84 pages with 24 photos
Books on history of rocketry and space
Space: From Firecrackers to Interstellar Flight (webcast)
From Astronautics to Cosmonautics, 2007
Chapter 1. Astronautics Was the First
Chapter 2. Dreams about Space and Communism
Chapter 3. REP-Hirsch Encouragement Award
Chapter 4. Cosmonautics
Chapter 5. Socialism Bites Back
Chapter 6. In the Spotlight
Chapter 7. In His Adopted Homeland - this web site
Chapter 7. In His Adopted Homeland (text boxes are shown with the gray background)
The collapse of the Soviet Union brought many changes in the adopted homeland of Ary J. Sternfeld. New Russian media began telling true stories of the Soviet era. As a result, much more is now known about Sternfeld.
The Polytechnic Museum in Moscow, Russia’s leading institution of its kind, holds the personal archives of Sternfeld. One of Ary’s daughters, Maya A. Shternfel’d, oversees his archives in the museum. She holds a “junior researcher” position, shamefully underpaid, as most other museum workers in the new Russia. Maya shares a tiny walk-down office with two co-workers, with a small ground-level window facing an internal yard. Three hundred meters away, the historic KGB headquarters in downtown Moscow remind about recent unforgettable and possible future times, chilling many.
Maya Shternfel’d is now sixty-something years old. She enthusiastically promotes the heritage of her father, publishing documents from his archives. Maya authored several articles about Ary Sternfeld, his life and his work. Sternfeld’s other daughter, Elvira, lives permanently in Israel. It is an instructive snapshot of real socialism with the father striving to reach the promised land of communism and the next generations leaving this paradise at the first moment when the totalitarian walls had collapsed.
Fig. 7.1. The author of this book in the Polytechnic Museum, Moscow (May 2006), next to the reconstructed home study of Ary Sternfeld with most of the items authentic. The globe of the Moon (on the desk ) is a present to Sternfeld from Valentin P. Glushko. A light bulb next to it alerted Ary, who did not hear well, that the doorbell rang. Special shelves in the back on the right (see also Fig. 5.5) served for filing numerous materials in Sternfeld’s working archives. Photo courtesy of Mike Gruntman. Figures and photographs are not shown here. Please see the print version of the book.
The Polytechnic Museum reconstructed the home study room of Sternfeld and exhibits materials about his life and work in the corner of one of its halls. In 2005, the museum published a special book commemorating the 100th anniversary of Ary Sternfeld (Grigoryan 2005). The book title — A.A. Shternfel’d: I Was Considered an Incurable Dreamer … — accurately conveys the spirit of this pioneer of cosmonautics. The book included scholarly articles about the work and life of Ary Sternfeld and his impact on the advancement of spaceflight. The Western notion of academic freedoms does not carry much weight in Russia. So, it is fortunate that museum director Gurgen G. Grigoryan supports the efforts to tell the story of Sternfeld. In addition, Russian media printed some materials about him on the occasion of the Sternfel’d 100th anniversary.
History is a touchy subject — as ever — in Russia, with often bitter and irreconcilable views. Many would prefer to let inconvenient facts to fade away, without “stirring the past.” One of the recent scholarly articles about Ary Sternfeld described a particular injustice brought upon him, naming the perpetrator, a prominent rocketeer, and quoting the primary source. This revelation caused a reaction of indignation from a respected Russian specialist in orbital mechanics, who had also written about Sternfeld’s science legacy. He does not speak now to the author of the article that had brought to light unpleasant facts from the past. Remarkably, the indignant scientist is a senior researcher in a leading institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, a supposedly most freethinking institution in the Russian (and former Soviet) establishment.
Fig. 7.2. Commemorative plaque of the People’s Museum of Cosmonautics Named after Pioneer of Cosmonautics A. Shternfel’d at the boarding school for deaf children in Pytalovo, Pskov Region, Russia. Courtesy of Naum S. Narovlyanskii. Figures and photographs are not shown here. Please see the print version of the book.
