You really have to believe in yourself

In honor of Cosmonautics Day, Pilot-Cosmonaut, the hero of the Russian Federation, Andrey Borisenko, was a guest on the program Direct Conversation on the TV channel Korolev. He talked about what skills an astronaut should have when flying to the moon resumes, and how to become an astronaut.

– On April 12, we celebrated Cosmonautics Day, the 61st anniversary of Yuri Gagarin’s escape into space. What does this date mean to you?
“Now it’s a professional holiday for me. But in my distant childhood, when I only dreamed of becoming an astronaut, it was for me the feast of the heavens.

I have always enjoyed celebrating it. In the evening with my parents we drank tea with delicious pies. It’s been a family vacation since childhood.

– How did you become an astronaut, how did you choose your profession?
– I was lucky in the sense that the decision to become an astronaut came to me at a very early age. It was 1972, I was 9 years old. At that time, almost all boys and girls dreamed of becoming astronauts, flying into space, and I was no exception. A wonderful movie “Taming the Fire” was released on the country’s screens. I remember that it was so interesting to talk about the people who create rocket and space technology that it captured me a lot. And I wanted to try such a life for myself. The second time, I was lucky that I often came across books – masterpieces of space science fiction by such authors as Strugatsky Brothers, Ray Bradbury, Sergei Pavlov, Sergei Snegov, Stanislav Lem.

In their works, the authors wrote so interestingly about human adventures in space that the emotional interest in this subject did not let me go my entire school life. In the 8th grade, I saw an advertisement for admission to the youth cosmonaut club and went to study there. There I not only got acquainted with the subjects that were taught – the history of aviation, the history of the development of astronautics, aerodynamics. But most importantly, I met real astronauts who sometimes came to our club. And also got acquainted with those who create rocket and space technology – with engineers. I went on an excursion to the Leningrad Military Mechanical Institute, where I finally decided on a profession. After school he went to study at this institute to get the profession of rocket engineer. The road to the astronauts was not easy. In 1989 I started working at RSC Energia, in 1992 I applied to the cosmonaut corps, was sent to the medical commission and failed successfully. It turned out the peculiarity of my body, which I did not suspect. From 1992 to 2002, I underwent a large number of examinations to prove to doctors that this function does not affect the astronaut’s health and that I can fly. At this time, I worked at Energia, in the Mission Control Center, and went from engineer to shift pilot. When I was recruited into the cosmonaut corps, I knew almost everything about manned spaceflight.

– What skills and character traits should a person who wants to become an astronaut have?

– First and foremost, a person must really want to get into this profession and realize themselves, reach space travel. About 40% of the cosmonauts were selected, underwent all training, were part of the crew, primary and backup, but did not eventually fly into space for reasons beyond their control. To go this route, you must strongly believe in yourself and be ready to reach the top of the profession – to space travel.

– What did you think before the first start?

– For every minute that brought us closer to the start, it became calmer. The probability of something happening and our start being canceled decreased. When I looked at my colleagues, it was clear that they were experiencing the same thing. When the engines in the first stage of our launch vehicle started, we all smiled, because we understood that no return had come, we were going to fly into orbit.

Is it difficult to remove?
– Not. It was our first experience of flying in orbit. When preparing on the ground, this feeling is not modeled. In the first second we felt an increased vibration and thought: is everything okay?

And everyone, without saying a word, looked at the scoreboard “accident with the launch vehicle”. When they saw that the scoreboard was not lit, they felt the rocket begin to rise.

– From the ground it seems that the rocket flies for a long time, but what are the sensations inside?

– The rocket flies really long enough, 527 seconds, almost 9 minutes. Starts in orbit around the earth. Inside the ship, it feels like the overload is increasing, decreasing a bit and then starting to increase again. We were ready for this, because it is part of the training.


– Is the level of education for cosmonauts different in your time and now?

– There is practically no difference in the training methods in 2003 and now. Some new simulators are introduced, there is more virtual reality. There is a difference between our training and the training of the first division of cosmonauts, when there was no idea of ​​what awaits a man in orbit.

How long does the preparation itself take?

– When you fly to the ISS, from the recruitment of cosmonauts to space travel, it takes about 6-7 years. This is not just an expectation, but years of training, studies, approved exams.

– Should a person who wants to fly into space be a pilot?

– Not necessarily, now about a third of the cosmonauts are pilots, the rest are engineers or other specialists in science. The astronaut must be prone to operator activity, he must have a normal reaction, perception of space and other characteristics. There are many unknowns in space, and dangers can also be expected there.

“Is the space station protected from this?”

– The station is protected, it is located in the zone of terrestrial space, which is under the radiation belts. At this stage, the station is protected by the earth’s magnetic field. Difficulties can arise when flying to the moon and other planets in the solar system. We have not yet met these challenges.

– On April 12, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that we will start a lunar space program. Earlier we sent lunar rumors to the moon. Now it will be a manned flight to the moon?

– If we look at our federal space program and take into account what the president said, we will return to the moon not just with the help of automatic lunar stations. The next step will be our husband’s appearance on the moon’s surface.

Why do we need to go to the moon?

“Now is the time when we can solve scientific and practical problems on the moon with the help of new technology that has emerged since the first lunar landing. These data will be determined by our researchers.

– Now we’re flying on Soyuz. Will there be new ships?

– The first Soyuz and those we fly now have a common name, layout and appearance. In all other respects, they are completely different machines. They have undergone a profound modernization. The systems are built on completely different element bases, different built-in computer equipment and algorithms are used. We have a next generation ship under development, which will also be used to deliver crews to the moon.

– How does cooperation with other countries develop?

– We work with colleagues from Belarus. Next year, a Belarusian cosmonaut will fly to the ISS.

– What is the future of the ISS?
– All stations that have been and will be in the future will repeat the fate of the Mir station. There is no other way, except for deorbiting, for such a complex technical object. Vladimir Solovyov, pilot cosmonaut, two-time Soviet hero, general designer of RSC Energia, said in a report to the Academy of Sciences that after 2024 an avalanche of failures on the ISS is expected due to its venerable age and the depletion of resources in many systems. This must be taken very seriously.

Questions from TV viewer Irina:
– Which current project in Russian cosmonautics do you think is the most important? And what do you think about the presence of women in the space crew?
– Today, the main project in manned cosmonautics is the ISS project in which we work.
The presence of a woman on board softens the atmosphere that exists, makes it more homely. She makes men not relax, keep themselves in control, look good, shave. Women have a wonderful quality – to tame the environment they are in.

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