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First Indian in space calls Russian cosmonaut on ISS

Rakesh Sharma, who traveled to outer space on a Soviet spacecraft in 1984, asked whether Earth looks more polluted than before

Rakesh Sharma, the first Indian in space, has connected with Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko, currently aboard the International Space Station (ISS), via a live link to discuss how Earth looks from orbit.

Sharma, now 75, flew on board the Soviet Union’s Soyuz T-11 with Russian cosmonauts Yury Malyshev and Gennady Strekalov in 1984. He spent seven days in space conducting scientific studies and experiments. 

During his conversation with Kononenko, Sharma asked if the degradation of Earth’s environment is visible from far above. The Russian replied that Earth still looked “blue” from space, but cities were sprawling, and there was a noticeable reduction in the forested area of the Amazon in South America.

The interaction between the former Indian spacefarer and Kononenko, who recently set a record by spending a total of 1,000 days in space since 2008, is featured in RT’s new TV show ‘Starbound: Path to the Stars’, launched in collaboration with the Russian space agency Roscosmos. The initiative allows people worldwide to connect with the ISS and interact with Russian cosmonauts on board.

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The show premiered on RT last week, with India being the first country among the BRICS nations to be featured. Apart from Sharma, Kononenko also fielded live questions from ordinary Indians who gathered near the iconic Red Fort monument in Delhi for a live video link with the ISS. The cosmonaut was asked whether pets are allowed on the space station and if it’s possible to get sick while aboard the ISS.

“How do you sleep in zero gravity, and do you get insomnia?” asked one questioner. Admitting that sleeping “can be an issue,” Kononenko added that crew on the station tend to “sleep very well” after a hard day’s work, such as a spacewalk. “On the whole, though, it is about the same as on Earth – some nights are better than others,” he said.

The mission control center also has a medical support and supervision group that monitors the cosmonauts’ health 24×7.

Throughout four decades of Russian-Indian cooperation in space, which started with Sharma’s spaceflight in 1984, the two countries have collaborated on various projects. Russia has trained four astronauts for India’s first human spaceflight mission, Gaganyaan, scheduled to lift off next year.

July 05, 2024 at 09:57AM

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