MINSK, January 24. /TASS/. A Belarusian female cosmonaut is scheduled to blast off for the International Space Station in the fall, Vladimir Gusakov, chairman of the board of the country’s National Academy of Sciences, said on Tuesday.
"If nothing changes, then our cosmonaut is slated to fly to the International Space Station in the fall," he said at a news conference.
Roscosmos earlier said that the flight of the Belarusian female cosmonaut was scheduled for the fall but could be delayed due to the accident at the Soyuz MS-22, which was an external coolant leak on December 15, 2022. A government commission decided the damaged spacecraft would descend without a crew, and cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev, Dmitry Petelin and NASA astronaut Frank Rubio, who were to use it for their ride home, will stay for an extended mission. They are now expected to get back to the Earth on the next spacecraft, the Soyuz MS-23.
Before the accident, the Soyuz MS-23 was slated to take off on March 16, 2023, but the flight was rescheduled for February 20. The mission that was planned to travel to the orbital outpost in spring, will now take the trip in the fall.
Earlier, Russian President Vladimir Putin, during talks with his Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko, reaffirmed plans to send a Belarusian cosmonaut to the ISS in 2023. Belarus selected six contenders for the flight. According to Gusakov, all of them passed a medical examination and were deemed fit for the flight. They include flight attendants of Belavia Airlines Marina Vasilevskaya and Victoria Fidrus, state forensic expert from the Brest Region, Daria Mikhnyuk; an obstetrician-gynecologist from the town of Baranovichi, Olga Gerasimova; a pediatric surgeon from the Republican Scientific and Practical Center for Pediatric Surgery Anastasia Lenkova and junior researcher at the Institute of Physical and Organic Chemistry of the National Academy of Sciences Olga Mastitskaya.