On October 5, SpaceX Crew Dargon blasted off to the International Space Station. Anna Kikina, a woman cosmonaut from Russia, was on board the SpaceX spacecraft.
"A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket propelled the Dragon Endurance spacecraft into orbit carrying NASA astronauts Nicole Mann as mission commander, and Josh Cassada, pilot. JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Koichi Wakata and Roscosmos cosmonaut Anna Kikina, also aboard the Dragon, will serve as mission specialists for their science expedition in microgravity aboard the space station," NASA wrote.
The participation of a Russian cosmonaut in the launch launch was made possible owing to the cross-flight programme: a Russian cosmonaut boarded SpaceX, and an American astronaut flew to the ISS on board a Soyuz spacecraft.
Anna Kikina worked as a radio host and programme director at Radio Siberia until 2012.
Anna was creating news programmes for the radio station. A news story that she was once working on said that Roscosmos launched a programme to recruit cosmonauts among civilians.
"At first, I thought of it as a joke," Anna Kikina said.
She then opened the Roscosmos website and found out that the programme was real. Anna decided to take a chance and become a cosmonaut.
Candidates were supposed to have a higher technical education, three years of work experience in the specialty, good health and physical shape.
"It may sound easy, but in reality it took a lot of effort. When I learned about the open recruitment, I first analyzed the requirements for candidates. It turned out that I was suitable for all the criteria. Then I had to collect a package of documents and started working hard to achieve my goal. After the correspondence stage, they invite you to come to the Cosmonaut Training Center. I had to refresh my memory in physics, mathematics, improve my English and Russian, study the history of cosmonautics, the basics of the movement of space objects. The exam also had general knowledge questions about literature, fine arts, theater," Anna Kikina said.
Fifty people went to the final stage of the competition. Eight candidates remained in the programme after passing qualifying tests.
Roscosmos currently has 25 cosmonauts. Four others are listed as candidates.
Anna Kikina is Russia's only active female cosmonaut. The flight on the Crew Dragon was the first in her career. Anna Kikina is also a parachute training instructor. She has had 153 parachute jumps.
She likes all extreme types of sports, including survival challenges in various climatic and geographical zones.
Anna Kikina is also a master of sports in polyathlon (all-around) and rafting. She was a member of the Russian rafting team.
Anna Kikina was training for the flight on the Soyuz MS-22 spaceship. The Russian spacecraft departed for the ISS on September 21, 2022.
In late 2021, Dmitry Rogozin, then Roscosmos chief, announced that Anna Kikina would fly to the ISS as part of the crew of the SpaceX Crew Dragon.
This is the first of three cross-flights between Roscosmos and NASA. American astronaut Francisco Rubio flew to the ISS on the Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft instead of Kikina.
Kikina was preparing to fly the Crew Dragon throughout 2022. On September 8, she flew to the United States for final training.
Crew Dragon was originally scheduled for launch on October 3. However, due to Hurricane Ian in Florida, it had to be pushed back to October 5.
Roscosmos said that Anna Kikina became part of the 68th main expedition. As part of the mission, it is planned to conduct 49 scientific experiments under the Russian flight program.
Anna Kikina will be engaged in scientific research in the field of space biology and physiology, materials science, Earth exploration from space, cosmic ray physics and the development of advanced space technologies.
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