Fears and hopes in orbit – ISS crew speak out

Two Russian cosmonauts are back in Moscow after an eventful journey in orbit and a difficult landing in Kazakhstan. Their return was postponed amid safety concerns following the recent failure of a cargo re-supply ship in late August.

The cosmonauts returned to Earth last Friday after manning the International Space Station for nearly six months.

Andrey Borisenko, who served as flight engineer during Expedition 27/28, said the return after his first space mission was somewhat surprising.

“I was afraid my first moves on earth would be clumsy and difficult. But it turned out to be not that bad. Controlling my body was challenging. I wanted to turn around, but I could only walk straight despite my intentions. It is much more stressful to land on earth than to leave orbit,” he told journalists at a media conference in Star City, near Moscow.

Their time on board the ISS was nothing if not eventful. There was the crash of the Progress freighter, which failed to deliver its load of supplies to the space station. The disaster did not leave the crew low on oxygen or foodstuffs, but did affect their scientific program, they said. The Progress had been carrying some of the equipment needed for experiments, and the crash meant they had to be postponed.

The last-ever docking of a Space Shuttle also happened while the two cosmonauts were on duty. The Atlantis left the ISS on July 8, becoming the last ship of the Shuttle program to visit the space station. The cosmonauts said it was a sad moment which brought back memories of the day the Mir space station was taken out of commission and sent to burn down in the atmosphere.

The expedition had another historic moment on “Yury’s night,” the 50th anniversary of Gagarin’s first-ever manned spaceflight. The event was widely celebrated on Earth and on board the ISS as well.

“It is especially nice to know that countries other than Russia respect this holiday. We received lots of warm wishes and greetings. Like true Russians, we took pride that Yury Gagarin was our countryman. Our ship was called the Gagarin, so the flight was filled with a holiday spirit,” Aleksandr Samokutyaev commented.

The cosmonauts said they hoped the future of space exploration has in store programs as ambitious as Gagarin’s flight, the Space Shuttle or the Mir.