Happy birthday, Cosmonaut Valentina!

Once upon a time, Valentina Tereshkova was a textile factor worker who made a hobby of jumping off of stuff with parachutes. On June 16, 1963, she was the first woman to make it into space, piloting Vostok 6 through 48 orbits in 70.8 hours. Today is her birthday. » 3/06/14 10:08pm 3/06/14 10:08pm

Dog space suits for the earliest canine cosmonauts

Even before Laika set paw in Sputnik 2, Soviet researchers sent dogs into higher altitudes than any canine creature had traveled before. To help keep those dogs safe—and to test the equipment that would allow humans to eventually reach orbit—these scientists created high pressure suits, complete with helmets fitted to… » 11/10/12 9:30am 11/10/12 9:30am

Bad Luck Blackjack and the Ghost of Yuri Gagarin: Curious…

Space exploration requires technical expertise, careful planning, and test after test after test. But it can be hard to discount the role of luck in missions where so much can go wrong. In the US and Russian space programs, many rituals are attached to missions, perhaps to add a little good fortune to their science. » 8/11/12 3:00pm 8/11/12 3:00pm

In Kazakhstan, cosmonauts must go through winter wilderness training…

When cosmonauts and astronauts now return from a long-duration space mission on board the International Space Station, they are always coming home on a Soyuz capsule, landing in northern Kazakhstan. The Kazakh Steppe is known for its bitter winters (I just checked the local weather in Ayagoz, Kazakhstan and there is… » 1/21/12 3:45pm 1/21/12 3:45pm

The Soviet Union got closer to reaching the Moon than we ever suspected

The United States won the Space Race decisively when Apollo 11 landed on the Moon on July 20, 1969, but nobody ever really knew just how close the Soviet Union got to putting cosmonauts on the lunar surface. Now, forty years later, researcher Charles Vick says the Soviets really could have reached the Moon by the… » 2/06/11 11:00am 2/06/11 11:00am