Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Kazakhstan's Third-Ever Cosmonaut to Replace British Singer Sarah Brightman on ISS Mission

Aidyn Aimbetov. Credit: themoscowtimes.com

Kazakh cosmonaut Aidyn Aimbetov has become a member of an expedition to the International Space Station, Kazakh Foreign Ministry spokesman and Ambassador at Large Altai Abibullayev said. "The interdepartmental commission has included Aidyn Aimbetov in a crew to pay a short-term visit to the ISS. His backup is astronaut S. Prokopyev," Abibullayev tweeted on Monday. The interdepartmental commission was tasked with approving at the beginning of this week the crew of the Soyuz TMA-18M mission scheduled to begin on Sept. 1 after British singer Sarah Brightman had changed her mind about the space flight.

"A third Kazakh cosmonaut will go on the mission from Baikonur shortly thanks to the agreement reached between the presidents of Kazakhstan and Russia," Kazakh First Deputy Prime Minister Bakytzhan Sagintayev has said.

Japanese entrepreneur Satoshi Takamatsu, who has been training as a backup for British singer Sarah Brightman for a flight to the ISS will continue preparing for an expedition that may take place in the next 2-4 years, said US-based Space Adventures, a privately owned firm that is arranging trips to the station.

According to a statement published on Monday on the company’s website, Takamatsu has signed a contract for a future orbital spaceflight mission.

"Since January, Satoshi has been in spaceflight training as a member of the Soyuz TMA-18M backup crew and we are proud of the work that he has accomplished thus far," Tom Shelley, president of Space Adventures, was quoted as saying.

Two nationals of Kazakhstan have now been on space missions: Tokhtar Aubakirov (a cosmonaut-explorer in the Soyuz-TM13 crew in October 1991) and Talgat Musabayev (an engineer of the Mir orbiting station crew in 1991 and the commander of spaceships flying to the Mir station and the ISS in 1998 and 2001, respectively).

Two Kazakh candidates for space missions, Mukhtar Aimakhanov and Aidyn Aimbetov, completed their training at Russia's Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in 2007. One was expected to be a member of an international ISS crew in 2009, but Kazakhstan indefinitely delayed the mission for financial reasons.

Credit: interfax.comTASS

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