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Flight Plans Newsletter

Tip-to-Tail Tour: Resurs 500

Tip-to-Tail Tour: Resurs 500

Time: Sunday, February 17, 2008 - 11:00am - 12:00pm

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It is always a wonderful addition to our Space Collection to get a genuine object that has been flown in space, but it's another event to have that spacecraft delivered to The Museum of Flight by space. Such is the case for the Russian Resurs 500 capsule. The capsule was also called Zvezda Kolumba which means "Columbus Star." It was launched from Russia as part of the Columbus 500th Anniversary. The spacecraft, owned by Konsortsium Evropa-Amerika 500, had been launched on top of a Soyuz rocket from Plesetsk Cosmodrome Spaceport, a Russian spaceport, located about 800 km north of Moscow on November 15, 1992. The launch was Russia's first privately financed rocket project. After six days in orbit, the Resurs 500 capsule landed in the Pacific Ocean near the Washington Coast. Nineteen containers with messages of goodwill from Russia and other European countries to American citizens were on board the spaceship. After decades of confrontation, the project became a symbol of unity between Europe and America. At that time the citizens of the two continents were united by a symbolic "space bridge." The Resurs-500 spacecraft was recovered from the Pacific Ocean by the electronic surveillance ship Marshal Krylov on Nov. 22, 1992. The spacecraft was a Zenit-derived satellite used for earth resources studies as part of the ÔResurs' and ÔGektor-Priroda' projects. These programs were investigations of the natural resources of the earth in the interests of various branches of the national economy of the USSR and international cooperation. Inside the spherical, 5,152 pound capsule were religious icons, greetings from Russian President Boris Yeltsin, a cut-glass replica of the Statue of Liberty and a pair of wedding rings to be exchanged with marriage vows by a Russian couple. It also contained pleas for Western investment in the capsule recovery effort. Eager to attract American investors, the Russians were hoping this space project could drum up U.S. investment for their businesses and demonstrate they can convert their defense technology for commercial use. After being plucked from the ocean 80 miles off the coast, the capsule was placed on the deck of the Marshall Krylov and delivered to a pier in Seattle for transfer to The Museum of Flight. The arrival kicked off a weekend of activities as a high school band greeted the ship with a rendition of "Louie, Louie," Washington State's unofficial rock anthem. Seattle officials organized several receptions, art shows, folk song and dance performances and a rare public tour of the Marshal Krylov to mark the event. The capsule made its public debut later as part of the Bon Marche holiday parade. Today you can view the Resurs 500 capsule as part of The Museum of Flight's Space: Exploring the New Frontier.