THE BIRTH OF A DREAM
The Hero of Russia, cosmonaut Yuri Baturin's program of visit to Ashgabat featured quite an unusual mission. Other than seeing the sights of the Turkmen capital and Turkmenistan, he was expected to donate the exhibits associated with the activities of another Russian cosmonaut, native of the city of Turkmenabat, hero of Turkmenistan and Russia Oleg Kononenko, to the museum of compatriots of the Pushkin Turkmen-Russian School. This is why Yuri Baturin started his business program in Ashgabat with a visit to the museum of compatriots at the most prestigious school of Turkmenistan.
This is an unconventional museum in an unconventional school. This educational institution with the capacity of 800 schoolchildren hosts more than 1300 schoolchildren. Such popularity of Russian secondary education, far from Russia, is quite understandable. After all, the school curriculum complies with the Russian standards. Schoolchildren pass a standardized state exam of Russia and can be admitted to any Russian higher education establishment based on the points scored.
The museum of compatriots was set up at the school in 2018. It is dedicated to the figures of science, culture and art who glorified two fatherlands - the Russian Federation and Turkmenistan. There are sections devoted to actor and poet Leonid Filatov, poet Eduard Asadov, musician Rishat Shafiev, scientist Agadzhan Babaev and other famous people who made Turkmenistan and Russia proud. Oleg Kononenko's section was the most modest before Yuri Baturin's visit to the school. Meeting with schoolchildren, Yuri Baturin said he told Kononenko that he was going to Turkmenistan a week before his trip.
"Three days later he gave me quite a lot of artifacts intended for your museum. And now, I am happy to pass them to you. These are badges for spacesuits from Oleg's expeditions. They are all personalized, carrying the names of the crew," Baturin said.
He also donated pennants from "Energia" Rocket and Space Corporation, a calendar from the Cosmonaut Training Center, autographed pictures of cosmonauts, as well as posters with cosmonauts in spacesuits, including Oleg Kononenko, or depicting them as heroes of blockbusters. Through Yuri Baturin, Oleg Kononenko also sent his photo with best wishes for the school. The Russian cosmonaut, native of Turkmenistan, wished the Pushkin Turkmen-Russian School "wisdom, perseverance, pursuit of creative solutions, inspiration and talented pupils."
At the school, Yuri Baturin also inaugurated the exhibition "Space is My Destiny" marking the 60th anniversary of the cosmonaut corps. The exhibition featured photographs and books from the personal archive of Yuri Baturin that was brought to Ashgabat from Moscow in advance. The thing is that Yuri Mikhailovich is the author of not only a number of popular science books about space but also rare photographs about life of cosmonauts. According to him, he has almost never parted with a camera and headed until recently the Union of Russian Photographers. The photo exhibition tells visitors about the history of space exploration. Rare photos of Yuri Gagarin, Valentina Tereshkova, German Titov, Alexei Leonov and other cosmonauts can be rightfully called unique. All exhibits of the exhibition "Space is My Destiny" were donated to the school.
Yuri Baturin also delivered a lecture about space exploration in the school assembly hall. Schoolchildren, teachers and other guests listened to the lecture with what is called bated breath. He talked about how he started a space career, his meetings with famous cosmonauts and architects of the space industry - scientists and constructors. Schoolchildren were particularly interested in Yuri Baturin's story about the "right" space mistakes. Yuri Mikhailovich asked the audience if someone could answer a question on the duration of Gagarin's first space flight. Schoolchildren answered the question almost in unison, saying it lasted 108 minutes. In the age of the Internet, such data is available to everyone, or almost everyone. However, only insiders know that the flight lasted 106 minutes. And this has nothing to do with the regime of secrecy or something else. It was just an accident. Provisional data on the first space flight duration was given to international organizations immediately following the completion of the flight. When accurate data from telemetry equipment arrived, provisional information was already entered into all directories, including the famous Guinness Book of World Records. One may recall a stir that Gagarin's flight caused in the world, so they decided not to change anything because of two minutes. According to Yuri Baturin, there are a lot of such "right" mistakes in the history of cosmonautics.
On that day, not only Yuri Baturin presented gifts. School headmaster Elena Systsova presented the guest with a set of festive clothing of a Turkmen elder on behalf of the Turkmen-Russian school named after Pushkin. Standing on the stage of the assembly hall, Yuri Mikhailovich was dressed in a white telpek (papakha) and a red don (festive robe) with an embroidered sash. Yuri Baturin's turning into an aksakal of Russian and world cosmonautics was greeted with cheer and applause.
Yuri Baturin also received an unexpected, personal gift from the 4th grade schoolgirl Mikaela Begencheva, winner of the International Contest "Starting Point" in "Photography" nomination held by the Academician Korolev Samara National Research University. She gave the guest a glass with an inscription in a foreign language. "Is it really in Swedish?" asked Baturin, who studied this language. How does Michaela know this? It is very simple. In the age of the Internet, there are practically no secrets.
Concluding his lecture, Yuri Baturin thanked the schoolchildren. "Cosmonauts have a tradition. They write "THANKS" in chalk on their spaceship at the end of the flight. And I also tell you, "Thank you" for this meeting," he said.
Looking at the schoolchildren who were all ears for Yuri Baturin, a sudden thought occurred that after this meeting one of them may start a space career and follow the path trodden by Oleg Kononenko. If there is an example, one will certainly follow it.