For the last few years together with our tourists we have attended almost every manned launch taking place from Baikonur.
We saw off to space dozens of crews and helped lots of space fans from all over the world to feel special prelaunch atmosphere and witness the whole process of prelaunch preparations, wave goodbye to the cosmonauts and see the launch of a spacecraft.
Our tour participants are always happy to share their impressions.
Having booked this trip with a travel company in Russia I set off from London wondering what to expect. As I arrived at the airport, as promised, was the travel rep with the sign ‘Vegitel Biaknour’. During our programme we visited numerous launch sites, some current and some from the past, from the Proton to Moon N-1 to the Buran Space Shuttle, to a space capsule where you could enter and feel at home! The museums were numerous and captivating, including visiting and using equipment form the 1980’s Buran Mission Control Centre, seeing all the space equipment, spacesuits, engines from over the years, visiting the International Space School where I had the privilege of launching a rocket. As a 10-year-old kid watching Apollo and Soyuz programmes on TV I never thought I would get the chance to view a Soyuz launch ‘live’. Well that only part of it, viewing the rollout of the space craft from its hanger, its transit and erection into the launch position was unbelievable and all at such a close distance with the various partners of Roscosmos in attendance. For the launch we were about 2kms away what a sight, I took some pictures of the first few seconds and then just watched in awe as the astronaut and cosmonaut lifted off into the distance as the rocket flames contrasted against the deep blue sky. The logistics of obtaining all the necessary passes were very well led by the Vegitel team, with an excellent hotel, transport arriving on time taking us to and from the cosmodrome for each day’s activity. For the launch we had a great location as the Soyuz rose above the ground, however a much better location for the launch of Soyuz MS10 would have been from the International Space Station as it flew over the site, I can but dream. The trips provided by Vegitel are to be recommended.
Chris D Jones
October 2018, Soyuz MS-10
Now that I'm back in Paris I think I had to thank you for the trip. And as I had already told Stephanie, thanks a lot!
The trip and experience were great. I was amazed by Baikonur, the cosmodrome and many visits (especially to the pad 2 museum, the Energia control center and the international school). I was expecting a lot of this trip, and indeed it was beyond all expectations.
And honestly, I think Vegitel did an amazing job, and especially Stephanie. I was highly amazed of how Stephanie did an incredible job managing all the unexpected situation (the delay of the launch).
And her kindness and amiability, especially making the traduction from Russian to English in many visits, were always highly appreciate it. She was a great guide, she managed a good group-dynamic and a really enjoyable time at Baikonur!!
I really enjoy a lot the last week, and I have to thank you, Stephanie and all the ones implied in the process for such a great experience.
Now I'm only looking forward to the next time (when my budget allows it), and in the meanwhile, I will try to convince friends and coworkers to get some of your trips/experiences.
Thanks for all, and till the next time.
Visiting Baikonur was very special for me (I really love space exploration and Baikonur is a kind of Mecca) and the launch was, for sure, the best.
Also, it was great to hang out with the taxi driver (Nurlibyek), he showed me all around and I explored how people lives in Baikonur town, wich is great for my book.
Ksenia I really want to give thanks to you again. I know that you make some efforts to help me and to match my personal schedule with the group schedule and the transport and all. I am really glad and I appreciate your help.
About the Baikonur tour, I should said that although is very expensive, is... "unique and especial". I really enjoyed it (I smiled a lot during the lift off and still now :)
Pablo Morales Andreau
This week was completely amazing to all of us. To be honest we only realise now, that we will remember this trip for the rest of our life. The programme was fine, the timing perfect and each day we were more and more impressed by the tour.
I thank you a lot for your availability during the tour. There were no time wasted and no activity that could be skipped. We enjoyed each day. And the final day was awesome.
To be honest we are still above the clouds and haven't landed yet ;-)
I listen a lot the "Trava Y Doma" song, this reminds me good moments of the tour. I even have watched The white sun of the desert, i think i'm almost ready for the nest cosmonaut selection ;-)
I hope we will have new opportunity to come with vegitel. I d like to show the tour to my family and other friends.
Thanks for having perfectly organised our trip.
What a tremendous week you have given to us…
Preparations for launching, rocket moved out of the hangar, the roll-out, vibrations of the air and ground as close to the firing point as the rocket cracks at night.
And the moments shared with friends and family of Thomas Pesquet as well as with the formers French astronauts present in the same hotel as us. Claudie Haigneré, Jean Pierre Haigneré and Jean Francois Clervoy.
An attentive and professional Russian team.
Hello to colleagues from USA, Canada, New Zealand, Germany, England with whom I spent the week.
Do it again and this time I will come with my wife, frustrated to have stayed at home. We would have liked to share these great moments together.
I would like to acknowledge and congratulate Vegitel, Stephanie and you for the great time I spent during the Baikonur Cosmodrome tour.
Everything run smoothly. Visits and events were timely and well organized. Hotel Sputnik was comfortable, clean, with good food and kind employees.
I will certainly recommend Vegitel to friends willing to enjoy this experience.
With my warmest regards.
We travelled to Baikonur in July 2017 for the launch of Soyuz MS-05.
Our experience was a dream come true.
