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Alexander Laveikin: “Flights must go on”

In Moscow memorial Museum of cosmonautics in full swing preparing for the celebration of the 50th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin’s flight. Open exhibitions, meetings with foreign delegations, conducted educational activities in schools. Deputy Director of the Museum of science, pilot-cosmonaut A. I. Laveikin took the time to answer the questions of the correspondent of the Russian geographical society.

– In Russia, 2011 was declared the year of cosmonautics. Half a century since Yuri Gagarin’s flight, many have given our country in terms of space exploration. Should we expect the same from the next fifty years?

Depends on what kind of development is involved. There are manned and unmanned space exploration. Unmanned space exploration – satellites, navigation, natural resources, meteorology, Photography of the Earth and the Universe. Today all this is extremely in demand and popular, so the direction will develop by leaps and bounds. As for manned space flight – here the question is more complicated. To provide a forecast for 50 years then it is unlikely anyone will undertake. I think primarily it’s a problem for future generations. Fly into space today we learned. And that’s what fly – it must still solve.

– Do you have any projects, ideas?

– Develops flight plans to the moon and even to Mars, but it’s all in deletepersistent. You need to set specific goals: it is no longer sufficient to fly to the planet just to put his flag.

– Speaking of manned space exploration. Americans now exit the program “space Shuttle”, therefore, all flights to the ISS now falls on us. Can we do this?

– Sure, why not. Our “Unions”, certainly smaller than shuttles, but modified with the latest technology, it is comfortable and reliable. One of the reasons for the refusal of the Americans from the Shuttle, in addition to a lot of financial resources, this low level of reliability. Yet to lose during the operation of two ships with so many crew is a very large percentage losses as at the front. So the Americans came to the conclusion that it is much easier to pay for the space on our ships than flying the Shuttle. Now, of course, they are developing a new spacecraft “Orion”, we also develop our own six-seater vehicle, but when they will fly remains to be seen. And while very good for our “Unions”. I flew on this.

– How much has changed in space since your first flight in 1987?

– Yes, very much. I flew on the Mir station. Before us there were two astronauts Leonid Kizim and Vladimir Solovyov, but for them it was a Shuttle flight to the station “Salyut-7”. The first major expedition was our crew – Yuri Romanenko and me. The station existed until 2001, it was joined 5 academic modules, made many experiments. Today the site of the “World” took the ISS – and this is a completely new step in space exploration. The ISS – a space city in orbit, with all systems of life, there are constantly carried out research work, taking place docking, overflight, the EVAs, the flight crew does not consist of 3 and 6 people. This is a very serious step into the future.

– Was always curious to know what a man feels when the EVAs. Please share your impressions.

– You know, the astronaut feels nothing. It does what it is repeatedly practiced on the Earth – conducted in neutral buoyancy laboratory, flying laboratory Il-76 and so on. That is, performs the intended program. The only thing that is added is, of course, the undisputed beauty of the planet, when you look at her from the window, and you are in a free floating condition. This is a very strong, pleasant emotions. In General, during the whole time – and man can live in outer space no more than 6 hours, that is how much does the cartridge that absorbs the exhaled carbon dioxide is a very serious work is dedicated to perform specific tasks.

– How you, the professional astronaut, treat popular in recent years, a phenomenon called space tourism? Is it any good?

– This is a very good financial help. For example, in a difficult 90-e years, our space program has survived largely thanks to tourism. As for relationships and space tourists are very seriously preparing here on Earth, so Amateurs they are not.

– Space tourist can be considered a full member of the crew?

He is one of jobs in the transport ship. Like the others, it has certain functions, no matter what his main profession as an artist, a painter or a businessman. In this situation he is a cosmonaut.

– It’s no secret that space exploration is a costly affair. Building new ships, rent Baikonur… All very expensive. Will the space ever be recouped?

– I think not. At least in the next 50 years. This is a purely cost our region, so to say, basic science. Of course, some profit will be – pictures, monitoring, receipt of various materials in microgravity, say, crystals.

Perhaps the space something will give us in terms of new energy? On Earth, they will sooner or later come to an end.

– Now consider the possibility of obtaining the so-called helium-3 from the lunar surface. According to scientists, this is a very promising energy source that can become the fuel for fusion reactors. However, these reactors still have to create, to learn regularly fly to the moon and helium this out to bring.

– If we are talking about the moon. We all know that the first landing took place in 1969. today, technology has stepped far forward – why is it no one is going to the moon?

– The Americans planned 15 landings on the moon. However, having made 12, they stopped further research. There is a mystical story that some of the members of the last expedition, flying from the moon, uttered the following words: “over here we don’t fly, this place is already taken”. No one still can not understand what he meant. But the real reason why stopped flying, as always, is simple – lack of funding.

– Why aren’t we flying?

Unfortunately, it is too expensive. We many programs are not developed at present for this reason. The same project “Buran”, in which I was involved as a pilot-cosmonaut, has stalled due to the fact that there was not enough money.

– What other challenges lie ahead on the path of space exploration, in addition to financial?

– To be honest, no more. Modern science is able to create very much, would be only funds.

– Returning to the predictions for the future – what projects in Russia you consider as the most perspective for today?

– Of course, the GLONASS domestic satellite navigation system. It now priority. As for manned space flight, the main direction of believe further work on the ISS. There may be different scenarios. The station can remain in the same form as now. It is possible that some of the participants are Europeans or, say, the Japanese will leave the program and even attique their blocks.

– What will happen then?

– Yes anything terrible, but it will remain ours. Russia in any case will maintain its presence in orbit. Today the forecasts to give difficult. But even if now is not exactly a task for the future, and we don’t know what will become for us the space of 20-30 years, to fly anyway. To stop – so hopelessly behind, to fall into the technological abyss, from which then it will be extremely difficult to get out. Flights must continue – and we will continue to do so.

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