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19 March 2024, 12:08

Lukashenko hopeful of continued cooperation in space with Russia

MINSK, 19 March (BelTA) – I hope that we will continue joint space flight projects with Russia, Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko said during a videoconference meeting with Oleg Novitsky and Marina Vasilevskaya, the members of the prime crew of Visiting Expedition 21 to the International Space Station, BelTA has learned. 

Aleksandr Lukashenko spoke about his plans to talk to the Russian side regarding a space flight of all three people who were preparing for the current launch in the future: commander Oleg Novitsky, Marina Vasilevskaya and Anastasia Lenkova, a backup for the current prime crew. "I would like the three of you to fly," the president said. 

Addressing Oleg Novitsky, the head of state said: "If you feel good [after returning from the ISS], then I will ask the Russian side to organize the flight of the three of you: Nastya, Marina and you." 

"Good, with pleasure," the cosmonaut replied. "We will complete any task." 

"Good. In my next meetings with the Russian president I will be putting feelers on this," Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

For his part, Oleg Novitsky also asked the Belarusian head of state about something: "Maybe we should also explore the opportunity for Belarusians to participate in professional training programs not as foreigners but as brothers."

The president supported the initiative and expressed confidence that the Russian side will agree to such a proposal: "You suggest Russia train Belarusians alongside Russians, in the same way, right? I don’t think there will be any problems with that. They will agree. Nothing wrong about it. They really liked our girls in terms of training  (I know from the reviews). They are very responsible and are fast learners." Aleksandr Lukashenko assured that he would discuss this proposal with the Russian side: "I promise, I will talk about this."
In order to organize space flights with the participation of Belarusians in the future, the parties will need to address financing issues. But, as the president emphasized, there is mutual understanding with the Russian side. Cooperation is built on a mutually beneficial basis: "Putin supports us. They spare no expense to support us as a space-faring nation. We will settle with them in other areas. We have a powerful enterprise that produces satellites, including in the interests of Russia."

Now Belarusian specialists are working on a high-resolution satellite. "We have made progress in this regard," Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

"When they imposed the sanctions, they thought that we would collapse. It turned out that our services are in demand, especially those by the Russian space industry," the head of state emphasized. "Now the space segment of the economy of the Russian Federation is in great demand."

The president expressed special gratitude to Director of the Roscosmos State Corporation Yuri Borisov for his readiness to develop cooperation with Belarus: "He is really good. He responded to all my requests. He's a very decent person."

At the end of the conversation with Oleg Novitsky and Marina Vasilevskaya about the prospects for cooperation with Russia in space exploration, Aleksandr Lukashenko said: "We will come to an agreement with the Russians. The main thing is that you have the desire to work together."

"There is a desire, Aleksandr Grigorievich, and a great one," Oleg Novitsky answered.

"I will always support and will be happy to join Oleg Viktorovich in his flight missions," Marina Vasilevskaya added.

Currently, Oleg Novitsky and Marina Vasilevskaya are at the Baikonur Cosmodrome and are preparing for the upcoming launch. Belarusian Marina Vasilevskaya is a participant in a space flight to the ISS. She is a member of the prime crew of the ISS Visiting Expedition 21 together with Roscosmos cosmonaut, crew commander Oleg Novitsky, who is a native of Belarus, and NASA astronaut Tracy Dyson. 

The launch of the Soyuz MS-25 spacecraft is scheduled for 21 March, 16:21 Moscow time. Docking with the ISS is expected three hours after the launch start. 

During the flight, the Belarusian flight participant will carry out a scientific program developed by the National Academy of Sciences together with Roscosmos and the Russian Academy of Sciences. Scientific research will focus on biology, physiology, autonomous operation of space stations, remote sensing of the Earth using Belarusian-made photo and video spectral equipment located on the ISS. Lactoferrin and probiotics produced by scientific organizations of the National Academy of Sciences will also be studied for their subsequent possible use in the creation of food products for astronauts. 

Maria Vasilevskaya was born in 1990 in Minsk. From 2017 to 2023 she worked as a flight attendant for Belavia air carrier. In 2022, she passed the national selection, was cleared by the chief medical commission of the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Research and Test Center and approved as the main participant in the flight to the ISS from Belarus.

Oleg Novitsky is a cosmonaut, a native of Belarus. He flew to space in 2012, 2016 and 2021. He spent a total of 531 days in space and 22 hours in outer space.
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