Monument to The Conquerors of Space

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In the early 1960s, the Soviet Union was way ahead of the United States in the space race. They launched the first artificial satellite of earth, Sputnik 1, in 1957 and then launched the first man into space, Yuri Gagarin, in 1961. To celebrate the two great victories and the achievement of the Soviet Union in space exploration, the Russians decided to erect something big. Indeed, plans for a monument had begun three years before Yuri Gagarin even left earth.

In March 1958, just five months after the successful launch of Sputnik 1, a design competition was organized. After sorting through more than 350 submissions, the design that was chosen and finally built is that of a large obelisk depicting an exhaust plume. At its apex is a rocket. The monument is 110 meters tall, and leans on to one side at an angle of 77°. It is cladded by a suit of titanium —a metal of high tensile strength and high resistance to corrosion. In fact, many critically structural parts of spaceships are made of alloy of this very metal.

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Photo credit: jaime.silva/Flickr (left), reibai/Flickr (right)

The monument is located in the northeastern part of Moscow, outside the main entry to today's All-Russia Exhibition Centre (formerly known as the Exhibition of Achievements of the National Economy). Its grand opening took place on October 4, 1964, on the day of the 7th anniversary of the Sputnik 1 launch.

In front of the obelisk is a statue of Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, a Soviet rocket scientist and pioneer of the astronautic theory. Along with his followers, the German Hermann Oberth and the American Robert H. Goddard, he is considered to be one of the founding fathers of rocketry and astronautics.

At the base of the monument is a poem in Russian, which translates as:

That having vanquished lawlessness and dark,
We have forged great flaming wings
For our
Nation
And this age of ours!

On both sides of the monument base, are bas-reliefs depicting the men and women of the space program, including that of Laika, the first space dog.

The base of the monument also contains a museum —the Memorial Museum of Cosmonautics— containing a wide variety of Soviet and Russian space-related exhibits and models which explore the history of flight, astronomy, space exploration and space technology. The museum holds approximately 85,000 different items, including the space capsule used by Yuri Gagarin and a moonrover from the 1970s Lunokhod missions.

The path leading up to the monument is lined with busts of important figures in the Soviet space program such as Sergey Korolev, the chief rocket engineer and designer behind Yuri Gagarin's historic first flight; scientist Mstislav Kelydysh and the engineer Valentin Glushko; and cosmonauts Valentina Tereshkova, Pavel Belyaev, Aleksey Leonov, Vladimir Komarov and of course Yuri Gagarin. This path is known as the Cosmonauts Alley.

There are several other monuments in the area —a globe the universe, a globe of the Earth, and a model of the solar system.

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Photo credit: Jason Eppink/Flickr

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Photo credit: Alexanda Hulme/Flickr

Ignition and Liftoff!

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Photo credit: Kirill Nikitin/Flickr

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Photo credit: dmrog.livejournal.com

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Photo credit: dmrog.livejournal.com

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Cosmonauts Alley. Photo credit: Alex Lal/Panoramio

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Photo credit: Alexanda Hulme/Flickr

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Photo credit: Alexanda Hulme/Flickr

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Photo credit: Alexanda Hulme/Flickr

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Photo credit: Jay Springett/Flickr

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The Memorial Museum of Cosmonautics inside the base of the monument. Photo credit: Xiquinho Silva/Flickr

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Photo credit: Xiquinho Silva/Flickr

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Photo credit: Xiquinho Silva/Flickr

Sources: Wikipedia / Rusmania

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