Space Dogs and Cosmonauts

This is something I meant to post weeks and weeks ago so I apologise for talking about Christmas when it’s the last thing anyone want’s to think about right now. And I apologise for writing about this exhibition so close to it closing (you still have 6 weeks if you want to see it (and you should)). I know later on I’m going to complain quite a lot about it but really, if you have any interest in the space race Cosmonauts is something you have to see.

My dad is currently working down in England so at the start of December I took the train down to visit him and to go to the Cosmonauts exhibition at the London Science Museum. So my weekend started off with me heading to Birmingham where I was supposed to meet my dad, however there is something you need to know about my dad. He’s always late. So I got to Birmingham to find out he wasn’t actually in Birmingham yet. Obviously I did the thing all good book nerds do, I went looking for a book shop.

Space Dogs and Cosmonauts | bluchickenninja.com

So can we just talk about how confusing Birmingham city center is, and it was so busy, like I know it was running up to Christmas but I didn’t realise how busy it would be on a Friday afternoon. Maybe I’m just used to Glasgow where it’s never that busy even around Christmas time. Anyway I found Waterstones which I think had just been opened, even that was busy (something I’m definitely not used to).

Of course I ended up buying two books and while I was paying I was talking to the book seller about pretty covers and he convinced me to buy The Fox and The Star as well (I should mention I was planning on buying it anyway but he offered to give me it for half price so obviously I took the deal). Eventually my dad turned up and we went to Handmade Burger Co for dinner (omg it was so good).

Space Dogs and Cosmonauts | bluchickenninja.com

On the Saturday we headed down to London and the Science Museum. It’s been a long time since I was last at the Science Museum, my family used to really enjoy spending a day there but it felt like it has become a little run down. Some of the exhibits haven’t changed at all since I was last there others didn’t have much to look at and large parts of the museum were under construction. It was a little disappointing to be honest, but it may have just been the wrong time of year.

The Cosmonaut exhibition was good but it didn’t amaze me. I had read a review somewhere which basically said that the exhibit would change how you saw the planet and your place on it (at least thats what I think it said). So it was good but not that good. To be honest I would go just for the Russian space propaganda because some of that was really beautiful.

Space Dogs and Cosmonauts | bluchickenninja.com

Okay I’ll stop complaining now, the exhibit really was very interesting, they had an actual Soyuz capsule that had been in space, you could see all the scratches and scuff marks from it coming back to Earth. One thing that really surprised me was the size of the thing. It’s tiny. And they managed to fit three grown men inside along with all the other stuff you need to stay alive in space.

Space Dogs and Cosmonauts | bluchickenninja.com

Another thing I need to talk about (because it nearly broke my heart) was the story of the Russian space dogs: Laika, Belka and Strelka. Now I know what the dogs did was really important in the space race but the animal lover inside me was totally not okay with the scientists basically using the dogs as lab rats. Especially since they sent Laika up there knowing she was going to die.

After spending way too much money in the gift shop we headed to the Waterstones at Piccadilly Circus (I literally can’t stay away from this shop).  A little tip, if you’re ever in London and want to find somewhere quiet for a break go to the cafe/ bar in the basement of the Waterstones in Piccadilly. It’s one of the nicest cafes I’ve been in. And the slice of cake I got was like the size of my face (seriously, that photo doesn’t do it justice, it was huge).

Space Dogs and Cosmonauts | bluchickenninja.com

And after that we headed home and I went back up to Scotland (I won’t even get into my dad trying to convince me to skip college so I could spend more time with him). Oh and I nearly forgot about the book haul because obviously I went and bought more books.

Space Dogs and Cosmonauts | bluchickenninja.com

The Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut.
The Forever War by Joe Haldeman.
Stranger In A Strange Land by Robert A Heinlein.
The Bone Dragon by Alexia Casale.
The Sand Men by Christopher Fowler.
Mort by Terry Pratchett.
The Silmarillion by JRR Tolkien.
Nimona by Noelle Stevenson.

Thanks for reading.
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9 Responses to “Space Dogs and Cosmonauts”

  1. Anonymous

    This looks like a great trip! I would have loved to get over there and see it – I’ve got so much of the US side of the space race sloshing around in my brain from my childhood, it would be nice to see artifacts from other side of it. And as you said – seems like it would be worth it for the propaganda. Gotta love soviet art.

    Funny (or not so funny) story about Laika – If we have time in the semester, I have an extra lecture I give on the space race, and during it I take about 3 minutes and tell the story of Laika as part of the narrative. Would you believe that the years I have time to cover it, my students are more likely to remember Laika’s name come the final exam than Gerald Ford – one of our presidents who we spend literally an ENTIRE DAY talking about? Heartbreak in regards to animals is a powerful thing.

    Reply
    • bluchickenninja

      Yeah it’s really interesting, the Soviet space program is something you never really hear about. Even most of the books I have are focused on NASA, it was fascinating to learn about the Soviet stuff because it was also hugely important. Also yes, that’s kind of hilarious, but people are always going to care more about the animals.

      Reply
      • Magpiemakingdo

        Yea, I always mean to do some research into why the story is so skewed to the US side of things – because I mean, it makes sense that that’s the focus that I got in my education, but like honestly there just doesn’t seem to be much out there about the Soviet program in general. Idk if it’s because it just hasn’t been translated to English, or if there’s simply not as much because some of it hasn’t been declassified? Or maybe I’ve just been missing it… I really should get around to looking into that… (also ps – anonymous in this instance was me. idk what happened that I wasn’t signed in)

        Reply
        • bluchickenninja

          I kind of understand kids in the US only being taught the US side of the space race. But yeah maybe it was classified or something. Actually I should have a look at that Cosmonauts book I got, maybe there is something about it in that!

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