MOSCOW, October 8 – Novosti, Nikolai Guryanov. Anna Kikina was the first Russian to test Elon Musk’s SpaceX Dragon spacecraft. What this flight means for the native of Novosibirsk, international relations and Russian female cosmonauts – in the material of Novosti.
Exchange for security
In July, Roscosmos and NASA entered into an agreement on cross-flights. According to the document, a Russian manned spacecraft traveling to the ISS takes an astronaut with it. And the crew of the American ship includes an astronaut from Russia .
This will protect the ISS from emergency situations: if an American or Russian ship fails to go into orbit in time, there will definitely be at least one astronaut or cosmonaut on board the station.
“There are two segments on the ISS – Russian and international (mostly American). Therefore, it is desirable that both specialists from the international segment and the Russian segment are constantly at the station. They know their technique more deeply,” science journalist Mikhail Kotov explains to Novosti.
The first exchange flight took place in September, when the Soyuz MS-22 delivered into orbit the Russians Sergei Prokopiev and Dmitry Petelin, as well as NASA astronaut Francisco Rubio.
After the shutdown of the Shuttle program in 2012, the Americans did not have their own manned spacecraft. But recently, Elon Musk’s Dragons have appeared. The intrigue persisted for a long time : which of the Russian cosmonauts will try out a stylish ship from Space X. In December they announced: Anna Kikina.
Path on Dragon
She was born in Novosibirsk in 1984. I didn’t dream about space. She was engaged in a variety of sports, from sambo to rowing slalom. In polyathlon (all-around) she has grown to a master of sports. In rafting – up to the level of the Russian team. Graduated from the Novosibirsk State Academy of Water Transport (now Siberian State University), hydraulic engineer.
“Some disciplines were easy for her, others difficult, but she actively helped her fellow students and was always a very successful student,” recalls Vladimir Nosov, professor at the Department of Port Management.
Vladimir Malygin, dean of the Faculty of Hydrotechnics, says that Kikina was a “real star”, a lifesaver in all projects and competitions. “But Anna is a modest person, she never put herself ahead of the team, she was next to others,” he adds.
After studying, Kikina moved to Gorno-Altaisk , where she hosted a program on Radio Siberia. Along the way, she led excursions around Altai, participated in competitions.
Academy teachers and former colleagues at the radio station, telling Novosti about Anna, used the same word: “purposefulness.” But for a long time, the Siberian did not understand very well where to direct this quality. I learned about the first open recruitment for astronauts from a colleague on the radio – she was preparing material about this and jokingly suggested that Kikina try it. Anna laughed, but then thought – and submitted documents to Roscosmos.
The selection was difficult. Women had to pass men’s standards for physical fitness, Kikina explained in an interview. Only pull-ups were allowed to be replaced with push-ups (three push-ups were for one pull-up, and men had to raise their chin over the bar 14 times).
Although the career of a female astronaut is of great public interest, Kikina remains a mystery to the public. Blogs does not lead (at least open). However, she gave interviews to the media more than once.
Last year, the Barbie brand made her the prototype for their doll – with a chestnut braid, a spacesuit and in the signature blue Roscosmos uniform. In 1965, Valentina Tereshkova received such an honor .
The flight into space was waiting for a long time. An average cosmonaut is trained for nine years, says Mikhail Kotov. It’s like raising a candidate of sciences, only, unlike scientists, there is a lot of “fizuha”. Anna got ten years.
“This is psychologically the most difficult thing for astronauts: so much time, and you have not yet flown, you are still on Earth ,” the expert explains.
According to him, Anna has everything a modern astronaut needs. “She’s ready to wait a long time, seriously work hard. Learn.”
On the Evening Urgant program in the summer of 2020, cosmonaut commander Oleg Kononenko said that Kikina would go into space in the fall of 2022, along with him on the Soyuz. But fate decreed otherwise.
Kikina spent last summer in the USA , preparing to fly on Elon Musk’s hyped ship. At the space center, she sported a cowboy hat. She was dressed in a stylish spacesuit, and, like her crewmates, she was taken to the launch site in white Teslas. We were given time to talk to the press and the mourners. Kikina looked happy. In social networks, she was called “the happiest person in 2022.”
© AP Photo / NASA
© AP Photo / NASA
Russian woman Anna Kikina aboard the ISS
The rocket was launched on the evening of 5 October. Unlike Soyuz, which gets to the ISS in a couple of hours, Dragon flew to the station for more than a day. The docking took place around midnight on 7 October. Kikina “floated” into the arms of the station crew along with her talisman – a plush figurine of a boy with glasses. This is Gorodovichok, the symbol of Novosibirsk.
She will spend 145 days on the ISS. Her position is flight engineer. Together with colleagues, Kikina will maintain the station’s performance and ensure scientific experiments.
Astronauts are not Olympians
Kikina’s flight is an extraordinary event not only in the light of the political situation in the world.
As you know, the USSR was the first to break the monopoly of men on space. Valentina Tereshkova went into orbit in 1963. The first American was there only in 1978. Since then, however, the feminization of Western manned space exploration has gone far ahead. Anna Kikina is only the sixth Russian woman who left the planet (if you count the actress Yulia Peresild ). The US has 54 astronauts.
Now Anna Kikina is the only woman in the cosmonaut corps.
In 2012, when she was accepted into the detachment, Elena Serova , the future Hero of Russia, was preparing for the flight. She visited the ISS in 2014.
Before Serova, Russia had no female cosmonauts for a long time. Her predecessor never made it to flight.
“This is a rather difficult profession. Testing and training require serious stress, both mental and physical. Only a few meet such a number of stringent requirements,” says Serova.
According to Mikhail Kotov, physical standards for cosmonauts (and not only for women) are not changing as quickly as we would like. “It remains to be hoped that by the next selection they will decrease a little. Cosmonauts should no longer, as in the very first years, be super healthy, super sports,” the expert believes.
Lowering fitness requirements will help “increase diversity” in orbit, he said. This will make it possible, for example, to attract scientists to flights more often, who are able to bring much more benefit in scientific experiments.
The European Space Agency is moving in this direction, where they have relaxed the requirements for ordinary flight participants of both sexes and are even going to send people with disabilities into orbit – paratronauts .
But in the US, the standards do not differ much from Russian ones. However, there is much more choice. Russian women are not rushing into space. So, in 2018, 320 men and 80 women responded to the call to follow in the footsteps of Gagarin and Tereshkova, but none of them passed.
“This is an interesting topic of sociological research,” says cosmonaut, deputy director for science at the IBMP RAS Oleg Kotov . “As for physical requirements, they are already lower for women. Actually, as for men, depending on age and body type. Preparation now at the level of general physics. They don’t make Olympians out of astronauts.”
In the US, gender equality is on the rise. After much debate, it turned out that female astronauts are no worse, and in many respects better than men. Physical strength and height are not an advantage in microgravity. According to astronaut Sally Ride , “weightlessness is a great equalizer.” In addition, women require less food and oxygen and are better able to maintain weight on restricted diets. The American Artemis program already involves landing a woman on the moon . Most likely, it will be the same with Mars .
By the way, Kikina also underwent special training for interplanetary flights. And if the Russian lunar program is implemented, it is possible that Anna will become the first Russian person to set foot on a natural satellite of the Earth.