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Cosmonauts to carry out spacewalks with tourists if trained

RIA Novosti

22/03/2007 15:56 ZVYOZDNY GORODOK (Moscow Region), March 22 (RIA Novosti) - Russian astronauts preparing for next month's trip to the International Space Station said they would be happy to carry out spacewalks with tourists who were properly trained.

"I would make a spacewalk with a nonprofessional astronaut provided he or she had undergone special training, and had authorization [to do EVA]," said Commander Fyodor Yurchikhin of ISS Expedition 15, which is due to lift off from the Russian cosmodrome Baikonur on April 7.

Flight Engineer Oleg Kotov also said he was willing to make a spacewalk with a tourist preliminarily trained on ground-based facilities.

"Carrying out a spacewalk is a challenging, dangerous and laborious job, and you need to be well-trained beforehand, as it must be done at the highest professional level," Kotov said.

The crew's 6-month ISS mission will involve three spacewalks, one in U.S.-made spacesuits and the other two in Russian-made outfits, Yurchikhin said.

The fifth space tourist, Hungarian-born U.S. software engineer Charles Simonyi, will join them for a week to run a series of biomedical experiments.

His boyhood interest in space resulted in his selection as Hungary's Junior Astronaut at age 13. He won a trip to Moscow, where he met one of the pioneer cosmonauts, Pavel Popovich.

Simonyi is a trained pilot in multi-engine aircraft with current licenses in jets and helicopters and more than 2,000 hours of flying time under his belt. Ahead of his orbital spaceflight scientific mission, he has been receiving extensive training at Russia's Gagarin Center.

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