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06 March 2024, 13:20

 Farewell ceremony for Belarus’ cosmonauts heading to Baikonur for space flight

The Cosmonaut Training Center in Zvyozdny Gorodok near Moscow was unusually crowded. Young people, old people and even children gathered there for a farewell ceremony to see off the main and backup crews of the 21st visiting expedition to the International Space Station that was leaving for the Baikonur Cosmodrome. Among them were our amazing compatriots Marina Vasilevskaya and Anastasia Lenkova. Their family members and loved ones came to Zvyozdny Gorodok to wish them good luck. There were no tears, only joy and pride for the young women who have the honor to represent our country in this space mission. By the way, the first cosmonaut in the history of sovereign Belarus is only one step away from the space flight that will take place after two weeks of training. BelTA attended the farewell ceremony and is ready to bring you the details.

"Ready to fly and go above and beyond to perform our tasks"

Of course, before going to Baikonur, the members of the crews were given the opportunity to spend time with their families. A special breakfast was arranged for them at the Cosmonaut Training Center. During the breakfast they had the opportunity to talk to their loved ones and listen to some pep talk.

“The management wished us a smooth flight. It was pleasant that a lot of people gathered for the  breakfast before we left for Baikonur. We thanked everyone for the training and for such a heartfelt farewell,” the main crew commander, Roscosmos cosmonaut Oleg Novitsky told reporters.

“The Cosmonaut Training Center wished us good luck and success. We are ready for the flight and we will give it our all. It is a great crew to go into space with,” said Marina Vasilevskaya.

Oleg Novitsky stressed that he has a full trust in his crew: Marina Vasilevskaya and the NASA astronaut. “The crew is reliable and very beautiful,” he added. Ahead of International Women's Day, Oleg Novitsky  extended his greetings to all women and wished all the best.

NASA astronaut Tracy Dyson noted that she was very proud of getting her training at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Center and becoming part of the crew. “Excellent training of cosmonauts and astronauts is organized here. I am happy to represent NASA in this mission,” the astronaut said.

“Marina dreamed of flying higher than the sky”

The journalists had an opportunity to talk to the families and friends of Marina Vasilevskaya and Anastasia Lenkova. Marina's father Vitaly Vasilevsky said that his daughter dreamed of going higher than the height of 10,000m while working as a flight attendant.

“We will be looking forward to seeing our daughter again, we will miss her. I am sure that everything will go well. I am trying to support her every way I can. And we are very proud that our daughter was honored to participate in this space flight and represent our Belarus,” Vitaly Vasilevsky emphasized.

When asked by journalists whether it was easy to let his daughter go into space, Marina Vasilevskaya’s father answered: “She wanted it, so let it be. She had a dream of flying higher than the sky even while working as a Belavia flight attendant. She has achieved her goal.”

According to Vitaly Vasilevsky, his daughter did not tell him until the last moment that she was planning to become a participant in a space flight. "When we found out, we were overwhelmed, worried. But now we are happy," Marina Vasilevskaya's father said.

Anastasia Lenkova’s mascot at Baikonur

Anastasia Lenkova is a member of the backup crew together with the commander, Roscosmos cosmonaut Ivan Vagner and NASA astronaut Donald Pettit. However, Anastasia assures: if necessary, the backup crew is ready to replace the main crew. The girl has been dreaming about space since childhood and has been working towards her dream by taking small but steady steps.

"When I found out that my daughter could fly into space, I felt excited. My daughter worked very hard towards everything she aspired to, in small steps. As a mother I am happy to see my child get closer to her goal," Natalia Lenkova said.

She added that she regularly called her daughter and talked about her preparation. "As a mascot, I gave my daughter a toy Neznaika, which she took to Baikonur," Natalia Lenkova noted.

The crews will have two weeks of pre-launch training at the cosmodrome. And then the take-off. There is not much time left until we watch the flight, a landmark and historic moment for our country without any exaggeration.
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