A small Russian town Pytalovo remembers Ary Sternfeld in a most unusual way. Pytalovo faces the Russian-Latvian border 60 miles from the regional center Pskov. This forlorn place houses a special boarding school for children with impaired hearing. (Sternfeld suffered from deteriorating hearing abilities since 1950s.) A teacher and enthusiast of cosmonautics, Nikolai P. Egorov, built a “people’s museum” in the school, the Shternfel’d Museum of Cosmonautics.
The museum opened in 1988. It focuses on the Soviet and Russian space programs. The collection includes 13 thousand items, including five hundred books about space (Narovlyanskii 2006, 77). Three hundred of those books are gifts signed by the authors. Part of its collection exhibits materials about Ary Sternfeld, including his personal items and books. With time, the museum had significantly expanded its collection and attracted thousands of visitors.
Fig. 7.3. High relief of Ary Sternfeld cast in bronze by Michel Milberger in the municipal library of Kiriat Ekron, Israel. Photo courtesy of Elvira Berman-Sternfeld. Figures and photographs are not shown here. Please see the print version of the book.
Sternfeld’s daughter Elvira lives in a small town Kiriat Ekron (Qiryat Eqron) near Rehovot in Israel. In 1994, she proposed to name a street after Ary Sternfeld in a new residential area. The town mayor enthusiastically supported the idea. The municipal authorities paid for a high relief of Sternfeld cast in bronze by a well-known French sculptor Michel Milberger (1922–1997). Naming a street after Sternfeld has not happened for some reasons. Kiriat Ekron’s municipal library installed the high relief in its hall in 1996, with Ambassador of Russia, Ambassador of Poland, and Science Attaché of the French Embassy attending the ceremony.
Crater on the Moon
Sternfeld — a 100-km crater with coordinates 19.6° S and 141.2° W on the far side of the Moon.
In Poland, the municipal council of Lodz named the city’s planetarium and astronomical observatory after Ary Sternfeld in 2002.
Very recently in Moscow, Naum S. Narovlyanskii published a book about Sternfeld, titled “Shturman Kosmicheskikh Trass” (“Navigator of Space Roads”) (Narovlyanskii 2006). The book also included contributions from other authors. This seems to be the only other book publication in Russia that followed the book published by the Polytechnic Museum in 2005. Narovlyanskii is a retired army officer and veteran of construction of the Soviet cosmodrome Baikonur. In retirement, his restless nature made him a prolific writer, authoring several books about the history of Baikonur.
Naum Narovlyanskii published the book about Sternfeld with his own money, which is certainly not easy for a retiree in Russia. Fortunately, a few donors supported the publications. The book is without an ISBN, and it will most likely never reach Russian libraries and be preserved.
In his book, Narovlyanskii observed with sadness that “well, everything repeats itself again, as dozens of years earlier!” (Narovlyanskii 2006, 101). He referred to the fact that Sternfeld’s name was not even mentioned at the annual meeting on cosmonautics conducted under the aegis of the Russian Academy of Sciences in January 2005. Plenary sessions of such meetings usually announce presentations about space and rocket leaders who would celebrate anniversaries during that year. “Nowhere in the program of the ... [conference] was a single word that there would be a 100th anniversary of the birth of a pioneer of cosmonautics Arii Abramovich Shternfel’d, whose works had been published 85 times in 36 languages in 39 countries of five continents” (Narovlyanskii 2006, 101).
Fig. 7.4. Brass plaque (3”×5”) commemorating pioneers of spaceflight mechanics on the New Horizons mission to Pluto. Photo courtesy Robert Farquhar. Figures and photographs are not shown here. Please see the print version of the book.
While Ary Sternfeld remains largely forgotten in his adopted country, in spite of all recent changes in Russia, some scientists remember him in the Unites States. NASA launched the New Horizons mission to Pluto in January 2006. The spacecraft carries a small brass plaque, commemorating the pioneers of spaceflight mechanics. This brass plaque measured 3–by–5 inches (76–by–127 mm) and it also served to balance the mass properties of the spacecraft. Among the engraved names is Ary Sternfeld.