MIL-OSI Russia: From the basement to the thoughtful staircase. How the House-Museum of Sergei Korolev works


MIL OSI Translation. Region: Russian Federation –

At the beginning of World Space Week, we go to visit the great scientist. We will find out where he liked to have breakfast, what he thought about TV and how he walked into the forest without leaving his room.

The house on 1st Ostankinskaya Street, in which the designer of rocket and space systems Sergey Korolev spent the last six years of his life, went to him as a gift from the government for the successful creation and launch of the world’s first artificial Earth satellite. He chose the place himself. At that time, in the late 1950s, it was the picturesque green outskirts of Moscow. The choice was influenced by the fact that a monument to the Conquerors of Space was erected nearby. The scientist visited the construction site almost every day, it was visible from his window.

On August 1, 1975, nine years after the death of the designer, the Memorial House-Museum of Academician S.P. Queen. It became a branch of the Moscow Museum of Cosmonautics. The exposition contains about 20 thousand items of storage – personal belongings, books, documents, photographs, household items.

Former basement

Museum visitors enter the house through the entrance to the basement, which was not there during the life of the Queen. For the opening of the museum, the basement was refurbished; now there are screenings of documentaries dedicated to the personality of the Queen and space exploration, as well as temporary exhibitions. Among the most valuable exhibits that can be seen here are the Queen’s traveling suit (mac, hat, scarf and trousers), as well as things that he never parted with on trips: a travel bag, a flashlight, a compass, and a razor.

There are also exhibits related to the scientist’s childhood – the craving for creating something new appeared at a young age: once, for example, he made a pencil holder from a neutralized grenade from the Civil War (this exhibit is from the home museum of Korolev’s daughter Natalya Sergeevna) … Also here you can see Korolyov’s study books, work notebooks, certificates from the funds of the Museum of Cosmonautics.

Hospitable house

There is a sculpture “To the Stars!” Grigory Postnikov is a symbolic gift of the first cosmonauts to the chief designer. Like Prometheus, carrying fire to mankind, a young mighty athlete, like a torch, launches a rocket into the sky that will help people reach cosmic distances.

The sculpture was delivered to the house of the “space father” by Yuri Gagarin and Alexei Leonov. For the Queen, this gift was very dear. Later, at his request, on the basis of the sculpture, the autographs of all 11 cosmonauts who had been in space during his lifetime were engraved.

From the hallway, passing glass shelves with porcelain figurines from the collection of the designer’s wife Nina Ivanovna, we find ourselves in a spacious living room, separated from the dining room by a partition with movable doors. The Queen’s house was very hospitable, relatives and friends often gathered here. There were so many guests that everyone simply could not fit at one table – then, opening the doors of the partition, they brought another one here. Next to the table is a Telefunken turntable, a valuable gift from one of Korolyov’s friends, General Andrei Sokolov. They met in September 1945 in Germany. There was also a place for one more gift – a playful one. Behind the glass, next to the service, a funny rubber troll, brought by the scientist Boris Rauschenbach from Norway, is looking at the guests.

From the dining room, along a narrow corridor, you can get into a small but very cozy kitchen. Closer to the door is the Queen’s place. It was here that he liked to have breakfast. I preferred the simplest food. This is how Nina Ivanovna wrote about her husband’s gastronomic preferences:

“I liked transparent soups, that is, the broth should be transparent. Pickle (with kidneys), mushroom soup (from white dried mushrooms) have never been eaten with sour cream. He said: “Sour cream repels the taste and smell of mushrooms and so on.” He called homemade chicken noodles “chicken dream”, but this was a joke, not because he loved it very much. He jokingly called boiled sausage (thin) “dog’s joy.”

Movies and Music

From entertainment Sergei Pavlovich preferred cinema. I rarely reached the nearest cinema “Cosmos”, but I arranged screenings right in my living room. In this he was assisted by the film projector “Ukraine” and a special screen, which occupied almost the entire wall. The last film that Korolyov watched here was the 1959 drama Marie-October about the French Resistance. The movie projector was last turned on on January 14, 1968, the second anniversary of the Queen’s death. On that day, Yuri Gagarin showed the assembled friends and relatives of Sergei Pavlovich a film shot during his funeral. The projector is now stored on the mantelpiece, and the screen is rolled into a tube near the TV. The Rubin-202 TV was bought shortly after the Korolyovs moved to Ostankino. Sergei Pavlovich rarely watched it, he believed that it was time consuming.

But Korolev was an ardent admirer of music, especially of Pyotr Tchaikovsky. One of his favorite records was the recording of the First Concerto for Piano and Orchestra performed by the American pianist Van Cliburn. Nina Ivanovna supported this hobby – she herself loved to play the piano. The tool of the famous firm “Steinway” was given to her by her husband when they were still living in Podlipki near Moscow. Then, together with them, the instrument moved to the 1st Ostankino.

