For a fraction of the $200,000 it costs for a seat on Virgin Galactic, you can experience a taste of space travel at Russia’s Star City. Situated on the outskirts of Moscow, Star City is the formerly top-secret military installation where Russian cosmonauts live and train. It has only recently been permitted to feature on the world’s maps and has opened its gates to tourism.
The self-contained campus – where Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space, and Laika, the first dog in space, lived – now allows a range of tours of everything from its simulator of the Russian part of the International Space Station, to the hydrolaboratory where its astronauts practise their spacewalks.
Visitors can put on a space suit for the simulated launch, flight and landing of a Soyuz rocket. While it was designed back in the 1960s, these craft are still in operation and, thanks to the retirement of the US’s Space Shuttle, are relied on by Nasa to get people to the space station.
You can experience a “spacewalk” in the chemically regulated swimming pool, in which the real cosmonauts of Star City do their training. Or you can have a quick spin in the giant centrifuge machine, to experience the G-forces felt during a rocket launch.
Alternatively, you can experience weightlessness with a 9,000m-high flight in a MiG jet that swoops at speeds designed to give you a few minutes at zero gravity.
Tours including the flight start from €4,479.