Kazakh Cosmonaut to Join Next Trip to International Space Station

ASTANA – Kazakh cosmonaut Aidyn Aimbetov will be included in an expedition to the International Space Station (ISS), announced President Nursultan Nazarbayev on July 3.

Kazakh cosmonaut Aidyn Aimbetov.

Kazakh cosmonaut Aidyn Aimbetov.

“According to an agreement between the President of Kazakhstan [Nursultan Nazarbayev] and President of Russia Vladimir Putin about participation of a Kazakhstan citizen in a flight to the International Space Station, a candidacy of Aidyn Aimbetov was confirmed,” the press service of Akorda reported on July 3 following a meeting of the Security Council of Kazakhstan.

Earlier, the media reported that the cosmonaut was to be included in one of the nearest expeditions to the ISS, naming a Russian cosmonaut Sergey Prokopiev as his backup.

Aimbetov was named to the flight after singer Sarah Brightman backed out as a result of what was initially reported as family circumstances. It was also reported that the $50 million price tag for the singer to take the trip also posed a problem. The mission with her participation was scheduled to begin on Sept. 1 and utilise a Soyuz TMA-18M craft.

First Deputy Prime Minister of Kazakhstan Bakytzhan Sagintayev recently commented on the possibility of a Kazakh cosmonaut joining the mission, saying, “thanks to the agreements reached between the Presidents of Kazakhstan and Russia in the near future from the Baikonur launch pad [will be flights with] the third Kazakh cosmonaut.”

So far two Kazakh cosmonauts have joined such missions. Tokhtar Aubakirov flew in October 1991 as a cosmonaut-researcher on the Soyuz TM-13 and Talgat Mussabayev, who now serves as Chair of the Space Committee of the Ministry of Investment and Development flew three times: in 1994 as a flight engineer on the Mir station and in 1998 and 2001 as the commander of the ship on the Mir and ISS.

Kazakh cosmonauts Aidyn Aimbetov and Mukhtar Aimakhanov also completed training in 2007 at the Russian State Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre and one was scheduled to fly to the ISS as part of the international crew in 2009. However, that flight was indefinitely delayed due to budget cuts, according to Interfax.

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