First-time cosmonauts set to blast off with toy duck

Mar 19, 2010
Russian cosmonaut Alexander Skvortsov displays a toy duck, during a press conference outside Moscow in Star City. The tiny toy was picked out by his daughter as an impromptu "weightlessness sensor," said Skvortsov.

Russian cosmonaut Alexander Skvortsov brandished a small toy duck Friday as he and his crewmates prepared to blast off to the International Space Station (ISS) in April.

The tiny toy was picked out by his daughter as an impromptu "weightlessness sensor," said Skvortsov, who will take off from on April 2 along with fellow Russian Mikhail Korniyenko and NASA astronaut Tracy Caldwell-Dyson.

"We thought it was light and pretty enough. I think it should bring us luck," said Skvortsov, a uniformed air force colonel, speaking at the Star City training facility outside Moscow.

The astronauts will spend two days in a cramped before arriving at the ISS, where they will join US astronaut Timothy Creamer, Soichi Noguchi of Japan and Russian Oleg Kotov.

One of the three Russians will have to sleep on the US side of the station, since the Russian side has only two beds, officials said.

Skvortsov, 43, and Korniyenko, 49, are both set to make their first space flight after training together.

"The hardest thing in our profession is the waiting. Sasha (Alexander) and I have been waiting 12 years for this flight," said Korniyenko, a former Moscow policeman, who is set to turn 50 in space.

"The most important thing is not to break down, to keep yourself going, to keep training despite all the difficulties. Then you will achieve success," Korniyenko said.

Caldwell-Dyson made her first space flight in 2007. Speaking Russian and English, she said she had "very little time" to train with her Russian colleagues but described it as "rewarding".

"I think the most challenging part we'll face in orbit will be maintaining our team work during the very busy timeline we have," she said.

Earlier Friday the head of Russia's space agency Roskosmos Anatoly Perminov said that a moratorium on to the ISS would continue "for two or three years," as NASA will remain reliant on the three-seater Soyuz launch.

"There are many people interested. Very many countries have made requests, but now it is physically impossible for us," Perminov said, the Interfax news agency reported.

Explore further: Lunar explorers will walk at higher speeds than thought

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Astronauts to taste 'space sushi'

Dec 03, 2009

US astronaut Timothy Creamer said on Thursday he was impatient to taste "space sushi" courtesy of his Japanese crewmate after they arrive on the International Space Station (ISS) later this month.

Russian cargo spacecraft nearing ISS

Jun 17, 2005

MOSCOW, June 17 (UPI) -- A Russian cargo spacecraft has been launched into orbit successfully and will reach the International Space Station Saturday, Russian space officials said.

Russian ship with tourist docks with space station

Mar 28, 2009

A Russian Soyuz capsule carrying second-time space tourist Charles Simonyi docked Saturday at the International Space Station, media reports quoted the control centre near Moscow as saying.

Astronauts dock at International Space Station

Dec 22, 2009

A Russian rocket carrying three astronauts from Japan, Russia and the United States docked at the International Space Station Wednesday, the Russian flight control centre said.

Recommended for you

Lunar explorers will walk at higher speeds than thought

3 hours ago

Anyone who has seen the movies of Neil Armstrong's first bounding steps on the moon couldn't fail to be intrigued by his unusual walking style. But, contrary to popular belief, the astronaut's peculiar walk ...

Space: The final frontier... open to the public

4 hours ago

Historically, spaceflight has been reserved for the very healthy. Astronauts are selected for their ability to meet the highest physical and psychological standards to prepare them for any unknown challenges. However, with ...

NASA releases IRIS footage of X-class flare (w/ Video)

4 hours ago

On Sept. 10, 2014, NASA's newest solar observatory, the Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph, or IRIS, mission joined other telescopes to witness an X-class flare – an example of one of the strongest solar flares—on ...

NASA's Maven spacecraft reaches Mars this weekend

5 hours ago

Mars, get ready for another visitor or two. This weekend, NASA's Maven spacecraft will reach the red planet following a 10-month journey spanning 442 million miles (711 million kilometers).

User comments : 0