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Kazakhstan and Beyond!
May 17, 2012 7:43 PM   Subscribe

In Pictures: Star City and the Baikonur Cosmodrome
posted by Artw (24 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite

 
Wait space tourism is already a thing? And they are being hosted at the ISS?
posted by newg at 8:03 PM on May 17, 2012


newg: yes and yes, but ever since the Space Shuttle has stopped flying, NASA has bought all the extra seats on the Russian Soyuz rockets going up to the USS. So there'll no more space tourists for some time, either until the US gets their own rockets going up again with NASA astronauts, or when private commercial space tourism flights start happening.
posted by zsazsa at 8:36 PM on May 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Would that American space-flight ceremonies were as colorful (i.e.,"anointing the bus"), casual, and anachronistic as the Russians'. We might even start thinking again that space flight is mankind's greatest adventure and not just an engineering exercise.
posted by cenoxo at 8:44 PM on May 17, 2012 [6 favorites]


Woah, those long exposure shots from ISS are pretty amazing.
posted by delmoi at 9:28 PM on May 17, 2012


Awwww yeah, that's the stuff. (eyes roll up in head)

I could add a bunch of commentary about just about every one of these photos. It's late, so maybe I'll come back tomorrow. See if I can get myself sidebarred again :)
posted by intermod at 10:04 PM on May 17, 2012


Ok, forgive my idiocy but in image 32 I can't see the Soyuz craft approaching the ISS. Presumably it's so close that I'm reading it as part of the station. Can someone describe where it is in that image please?
posted by Joh at 10:40 PM on May 17, 2012


Ok, forgive my idiocy but in image 32 I can't see the Soyuz craft approaching the ISS. Presumably it's so close that I'm reading it as part of the station. Can someone describe where it is in that image please?

The photo is just of the Soyuz craft. It's taken from the perspective of the ISS.
posted by alexoscar at 10:59 PM on May 17, 2012


Oh. I saw the solar sails and thought it was the ISS.
posted by Joh at 11:18 PM on May 17, 2012


Maybe they're not "solar sails" and now I look even dumber. The long solar-panel arms sticking out from the side.
posted by Joh at 11:19 PM on May 17, 2012


Wow. Thanks very much for the post.
posted by Goofyy at 1:41 AM on May 18, 2012


cenoxo, you just made my day. That list of rituals is amazing. Before launching from Baikonur as a Cosmonaut, you must do the following:

Pay your respects to Yuri Gagarin's ashes

Visit Yuri Gagarin's office, untouched since 1968

On March 9 (Gagarin's birthday) visit Gagarin's hometown and drink a glass of well water

Vandalize the Cosmonaut Hotel

Plant a tree

Don't attend the rolling out of the rocket, but do get a buddy to leave some coins on the tracks to get squished

Get a haircut and (if necessary) a shave

Watch the 1969 Russian Film "White Sun of the Desert"

On the morning of the launch (!) down a glass of champagne

"Sit down before the journey." Just take a moment to reflect on life.

Rock out to "A Green-Grassed Lawn" by Zemlyane ("The Earthlings")

Get sprinkled with purportedly holy water

Urinate on the left rear wheel of the bus that takes you to the launchpad. If Gagarin couldn't hold it then neither can you. (Female Cosmonauts were exempt from this ritual until Claudie Haigneré's second launch in 2001. Having seen the ceremony performed the first time she'd gone into space she came prepared for her second launch by bringing a vial of her own urine to throw)

Shake hands with bureaucrats (not having washed your hands)

Salute

Write the name "Tanya" in the frost on the side of the rocket. "Sonya" is acceptable, but jokes will be made at your expense.

Inside the pod, hang a small toy of your choice on a string, both as a decoration and as a crude instrument to indicate when you've reached zero gravity.


