What is City Day in Moscow?
Introduced by former Russian president, Boris Yeltsin, in 1986 when he was Secretary of the Moscow City Committee, this celebration of civic pride includes a procession of floats and city officials, fairs, street entertainers, contests and live music. City parks abound with picnics, and food and drinks stalls line the streets of Moscow all the way up to the Kremlin. This year by far the most memorable aspect of City Day celebration is the unveiling of a statue of rocket scientist, Sergei Korolyov.
Who was Sergei Korolyov and why was he honored on this special Russian day of celebration?
According to news sources, the bronze statue of the man who created the world’s first spaceship was unveiled at the Memorial Museum of Cosmonautics on Moscow’s City Day. Korolyov was the chief rocket engineer and designer during the space race in the 1950s and 1960s between the Soviet Union and the United States. Salavat Shcherbakov created the sculpture, and the museum, which has been under construction for the last two years, is scheduled to reopen before the end of the year.
Korolyov’s life was dedicated to space exploration. His incredible energy, intelligence, belief in the prospects of rocket technology, managerial abilities and almost mythical skills in decision-making made him the head of the first Soviet rocket development center, known today as RKK Energia. His greatest talents lay in design integration, organization and strategic planning. A victim of Stalin's 1938 Great Purge, he was imprisoned for almost six years. After his release, he became a rocket designer and an integral part of the development of the Soviet ICBM program. By the time of his untimely death in 1966 at the age of 60, his plans to compete with the United States to be the first nation to land a man on the Moon had begun to be implemented.
What is the significance of the Cosmonautics Museum?
This extraordinary museum traces the history of Russian rocketry and space exploration from the 1920s to the present day. Housed in the base of the impressive monument To the Conquerors of Space, an enormous silver rocket on a 100-meter tall stream of glistening Titanium, it is undoubtedly the most impressive Soviet construction in Moscow.
Although most readers will represent the other side of the space race (this author included) this homage to a brilliant and innovative thinker is very well deserved.