Since that time, all Russian cosmonauts have lived and trained at Star City, just outside Moscow, in a facility kept highly secret during Soviet times. In fact, it is only in very recent years that Star City and the Yuri Gagain Cosmonaut Training Centre have opened up the doors to public scrutiny.
The buildings may look a little dated, but the facilities there such as the human centrifuge where cosmonauts experience up to 8g, the giant underwater tank used to simulate Space walks and the mock-up of the MIR Space station must be well worth a visit. And indeed, excursions can be made their through tour operators, given enough notice and paying a premium price of around £120 per person for a couple of hours.
But for anyone who remembers the Space Race, and grew up with the likes of Gagarin, Alexey Leonov (first person to do a space walk 1965) and Valentina Tereshkova (first woman in Space 1963), it is a small price to pay to witness at first hand where an important part of history was born.
Rather surprisingly for me, Russia is still a place that I have not yet visited, however, I have always wanted and intended to. Star City is definitely on my list of dream destinations and I hope I can tick it off soon.