Doing these things makes a person fully qualified to represent our absurd species to the rest of the universe.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 1:43 AM on May 18, 2012 [14 favorites]


I once got to see the video from inside the Soyuz during a launch. The hanging toy was a small unicorn. Since the crew is strapped in so tight, watching the unicorn was the only way to tell when the vehicle was thrusting or in free-fall.

When they got to orbit, the tiny unicorn floated out of the frame.

About ten minutes later: a GIANT UNICORN floats in from the right and parks itself right in front of the camera. I guess it floated off its hook and came to rest about an inch from the lens.

I suspect that is the first time the words "please move your unicorn" were said in space.
posted by BeeDo at 2:12 AM on May 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


I for one welcome our unicorn overlords.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 2:36 AM on May 18, 2012


I wonder if the debris in photo #9 is the remains of the Nedelin catastrophe.
posted by DZ-015 at 4:16 AM on May 18, 2012


"Sit down before the journey."

My Russian friends introduced me to this custom a few years back - it's not just for cosmonauts. When going on any longish trip, never leave in a hurry. If you must, you can rush while you're getting things ready, packing your bags, etc., but just before you leave, sit quietly for a minute or two. Maybe have a cup of tea. You don't need to reflect on anything in particular, just settle down for a moment.

I can't tell you how many times I've done this and suddenly remembered something I forgot to do before I go. Handy!
posted by echo target at 6:32 AM on May 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


Americans launch their rockets from the beach. Russians launch their rockets from a hole in the desert.
posted by vibrotronica at 7:24 AM on May 18, 2012


Fantastic photos of a place that seems like something out of an alternate history. Which it is, I guess.

I especially love the shot of the Eastern Orthodox Priest blessing the launch.
posted by General Tonic at 7:33 AM on May 18, 2012


Americans launch their rockets from the beach. Russians launch their rockets from a hole in the desert.

Americans land in the ocean, Russians land... well... hole in the desert time again.
posted by Artw at 7:36 AM on May 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Americans launch their rockets from the beach. Russians launch their rockets from a hole in the desert.

I think that's because America has beaches that are close to the equator and the Atlantic ocean to the east to send rockets out over, in case of an explosion and to get a 900mph speed boost from the Earth's rotation. Russia's options are more limited.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:37 AM on May 18, 2012


I think that's because America has beaches that are close to the equator and the Atlantic ocean to the east to send rockets out over, in case of an explosion and to get a 900mph speed boost from the Earth's rotation. Russia's options are more limited.

That and weather. There are a lot more clear days in Florida and the desert of Kazakhstan than Vladivostok or Arkhangelsk. And one more thing, though Western Siberia is even less populated than the Kazakh steppes, conditions there are just too rough to build massive infrastructure.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 8:48 AM on May 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


I love the train pulling the rocket.
'I think I can, I think I can...'
posted by MtDewd at 9:54 AM on May 18, 2012


Vladivostok or Arkhangelsk

Being close to the equator is a significant consideration. As Brandon said, due to the earth's rotation, anything sitting on the ground at the equator is already moving at 450 m/s around the earth's center of gravity, meaning that a rocket has significantly less work to do to reach the 7.8 km/s needed for low earth orbit. That's why countries normally build their spaceports in the southernmost parts of their sovereign territory. Baikonur was about as far south as you could go in the USSR.

The weird exception is China's Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, located in one of their northernmost provinces. Obviously population density must have been a concern, also weather, but I don't think moral considerations would have stopped Mao from bulldozing half of Hainan to build a launch site.

I suppose one of the advantages of landing in the desert is that the capsule can't sink and drown your astronauts, a real concern on some American splashdowns.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 11:55 AM on May 18, 2012


I could add a bunch of commentary about just about every one of these photos. It's late, so maybe I'll come back tomorrow. See if I can get myself sidebarred again :)
posted by intermod at 10:04 PM on May 17


Yes! Commentary please! I'd love to read it.
posted by Zack_Replica at 12:14 PM on May 18, 2012


Being close to the equator is a significant consideration indeed!
posted by thewalrus at 9:17 PM on May 18, 2012


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