New East Digital Archive
Star men: when the Soviets colonised the moon
Watch extraordinary footage of Russian cosmonauts living on the moon, years before the Americans reached it. What they got up to was out of this world

If you believe that the US never landed on the moon and the whole affair was shot in a film studio, you might also believe this footage, now on show for the first time at Calvert 22 Gallery in London. This shows that the Soviets got to the moon first, years before the Americans, and their adventures were captured in full colour.

The man behind the camera was Pavel Klushantsev, a visual effects pioneer who went along to record the cosmonauts’ great lunar feats. The Calvert Journal brings you some highlights of their exploits. And remember, they’re all real…

A helping hand

The cosmonauts couldn’t have made it to the moon without a giant red crayon and a ghostly hand to propel them skywards.

Winter Olympic bid?

The USSR considered submitting a bid for a Winter Olympic Games on the moon, but the ski jumping proved tricky as the skiers never managed to land. The lessons did prove useful however when Russia attempted to host a Winter Olympics in similarly untested terrain: the tropical seaside resort of Sochi last February.

Heroic spacemen of the Soviet Union

It’s a well known fact: Soviet citizens were extremely strong, as seen here. Oh, and they had tiny feet too.

Cereal entrepreneurs

Cosmonauts discovered an unlimited supply of cornflakes on the moon, far superior to those overpriced American Kellogg’s. Reserves are currently being transported to Russia to supplement food stocks in light of sanctions on products from the US, EU and Japan.

Luna = Lukoil?

Think all Russian oil comes from Siberia? In fact, it all comes from the moon. Look up on a clear night and you can just make out the pipeline in the sky. Luckily it doesn’t go via Ukraine.

Mysterious moon rock

This enormous stash of an unidentified white powder was discovered purely by chance. The two cosmonauts were unable to take a sniff through their sealed space suits so they had no choice but to take it home with them.

Message in a bottle

Here you can see a huge bottle being fired into outer space containing a message from moon-dwellers. For more ‘letters from’, read The Calvert Journal on a regular basis.

Creative space hub

Here’s the city the USSR built on the moon. It’s teeming with tech startups and has plenty of room for all those creative clusters. Sadly it just missed out on a place in Russian Creative Cities 2014 - lack of green space, apparently.

Hot new styles

The USSR took fashion very seriously, as proved here by these chic leather onesies, broken up with a subtle belt and finished with a minimalist cap. They received many compliments from fellow space-dwellers but got a little hot when the sun came out.

Head space

Russians rule the world when it comes to dash-cam crashes: YouTube is awash with them. This cosmonaut tried to capture one in space on his head cam. He’s still out there somewhere looking for something to crash into. That bottle maybe?

Purrfect environment

The spaceships that took the Soviets to the moon were so advanced that cosmonauts could live just as they did on Earth. Cats were welcome as there were plenty of other animals out there. No views of gritty Soviet suburbs out of this window though.

Out in space

These two cosmonauts thought they had the whole moon themselves so they could finally express thier love for each other. Not so. Russia’s stringent anti-gay propaganda laws apply on the moon too. They were caught… Hands up!

We’re sorry to break the news, but this little Soviet trip to the moon is sadly all fantasy. The clips come from two documentaries by Klushantsev, Road to the Stars (1957) and The Moon (1965) in which he imagined what space exploration and living on the moon could be like. Both films form part of Beyond Zero, a new exhibition at Calvert 22 Gallery exploring the legacy of space exploration and art.

Text: Samuel Crews

Find out more about Beyond Zero at Calvert 22 gallery