Russia to give cosmonauts guns to fend off animals on landing

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Russia is testing a gun that returning cosmonauts could use to fend off wild animals when landing in remote areas, the head of the Russian space agency said Wednesday.

Cosmonauts have been unarmed for more than a decade but Roscosmos agency head Dmitry Rogozin said it was time to bring back weapons as manned launches move to the Russian Far East.

"It's possible that landings will also be in this area, which is not populated, with forest and forest-steppe, and cosmonauts are saying that it would be good to have (a weapon) in the kit," Rogozin said.

"This weapon is already being tested," Rogozin added.

"I think in a year and a half, most likely, highly likely (it would become) part of the cosmonauts' kit," TASS news agency reported him as saying.

"It would be for crew support in terms of being able to fire flare signals as well as in terms of a weapon that may be needed in a wild forest," he added.

Earlier Oleg Kononenkov, a Russian who commanded an ISS crew that recently returned to Earth, said extra tools could be necessary in the wilderness.

"It's possible that it's , that we may need a special knife to build shelter, and perhaps we need a weapon, because of ," he told journalists Tuesday.

From the 1980s, cosmonauts carried a TP-82 three-barrel pistol, whose butt also concealed a machete. The weapon was removed from the approved emergency kit in 2007.

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