To the site of great launches
In the 2014-2015 academic year KBM R&P Corp., JSC carried out a competition for senior pupils of high school No.2 «Quantor» in order to scout for teenagers having gift for engineering. The three winners were granted a trip to Baikonur.
And then the day of journey came.
Along with Kolomna high-school pupils the fascinating journey group included students from the Rocket and missile production department of the Baltic state technical university (Ustinov Voyenmekh). For those 20 persons, two of them KBM-sponsored students, the ‘field study’ trip was also an encouragement for excellent academic achievements.
The place of meeting for Kolomna students and those from St.Petersburg was the Kazan railway station in Moscow. No foreign passports are required because entry to Kazakhstan is visa-free. Two full days of the railroad journey and hey presto! the travelers are welcomed by a hot southern night with a serene sky studded with large and bright stars. The heat of thirty degrees centigrade was another present for Muscovites and those born in the Northern Palmira. Baikonur is located at the latitude of the Crimea. The air is hot as over the Black sea shore but dry.
The receiving party was represented by the college called Chelomey International space school. Its pupils are just rank-and-filers, sons and daughters of space launching site workers. But in addition to its principal activity this school performs much public work on popularization of space exploration history.
The guests paid a visit to the Cosmonautics museum, the launch site of the first human being (Gagarin launch pad), Soyuz space system, launch sites for Energiya launch vehicles, Proton, Zenit, Tsiklon space systems. They got inside the Buran shuttle, dropped in at the Korolyov memorial house and laid flowers to the monument of the great designer. You could spot them in the Gagarin space training centre, Chelomey International space school, and many other locations. They even made their own missile mockups and were presented with some diplomas.
The program for our group was prepared a massive one. Every inch of the Baikonur ground contains a bit of the history of great launches. And ten days from 1 till 10 October was not enough to encompass it to every nook and corner.
Of course, the major event became the launch of a Soyuz launch vehicle with the Soyuz M-29M spacecraft. The observation post where the group stayed was just half a kilometer from the launch site. The huge launch vehicle brightly lit by spotlights was in full view. The loudspeakers announced commands well known in the whole world: Attention! One-minute readiness! Key into launch position. … Blow down. … Launch!». Jets of flames pushed the launch vehicle from the ground. First slowly then faster and faster it rocketed skyward. The first stage is jettisoned. Then the second … Only a luminous fleeting away dot remained in the sky — looking almost like the stars it was heading at.
Flight OK, — sounded suddenly a voice in the dead silence, and all sighed with relief.
According to O.P. Timofeyev, one of the visit organizers, KBM personnel training bureau head, ‘The trip was informative, striking, interesting. We on purpose had timed the trip to the launch of the spacecraft, so it became the most impressive moment. For the students it was an illustrative look into their future profession. Of course, KBM doesn’t create spacecraft but missiles of another type. However, can the peaceful space exist without its protection on the Earth?’