Our behind-the-scenes exploration of the Russian space program features a VIP viewing of the manned launch of a Soyuz spacecraft.

Starting at: $14,295 Make a Reservation Ask Us A Question or Call 855-330-1542
 Russian cosmonauts  The raising of the rocket ceremony  Preparing for the launch of a Soyuz rocket  A Soyuz spacecraft  A Russian cosmonaut waves to onlookers  A Soyuz rocket in flight  Spectators at a launch  A group of Smithsonian Journeys travelers  Smithsonian Journeys travelers at launch site  The ISS Crew press conference at the Cosmonaut Hotel  The ISS Crew press conference at the Cosmonaut Hotel  Cold War Museum Bunker, Moscow  Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City   The Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City  The Mir Space Station Simulator at the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center  The Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory  Moscow's Red Square, a World Heritage site  Moscow in the evening  St. Basil's Cathedral in Moscow

Inside the Russian Space Program

10 days from $14,295

Our behind-the-scenes exploration of the Russian space program features a VIP viewing of the manned launch of a Soyuz spacecraft.

or Call 855-330-1542

Overview

Get as close to outer space as possible while keeping your feet on the ground! Enjoy unparalleled access to briefing sessions and VIP viewing areas in Moscow’s Star City and at Kazakhstan’s Baikonur Cosmodrome, then witness the launch of a Soyuz spacecraft.

Highlights Include

  • Star City: Meet with a Russian cosmonaut and examine the Mir Space Station Simulator, the Hydrolab for zero-G training, and the largest centrifuge in the world.
  • Baikonur Cosmodrome: Fly to Kazakhstan’s arid steppe to visit the Russian space launch facility—and witness the manned launch of a Soyuz spacecraft. Mingle with cosmodrome workers, officials, and cosmonauts at the prelaunch activities. Watch the rollout of the Soyuz from the assembly hangar to the launch pad, the raising of the rocket ceremony, and the walk along the Alley of Cosmonauts.
  • Soyuz Launch: Enjoy a VIP viewing as the Soyuz spacecraft breaks free of Earth’s atmosphere on its way to the International Space Station.

*Note: Dates subject to change depending on the Soyuz launch schedule.

To see itinerary, please click on an option below.

Itinerary

Days 1 & 2 – U.S. and Moscow, Russia

Depart the U.S. on individual flights bound for Moscow. On arrival in Moscow transfer to the hotel in the city center. Meet fellow participants at the welcome dinner this evening. (In-Flight, D)

Day 3 – Moscow

Today drive to the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center, or GCTC, in the once highly classified and secretive Star City, located in a forested region approximately 25 km from Moscow.  The center was established in 1960, and since 1968 has been named for Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space.  On April 12, 1961, Gagarin was launched into space on board Russia’s secret Vostok spacecraft and returned safely to Earth, the first manned space flight in the history of humankind.  Today the GCTC remains the premier training facility for Russian cosmonauts and foreign astronauts planning manned space flights.  The GCTC closely cooperates with the European Space Agency (ESA) as well as with CNES (France) and NASA.

The center is proud of its numerous achievements, including its support of the first female cosmonaut, Valentina Tereshkova, and the first space walk of Alexei Leonov, as well as the training of the first space tourist, Dennis Tito, from the U.S.  The center is known for its biomedical training enabling cosmonauts to efficiently spend a year or more in space and to recover quickly upon their return to Earth.

Trace the evolution of the Soviet space program, explore the Mir Space Station Simulator (the Mir was operational from 1986-2001), and learn about Russian-American cooperation in space that the GCTC supports by training joint crews on the simulator of the International Space Station.  Visit the Soyuz-TMA integrated simulator and the ISS mock-up.  At the massive hydro lab, Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory, learn how crews acquire skills for operations on the external surface of the orbital station under simulated weightless conditions.  The world’s largest centrifuge, used for simulating G-loads, is on the program as well.

