MOSCOW, January 7. /TASS/. Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill has congratulated the crew of the International Space Station (ISS) on Orthodox Christmas and gave them a blessing to performing the mission.
The current ISS crew consists of Russian cosmonauts Alexander Misurkin and Anton Shkaplerov, US astronauts Mark Vande Hei, Joseph Acaba and Scott Tingle, and Japanese astronaut Norishige Kanai.
"Christmas is a holiday filled with many meanings, it warms soul and gives people drive to do good things," the Patriarch said via a TV link-up from the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in downtown Moscow on Sunday, addressing the Russian cosmonauts.
"You are our heroes. You represent Russia up there, in the orbit. Your are doing a great job. Your work presents severe difficulties, it takes great spiritual and physical energy but it give much in return too. You inspire us and that is why we want to speak to you on great holidays," Patriarch Kirill said and expressed hope the mission would be accomplished successfully.
"We are very happy that you have found time to congratulate us and are taking your cordial and sincere words as an advance," Misurkin, the Expedition 54 commander, said. "We sincerely congratulate you on Christmas and wish you strength and patience in your ministry."
The patriarch always speaks to ISS crews on Orthodox Christmas and Easter.