In the Shadow of Faded Dreams

The idealism of the Soviet Space programme speaks of serving humanity and a belief in peaceful future. However, politics has left a negative trace on these ideas and we often associate Gagarin with the tense atmosphere of the Cold War. Still, for people working at the Yuri Gagarin Training Centre, a military complex where all cosmonauts have been trained since the 1960s, Gagarin remains a hero while space is the only reality they know, almost blending with the surreal machines they work with, they seem to be trapped in a window of time. In the shadow of faded dreams, thus sheds the light on a close-knit community of space-lovers, still clinging to the decaying legacy of the 1960s Space dream.

Photojournalism, photography, journalism, photo-essay, feature

Hydrolab Instructor: The instructor's role is to help cosmonauts to adjust the lift, drift the balance and guarantee their safety when they train underwater. A training that can last up to six hours. The trainer wished to remain anonymous

Module of the International Space Station (ISS)

Altunin Alexey Alexeyevich, Deputy head of department of underwater training and Hydrolaboratory, 25 years working at GCTC: “Sometimes after long hours working underwater, at night I would dream that I am myself walking in the outer space.”

Gucilnikov Alexei Anatolivich, Head of Department of training on Soyuz TMA machines

TDK-7ST3 training simulator developed and placed into for "Soyuz-TMA" crew training with up-to-date computer systems and synthetic vision systems.

Chute Chair: A chair with an included parachute. The pack and back cushion combination are shaped to fit fully in the seat to provide a large, stable, comfortable base for the pilot to sit. The parachute container is ready to use in case of emergency.

Tsf-18 Centrifuge: The world largest centrifuge in an indoor space. It has a rotating arm of 18m in length and can simulate up to 30g with a payload mass of 350kg. The only training equipment that could easily kill a man within the centre.

A full-scale mock up of the MIR orbital station
Used for cosmonaut training in Star City. Module Kvant-1 is on the foreground, the core module is immediately behind. Kvant-2 is on the background. It is located in the Cosmocentre which was built to develop interest for Space amongst youngsters. There children of all ages can pretend to be a space engineer, instructor or cosmonaut for a day

Malikova Tatiana Yurivna, Head of department of complex simulators of the Russian segments of the International Space Station (RSS ISS) 25 years at GCTC:

Buran Shuttle Cockpit 
the Russian Buran shuttle (its name means blizzard) was designed to glide down to Earth from Space. On 15th November 1998, the Soviet Union stunned Western observers by launching the spacecraft. After circling the globe twice, the unscrewed spacecraft flew to an impressive precision, landing in Baikonur, Kazakhstan. It was its first and last flight.

A training version of the Spektr module

A training mockup of the Priorda module.

Orlan MK Spacesuit: Russia’s latest spacesuit, created in 2009. Its main innovation is its full computerisation -the suit itself suggests actions for the cosmonaut to take in case of emergencies. They previously had to memorize contingency plans.It can work in two modes: with the digital computer (as the MK) or without (as the previous M version). It weighs around 120 kg, and is certified for four years in orbit and 15 EVAs.

Boricenko Andrei Ivanovitch, Cosmonaut, time in Space 164 days, 5 hours, 41 minutes: "It was once said that those who go into this profession are not romantics but fanatics. You need to be fanatically in love with Cosmos to pursue this career."

Components of the Orlan MK Spacesuit: The suit’s most vital component is oxygen, for breathing and pressure. There are two tanks each capable of supplying over 800L of oxygen. In the spacesuit cosmonauts consume about 50L per hour, so under normal conditions each tank will last over 16 hours.

Oleg Evgenivitch Zakharov, head of Cosmocentre, 27 years at GCTC: “Only one motivation constantly pushes us to work harder - our love of the sky. No one comes here for the money.”

Gagarin office at the Cosmonauts House, within Star City: It has been left untouched since the Russian hero was killed in a jet crash in 1968. Before each flight cosmonauts still meet at this table to have a drink in his honor. The clock has been stopped at the exact time of Gagarin’s death.

Vintage telephones from the 1960s: The two phones were used by Gagarin during his lifetime. One was used to call within Star City, the other to reach Moscow. Both devices still work although no one dares to use the

Volkov Alexander Alexandrovich, head of the administration in Star City, hero of the Soviet Union, last citizen of the USSR to orbit around the Earth: 
“My vision of the world changed after my flight. I saw Earth as a home from everyone. Frontiers disappeared, I was no longer a man locked in a shell in his little town. Thanks to the cosmos we become people of the Earth and the people who train mentally accompany us on that mission.”

Gagarin Yuri Alekseyevitch, First Man in Space: 
“What beauty. I saw clouds and their light shadows on the distant dear Earth… The water looked like darkish, slightly gleaming spots… When I watched the horizon, I saw the abrupt, contrasting transition from the Earth’s light-coloured surface to the absolutely black sky. I enjoyed the rich colour spectrum of the Earth. It is surrounded by a light blue aureole that gradually darkens, becoming turquoise, dark blue, violet, and finally coal black.”