Star City still does not appear on any maps.
Deep within the forest, surrounded by barbed wire, the highly secretive Star City holds the soul of the Russian people. A closed community, where entry involves lengthy negotiations, permission letters and brown envelopes, the Yuri Gagarin Russian State Science Research Cosmonaut Training Centre, has been the training centre for all Soviet and post Soviet Cosmonauts since the late 1950’s.Yuri Gagarin trained here, his wife still lives here, his children live here. Generations of cosmonauts have trained in these surroundings. The city holds the weight of the past, with traces of history, power and a ghost like presence. Dreams of outer space have been a constant in Soviet society since 1920s. Surviving perestroika and the break up of the Soviet Union in 1991, heroic ideas of the future dominate over the present and are a vital source of power and hope. Star City is the symbol of soviet scientific technical progress, strengthening and recovering Russia’s Cosmonauts prestige worldwide. Photographing here, in the inner sanctum, bears important witness to that hope.
I arrive in the forest, find my way through the trees and enter the city of hope.
You can see more of Mitch’s work here.