Visit to Gagarin Research and Test Cosmonaut Center

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Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko visited the Gagarin Research and Test Cosmonaut Center in Zvezdny Gorodok (Star City) near Moscow.

The center is currently selecting candidates from Belarus to fly into space. The Belarusian candidates are six women. It is expected the main and backup candidates for a space flight will be named in early 2023. The medical commission will issue appropriate recommendations on 28 December. Then the Belarusian side will decide on the priority candidates.

Aleksandr Lukashenko met with the Belarusian candidates for a manned space flight, got familiar with the work of the center, and the cosmonaut selection and training system. The head of state was shown various simulating equipment.

The head of state was warmly welcomed by Yury Borisov, Director General of the Roscosmos State Space Corporation, Maxim Kharlamov, Head of the Gagarin Research and Test Cosmonaut Center, and Sergei Krikalev, executive director for manned space programs at Roscosmos State Corporation. They discussed future prospects of the Belarusian-Russian cooperation in space activities.

Aleksandr Lukashenko first went to a centrifuge facility, where one of the Belarusian candidates for a space flight was having a training session. “Well done!” the head of state said watching her on the monitor.

The President then talked to the young woman in person. “Well done! I have seen such tests before. You are great! How do you feel?” he asked.

“It feels unforgettable,” she replied.

“Well done! You will have something to remember in your life. Good luck,” the Belarusian leader said.

After that the President toured the hydro lab, a large pool for training cosmonauts. The hydro lab is equipped with a set of experimental units (dimensional mockups of the modules), which can be placed on a movable mechanism and lowered into the basin for training. All experimental equipment is made full-size.

Aleksandr Lukashenko learned about the training process and the cosmonauts' equipment. A regular space suit weighs 120kg.

The head of state also spoke with the cosmonauts and posed for a joint photo with them.

Aleksandr Lukashenko was shown the ISS simulating equipment. Everything is made life-size and repeats the modules that are in orbit.

The head of state was briefed on the modules the station consists of, its configuration and how the station has been expanded over the years in cooperation with other countries. The President was interested in all the details, including the electric voltage in the modules and how the cosmonauts heat up their food.

Aleksandr Lukashenko also saw the inside of the Zvezda Service Module.

Aleksandr Lukashenko met with the Belarusian cosmonaut candidates. They are Belavia stewardesses Marina Vasilevskaya and Viktoriya Fidrus, a forensic expert from Brest Oblast Darya Mikhnyuk, an obstetrician-gynecologist from Baranovichi Olga Gerasimova, a pediatric surgeon from the National Center for Pediatric Surgery Anastasiya Lenkova, and a junior research scientist from the Institute of Physical Organic Chemistry of the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus Olga Mastitskaya.

Greetings the Belarusian cosmonaut candidates, Aleksandr Lukashenko repeated who he said to one of them after her centrifuge training session: “I have already said today that I have given you a lot of work to do. Nevertheless, you will have something to remember.”

Aleksandr Lukashenko was told that more than 3,000 people were interviewed. Six best candidates remain at this stage. They are currently undergoing full-time medical examination at the Research and Test Cosmonaut Center. More than half of the planned examinations have been carried out. The candidates have high morale and good physical condition.

Aleksandr Lukashenko said what he agreed upon with Yury Borisov, Director General of Roscosmos State Space Corporation. “In his words, if they are all healthy, they will not get lost here. They will be used in the Russian-Belarusian segment of space flights. Don't worry. Who will not fly into space this time, will go next time. There will be enough work for everyone,” said the head of state.

“Thank you very much. I am sure we will meet with you more. I wish you every success. You will not regret joining this team,” the President added.

Aleksandr Lukashenko said that he asked cosmonaut Oleg Novitsky, a native of Belarus, for assistance in training the candidates: “I told him: Oleg, watch the girls. Help them to get ready. He says he is watching.”

The Belarusian representatives expressed gratitude for support and opportunity to be among the candidates for a space flight. They also confirmed their readiness to represent Belarus with honor and dignity on the ISS.