Ahead to Past, Back to Future
Baikonur is an amazing place. Coming there is like travelling time (and in a certain sense space). You just find yourself in 60-es, in the times of great space explorations, great expectations, times of Korolev and Lozino-Lozinskiy. That time people believed they would go to space for work in the beginning of the 3rd millennium.
The 3rdmillenniumcame. Still we work in cities not in space and get to work by cars not by rockets or space shuttles. Nevertheless Baikonur attracts space fans from all over the world: guests from Japan, the Netherlands, Belorussia and USA could make their dream come true watching the launch of Soyuz TMA-17M manned spacecraft due to unique offer by Vegitel Company.
Such 5-days tour is like an excursion to the past and a breakthrough to the future. First comes the roll-out of the rocket and its further installation on the launchpad. After that sightseeing tours around the city of Baikonur (which by the way celebrates its 60-years anniversary this year), museums and other kinds of touristic attractions under extremely hot sun of Kazakh steppe. Press-conference of main and back-up crews was the next starting point. Looking at these brave 6 men through the glass separating them from our usual world you realize that you have become a part of really marvelous event.
After that events got more and more emotional: seeing off the cosmonauts from the hotel with traditional song “Trava u Doma” as a background, official report to the State commission, Baikonur museum visiting before the launch when walking along the halls over and over again you asks yourself a question “what do the cosmonauts feel right now when it is only 2 hours to go?”
And finally the climax: Soyuz TMA-17M spacecraft launch. We watch it from the observation point at about 1 km distance, the sky is clear and the scene look much more than impressive with all these fire bursts Earth trembling beneath our feet. Then seconds counting, 528 – orbit!
The specialists know that successful launch of only half the battle, and only when the spacecraft enters the orbit it’s time for congratulations.
And naturally the docking is undoubtedly a matter of great importance. We watched the docking on-line together with the specialists, got a chance to see the just arrived cosmonauts floating inside the ISS after hatch opening and listened to the first communication session.
That was our time to leave Baikonur and leaving you feel a kind of sad wishing to return one day to this really wonderful and unique place where people send rockets to space and believe in the triumph of human genius .
Have a look at our photo report and join us for our future tours!