We Have Lift-off: The Chance to Witness a Space Launch First Hand
It’s been fourteen years since the first ‘space tourist’ launched his way to the International Space Station, allowing a civilian to experience for the first time something that up until then, only those with the ‘right stuff’ had been trusted to do. At $52 million dollars a pop, it’s still an adventure very few will ever have, but in 2015, space enthusiasts can experience the next best thing – a chance to be in the thick of the action on the ground. Together with Space Affairs, Mantis is offering guests the opportunity to visit Baikonur in Kazakhstan – once known as ‘Star City’ – witnessing from close-hand the launch of a legendary Soyuz spacecraft and becoming a part of history.
The expedition begins in Moscow, itself a beautiful and fascinating cultural destination, with an early-morning flight to Baikonur and a stay at the Sputnik hotel (named, of course, for the first artificial satellite which, like Yuri Gagarin’s first manned orbital flight, lifted off from Baikonur). The following day, you’ll attend the ‘roll out’ of the Soyuz rocket at the Soyuz Integration Hall, along with space agency representatives, journalists, and the crew’s family and friends. The rail transfer moves at approximately 5km per hour, eventually arriving at the Gagarinsky launchpad where it is installed ready for takeoff. During the day, you’ll also visit the Baikonur museum and International Space School, giving a peek behind the curtain at both the past and present of life in the space programme. On Day Three, you’ll attend the morning press conference with the three main crew members, a fascinating insight into the buzz that surrounds this incredible event. You’ll walk along the tree-lined Avenue of the Cosmonauts, where space travellers since Yuri Gagarin have planted saplings before their flights, and enjoy a bus tour of the city.
Launch Day means a lazy start, with a visit to the central market and lunch in Baikonur before the farewell ceremony that evening at the Hotel Cosmonaut. From there, you’ll be transported to the Energia complex for a further ceremony, and on to the observation point, just 1.4 km from the actual launchpad. The excitement and tension during the countdown is amazing to experience, as is the sight of the spacecraft launching amid a halo of smoke and flame, and the sheer exhilaration of watching it disappear into the night sky. The following day, you’ll be able to witness as it docks at the International Space Station.
Four launches are planned for 2015, in March, May, September and November (although dates are subject to change). At each, a team comprised of three cosmonauts will launch into space, including representatives from Russia, the US, Japan, Great Britain and Denmark. For the first time since 2009, a civilian will also be participating in the programme, when English soprano Sarah Brightman will become the first professional musician to sing from space.
Mission Day 1:
- Flights from Moscow in the early morning to Baikonur, Kazakhstan. Arrival 14:45 (Baikonur time)
- Meeting with the guides at the airport, transportation to the hotel “Sputnik”, Check in Hotel, Dinner at the hotel.
Mission Day 2:
- Early in the morning, participation at “roll out” of the Soyuz Rocket at the Soyuz Integration hall. After this accompanying the rocket on the railway to the “Gagarinsky” launchpad.
- Breakfast at the event in the morning with lunch packets.
- Participation in the launch preparations on the launch pad Gagarinsky.
- Visit to the Baikonur museum, Space Shuttle “Buran”, Korolev and Gagarin Cottages.
- Visiting the Soyuz Integration Hall.
- Lunch at Baikonur.
- Visiting the International Space School.
- Transportation back to the hotel, dinner in the hotel, free time.
Mission Day 3:
- Breakfast in the hotel.
- Transportation to the Cosmonauts hotel. Participation at the international press conference with main and back-up crew of Soyuz TMA-08M.
- Visiting the “Avenue of the Cosmonauts”.
- Visiting the historic museum of the Baikonur Cosmodrome.
- Lunch at Baikonur.
- Bus tour around the city.
- Dinner in the evening in the hotel.
Mission Day 4: Launch Day!
- Breakfast in the hotel.
- Visiting the central market.
- Lunch in Baikonur
At around 8:00pm accompanying the farewell ceremony of the cosmonauts at the Hotel “Cosmonaut”. Transport by bus to the Energia complex to participate on the “Ready to go” ceremony.
Visiting the Baikonur Museum nearby the launchpad, including Buran space shuttle.
Transportation by bus to the main observation point for the lift-off at around midnight.
Mission Day 5:
Watching preparations in distance of 1,4 km from the launchpad. Between 2:00 am and 3:00 am watching the lift-off, what is still amazing because it is a night launch!
After the launch, transportation back to the hotel. After some recreation, pick-up of the group, transport to the town hall of Baikonur. Participation on the live docking session of Soyuz at the International Space Station ISS (if shortly after the lift-off the 4 orbit burn manoeuvre will be agreed on of mission control)
Lunch at the hotel, afterwards pick-up by bus and transportation to Krainiy airport. Fly back to Moscow.
Price: 5.850,00 Euro p.p.
- All transportations in Baikonur
- 4x Hotel accommodation with full board in Hotel “Sputnik”.
- All visits to attractions such as the top program sequence described.
- Photo and Video Permission.
- English speaking tour guide in Baikonur.
- All entrance fees in Baikonur.
- Flights from Moscow to Baikonur and Moscow(economy class)
- Visa support (Russian double entry visa required)
Flights to Moscow and back, visa application costs, hotel accommodation one day before the flight to Baikonur and one day after the flight from Baikonur to Moscow (recommended!)
For immigration to Russia you need a double-entry visa. Costs approximately 145,00 Euro p.p. (Passport must have a validity of 6 months at the day of the entrance. We will support you for visa information, just ask our staff.)