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20 Jul, 2007 16:56

Joint space training starts in Crimea

Cosmonauts from Russia and Ukraine have joined astronauts from the U.S. and Malaysia for a master class in space landing in the Crimean city of Sevastopol. The training allows spacemen to work on the most difficult landing of all – open water.

Flight path and trajectory can be calculated in advance, but space capsules can land anywhere – in woods, in the desert or in the ocean.

Working in temperatures of nearly 40 Celsius above zero and battling turbulent seas, the weather creates the toughest training conditions.

“I don't know what to compare the conditions to.  Probably a sauna with a temperature of about 60 C,” Evgeny Tarelkin, a cosmonaut, says.

The crew practice taking off their space suits, and putting on three new ones- a new space suit, a woolen suit and a special diving suit. It can take up to two hours, but any attempt to rush can cause a rise in body temperature and a loss of strength.
It's not the first time NASA astronauts Timothy Kopra and Garrett Reisman have trained with Russian specialists. They did winter survival exercises near Moscow and in the deserts of Kazakhstan.
After the training is over, the astronauts are put through detailed medical examinations and psychological tests. The aim is to make sure the spacemen are well prepared not only physically, but mentally to work in extreme conditions.

“Our task is to chase our fear so far off that it does not get in the way. On the other hand, we need to take the energy of our negative emotions and use it for good. That is what we teach them to do,” Rostislav Bogdashevsky, a research officer for spacemen training centre, explains.

According to the current trainers, all of those who took part have an equal chance of being launched into space. However, only Malaysian Faiz Khaleed knows he will definitely make it – he will join the Russian crew flying to the International Space Station in October.