Record-Setting NASA Astronaut, Crewmates Return from Space Station

NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei is seen outside the Soyuz MS-19 spacecraft after he landed with Russian cosmonauts Anton Shkaplerov and Pyotr Dubrov in a remote area near the town of Zhezkazgan, Kazakhstan on Wednesday, March 30, 2022. Vande Hei and Dubrov are returning to Earth after logging 355 days in space as members of Expeditions 64-66 aboard the International Space Station. For Vande Hei, his mission is the longest single spaceflight by a U.S. astronaut in history. Shkaplerov is returning after 176 days in space, serving as a Flight Engineer for Expedition 65 and commander of Expedition 66. (Credits: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — After extending the record for the longest single spaceflight in history by an American to 355 days, NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei returned to Earth on Wednesday, March 30, along with Roscosmos cosmonauts Anton Shkaplerov and Pyotr Dubrov.

The trio departed the International Space Station at 3:21 a.m. EDT and made a safe, parachute-assisted landing at 7:28 a.m. (5:28 p.m. Kazakhstan time) southeast of the remote town of Dzhezkazgan, Kazakhstan.

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Norwegian Continues Training for Soyuz Flight to ISS & Spacewalk Amid Western Sanctions Over Ukraine; 18 Norwegians Advance in ESA Astronaut Selection

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

A Norwegian industrial designer is continuing to train to fly to the International Space Station (ISS) aboard a Roscosmos Soyuz spacecraft and perform a commercial spacewalk amid Western sanctions over the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Nima Shahinian has been training at Russia’s Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City for a voyage to ISS at the end of next year. Shahinian — who is an industrial designer lead at Designit Oslo, a father of two and an Afghanistan veteran — is a client of the U.S. company Space Adventures.

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Interview with Oleg Novitsky After His Spaceflight

Oleg Novitsky (Credit: Roscosmos)

MOSCOW (Roscosmos PR) — Two months ago, Oleg Novitsky returned from his third space flight to the ISS. The commander of the Soyuz MS-18 spacecraft shared with the readers of the State Corporation Roscosmos magazine – Russian Space – his impressions of the expedition. It cannot be called boring in any way: three spacewalks, the meeting and integration of the new Science module and, of course, an amazing week and a half spent side by side with the world’s first film crew.

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Preparations Continue at Baikonur for Japanese Billionaire’s Launch to International Space Station

Spaceflight participant Yozo Hiro, Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexander Misurkin and spaceflight participant Yusaku Maezawa. (Credit: Roscosmos)

BAIKONUR COSMODROME, Kazakhstan (Roscosmos PR) — Baikonur Cosmodrome continues preparations for launching the Soyuz-2.1a carrier rocket with the Soyuz MS-20 crewed spacecraft. On the previous day, the Soyuz-2.1a/Soyuz MS-20 rocket was rolled out to the Site 31 launchpad (‘Vostok’), after which Roscosmos specialists conducted work on the L-3 day schedule, no issues were revealed.

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Japanese Space Tourists to Carry Out Experiments on ISS

Yusaku Maezawa participates in a pre-flight medical experiment. (Credit: CPK/Roscosmos)

BAIKONUR COSMODROME, Kazakhstan (Rocosmos PR) — During each long half-year expedition to the International Space Station, Russian cosmonauts conduct more than fifty experiments in various scientific fields. However, for space medicine, even a short flight is a source of information for the development of means and methods for maintaining the health of crews in zero gravity.

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Japanese Billionaire Medically Cleared for Flight to Space Station

Spaceflight participant Yozo Hiro, Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexander Misurkin and spaceflight participant Yusaku Maezawa. (Credit: Roscosmos)

MOSCOW (Roscosmos PR) — The Chief Medical Commission meeting was held at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center (GCTC) to analyze medical examination data of the cosmonauts and the spaceflight participants of the 20th visiting expedition to the International Space Station.

The Commission consisted of the representatives of GCTC, Roscosmos, Federal Medico-Biological Agency, Institute of Medical and Biological Problems of Russian Academy of Sciences, Russian Ministry of Health and Russian Ministry of Defense.

By the decision of the commission Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexander Misurkin, spaceflight Yusaku Maezawa and Yozo Hirano (EP-20 prime crew) and Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexander Skvortsov and Shun Ogiso (EP-20 backup crew) were deemed medically fit for spaceflight.

The Soyuz MS-20 spacecraft is scheduled to launch on December 8, 2021 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome. The flight is to last 12 days.

New Cosmonaut Candidates Introduced

Four newly admitted Cosmonaut Squad members. (Credit: CPK/Roscosmos)

STAR CITY, Russia (Roscosmos PR) — At the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center (GCTC), four newly admitted Cosmonaut Squad members were introduced to the Center staff. Sergey Teteryatnikov, Alexander Kolyabin, Sergey Irtuganov and Harutyun Kiviryan are cosmonaut candidates of the 2020 open enrollment.

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“The Challenge” Movie Crew Begin Preparations for Trip to ISS at Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center

Yulia Peresild

MOSCOW (Roscosmos PR) — On Monday, the crew of the feature film tentatively titled “Vyzov” (“The Challenge”) began preparations for the flight to the International Space Station in October at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center (CTC). Director Klim Shipenko and actress Yulia Peresild started training, together with their backups Alexey Dudin and Alena Mordovina.