The most favorite item of the Queen in the living room was an armchair next to the fireplace, under the painting depicting a forest landscape by Mikhail Klodt, purchased in 1962. Sometimes, sitting comfortably in it with a magazine or a book, Sergei Pavlovich would say to his wife: “I went into the forest.” This meant that the scientist wanted to be alone for a while.

More than five thousand books and personal accounts

From the hall you can go straight to the library, where fiction is collected – about 2.5 thousand books. Sergei Pavlovich especially loved reading science fiction writers – Alexander Belyaev, the Strugatsky brothers, Stanislav Lem, Ivan Efremov. There are editions in the collection that have a special value, among them – an impressive volume of Pushkin’s works with the caption: “For you, my light, these light songs. On the day of October 20, 1949 Sergei. “

One of the steps of the staircase leading to the library is special. Korolyov liked to sit down on her and look thoughtfully out the window overlooking VDNKh. He called this step thoughtful.

From the library you can get to the Queen’s study. The cupboards contain an equally rich scientific and technical library. There are about two thousand books, brochures, magazines – everything is in the same order as with the owner. Next to the desk are two portraits of the people who inspired him. These are Konstantin Tsiolkovsky and Friedrich Zander, engineer, pioneer of rocketry, creator of the first domestic liquid-propellant rocket 09 (GIRD-09).

Near the entrance, there is a photo with the playful name “Three K” – it captures Sergei Korolev, Igor Kurchatov and Mstislav Keldysh, who led the work on the creation of the nuclear missile shield. The photo was taken in 1959 in a garden, not far from Kurchatov’s house and the institute he headed. Sergei Pavlovich and Mstislav Vsevolodovich came to visit a friend after an illness.

Also in the Korolyov’s office there is a portrait of his wife made in the technique of intarsia on wood (a kind of inlay). On January 12, 1965, Sergei Pavlovich received as a gift from his colleagues his portrait, made in this technique, and immediately ordered the same one for Nina Ivanovna. By the way, his portrait is kept in her room, where she worked on translations. Nina Ivanovna furnished her personal area with the most fashionable furniture at that time, which Sergei Pavlovich did not like at all – according to him, it was uncomfortable. He even threatened to throw it out, but he did not – two armchairs and a sofa can be seen today.

“Cute freaks” and a horseshoe for luck

Korolev himself had a hand in the creation of some interior items. For example, I drew a sketch, according to which they made a jardiniere for flowers – cacti were settled there. The scientist called his collection of succulents “my cute freaks.” During the life of the spouses, cacti stood in the bedroom – there they are to this day.

The bedroom, like all the other rooms, looks the same as it did many years ago: the same bed, bedside tables, a rocking chair with a bright green checkered (quite modern) rug. In their places in closed wardrobes and a chest are the clothes of the spouses. Guests have no access there – they are opened only by the museum staff, who are responsible for the safety of things.

From the bedroom (as well as from the study of Sergei Pavlovich) you can get to a spacious balcony, from which you can enjoy an excellent view of the local area. The main pride of the couple was a flower bed of triumph hybrid tea varieties. The museum staff miraculously managed to save them, go out, so that today visitors can see the descendants of the very flowers that Korolev and his wife admired. He laid the walking paths in the form of an airplane taking off with wings spreading to the sides, and at his “nose” he planted a cedar (Cedar is the call sign of the scientist).

And the couple also kept a vegetable garden – fruits, vegetables, cherry trees grew there. Somehow, while working on the site, Sergei Pavlovich found a horseshoe. Everyone was inspired by the find and said it was for luck. Sergei Pavlovich immediately nailed the find to the trunk of a tree above the bench. Today it is a real shrine for astronauts: every time before a flight, they come here to sit under the symbol of happiness, considering it a good omen.

Last things

The beginning of January 1966 was very hectic. Korolev had a simple operation to remove the polyp, and the doctors assured that everything would go well. But Sergei Pavlovich was worried, as if he had a presentiment of something bad. Nina Ivanovna recalled that on the eve of hospitalization she went down the stairs from the second floor and heard the sounds of music. The husband was sitting in a chair with his back to her. He seemed to her very thoughtful – so much so that he did not even hear her steps or the creak of the parquet floor. He feared that the operation might be more difficult. This was his last evening at his beloved home.

On the morning of January 5, 1966, the doors of the main entrance closed behind the owner for the last time. He went to the hospital. Nina Ivanovna recalled that at the doorway her husband turned around and said: “I’ll take the key from the front door with me!” He was going to return home – to dreams, plans, tense work rhythm. However, the heart, from whose disease he suffered for many years, could not stand the unforeseen hours-long operation. On January 14, Sergei Pavlovich Korolev passed away.

The last article by the chief designer, published in the Pravda newspaper on January 1, 1966, was called “Steps to the Future” and ended with the words: tomorrow – accomplishment. There are no barriers to human thought! “

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is a translation. Apologies should the grammar and or sentence structure not be perfect.

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