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What makes a good astronaut?
by Daria Manina
Moscow (Voice of Russia) Apr 22, 2013

File image.

A pilot, a doctor, a programmer... who has more chances to become an astronaut? Who chooses this 'unearthly' profession and remains faithful to it all his life? Voice of Russia correspondent Darya Manina spoke to future cosmonauts.

In Soviet times the requirements for future cosmonauts were the following: height - not more than 170cm, age - under 30, test pilot by training. Of course, there were many other criteria related to physical and mental health. But it was evident that to go into space one had to be a very experienced pilot

With the development of the space industry these requirements were later revised, attracting people of different occupations. In the 1980s the Soviet Union unveiled its plans for a Mars mission.

Eight doctors were among those who had been trained for the mission, says Anatoly Murashov, participant in the stimulated Mars mission. "It was expected that the expedition would need an international crew of 15-16 members.

The crew was supposed to reach the planet's orbit, land on its surface and travel back. The entire mission was expected to take several years, that is why several medics were required to be with the crew."

Russia's Star City outside Moscow, where the Gagarin Research-and-Testing Cosmonaut Training Center is located, announced its first ever open admission of volunteers willing to travel into space. Three hundred people from all over Russia applied via the Internet: they all had to be under 35 years, with higher education and no less than a 3 year's experience in working in aviation.

Those who were shortlisted for the next round were asked to undergo physical tests. Only eight people managed to succeed and were listed into Star City's staff. This does not, however, mean that they will fly into space, says Pyotr Dubrov, one of those eight lucky candidates.

"The first stage of training lasts 1.5-2 years during which we are taught the basics of piloted space exploration and space exploration in general. When the lectures are over we will have to pass a state exam to test our knowledge."

Only the final stage of the training will unveil those who will be allowed to fly. Everybody is inspired by the aim they all have. Outstanding cosmonaut Gherman Titov, who became the second man to orbit the Earth after Yuri Gagarin, recollects: "We all knew that the first manned space flight was about to take place. There were six of us training for the mission, and each of us dreamt of being the first. But the Vostok spacecraft was designed to carry only one cosmonaut."

Since then the number of seats onboard the Vostok spacecraft has been increased to six. Over the past 50 years 525 astronauts have travelled to space. Years of training will show whose names will be written in history books regarding space exploration.

Source: Voice of Russia

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