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Kazakh cosmonaut Aidyn Aimbetov prepares for his flight to ISS on September 1 30 июля 2015, 18:49

Kazakh cosmonaut Aydin Aimbetov has been going through a pre-flight preparation in Russian Star City for two months already.
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Aydin Aimbetov. Frame from video of Khabar TV channel. Aydin Aimbetov. Frame from video of Khabar TV channel.

Kazakh cosmonaut Aydin Aimbetov, who will join Russian Soyuz commander Sergey Volkov and European Space Agency flight engineer Andreas Mogensen, who will become the first Danish astronaut, is currently undergoing a pre-flight preparation in Russian Star City, Tengrinews report citing Khabar TV channel.

The launch of Soyuz TMA-18M spacecraft is scheduled for September 1. Aimbetov and Mogensen will land 10 days later together with ISS crewmember Gennady Padalka on the Soyuz TMA-16M capsule currently docked to the station.

Initially, famous British soprano Sara Brightman was to fly to the ISS under a contract with US-based Space Adventures company that sells multimillion-dollar space flights, but in mid-May she called off her almost $50 million space trip because of personal family reasons. Her back-up - Japanese Satoshi Takamatsu - was expected to fly instead of Brightman, but he also withdrew.

Consequently, Kazakh astronaut Aydin Aimbetov had a chance to join the crew. The Central Asian county's application was approved by Roscosmos in June. In early July, Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbayev had a meeting with him, and Aimbetov updated him on the preparation progress and shared his successful results on all required flight tests and exams.

Aimbetov graduated from Kutakhov Armavir Higher Military Aviation School to become a military pilot. He served at Lugovaya and Taldykorgan bases flying MiG-27 and Su-27 fighters.

Selected for the first and only Kazakh astronaut class in 2002 out of 2,000 candidates, he trained in Russia as a astronaut at Star City for the next six years.

He was initially scheduled to fly to the ISS in autumn 2009, but his flight was canceled due to the global financial crisis that made Kazakhstan implement austerity measures and thus, cur the funding.

After returning to Kazakhstan, Aimbetov founded the Institute for Space Development to promote space industry in Kazakhstan. He also established the Young Cosmonauts School in the Astana Pupil's Palace in 2012.

Currently, Aydin Aimbetov goes through pre-flight preparation. He trains 9 hours a day at the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center located in Star City.  

“The crew works smoothly. Our commander is very experienced and he has trained before. He also flew as a member of a backup crew. Of course, both members of his crew are novices, but they are trained well. Aydin has been prepared well enough,” instructor of ISS-45/46 crew Igor Sukhorukov said.

Flight engineer №2 Aidyn Aimbetov will have a number of tasks during the mission, but his main responsibility will be to operate the spaceship and conduct research, which includes monitoring the Earth surface, studying optical phenomena as well as experimenting with materials in space.

According to the Assistant Professor of Physics at the North Kazakhstan State University and supervisor at the Petropavlovsk-based observatory Andrei Solodovnik, Aimbetov's research in space would be very useful. "We have a lot of ideas about what kind of observations our cosmonaut could conduct. Talgat Mussabayev (the second ethnic Kazakh to fly to space) also carried out such observations at his time.Therefore, it would be a good idea to hold a contest to select a research program for the Kazakhstani cosmonaut. Many observations cannot be made from the Earth, but only from space, which would be very useful," he said.

He believes that during his 10 day space flight, Aimbetov could observe "the recently discovered high altitude electrical discharges" or "noctilucent clouds", which the observatory studies now and which "finally could enable us to reach a level corresponding to the international research level".


Noctilucent clouds ©Andrei Solodovnik

According to the head of Almaty-based National Center of Space Researches and Technologies Zhumabek Zhantayev, during the flight, the 42-year-old Kazakh astronaut would study the condition of the Aral and Caspian seas water basins as well as the impact of gamma rays on human bodies.

Meanwhile, Aydin Aimbetov believes that a lot of things that people use in their everyday lives are the result of space exploration programs. “One of the results of research programs in the orbit is something ordinary people see every day: children’s diapers were initially created for long space flights. Same is true for our cell phones and freeze-dried products, which were part of the diet of astronauts,” Aidyn Aimbetov said.

Believing in omens, he does not give autographs. Besides, he will take a talisman on board, which is a toy that his youngest daughter will sew before his departure.

“I am in a very good mood before achieving my goal, which I have been pursuing for a long time. But I still feel that burden of responsibility on my shoulders. Although I am a professional astronaut, I will also represent my country. Trainings in Star City will last for three more weeks. The main and backup crew will fly to Baikonur on August 19, where the final stage of preparations will take place,” Aimbetov said.

Thus, Aidyn Aimbetov is going to become the third Kazakh astronaut to fly to space after Toktar Aubakirov in 1991 and Talgat Mussabayev in 1994, 1998 and 2001 years.

By Assel Satubaldina, editing by Tatyana Kuzmina


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