The exploration of space has always captivated people but braving it without medical supplies and aids would not be possible. This collection features examples of specialised space suits, appliances and food used on space missions, and Latvian inventions for astronaut use. The Museum’s collection of USSR space biology artefacts is significant not only for Latvia, but for all of the European Union. It includes various implements for conducting experiments such as the imitation of weightlessness on Earth, and instruments that were actually used on spaceships and in space missions. The collection is continually being expanded with contemporary Latvian inventions, such as the solar-reflective nanopowder developed by the Latvian High-temperature Synthesis Institute at the Institute of Inorganic Chemistry, Academy of Sciences.
At the early stages of the USSR space programme, a number of experiments were conducted on apes in Georgia, at the Sukhumi reservation. The chair in this centrifuge is designed in such a way as to reproduce the astronaut’s pose during a flight. In 1962–1964, the chair was used in order to study the effects of prolonged overload on the body of an ape. This taxidermy mount was received by the Museum from the Red Army in 1975, along with the centrifuge chair.
Chernushka was among the 48 Soviet space dogs used to determine whether the human body could survive in a spaceship. On 9 March 1961, Chernushka circled the Earth once in the unpiloted spaceship Vostok and successfully returned to the surface. Her 100-minute flight was a rehearsal for the first manned space flight which Yuri Gagarin (1934‒1968) accomplished 34 days later. Chernushka’s taxidermy mount was produced some time after her death and has been held by the Museum since 1969, when it was purchased from the Soviet Army.
The Kazbek chair was developed to mitigate g-forces on the astronaut’s body during take-off and landing, and to maintain a comfortable workspace during a space flight. The decisive aspect of the chair’s design was its maximum conformance to the contours of an astronaut’s body, achieved by manufacturing the chair based on the body’s plaster mould, prepared in a special bathtub. This chair was added to the Museum’s collection in 1987.