MOSCOW, August 7. /TASS/. Complex examinations, which crown cosmonauts’ pre-flight training are coming to an end in Star City near Moscow on Friday, the press service of the Cosmonaut Training Center told TASS.
"On August 7, the backup crew consisting of Russian cosmonauts Oleg Skripochka and Sergey Prokopiev, as well as European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Thomas Pesquet will conduct training on a full-scale mock-up of the Russian segment of the International Space Station (ISS). The main crew comprising Russian cosmonaut Sergey Volkov, ESA astronaut Andreas Mogensen and Kazakhstan’s cosmonaut Aidyn Aimbetov will be training on a simulator of the Soyuz TMA-M manned spacecraft," the press service said.
Friday is the second day of the examination session. On Thursday, the backup crew passed exams in the manned spacecraft, and the main crew — on the Russian segment of the ISS.
The examination training is held to assess the crew actions in the use of the station’s equipment and systems, as well as response to emergency situations and cooperation among the crew members. The cosmonauts are required to timely detect failure or misalignment of systems, determine the nature of a contingency and make a decision on coping with the situation. The crew actions during the examination day are appraised from the viewpoint of the cohesion and accuracy.
On August 10, the interdepartmental commission will hold a meeting in the Star City to consider the results of the pre-flight exams and recommend the crews for approval.
The launch of the Soyuz TMA-18M manned spacecraft by the Soyuz-FG carrier rocket from the Baikonur cosmodrome (Kazakhstan) is scheduled for 07:34 am, Moscow time on September 2.
Russia’s Federal Space Agency Roskosmos has chosen Kazakh cosmonaut Aidyn Aimbetov for the ISS flight instead of the British famous Sarah Brightman who abruptly cancelled her plans May 13 to travel to the ISS later this year as a space tourist on a Soyuz flight.
Brightman, 54, who had been training for several months at Russia’s Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre outside Moscow, said in a statement that "personal family reasons" led her to postpone her flight to the ISS, but did not elaborate. "We’ve seen firsthand her dedication to every aspect of her spaceflight training and, to date, has passed all of her training and medical tests," Eric Anderson, chairman of Space Adventures, the company that arranged her flight, said in a statement. "We applaud her determination and we’ll continue to support her as she pursues a future spaceflight opportunity."
Aidyn Aimbetov, 42, will take Brightman’s seat on the Soyuz TMA-18M spacecraft when it blasts off to the ISS in September. Aimbetov will join Soyuz commander Sergei Volkov and European Space Agency flight engineer Andreas Mogensen - the first Danish astronaut — for the trip.
Mogensen and Aimbetov will fly up on the Soyuz TMA-18M craft and land 10 days later on the Soyuz TMA-16M capsule, which will reach the end of its service life as an escape pod for the station crew. Volkov will remain in orbit until March, and outgoing space station commander Gennady Padalka will come home with Aimbetov and Mogensen, the Spaceflight Now web portal reported previously.
Tasting of Kazakh national food in space will be one of the experiments to be carried out by Aimbetov as part of the national research programme on board the ISS. Deputy chief of Kazakhstan’s Aerospace Committee (Kazkosmos) of the Ministry of Investment and Development Erkin Shaimagambetov told a news conference in late July that there will be 10 experiments. "During the 10-day flight it is planned to conduct a series of experiments in the sphere of space monitoring, the second sphere is biotechnology and biomedicine — a study of the impact of space flight on astronauts and other experiments. The programme also includes physics and technology experiments. A total of about 10 are planned," Shaimagambetov said.
Thus, the Kazakh cosmonaut will monitor the state of the environment in the regions of the Aral and Caspian seas, in particular, he will explore the pollution of the Caspian region with hydrocarbons from production wells. Also, Aimbetov’s scientific program includes the study of the gamma radiation effects on cosmonauts’ body.
Aimbetov will taste eight national Kazakh dishes on the order of the National Institute of Nutrition. In particular, the cosmonaut will try the Kazakh meat dish, ayran (fermented milk product) and irimshik (dried sour-milk product). "We will examine how these products will affect his condition and performance on board the ISS," President of the National Centre for Space Research and Technology Zhumabek Zhantaev said at a news conference.
According to the Kazkosmos chief, the work is currently underway for the coordination of the statement of work and the equipment that can be approved for the ISS flight. He said that about 20 experiments were originally proposed for the ISS mission, but "not all of them will be approved" for the flight.
Aimbetov will become the third ethnic Kazakh cosmonaut to fly in space since the Central Asian nation was established with the fall of the Soviet Union, and the second to visit the International Space Station. Brightman arranged to fly to the space station under a contract with Space Adventures, a U.S.-based company which sells open seats on Soyuz missions to business tycoons and celebrities.
Aimbetov could fly to the ISS in 2009, but Kazakhstan postponed the mission due to the shortage of funds. The current flight will cost Kazakhstan $20 million.