An astronaut on how to “hang” in a salt lake and prepare for a flight in a hot desert

An astronaut on how to “hang” in a salt lake and prepare for a flight in a hot desert

We have already told how a Russian cosmonaut from Baikonur, Sergey Kud-Sverchkov,showed a volcano in the south of the Caspian Sea from the ISS.
Recently, the author of ORIENT managed to ask him a few questions and get answers. Including the sights of Turkmenistan.

“The flight began before our rocket started.”

Sergey marked the first month at the station and the spacewalk with a video. He specially recorded it for his subscribers on social networks. Before that, I collected and selected the most interesting questions. One of them was at the eighth minute my question about where on Earth can one experience feelings similar to weightlessness?

The cosmonaut even read out part of my address: “Now you can compare not in theory. It’s not about airplanes that have such a brief effect. Its more like, for example, very salty waters, in which it is impossible to drown.” Unfortunately, the second part of the question was not included in the communication format, but it is important. In the commentary to the post, where the questions were collected, I added that I meant, first of all, Lake Mollakara, in the sanatorium where the cosmonaut Igor Volk, the one who was preparing the Buran for the flight, underwent rehabilitation at one time. He told me that the sensations are generally similar.

“In my opinion, such long-term weightlessness can only be experienced in space,” replied Sergei Kud-Sverchkov. – Sometimes it seems that it resembles the sensations when you are at a depth under water – with scuba diving, when there are no visible landmarks, you do not move and it seems that you are just hanging. But, if you start moving, then the viscosity of the water, of course, becomes noticeable. And in certain lakes, you can also “hang”, “lie” on the water, but still your movements are limited. In weightlessness you are free.”

One more question was asked to the cosmonaut from my compatriot Leila Tagandurdyeva, who asked to find out how they overcome separation from loved ones on long flights? It turned out that on board there are many different ways of communicating with the Earth. They include officially authorized communication channels with MCCs and IP telephony.

“We can look at each other, talk. We have email, of course. And, perhaps, that’s all. It won’t be a revelation if I say that, of course, I miss my family. But I endure separation calmly. After I flew away for pre-flight preparations in May of this year, due to the tension of preparing a special, epidemiological situation, I saw the family only a few times during this time. So, in terms of separation, space flight for us began before our rocket took off. And the always intense work schedule helps. And when you work hard and hard, the days go by.”

“We sat in the desert for three days in intense heat without food or water.”

On the eve of the commercial’s release, Rossiyskaya Gazeta published a prelaunch interview with Sergei Kud-Sverchkov. They asked, among other things, about the rituals before the flight. Such as watching the film “White Sun of the Desert”, which was filmed in Turkmenistan.
This tradition remains unchanged, but new ones appear. Before important trips, Sergei himself turns on Metallica, the composition Turn the Page: “It is very soulful, it is important for me to listen to it on the road, when you move from point A to point B. Probably, before leaving the hotel to the cosmodrome, I will listen to it.”

The cosmonaut also talked about how he and his companions go through multi-stage preparation for the flight. The most difficult thing in it, he called training for survival: “For example, we once sat in the desert for three days in extreme heat, virtually without food and water.”

It seems that this can only be endured if you dream of flying beyond the gravity almost from birth, but our hero has a different case. He did not dream of becoming an astronaut. But his drea, also entitled being a hero – a firefighter, rescuer, policeman, border guard or military man, because they “save people, guard their homeland.” Everything changed when he entered the Bauman Moscow State Technical University at the Faculty of Rocket and Space Technology.

“And even then, not right away, at the fourth or fifth year. I became an engineer at RSC Energia named after Sergei Pavlovich Korolev. I worked there, including with astronauts. The dream became concrete, albeit very, very distant. Then I wrote my first application that I wanted to become an astronaut. They patted me on the shoulder and said: “Come on, go ahead! Let’s see what comes out of you.” Something like that,” said the young cosmonaut.

Everything is so, but the fact from the biography, as we already wrote, says that already from birth, Sergei was written to fly into space. After all, he comes from the very city of Kazakhstan, which is next to the launch pad.

During his first flight, Sergei Kud-Sverchkov has already found a landmark place for all cosmonauts in the steppes – Baikonur. “I remember this city very little, because when I was three years old, my parents and I moved to the Moscow region. These memories could remain the only ones that bind us. But life decided differently, and after many years I returned there as an astronaut,” admits Sergei.

“It’s difficult to draw in zero gravity”

In July, my other question was asked on the ISS during the “Live broadcast: Ivan Wagner’s logbook”. A friend of Sergei Kud-Sverchkov then told whether they now draw in space, as the legendary cosmonaut Alexei Leonov once did? It was nice to hear the answer directly from the ISS. The feeling is incredible. Distant space is becoming so close before our eyes. With cosmic speed straight. The answer, by the way, interested several federal media at once, they used it in the news.

Ivan said that as a child he loved to draw, but now there is no time for this: “Especially on the ISS, there is not much time to draw. And in zero gravity it is, in fact, difficult to do it. Even, let’s say, handwriting … keeping your handwriting and writing correctly in zero gravity is much more difficult than on Earth. That’s why drawing is such an outstanding task. You probably have to be a very big fan of drawing. And I don’t know anyone among my colleagues who drew. Maybe they did it, I just don’t know. But at the moment I have no information yet that anyone is currently drawing in space.”

I must admit that I was surprised, because the first man in outer space and the first artist in orbit drew with pleasure, even though it was really difficult. Here is what Leonov himself said: “Before the flight, I thought a lot about what technique should be: paint will not work in space, pastel will not work, watercolor – too. The pencil remained. Pencil “Tactics” of medium hardness and good paper.”

He made the first drawing from space on the Voskhod-2 spacecraft with colored pencils – he captured the sunrise (March 18, 1965). The curator of one of the astronaut’s exhibitions, Natalya Sidlina, noted: “Imagine that you are very warmly dressed, you have heavy ski boots on your feet, and a motorcycle helmet on your head, and you are moving through space with great speed. This is how Leonov felt. It’s difficult to draw in zero gravity, but he wanted to stop time and share this moment with others.”

According to her, pencils were adapted for work in space – each of them was attached with a cord and rubber bands to the table on which Leonov drew.

“The belt is exactly four degrees! Do you know how I measured it? I made a palette the size of the Moon and calculated that the height of the belt was four times its size. I accurately determined the color using the anomaloscope, a device that determines the color vision of a person. In science, he measured the time at which he made sketches. So the color of the Earth is not fictional, but the way it really is.” Leonov said that no camera would transmit such colors.

I asked Ivan Wagner and Sergei Kud-Sverchkov for a souvenir from space – a drawing and something like a postcard, a wish. Maybe it will still work out. I will transfer it to the Museum of Young Journalists, where I teach.

Leonid KIYASHKO,
member of the Guild of Interethnic Journalism of Russia, Ivanovo

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