Roscosmos cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov will be commander of the ISS-66 prime crew, and Roscosmos cosmonaut Oleg Artemyev is his backup. The crew commanders have already started training, as the cosmonaut who will take the film crew to the ISS will have to stay there and carry out his immediate duties for six months.

The director and actress will go into orbit as spaceflight participants for a much shorter period. According to preliminary data, the film crew of the “The Challenge” will stay at the International Space Station for less than two weeks. Their preflight training program differs from the training plan for professional cosmonauts, but includes elements that are mandatory for all crew members.

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NASA Assigns Astronaut Mark Vande Hei to Fly to Space Station on Russian Soyuz Spacecraft

Mark Vande Hei (Credit: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — NASA has assigned astronaut Mark Vande Hei to an upcoming mission to the International Space Station as a flight engineer and member of the Expedition 64/65 crew. Vande Hei, along with cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, are scheduled to launch Friday, April 9, on the Soyuz MS-18 spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

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Indian Pilots Continue Spaceflight Training at Gagarin Center in Russia

MOSCOW (Roscosmos PR) — The Indian cosmonauts are undergoing training at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center (GCTC) following the courses of the general space training program and of the systems of the Soyuz MS crewed spacecraft. The completion of their training at GCTC is scheduled for the first quarter of 2021.

The contract for the Indian candidates’ training for a spaceflight was signed between Gavkosmos and the Human Spaceflight Centre of the Indian Space Research Organisation on June 27, 2019.  On February 10, 2020, GCTC started training of the four Indian cosmonauts.

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Roscosmos Plans to Fly One Cosmonaut & Two Tourists on Soyuz Flights

Surrounded by medical personnel, seated from left to right are spaceflight participant Guy Laliberte, Expedition 20 Commander Gennady Padalka and Expedition 20 Flight Engineer Michael Barratt.They had landed minutes before at 12:32 a.m. EDT aboard the Soyuz capsule near the town of Arkalyk, Kazakhstan, on Sunday, Oct. 11, 2009.

Editor’s Note: With the success of the SpaceX Crew Dragon mission, Russia will soon no longer be able to charge the United States more than $90 million per seat to fly NASA astronauts to the International Space Station.

To make up for the lost revenues, Roscosmos will resume flying tourists to ISS, a program that was suspended on 2009. Instead of flying two professionals and one tourist as it did during the 2000’s, Roscosmos wants to fly one cosmonaut and two tourists. The press release below, translated from Russian, describes the efforts to fly the missions safely.

MOSCOW (Roscosmos PR) — In special classes with the participation of cosmonauts from Roscosmos, instructors of the Yu.A. Gagarin and representatives of the Rocket and Space Corporation Energia named after S.P. Korolev (part of the Roscosmos State Corporation), studies were carried out to identify the features that are possible during the implementation of the training program for the control of a manned spacecraft “Soyuz” by one cosmonaut. Subsequently, based on all comments and suggestions, a conclusion will be drawn up to organize the process of this preparation.

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ISRO, Glavkosmos Sign Agreement for Training Indian Astronauts

MOSCOW (Glavkosmos PR) — On June 27, 2019, First deputy Director General of Glavkosmos (part of Roscosmos State Corporation) Natalia Lokteva and Director of Human Space Flight Centre (HSFC) of Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO)Dr. S.Unnikrishnan Nair signed a contract for selection support, medical examination and space training of Indian astronauts.

Glavkosmos will render to HSFC services on consulting support of selection of candidates for the Indian astronauts, providing medical examination of the candidates for access to space flight related training program and providing space flight related training for the Indian astronauts selected on the basis of the medical examination.

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Not Many Cosmonaut Applications So Far

NASA astronaut Scott Kelly and Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko marked their 300th consecutive day aboard the International Space Station on Jan. 21, 2016. The pair will land March 1 after spending a total of 340 days in space. (Credits: NASA)

Russia’s open call for prospective cosmonauts has produced only 200 applications since the process began on March 14, Tass reports.

Russia’s state corporation Roscosmos and the cosmonauts training center declared a contest for admission to the team of space explorers on March 14. Each applicant is expected to present a voluminous package of documents, including questionnaires, identification papers, a copy of the work record booklet, a certificate of good conduct confirming there is no history of a criminal record, a security clearance certificate allowing access to state secrets and a pile of medical certificates.

Given the volume of documents required, officials expect many of the applications will be filed during the last month of the call. The deadline for applications is July 14. Six to eight new cosmonauts will be selected.

Last year, NASA received more than 18,300 applications in its call for astronaut candidates. Canada received 3,772 applications for its selection process.

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Russia’s Roscomos Consolidates Cosmonaut Corps

ROSCOSMOS PRESS RELEASE

Roscosmos Head Anatoly Perminov signed the Order “About Establishment of Roscosmos’ United Cosmonaut Corps” of Dec. 7, 2010. The order defines completion of Roscosmos Cosmonaut Corps establishment in GCTC by Jan. 1, 2011.

The Corps is to unite cosmonauts of three groups — GCTC, RSC-Energia and IBMP –- in a single infrastructure in order to “enhance cosmonaut selection and training effectiveness and to maintain coordinated national policy in human space missions.”

Editor’s Note: The move combines Russia’s 40 cosmonauts under one organization, according to Interfax-AVN. GCTC is the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center, which has 22 cosmonauts, and IBMP is the Institute for Biomedical Problems, with a single cosmonaut. RSC-Energia has 17 cosmonauts.