Look inside


Birth of the Space Age

Doug Millard (ed.)

    ISBN: 978 1 85759 902 2

    Size: 254 x 229 mm / 9 x 10 in.

    Binding: hardback

    Pages: 256

    In association with:

    Date published: November, 2015

    UK £45 /US $75


  • Features an unprecedented collection of Russian spacecraft and other objects never published before.
  • Accompanies the acclaimed and historic exhibition at the Science Museum, London, from 18 September 2015 to 13 March 2016.
  • Includes essays by cosmonauts, space historians and family members of space pioneers.


For decades, the story of the world’s first spacefaring nation has been underplayed in the West. Now the remarkable history of Russia’s space programme is being brought to light as never before. It is a chronicle that starts over a hundred years ago and then carries us through the tumultuous decades of Russia’s century.

Russia launched the Space Age in 1957 with its Sputnik artificial satellite, and put both the first man in space, Yuri Gagarin in 1961, and the first woman, Valentina Tereshkova in 1963. But Russia also sent the first probe to the Moon and the first landers to Venus and Mars, achieved the first spacewalk, and had a major manned Moon landing programme of its own. Later Russia pioneered the development of orbiting space stations, and today is a leading partner in the International Space Station project. Behind these barrier-breaking feats lay a huge programme of rocket science, space technology and medicine, and the stories of these support activities behind the scenes are often as absorbing as the high-profile achievements.

This book accompanies a landmark exhibition at the Science Museum, London, opening 18 September 2015 and running until 13 March 2016. The exhibition is a major collaboration with The State Museum Exhibition Centre ROSIZO, the Moscow Memorial Museum of Cosmonautics and the Federal Space Agency, Roscosmos. It offers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see objects that have never before left Russia, including rocket engines that launched the Space Age, actual craft that carried humans into space, and the spacesuits, equipment and personal items of the few who flew, alongside powerful artworks that articulated Russia’s longing for space.

Cosmonauts: Birth of the Space Age presents an unprecedented collection of historic objects, photographs and artworks from the Russian space programme. It also features the incredible stories of the people who dreamt of early space exploration, those who made it happen, those who risked their lives to experience it and those who continue its legacy today. The line-up of expert contributors includesg the cosmonauts Vladimir Dzhanibekov, who describes his mission to rescue a stricken space station, and Aleksandr Lazutkin, who experienced the horror of a fire in orbit on Mir. Nataliya Koroleva writes about her father, Chief Designer Sergei Korolev, who endured the Soviet gulag before launching Sputnik, while Elena Tereshkova tells of her mother, Valentina Tereshkova. There are also essays by Elena Timoshenkova on her great-grandfather Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, pioneer of cosmonautical theory, by leading space historian Asif A Siddiqi, and by John E Bowlt, expert on Russian avant-garde art. Exhibition curator Natalia Sidlina interviews Sergei Pozdnyakov on the development of spacesuits and writes also about life at the Star City cosmonaut training facility, while Julia Tcharfas reveals the extraordinary research programmes of Russian space medicine.

Available in paperback from the Science Museum, or as a hardback in high street bookshops.

‘You will leave Cosmonauts with a different view of humanity’s place in the cosmos.’ – Professor Brian Cox

‘The most significant collection of Soviet spacecraft, artefacts and equipment ever brought together in one place.’ – Tom Feilden, BBC Radio 4: Today programme

‘The best exhibition to visit over the holidays is Cosmonauts at the Science Museum in London … A spectacular display of some of the most important relics of humanity’s obsession with space’ – Jonathan Jones in The Guardian

Author information

Doug Millard is Deputy Keeper of Technologies and Engineering at the Science Museum, London