Star City – Cosmonaut Training Center
The Yuri A. Gagarin State Scientific Research-and-Testing Cosmonaut Training Center (GCTC; Russian: Центр подготовки космонавтов имени Ю. А. Гагарина) located in Korolev, not far from Moscow, also called Star City (also the name of the place where the facility is located) is a Russian training facility built for the training of cosmonauts for their space missions.
Visitors can tour the submerged MIR space station. Visitors can also see the centrifuge, full-size ISS in a simulation tank, and the Soyuz capsule. The original office of Yuri Gagarin is also here. There are also monuments of Yuri Gagarin and other important astronauts. There is also a museum at the center. Visitors can also visit the souvenir shop at the center to buy “real space food” and other space souvenirs.
The cost of museum visits differs. Russian citizens pay 150 Rubles for each person but this applies to a minimum of 20 people in a group. Russian Students pay 100 Rubles and they should also be in group of at least 20 people. Foreigners pay 700 Rubles for each person with a minimum payment for 5 people. Foreign students pay 500 Rubles and they should be at least 20 in a group.
For technical excursions, Russian citizens pay 150 Rubles for each person and Russian students pay 100 Rubles but this applies to a minimum of 15 people in a group. Foreigners pay 750 Rubles for each person and foreign students pay 500 Rubles with a minimum payment for 10 people.
Tourists who want to visit the center are expected to register through a written request. There was a sample letter on the official website which has since been taken down. People wishing to visit are now encouraged to book a tour at least several weeks in advance. This facility is not open to the public without a preregistered tour. If you show up without a tour you will be turned away.
The facility was formerly called Military Unit 26266. It was inaugurated on January 6, 1960, in Star City. The facility was a secret training base for Soviet Cosmonaut candidates. The first chief, Military physician Colonel Yevgeny Karpov of the center was appointed on February 24, 1960. The center was named after Yuri Gagarin 1969.
The center housed all members who were responsible for all aspects of the equipment as well as the cosmonaut. The cosmonaut candidates were formerly housed at Frunze Central Airfield (Moscow). Later, they moved to an apartment block in Chkalovsky before the group eventually moved into newly built on site.
At that time, the center was owned and managed by the Russian Military Defense. Management of the center was transferred to Russian Federal Space Agency in 2009.
It is recommended that visitors keep their belongings with them all the time since they would not be allowed into the center once they come out. Visitors are not allowed to take photos of astronauts in training. Children under the age of 13 are not allowed to visit.
Prior arrangements (at least four weeks) must be made for tours. the administration at the center will require your passport details. Your full name that appears on your passport, the passport and validity number, place, and date of birth, country of residence, the name of your employer and your job title.
There is an exchange programme between Europe, Japan, the US and Russia. Some Russian cosmonauts, European and Japanese astronauts come to train in Houston (the US training center). Also, astronauts from Europe, Japan and the US train in Star City.
This center has also trained celebrities. Notable names include Will Wright, Lance Bass and Sarah Brightman.
If you are interested in other Russian space history without the need to book weeks in advance for a tour it is suggested that you visit the Museum of Cosmonautics which is much more accessible to the public.