Read the trip report written by Sixth Form student Fran Sisson about her fantastic trip to Russia in October of last year.

Russia, October 2016

Day 1

We arrived in Moscow, the capital city of Russia at around 5pm and checked into our hotel. In the evening we were going to have our first talk on the history of the Russian space industry. All our talks were delivered by Alexandr Martynov, a retired space engineer who offered a really unique insight into the space industry, especially because he helped to design some elements of the Russian space station MIR which was in space from 1986 until 2001.

Day 2

Today we were going to meet Sergey Volkov, a cosmonaut who had visited the international space station twice and had done four space walks. Sergey told us a lot about the ISS and we had a chance for a Q&A which was an awesome opportunity to learn more about his adventures in space. In the afternoon we went on a walking tour of Moscow. One of the highlights was seeing Red Square, which is where St Basil’s Cathedral is. We even went to see Lenin’s body, a rather surreal experience. As we walked around it was snowing which made for a magical experience – it felt rather Christmassy even though it was only October!

Day 3

On day 3 we were going on a tour of the Moscow Metro Stations, which sounds dull but many of them are intricately decorated, especially Kievskaya Metro Station which had beautiful mosaics all over the walls including one called the ‘Soviet Virgin’ depicting the Virgin Mary. We also had a chance to meet Aleksandr Samokutyayev, another Russian Cosmonaut who had served as a flight engineer on two missions to the ISS. He brought in a spacesuit and a spacesuit glove. The space suit was made for a small person so unfortunately only a couple of people could actually fit in it, but we all got to try on the glove. Then we went to see the Kremlin, the Russian parliament. It has several churches, including one where all of the Tsars are buried.

Day 4:

This was our last full day in Russia, and in the morning we went on another walking tour of the city, this time to see the Moscow Pavilion which was a round area bordered by buildings built to represent the 13 districts of the Soviet Union. We also went to the Russian space museum which was very cool because we got to see many cool artefacts including the re-entry unit used by Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space. In the afternoon we had a talk from Aleksandr Volkov, Sergey’s father, who served as a cosmonaut on the MIR space station.

Day 5:

Today we were going to be leaving Russia, but first we had one more place to visit: Star City, where they train cosmonauts from all over the world for the last year or so before they fly. There are scale models of the ISS and MIR space station built so the cosmonauts can get some experience of the conditions before they go into space. It’s actually not as big as you’d think, so seeing it to scale was a really cool experience! Unfortunately in the afternoon it was time to go home, so we said goodbye to Moscow and headed to the airport and back to England. Overall it was an amazing trip and I learnt a lot about Russia and space in general!