Lunch is served in the Star City cafeteria, which is used by the crewmembers in training and other facilitators of the Star City complex.

Continue the tour with a visit to the Star City Museum, containing a wide assortment of space vehicles, simulators, space suits and a reproduction of Yuri Gagarin’s office, which Russian and international crews traditionally visit before their space launches.

Each participant receives a special certificate recognizing his or her visit to Star City. Return to the city center before dinner. (B,L,D)

Day 4 – Depart Moscow, fly to Baikonur, Kazakhstan

This morning transfer to the airport for a flight to the Baikonur Cosmodrome, located on the steppe of Kazakhstan.  Subject to reconfirmation, this will be a special flight for those going to witness and participate in the launch.

On arrival, transfer to the hotel and settle in before dinner.  In the evening enjoy an opportunity for a lecture or a meeting with a local guest and prepare for the upcoming days in Baikonur. (B,L,D)

Day 5 – Baikonur

The program begins with an early-morning viewing of the roll-out of the Soyuz Rocket. This up-close-and-personal sight is awe-inspiring. Follow the Soyuz to the launch pad site and watch the raising of the rocket together with the press, military personnel, cosmonauts and their relatives.

Spend the rest of the day touring sites around Baikonur, including the main launch pad, the “Gagarin Start,” where the Sputnik launches took place, and mingle with the press and other guests. Visit the Baikonur Museum, the Yuri Gagarin and Sergei Korolev living apartments, and the monument to the beginning of the Space Age.

Dinner tonight is at a local restaurant in the nearby town of Leninsk. (B,L,D)

Day 6 – Baikonur

Spend the day touring sites around the town of Leninsk, including the Central Market and a visit to the International Space School. Dinner is back at the hotel with an evening lecture, time permitting. (B,L,D)

Day 7 – Baikonur

During the course of the day, witness the process leading up to the launch.  Experience behind-the-scenes events, including the ISS Crew Press Conference, send-off from the Cosmonaut Hotel, and the Space Crew ready-to-go official report. In between these events visit launch pads, assembly and integration buildings, and other sites throughout Baikonur cosmodrome. (B,L,D) ​

Day 8 – Soyuz Launch, Depart Baikonur and fly back to Moscow

Today is the day of the manned space launch of the Soyuz to the International Space Station. Transfer to the VIP launch viewing area to watch the launch of the Soyuz, which is currently projected for 3:16 am Baikonur time.

Following the launch, return to the hotel. Later in the morning, after breakfast, transfer to the airport for the flight back to Moscow. (B,L,D) 

Note: The order of events and sites visited in Baikonur may be changed or moved around to coincide with the launch time window.

Day 9 – Moscow

Today stop at Moscow’s Novodevichy Convent, whose main attraction is its cemetery.  Such luminaries as Gogol, Chekhov, Scriabin, Mayakovsky, Stanislavsky, Prokofiev, Eisenstein, Khrushchev, Raisa Gorbachev and Boris Yeltsin are buried here, as well as a number of prominent cosmonauts, and some of the graves are quite fanciful.

Later take a private tour of the Cold War Museum Bunker. Over 200 feet below Moscow is the Secured Command Post “Tagansky,” an abandoned relic of the Cold War built to withstand a nuclear attack. Stocked with food and provisions, the 75,000-square-foot space was meant to sustain 5,000 people for three months. Ordered by Stalin in 1951, the shelter was finished in 1956, and soon became a secret communication bunker and, reportedly, a missile control center.  A tour of the formerly secret bunker includes a video presentation on the Cold War.

Enjoy a free afternoon for independent discovery. Tonight toast to the journey during the festive farewell dinner. (B,L,D)

Day 10 – Depart Moscow

Depart Moscow for individual departures to the U.S. (B)

Dates subject to change depending on the Soyuz launch schedule.

Included meals are denoted as follows: Breakfast (B), Lunch (L), Reception (R), Dinner (D)