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Why NASA Set Up Shop in Russia’s Forbidden Star City

Star City is a gated community in Russia that was built in the 1960s specifically for the Soviet space program. The only residents are those who work in the industry and their families, which today is about 6,000 people. Despite its government mission and dependence, Star City survived the collapse of the Soviet Union, and is still centered around space exploration. And it's not always been completely off-limits to everyone. The facilities were super-secret during the space race, but after the Apollo moon landing, there was a seismic shift.

Then, the unthinkable happened in 1973 when Uncle Sam arrived. “The Soviet and American spacemen will go up into outer space for the first major joint scientific experiment in the history of mankind,” announced Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev, “They know that from outer space our planet looks even more beautiful [and] it is big enough for us to live peacefully on it, but it is too small to be threatened by nuclear war.”

Dubbed the “Apollo-Soyuz Mission,” the joint venture was an extremely sensitive, highly calculated effort to end the Space Race – or at least ease tensions between Soviets and Americans.

While politicians played, well, politics, the scientists, astronauts, and cosmonauts got along well in Star City. And the American presence remained after Soyuz. Read about NASA in Star City at Messy Messy Chic.

(Image credit Flickr user Samantha Cristoforetti)

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