story by

Balashova Galina Andreevna


The first cosmonauts flights aboard the “Vostok” (East) and “Voshod” (Sunrise) spaceships were no more than 5 days. All of the flight the astronauts were in the landing module. It is a spherical module about 2 meters diameter which was designed for high loads during injection into the orbit and landing to the Earth. The landing module was filled with instruments and equipment and there was very little space for astronauts. For longer flights in the next project “Soyuz” (Union) living compartment has appeared. This was a place where astronauts could live a normal life during the orbital flight around the Earth. I had to design the living compartment interiors, beginning with the first “Soyuz” (Union) in 1963, up to the “MIR” (World, Peace) space station interior  in 1980. The first model of the “Soyuz” (Union) orbital compartment (in those days the Orbital Compartment was called the Household Compartment) was made by engineers without architects and artists participation. It was a spherical body  2.2 meters diameter with a cylindrical insert in the middle with symmetrically located boxes for appliances on either side of the access manhole. Everything was painted in red. Having seen this model, Sergey Korolev asked it to be turned into a living compartment in a week.

At that time I worked at the plant in the Chief Architect department where I was engaged in city development and businesses. Sergey Korolev’s Design Bureau project department chief K.P.Feoktistov called me and asked to make shortly the “Soyuz” (Union) living compartment project. “Soyuz” (Union) Orbital Compartment interior first version with “sofa” and “cupboard” instead of red boxes I have made ​​at home during the weekend. It was demonstrated to the Chief Designer on Monday and it was accepted as a basis. The first model of the orbital compartment was made on the basis of this design in the maquette department in a week and it was approved by Sergey Korolev.

We went to Tver to get decorative fabrics for the compartment. On this plant new fabric for Nikita Khrushchev’s hunting costume were made. This fabric consisted of wool and silk duplicated with foam rubber. We were given a few square meters of this fabric. Living compartment first model was decorated with this fabric. But later Sergey Korolev asked to make the Orbital Compartment interior more modern. I have made two other Orbital Compartment design versions. One of them was approved by Sergey Korolev in February 1964. I kept both of these sketches.

Household compartment interior configuration was almost the same at the subsequent modifications of “Soyuzs” (Unions) – “Soyuz-T” (Union-T) and “Soyuz-19” (Union-19) “Soyuz-Apollo” programm.

The equipment combination changed so so the interior details could be changed. But the living compartment configuration basis was the same. Entrance manhole was at the bottom of the compartment. The “cupboard” and the “sofa” were installed in the compartment symmetrically. Both them were filled with instruments and equipment of approximately equal weight to ensure the center of gravity of the spaceship. The spaceship and living compartment’s center of gravity should be at a certain place. It is connected with the engines work.

Various problems of life during the flight were to be solved in the design phase of the living compartment. Such as:

– Method of fixing people and things in weightlessness

-How to soften the random shocks of astronauts by the spaceship body

-How to mark the top and bottom of the compartment where there is no gravity.

These and other problems were solved with the help of decorative fabrics: with different colors and textures. We used non-flammable, non-toxic materials as matte enamel, artificial leather and decorative pile textile.

In the design department where I worked there was no position of the architect, and working as an engineer I had to do, except interior design projects, engineering work as well – to make a preliminary calculation of the compartment power frame, to compose instruments and equipment of different systems. But to compose them, taking into account not only the technical requirements (communications between devices, cable lengths, etc.) but also the compartment’s architecture, ease of use in it. It was convenient, because there was no contradiction between the architectural and engineering work, they were combined in one person.

In addition to living compartments interior design (of which only one MOS (Moon Orbital Spaceship) did not fly) I had to do decorative art on the space theme. My landscape paintings fixed to the rails between the portholes were aboard the “Soyuz” spaceships orbital compartments. Orbital compartments burned during the descent to the Earth along with them and my landscape paintings burned too. My drawing of big snowflake was at the Orbital station “Salut-6” (Firework-6) for a long time. I had to do the model of docking “Soyuz” (Union) and “Apollon” project for the Le Bourget exhibition in 1973. I also made an icon for this exhibition. The icon was used in the United States for different souvenirs after the show. Then this icon with a few changes had been approved by the Academy of Sciences in USSR and NASA in the  USA as the “Soyuz-Apollo” program emblem. I wasn’t allowed to sign the sketch of the emblem for reasons of “confidentiality”. Because of it a few years later the American R. McCall declared himself as the author of this emblem (Magazine “Decorative Arts of the USSR”, № 4 (329) 1985). I have the author’s passport on the logo of the “Soyuz-Apollo” on May 19, 1975.

Except the main work at the spaceships interiors for 13 years, from 1977 to 1991 I have been painted the flight pennants sketches which were manufactured by the Leningrad Mint. At my sketches 28 different space pennants were done. There were 2 types of them. First type was devoted to new spaceships or Orbital stations – “Soyuz” (Union) and “Progress”, “Salut-6” (Firework-6), “Salyut-7” (Firework-7), “MIR” (Peace). Others were devoted to the international space missions – “USSR-France”, “USSR-India”, “USSR-Japan” and many others. On one side of the pennants were coats of arms of countries participating in the flight against a background of flags of these countries. On he other side were the pictures of spaceships and orbital stations at which they flew. Spaceships and Orbital stations on the pennants were portrayed accurately with all external parts – antennas, docking units, solar panels and handrails etc.

The form of pennants is emblematic of the country the participant of international spaceflight. So on the USSR-France 1982 pennant the contours of the Eiffel Tower are guessed, on the USSR-India pennant the flight is shown as if through a traditional Indian arch (part of the Taj Mahal), the USSR-Afghanistan flight pennant has the shape of the bullet (1988). Pennants were made of lightweight aluminum as on the spaceship board excess weight is not valid. The pennants mintage was 100-300 copies, of which eight pennants were taken on the spaceship board. And after returning to the Earth the were sent to the Space Museum and to the member countries of the flight.

I got two copies of pendants as an author. They are survived. In 1982, at the Mint in Leningrad according to my sketch  was made memorable bronze medal in honor of the 25th anniversary of the launching of Sputnik in October 1957.