of space flights.
Here, one has a chance to see artefacts that have been to space and returned back to Earth: Soyuz-27 spacecraft, autographed by cosmonauts Vladimir Dzhanibekov and Georgy Grechko, real flight, emergency and training suits, lunar soil and many others. Moreover, the exhibition has real-sized models of spacecrafts designed by Korolyov: moon-rowers Luna-1 and Luna-9, unmanned orbiter Venera-15 and first manned spacecraft Vostok.
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Those interested in life and career path of Serhiy Pavlovych Korolyov can attend his Memorial House, which is filled with different personal belongings from different stages of his life: clothes, numerous photographs and letters, as well as a large collection of books.
The museum works every day except Monday from 10 A.M. to 5.15 P.M, with a break from 1 to 2 P.M.
Note that last Friday of each month is a cleaning day for the main Kosmos exhibition, and last Thursday — for Korolyov Memorial House.
Admission ticket is UAH 20 for adults and UAH 10 for kids. Excursions in English are available in the museum upon pre-order.
Address: 2, Dmytrivska street, Zhytomyr
Photo sources: shutterstock.com, kp.ru, Korolyov Museum of Cosmonautics Facebook page. All images belong to their rightful authors.