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Excursions - Moscow tour

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gramotasoyuz

translated by Mathilda: Today the 108 students from Russia, Ukraine, Germany, the Czech Republic and Canada got invited to a sightseeing tour through Moscow. After some lunch they started off to the largest Russian space-travel museum at the SpaceUnion Exhbition. Just the gigantic rocket alone on its even bigger tail impresses everyone. The museum was built in the depth and was opened on 12th April 1981 on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of Juri Gagarin’s flight. It so happened, that on this day also the first Space Shuttle took off. What then was thought to be a provocation is now a godsend – Russia and the USA have a common Space Remembrance Day. Who would have thought?

But first the students get handed out participation certificates by the organizer. Everyone gets one labeled ‘Grammota’. Many have glowing eyes now. The certificates are rare evidence for a special achievement and are highly regarded in the native schools. Each of the lucky ones has now won a place at the ‘table of the bests’ and therefor recognition by teachers and future applications. Will our students at home also view it like that?

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At the entrance the museum director welcomes us personally. He is the former cosmonaut Alexander Lasutkin. He stands there with the medal ‘Hero of Russia’ and shakes our hands. Lasutkin spent many hundred days on the Space station MIR and trained for the ISS. Due to health reasons however, the young father had to quit the hard training in 2004. Today he encourages future generations, answers questions, shows the technology and drives extreme-excursions to the rocket launch site in Baikonur with small groups.

The kids are stuck to his lips when they are allowed to listen to him in the main auditorium. Sovereign and with the outmost respect he answers even the craziest question of the students. Unfortunately all of this is happening in Russian – not English. Evegeniy translates eagerly. Afterwards the exhibited aircraft can be admired. All is clean and polished to a high gloss. This museum is nothing less like the ones in Huntsville and Washington and yet it bears completely different devices. There are the moonrover ‘Lonochod’, the Russian moon rockets, the probes ‘Luna’, ‘Venere’ and ‘Mars’, and the countless Russian space stations of ‘Almaz’, to ‘Salut’, to ‘MIR’ and ‘ISS’. This history of space travel is at least as impressive as those in Huntsville and Washington.

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The cosmonaut Alexnader Lasutkin patiently endures the many autograph and picture requests of the students. Then he politely says goodbye. I follow him together with our students. At one point where we won’t be spoted by autograph hunters he politely turns around and winks at me with his right eye. Now our students understand him as well; he speaks English. Nadin and Araceli get right to the point: ‘Under a lot of troubles we have brought a NASA-moonbuggy here to Moscow. Last year, it was exhibited next to the Apollo Moon Rover in the Space Museum of Huntsville. It is now time that the same happens also in this museum. Here is the Russian Moon Rover. It would be a gesture and an invitation to our generation and the future.’

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Lasutkin buries his face in both palms: ‚Girls, you know what kind of a wish that is? This is a state museum and for such a permit I would have to make a lot of calls.’ Nadin responds casually: ‘Well, if it is nothing more!’ and laughs. Lasutkin thinks and says: ‘Well let’s see.’

It’s the way of the students to give themselves purposeful and determined, to see problems playful and as a challenge, and not to be afraid to speak up. This behavior is contagious. It is the spirit and the inspiration for us, the adult generation, to work for the future. Without it, nothing would be possible.

We are now planning to leave the Moonbuggy after the Airshow in Moscow – to be on hold for an exhibition in the biggest Russian museum for cosmonauts. This I take to immediately contact the German School Moscow and to the Embassy Department of Education and Culture. We set the dates for the day after the next.

In the evening our small group enjoys the SpaceUnion Exhibition. It is a historical exhibition center with many pretty ornate halls, a park and a sprawling area for rides, stalls and outdoor seating. In its center there is a Gargarin-Rocket. In the evening light, we take beautiful pictures of it. The day ends eventful and gimpy.

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