I thought I would try starting a proper blog (as an addition to the manually-typed HTML journal on my website) and focus on the Russian manned space program as no-one else seems to be doing it (in English, at least) that I know of! Nearly all the space blogs are focused on NASA and a lot are by “Paranoid Patriots” who think their country should be first at everything or the world will come to an end. :-P (Some examples being Curmudgeons Corner (he forgot the apostrophe in his title), Space Pragmatism – they all link to each other, so I won’t bother listing them.) They tend to be right-wing capitalist types – yuck (I am more left-wing — Да здравствует революция!).
I am trying to edit the template, so it might look a bit odd!
I am not, alas, a professional in anything; just an interested (and somewhat despondent) onlooker who has been a failure so far, and who has no life.
Also, I really can’t speak Russian as such, but have managed to learn the alphabet so far and a few words.
Last week the 2006 cosmonaut selection group was announced on the Russian Federal Space Agency site. There is one woman among the selection of seven, Elena Serova (wife of Mark Serov, 2003 selection). All the 5 military selections are pilots from the Russian Air Force (VVS) and some from the PVO (Air Defence Force) as well. An approximate (tidied-up Babelfish) translation of the notice:
11-10-2006 About the session of the interdepartmental commission for the selection of the cosmonauts
On 11 October, in the Roskosmos building under the leadership of A.N. Perminov and the Management of the Russian Federal Space Agency, there took place an interdepartmental commission session for the selection of cosmonauts. The commission is based on the proposals of the S.P. Korolev Rocket & Space Corporation Energiya, the Yu.A. Gagarin Russian State Science Research Cosmonaut Training Centre (RGNII TsPK) and the Russian Federation State Scientific Center - the Institute of Biomedical Problems of the Russian Academy of Sciences concerning the represented candidatures to the enrollment into the force of cosmonauts by cosmonaut candidates, and also for the guaranteeing of timely preparation and fulfillment of the manned space flights on the ISS.
The decision was made:
To recommend the appointment of A.N. Ovchinin, S.N. Ryzhikov, A.A. Misurkin, O.V. Novitskiy, M.T. Ponomarev, N.V. Tikhonov, and E.O. Serova to the post of cosmonaut candidate in in the appropriate organizations and to charge RGNII TsPK and Energiya to solve a question about the attachment to RGNII TsPK of N.V. Tikhonov and Ye.O. Serov for the period of their general cosmonaut space preparation. To charge RGNII TsPK with organizing the routine basic spaceflight preparation of A.N. Ovchinin, S.N. Ryzhikov, A.A. Misurkin, O.V. Novitskiy, M.T. Ponomarev, N.V. Tikhonov, and E.O. Serova according to the program of preparation for the cosmonaut-testers.
Full names of the cosmonauts:
From the Russian Air Force (VVS, ВВС):
- Aleksandr Aleksandrovich Misurkin, Мисуркин Александр Александрович, born 23 September 1977, Major, the VVS and PVO 4th Army (Rostov-on-Don) (zone of responsibility – North-Caucasian VO)
- Oleg Viktorovich Novitskii, Новицкий Олег Викторович, born 12 October 1971, Lieutenant Colonel, the VVS and PVO 4th Army
- Aleksei Nikolaevich Ovchinin, Овчинин Алексей Николаевич, born 28 September 1971, Major, the 70th individual test-training air regiment of the special designation named after Seregina RGNII TsPK
- Maksim Vladimirovich Ponomarev, Пономарев Максим Владимирович, born 20 February 1980, Captain, the Special-Purpose Command (staff – Moscow) (zone of responsibility – Moscow VO)
- Sergei Nikolaevich Ryzhikov, Рыжиков Сергей Николаевич, born 19 August 1974, Major, the VVS and PVO 14th Army (staff – Novosibirsk) (zone of responsibility – SibVO) (now entire military aviation is subordinated to armies VVS and PVO, but not to military districts; there is no Transbaikal military district now generally, it was included SibVO)
The candidates from Energiya:
- Elena Olegovna Serova, Серова Елена Олеговна, born 22 April 1976, works in TsUP (Moscow Mission Control). If she makes it, she will be the first woman since Nadezhda Kuzhel’naya (who left in 2004 without ever having been assigned a flight – sexism is still prevailent in the Russian space program, unfortunately). The last Russian woman to go into space was Elena Kondakova – way back in 1997! Contrast that to the American women astronauts.
- Nikolai Vladimirovich Tikhonov, Тихонов Николай Владимирович, born 23 May 1982
Rather annoyingly they provided no biographies or individual photos. They didn’t for the 2003 selection either (or any previous selection). NASA does much better (their 2004 astronaut candidates have their own site section). The cosmonauts get little publicity at all, and they need much more done in this area!
It will likely be years before any fly; the group from 2003 have yet to get assigned flights and even from selections before this – some cosmonauts have been waiting a decade or so. It doesn’t help that the Russian Space Agency seems obsessed with leasing the third Soyuz seat to foreign astronauts or paying private space tourists, instead of giving their own cosmonauts valuable flight experience (this is something I will rant about occasionally). It would help if the Russian government increased funding. The RSA/ФКА should perhaps be renamed the Russian Space Tourist Agency as this is all they seem to do these days (instead of focusing on the long-term colonization of space, and the exploring of other worlds). The tourist flights are all they get an occasional mention for in the media here (in Australia). And don’t get me started on the miserable state of Russian unmanned space exploration – they have virtually dropped off the radar there (in contrast to NASA and its spectacularly successful Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity, and the latest Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter mission).
A sorry contrast to the Soviet era…