Russia expands its cosmonaut pool

The Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) announced last week the selection of one new cosmonaut and up to five new cosmonaut candidates, with the potential for choosing more candidates in a future open contest. The Roscosmos press release provides more details below:

The Number of Cosmonaut Candidates will Increase

On Oct. 12, Interagency Board chaired by Roscosmos Head Anatoly Perminov qualified Oleg Artemiev as test cosmonaut of RSC-Energia.

The Board also recommended to appoint Alexey Khomenchuk (GCTC), Denis Matveev (GCTC), Sergey Prokopiev (Aviation Corps) as cosmonaut candidates, and ordered GCTC to arrange their spaceflight training as test cosmonauts. RSC-Energia’s Sviatoslav Morozov and Ivan Vagner are also planned to go through the training as cosmonaut candidates.

GCTC Chief Sergey Krikalev offered to have an open contest to select new cosmonauts. He stated that not only GCTC and Energia shall provide their cosmonaut candidates, but also other companies of the industry, as well as science cities.

Roscosmos Head Anatoly Perminov reminded about the history, when the first cosmonauts had been selected from thousands of candidates from all Russia. “There are many worthy candidates in our country, but there are given no chance to become cosmonauts”, Roscosmos Head stated.

The Board decided to set up a sequence in the responsible authorities which is to take into account the remarks by Roscosmos Head, including development of the unified Cosmonaut Corps under GCTC.

With Russia's announcement, the new total for government space agency astronauts chosen in 2009-2010 has climbed to 32:
  • 9 for NASA (out of 3535 applicants)
  • 7 for China (out of 45 applicants)
  • 6 for Europe (out of 8413 applicants)
  • 2 for Canada (out of 5352 applicants)
  • 2 for Japan (out of 963 applicants)
  • up to 6 for Russia (so far)
Plus, India may announce its own astronaut selections by 2012, although they won't fly on the Soyuz.  With NASA's imminent retiring of the Shuttle, the Russian Soyuz will be the only taxi to space until private companies develop a reliable solution to provide access to low earth orbit.


PillowNaut said…
"the Russian Soyuz will be the only taxi to space" ... You don't think the Chinese have something up their sleeve? ;)

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