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11 April 2024, 12:08

Lukashenko: Vasilevskaya’s flight marks new stage of Belarus’ participation in space programs

MINSK, 11 April (BelTA) – The flight of cosmonaut Marina Vasilevskaya to the ISS heralds a new milestone in Belarus’ participation in space programs and a new level of allied relations with Russia, Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko said at a ceremony to honor the Belarusian cosmonauts, BelTA has learned.

Opening the ceremony, the head of state noted that one slogan, motto, idea defined the life in Belarus for the last two weeks: “Space is ours!”

“We all thought about it, dreamed about it, and so it happened,” the president said. This phrase was said when the country saw off and welcomed back Marina Vasilevskaya, the first cosmonaut in the history of sovereign Belarus.

“Of course, we are proud of our fellow Belarusians, of everyone who, over the years, has made their Motherland proud by developing space technologies and conquering space,” Aleksandr Lukashenko emphasized.

People in Belarus are very happy about the successes of their compatriot Oleg Novitsky who lent a helping hand to Marina Vasilevskaya and did everything he could to help her adapt to difficult conditions and fulfill non-standard tasks, the president noted.

“Her flight marks a new stage in sovereign Belarus’ participation in space programs and a new level of allied, very kind, fraternal relations between Belarus and Russia, between our peoples,” said the head of state. According to him, the state flags unfurled at an altitude of more than 400 km above the Earth became a symbol of the fraternal ties of the two peoples.

Belarus was watching the flight with bated breath and admired the courage and determination of their compatriot, the president emphasized. In fact, the country can be proud of all the young women who signed up for the project; there were more than two thousand of them (and after the flight, even more people wanted to go into space). All of them are amazing people who want to test their limits and meet the expectations of millions of Belarusians. Aleksandr Lukashenko sincerely thanked each of them: “You are smart and beautiful, real patriots of Belarus.”

“Marina, one can say that you were luckier than others. You did a great job, indeed. You deserved this flight, absolutely objectively. It was not easy. The flight was preceded by extensive training, there were a lot of anxiety and stress,” the president said. He noted that he himself experienced this feeling of excitement and anxiety, especially before the spacecraft launch. After all, a launch can fail, and this has happened in the history of Belarus when the launch of the first domestic satellite did not go as planned. Marina Vasilevskaya and other crew members were very uneasy when the first launch was aborted and postponed to a later date. When the spacecraft stopped, it was the most nervous moment. “Your composure simply shocked me. Well done!” said the head of state.

Although the most difficult period for the first cosmonaut is over, her mission has just begun. “I know what it means to be the first one. You have become a household name for people in Belarus and all other people who were worried for you, together with your parents. Being catapulted to fame comes with a new responsibility, it is a very heavy burden, which you will have to carry your entire life. I’m sure you can handle it. We won’t let you stay complacent. You will have to work very hard,” Aleksandr Lukashenko emphasized.

The president sincerely thanked Anastasia Lenkova: “You did well, you aced all the tests, like the first cosmonaut. I know this. Of course, I know how you felt (I would feel the same way) when you were one step away from your dream and things turned out a little different. But you carried yourself with dignity. And I promise, your experience will come in handy. We will try our best to make your dream come true.”

Aleksandr Lukashenko also thanked everyone who provided scientific support for the project, who ran it, and who prepared the young women for the flight. This includes scientists, doctors, trainers and teachers - everyone who helped them become even more confident. Separately, the head of state thanked the parents of the cosmonauts for raising such amazing daughters.

“Frankly speaking, I really wanted the girls to fly and become the first cosmonauts of the ‘women’s’ president [Aleksandr Lukashenko is often dubbed so for enjoying significant support from women]. I thought: maybe, I’ve already done enough for women and I am no longer indebted to them,” added Aleksandr Lukashenko.

The president congratulated everyone on upcoming Cosmonautics Day: “Now this holiday will become part of your and our personal history!”
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