Truly satisfied by the countryman’s success
Piotr Klimuk, pilot cosmonaut and twice Hero of the Soviet Union:
When I learnt that Belarusian Oleg Novitsky would be going into space, I was delighted: our ranks have swollen! Before meeting him, I followed his professional success with interest, as he is my countryman. In our sphere, news spreads fast. It was nice to hear that someone from Belarus is held in such high regard, with trust placed in him. From the earliest, I couldn’t help feeling that he’d go far.
Star City bid farewell to Oleg Novitsky as he set off to Baikonur. Alongside the military attachй, I wished him good luck on behalf of all Belarusians and on behalf of the Belarusian diplomatic mission in Moscow. It wasn’t just a spiritual meeting but a pleasant professional and personal conversation between two like-minded individuals. It was also an opportunity to give a symbolic gift to my countryman: a small Belarusian flag. Oleg promised to take it with him. I think it’s a worthy symbol to orbit the Earth and will make a good exhibit for a museum in Belarus one day.
Oleg and I agreed that Russia and Belarus are working hard to make life more comfortable for those on Earth, using space technology. Recently, Minsk joined the ‘space club’, launching its own BKA spacecraft for remote Earth sensing. More than a month has passed since its launch from Baikonur and it’s now fully operational, transmitting photos of the Earth’s surface and changes to the atmosphere.
It’s a pity that I didn’t manage to fly to Baikonur this time. My colleague Vladimir Kovalenok and I are honorary citizens of the city. They are enjoying surprisingly clear, sunny and warm days, with only light frosts at night, so it’s a real spectacle to see the sky cut by the rapid launch of a rocket.
It’s always a personal choice to become an astronaut. You need passion, since it’s a dangerous occupation. You also need to train hard to make your dream come true. Society’s attitude influences our young people’s dreams and ideals, making them unafraid of difficulties and more eager to seek out challenging paths. Boys need icons like Chkalov, Korolev and Gagarin to aspire to; they are good models of determination and courage.
Vladimir Kovalenok, pilot cosmonaut and twice Hero of the Soviet Union:
I’ve been waiting for this event for a long time: finally, a third Belarusian has entered space! To tell the truth, I wanted to be at Baikonur and watch the launch of the Soyuz TMA-06M, which carried Oleg Novitsky and his colleagues to the International Space Station. I was eager to wave them farewell, holding my breath in anticipation before feeling the breath expelled from my lungs in a shout of ‘Let’s go!’. I watched from Moscow, as I didn’t manage to fly to the cosmodrome; urgent official matters called me.
Two weeks ago, a large team of experts travelled to Baikonur. Every flight into space is an exam for hundreds of scientists, engineers, technicians, doctors and all those involved. It is the final stage of prelaunch for cosmonauts and astronauts. For specialists this is the detachment of the Soyuz TMA-06M with the Soyuz-FG carrier rocket while this is an acquaintance with the ship in normal mode for the crew (testing its communication and navigation devices and the location of cargo which is to be delivered to the International Space Station. They rehearsed various possible scenarios which may be encountered in space — such as the ‘manual’ coupling of the spaceship to the International Space Station.
I met Oleg not long ago and our chat dispelled any doubts I may have had: our boy is a real Belarusian! He’d reach the stars if it meant hacking through thorns; he’ll succeed in everything.
I’m so pleased that there are now three of us: Belarusian astronauts. It’s better to go fishing and raise a glass for Belarus and space when there are three of us. The future is growing before our eyes!