Today is International Women’s Day! Despite having the first woman in space, Valentina Tereshkova in 1963, Russia has only sent two other women into space. Svetlana Savitskaya made a trip to Salyut 7 in 1982 and became the first woman to perform a spacewalk in 1984. Yelena Kondakova was the first woman to be part of a long-duration mission on Mir in 1994. These were just those that made it into space, there were many other women selected.
Yelena Serova and Anna Kikina are part of the active group of cosmonauts. Serova will be part of ISS expeditions 41 and 42 starting in Sept 2014. Kikina is new, she was selected in Oct 2012 and is in basic training for the next two years.
The Soyuz 9 crew, Andriyan Nikolayev and Vitaly Sevastyanov, played the first chess game across space. They played against Earth, a team that consisted of Nikolai Kaminin, head of the Cosmonaut Training Center and cosmonaut Viktor Gorbatko. The game was played on a day off for the crew and ended in a draw. You can see how the game was played here. (June 1970)
The flight of Soyuz 38 had the first black person in space aboard, Cuban Arnaldo Tamayo Méndez. He flew as part of the Interkosmos program, which allowed nations friendly with the Soviet Union to fly in space. The crew, including commander Yuri Romanenko, spent time on the Salyut 6 station. (18-26 September 1980)
Aleksandr Serebrov turns 69 today. He was selected in 1978 from the design bureau Energiya and has made four flights into space. He became the first to use the Soviet SPK, an astronaut propulsion unit, to leave the Mir space station in 1990, as seen here. After retiring in 1995 from the cosmonaut group, Serebrov worked for the Russian secretary of defence.
Vladimir Aksyonov celebrates his birthday today. He has two flights to his credit: Soyuz 22 (1976) and Soyuz T-2 (1980). Before becoming a cosmonaut in 1973, he worked as an engineer on the Vostok, Voskhod and Soyuz spacecrafts and the Salyut space stations.
Talgat Musabayev as a backup for the Soyuz TM-13 mission. The patch on his right is for the Kazakh Soviet Republic. As this flight was after the breakup of the Soviet Union, it was a good will gesture to include a Kazakh cosmonaut. The Russian space agency wanted to continue to use Baikonur, which is in Kazakhstan. (1991)
Two Sergei’s share a birthday today (Jan 12). Sergei Korolyov, Chief Designer and father of modern rocketry, would have been 106 years old today. Sergei Revin (interestingly born the year Korolyov died-1966) stayed on the ISS last year. He sounds nice in person too.
The construction of Centrifuge TsF-18 in Star City. Building started in 1971 and finished in 1974. The centrifuge came from a Swedish company and was installed and tested in 1976, but it was only operational in 1981. This new centrifuge could reproduce a Soyuz landing and go up to 30 g, more than the old centrifuge.
Soyuz 23, with its crew of Vyacheslav Zudov and Valery Rozhdestvensky, has the (dubious?) honour of being the only Soyuz splashdown. After an aborted mission to Salyut 5 due to a docking malfunction, the Soyuz returned to Earth. However, the Soyuz came down on Lake Tengiz in Kazakhstan during a snowstorm. The rescue crews tried unsuccessfully to reach them, first with rafts and amphibious vehicles. The next day someone swam out and attached a cable for a helicopter to haul the Soyuz out of the lake and the crew was finally rescued. (1976)
Two cosmonauts ring in the new year with a birthday: Vladimir Titov and Sergei Avdeyev. Interestingly, both have made long stays on Mir, Titov made the record at the time in 1987-8 with 365 days and Avdeyev spent 379 days on the station in 1998-9.