Saturday, April 11, 2009

Faded star

Evidently Russia's Star City has devolved into a sort of Ballardian theme-park in which Kafka might have felt quite at home:

Russia's cosmonauts prepare for letdown

Designed by Soviet secret-keepers in the depths of the Cold War, Star City lies deep in the pine and birch forests on Moscow's edge, and even now you can't find it on many maps. The men at the gates and checkpoints ask for your documents, and when you get inside the legendary cosmonaut training center, you expect to find something splendid -- a glimmer of the cosmos, a flash of eternal striving.

[. . .]

But the hushed fields and deep woods have an eerie, deserted feel. Between research buildings, stray dogs pick at frozen mud scabbing the snow. Here and there, retired engineers in fur-lined hats stroll unsteadily among the buildings of the compound, a cross between a village and an industrial park.

[. . .]

In front of a bank of control panels and computers, two middle-aged women discuss methods of cooking potatoes and sausages. There are some men too, one of them in camouflage. Except for the cosmonauts in their bright blue jumpsuits, you can't tell what any of them are doing, and you are not supposed to ask.


Anonymous said...

What a sad, wonderful mountain of meaningless bureaucracy and rusting legacies.

Also, "Take Off Your Shoes & Don't Talk To Cosmonauts" would make a really great title for something.
(Hint, hint?)

Anonymous said...

Yet somehow, in recent years, they have the most reliable and prolific manned presence in space than any other nation. All great explorers seem to do their best work when struggling against the worst bureaucracies and conditions. The Russians were made for space. Rugged people, with a can-do-it attitude even when the odds are stacked against them.

Hmmmmmm...Maybe NASA should adopt a more casual, more human approach to exploration. Hotdogs and Carnies at the gates, beer tents and gigs, men in denim with ripped t-shirts fixing really expensive shit.

Conspiracy Mode: Mind you, I still think the official "space program" is nothing but a distractive, money dump. The "real" space program is much more ambitious and clandestine (God please let that be true).