It’s hard to describe the feeling of watching a launch to space or seeing a rocket passing really close to you on the railway to launchpad. You must live it to understand it.
Our journey wouldn`t have been smooth without our excellent guide Elena. The girl was just as passionate about the experience as were we.
Elena, Ksenia and Stefania, have been really attentive and helpful leading the group to the museums, the cosmodrome and to the city attractions. The whole trip was wonderful.
We will certainly recommend Vegitel to friends willing to enjoy this experience.
Seeing a big, manned launcher lift off from near. Being in places where history happened. Seeing the rocket moving to the launchpad and being erected.
Was impressed by the openness. Being less than 1.5 km from the lauchpad as a tourist would not have been possible in the US (or Japan, or Guyana) for «safety concerns».
The guy doing the explanations at the space school left a big, very positive impression. The people from Denmark and Kazakstan cheering at their kosmonauts were impressive and partly funny. Weather was nice.
Tour organisation and operation was trouble free. Accomodation in Baikonur was good.
Probably the best thing is the access. You can get very close to hardware, people, cosmonauts. For a few days one has the feeling to be part of the space business without any real restrictions. The first time in 2013 we travelled with a group that included people from Star City and NASA, including astronauts. This time we travelled with an air force plane again with people from Star City, press, etc. During both tour we could meet NASA, ESA, and cosmonauts during the various events.
Again, the access and closeness to events is the best part.
Another very important aspect is authenticity. People who have been to the Kennedy Space Center have told us that it is almost like a theme park. One cannot get close to the actual hardware and people. The only thing one can visit is a special visitors center, remote from the actual assembly buildings and launch pads, with models and a very commercial approach.
It would be very, very sad if any of the access or authenticity would be lost. One can visit museums and theme parks in a lot of places, but there is only one place where you can experience real space travel this close and that is Baikonur/Kazakhstan.
Ton Schudelaro and Janneke van de Westelaken
Our family trip to witness the Soyuz TMZ 17M launch from Baikonur was truly out-of-this-world experience. It offered us an exclusive membership into the world of passionate zealots of Space Exploration.
In the build up to the actual launch, we had the rare opportunity of seeing the roll out of the Soyuz rocket and it`s journey to the launch pad. We met crew doubles in person and immersed ourselves in sheer enthusiasm for this human endeavor.
We were amazed by how down to Earth the whole experience was/ The families of Lindgren (US Austronaut) and Oleg Kononenko (Russian Cosmonaut) were very approachable, and the support group of Jpanese Astronaut Kimiya Yue were very cheerful. To be present at the press conference with the Crew and their doubles just meters away was surreal. Bidding them goodbye as they boarded the buses to the music of the known Soviet band Zemlyane was like sending off a part of us.
Under the cover of amazingly starry skies, we chatted with fellow space enthusiasts until interrupted by the blinding spectacle and deafening roars of the launch. Then the space ship slowly disappeared from earthily view until reappearing six hours later on the big screen of the live conference.
Walks in this once closed to the public town, so distinctly Soviet in its architecture and history, were also a real treat for explorers of everything Soviet. Visits to the town`s museum and «Space» school revealed the passionate Soviet-Russian drive to be a world`s mindful contributor to Space exploration. The Space Museum at the Gagarin`s launch pad epitomizes just that.
Our journey wouldn`t have been smooth without excellent guides, Elena and Ksenya. The girls, were just as passionate about the experience as were we.
We highly recommend this trip as a family adventure. Our boys, ages 9 and twins of 7, were beyond wowed by everything and everyone. While they might not become astronauts, they surely appreciated the privilege of being part of history.
The tour was as wonderful as it had been previous time.
Fortunately we could see the night launch this time. The Soyuz rocket suddenly flushed in the darkness, the orange fireball flew higher and further, and then it became one of the brilliant star light, and gone out of our sight.
It was so fantastic!
We also had a lot to see both in the cosmodrome and the city. They are full of historical memories of space exploration. I wish I could have had more time enough to see all of it.
The Vegitel and its attendants organized the tour very well. Thank you so much!
I wanted to again extend my appreciation for how you handled all the details of my trip to Baikonur to watch the rocket launch. I would highly recommend Starcity Tours and you if you ever require a reference. I would also like to sincerely thank you for getting the tickets to Swan Lake, we went to many cultural events during our time in Russia and this was by far the best ballet that we got to experience.
Again, thank you for all your assistance during the visa application process, the details of the trip and then the actual trip itself. You always responded to all my questions in a timely and efficient way.
Thank you for a great tour; you did a great job arranging everything. It was great to have such good access to all the activities. And thanks for arranging the Moscow and Star City sightseeing for me too. I really enjoyed those tours.
Also thanks for the birthday present. I will enjoy all the pictures on the calendar. It was a pleasure to meet you and I enjoyed meeting the other tour members. Everyone got along well together.
My trip to Baikonur with you was the highlight of my year
USA, New Orleans
Thanks for a great trip. I thought you did a fantastic job organising everything, and I had a wonderful time.
I shall certainly be recommending this!
Great Britain, London
I wish to thank you and everyone from Vegitel who helped make my trip to Moscow and Baikonur such a success.
I had wanted to get to Baikonur for many decades and I am so glad I did and that the launch went beautifully.