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Space Research Can Improve Life On Earth

Yuri Gagarin said three days after his historic flight: "I liked it. I also want to fly to Mars and Venus." His dream rested on a solid foundation created by Soviet scientists and designers. Russian researchers working in the segment of manned flights are now ready to provide a similar basis for Russia's development, which can improve life on earth.
by Alexander Keslyak
RIA Novosti commentator
Moscow (RIA Novosti) Apr 14, 2008
Countries sending their citizens into space for the first time proudly call them their Gagarins, with good reason. Yuri Gagarin became the first man to orbit the Earth on April 12, 1961. Since then, many countries joined space exploration, and Russia has recently sent its 101st and 102nd cosmonauts to the International Space Station (ISS).

They will work together with South Korea's Yi So-yeon, aged 29, who will spend 10 days at the station conducting more than a dozen scientific and educational experiments.

Shortly before April 12, 2008, a monument to Laika, a stray dog around three years old rounded up from the Moscow streets and trained for spaceflight in 1957, has been opened at the Dinamo metro station in Moscow.

Cosmonauts, designers and veterans of the space sector have held a meeting in the Polytechnic Museum.

An exhibition about the Russian experiments at the ISS has opened in the Space Research Institute. A stand showing the 17 research projects completed in the past seven years, 60 projects that are still underway, and about 300 planned projects was placed next to the Institute's entrance. Nearly a third of these are medical and biological experiments, which have resulted in the production of new medicines, therapeutic clothes, and methods of protecting the human body from hazards.

Only two experiments concern the study of the Earth's reserves. Lev Desinov of the Institute of Geography at the Russian Academy of Sciences said these were highly important projects.

He cited the multipurpose long-term experiment called Uragan (Hurricane), during which photographs made by cosmonauts Sergei Krikalyov and Valery Korzun helped to determine the true reason behind the tragedy in the Karmadon Gorge, in the North Caucasus.

On September 20, 2002, a glacier slid down the gorge, burying the inhabitants of a mountain settlement and an entire film crew under a thick layer of ice and mud, and cutting short the filmmaking career of Russian actor and television presenter Sergei Bodrov, aged 30.

The scientist claims that the tragedy began not with an avalanche, which had been moving down for nearly two months, but by a "bubble explosion," not unlike champagne shooting out of a bottle.

When you know the cause of a disaster, you can try to prevent similar tragedies. Uniting the efforts of astronauts and researchers from the institutes of the Russian Academy of Sciences is crucial for attaining this result.

What are the current news of world cosmonautics? Russia can build spacecraft for the United States during a transition period between the scrapping of three Space Shuttles in two years and the commissioning of a new human spaceflight vehicle, the Orion, in 2015.

Countries no longer want to depend on each other in space exploration, or to fight space wars. What they want is to join hands for the common good.

Vietnam's first satellite, VinaSat, will be made by an American company and orbited by a European booster.

Iran has unveiled a space center.

China is building a satellite for Latin America and will orbit a third manned spacecraft after the Summer Olympics, with an astronaut taking a walk in space.

India has allocated funds for training Air Force pilots for space programs and is creating a four-ton satellite, which is to make its maiden flight in 2014.

Japan is pondering ways to use robots to study the Moon and has sent up the first section of its Kibo (Hope) lab to the ISS.

The European Union is making a major contribution to the ISS. A Space Shuttle delivered its Columbus laboratory to the station, and its 20-ton robot freighter, Jules Verne, successfully docked with the ISS on April 3.

It is good that more countries are working to join the space club, because they now want not just to prove their point, but also to get practical results from their space efforts.

Alexander Medvedev, head of Russia's Khrunichev Space Center, said several years ago when the obsolete Mir station was programmed to fall into the ocean: "We are thinking of launching a new, high-latitude station."

Vladimir Khodakov, an expert on unmanned spacecraft, writes in his book about a project of creating a high-latitude manned station Polyus, based on the reserve module built for the ISS.

The Russian Space Agency (Roscosmos) plans to launch two unmanned satellites to monitor the Arctic in 2010. Russia needs to scrutinize the vast Arctic region and uphold its interests there, and so it may establish a laboratory to monitor the national territory and a mini-plant in orbit.

Academician Lev Zeleny, the last Soviet space minister Vitaly Doguzhiyev, and Anatoly Kiselev, who headed the Khrunichev Space Center for 25 years, said the biggest weakness spot of Russian space exploration is the dramatic ageing of personnel, above all workers and engineers.

Many design schools have lost a large number of personnel; there are few technical and vocational schools training specialists for the sector, and no incentives to work at plants. Almost all the results of research done in the past decades have been applied to practice, or become obsolete, and very little, if anything, is being done in the sector now. Russian institutes no longer lead the world in space research and know-how.

Anatoly Kiselev said there are few ambitious young researchers crazy enough to work day and night, even though the space sector is an economic driver capable of boosting the country's progress and encouraging knowledge-based development.

Yuri Gagarin said three days after his historic flight: "I liked it. I also want to fly to Mars and Venus."

His dream rested on a solid foundation created by Soviet scientists and designers. Russian researchers working in the segment of manned flights are now ready to provide a similar basis for Russia's development, which can improve life on earth.

Source: RIA Novosti

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Scrap unlucky 13th mission: Russian space chief
Moscow (AFP) April 14, 2008
The next Russian spacecraft should be renamed to avoid the traditionally unlucky number 13, believes the head of Russia's space agency.

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