​‘Gender makes no difference’: First Russian woman in space in 17 years eager to blast off

The latest Russian Soyuz spacecraft is set to blast off, with the international astronauts’ team including one NASA astronaut and two Russians – one of them the first woman to go into space in two decades.

The crew, consisting of Russia’s Elena Serova and Aleksandr Samokutyaev and NASA’s Barry Wilmore, is set to carry out scientific experiments, a few of them exploring the influence of space on human health.

Elena Serova, 38, who has joined the mission, is set to become the first Russian woman in space in 17 years.

“My zest might come across to outsiders as a little bit weird but I’m always excited about learning. And when that’s the case, a burden turns into delight,” she told RT’s Ilya Petrenko.

READ MORE: Сhild's dream to see the stars: 1st Russian female cosmonaut in 17 yrs ready to lift-off

Serova says that the term “woman cosmonaut” is not one she prefers.

“There’s no such profession. You can be a space test engineer or a space researcher, but the gender makes no difference,” she said.

The cosmonaut is busy getting ready for the big day, so she doesn’t have time to see the rocket rolled out. However, her husband Mark, also a cosmonaut, is there to watch. He confides to RT that he has mixed feelings about staying behind.

“On the one hand, it’s a long trip. On the other, I understand all the difficulties and we’re very proud of her. I am a bit jealous not only of my wife, but of the other guys, too,” Mark Serov said.

The Soyuz TMA-14M with Expedition 41 onboard is to blast off to the International Space Station overnight.

The International Space Station crew member Elena Serova of Russia holds a soft toy, that will be taken to the station, during a news conference behind a glass wall at Baikonur cosmodrome September 24, 2014 (Reuters / Shamil Zhumatov)