Highlights from the opening of the BP-supported Cosmonauts: Birth of the Space Age exhibition at the Science Museum
The exhibition, Cosmonauts: Birth of the Space Age, takes place at London’s Science Museum until March 2016.
At the opening of the exhibition, Valentina Tereshkova was reunited with her space capsule, Vostok 6, which was launched in 1963. She had been selected from hundreds of candidates to be the first women to travel into space, largely because of her expertise in skydiving and parachuting. Aged 26, her space voyage included 48 orbits of the Earth.
Also at the event attendees heard a message from the combined Russian-US crew of the international Space Station which orbits around 400 kilometres above the Earth as a laboratory and observatory.
The Cosmonauts exhibition is the most significant collection of Russian spacecraft and artefacts ever to be shown in the UK. It tells the story of innovation that kick-started the space age with a record number of firsts. In 1957 the Soviet Union launched Sputnik, the world's first artificial satellite, and four years later sent the first human into space – Yuri Gagarin. However, the story of space exploration is much older. Cosmonauts will show Russian space travel in its cultural and spiritual context, from the work of late 19th century Cosmist thinkers who first proposed that humanity's destiny lay in space, to the reality of living in space on board space stations.
Speaking at the launch of the exhibition, BP’s group chief executive, Bob Dudley, said: “When I was growing up, the Soviet space programme was forging its path towards the stars. Nearer my home, NASA was doing the same. It’s true, no doubt, that the space race made both of its participants run faster. But they also went on to achieve so much together, through collaboration on projects like the International Space Station.”
Cosmonauts represents a collaboration between the Science Museum, the State Museum Exhibition Centre ROSIZO, the Memorial Museum of Cosmonautics and the Federal Space Agency, Roscosmos, supported by many other institutions and individuals in the UK and Russia. Cosmonauts: Birth of the Space Age has had additional support from ART RUSSE (Major Funder) and the Blavatnik Family Foundation.
The exhibition opens on 18 September 2015 and will run until 13 March 2016. The Museum will be open until 10pm every Friday evening during this period to allow visitors more opportunities to see the exhibition.