The New Yorker - 06/13/2016
Once a year, when Slava Epstein was growing up in Moscow, his mother took him to the Exhibition of the Achievements of the National Economy, a showcase for the wonders of Soviet life. The expo featured many things—from industrial harvesters to Uzbek wine—but Epstein, who began going in the nineteen-sixties, when he was eight or nine, was interested primarily in one: the Cosmos Pavilion, a building the size of a hangar, with a ceiling shaped like a giant inverted parabola. Space fever was running high in the city. Since 1961, when Yuri Gagarin orbited the globe, unmanned vessels had been launched toward Mars and Venus. Beside the expo’s entrance, the towering Monument to the Conquerors of Space depicted a probe swooping up to the heavens.