MOSCOW, 19 June (BelTA) – Cosmonaut Oleg Novitsky gave the Belarusian flag he flew in space back to Belarus' Embassy in Russia during an official ceremony at the embassy's business and cultural center on 17 June, BelTA has learned from the embassy's press service.
“Eight months ago we gave the Belarusian national flag to Oleg Novitsky. He took it to the International Space Station and gave it back to us today,” Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Belarus to Russia Igor Petrishenko remarked.
He added that Belarusians have a warm regard for the cosmonaut. “We are sincerely proud of your achievements,” the diplomat said addressing Oleg Novitsky. He thanked the cosmonaut for his New Year wishes, Belarus-Russia Unity Day and Cosmonautics Day greetings from space. “This shows once again that you remember your roots and love your homeland,” the ambassador remarked.
Oleg Novitsky said that he kept the Belarusian flag in his cabin during the flight as a way of moral support. “During the flight I kept thinking about Belarus, my friends, and my family. The flag gave me the power to overcome the hard times. Now the flight is over and all the tasks have been fulfilled. I believe I managed to do this owing to the great support from the Belarusian people. I did feel it,” Oleg Novitsky said.
The cosmonaut was born in the town of Cherven, Minsk Oblast. Oleg Novitsky and the Expedition 50/51 crew members Peggy Whitson and Thomas Pesquet blasted off to the ISS on board the Soyuz MS-03 spacecraft on 17 November 2016 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. He has spent 197 days in orbit and returned to the Earth on 2 June 2017.More about Society