|Russian Press Conference |
Russian cosmonauts and an American astronaut receive gifts
at a press conference in Kazakhstan. |
Candidates 2004 - Training Journals
In early April, in addition to our study of shuttle systems, we took a two-week introductory program in Russian language and culture. The class met for two hours a day. The first hour was dedicated to learning the basics of the Cyrillic alphabet as well as learning introductory conversational Russian. The second hour focused on Russian history and culture. In the near future, we will begin individual tutorials to continue this training.
Many folks have asked, “Why are you taking Russian?” As you know, Russia is one of our partners in the International Space Station (ISS). They are the only partner with human-rated launch vehicles and, since the Columbia accident, have been the only ride to and from the ISS – for U.S. as well as other partner astronauts. Therefore, NASA astronauts typically are involved in Russian travel and training. If assigned to an ISS increment, a NASA astronaut can expect to spend close to a year in Russia for advanced training prior to launch. Knowledge of the language and culture is therefore very important. There is another subtle but very important benefit gained from this training - the enhanced teamwork required for long-duration space flight. The better we understand each other, the more likely the mission will be successful. An operational benefit exists as well. Russian flight controllers (the equivalent of Mission Control here in Houston) communicate in their native language. Though all ISS astronauts speak English, it remains very important that all flight crew understand commands being sent to their spacecraft! With this in mind, in order for a NASA astronaut to be assigned to an ISS mission, they must achieve a tested level of proficiency in the Russian language.
The Astronaut Candidate Class of 2004