Russian New University, 105005, Radio str. 22, Moscow, Russia

“When I ended up in space, I realized: everything was not in vain”

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On December 19, 2019, a test cosmonaut, Hero of Russia Oleg Artemyev visited the Russian New University. Oleg Artemyev has made two space flights in 2014 and 2018 with a total duration of 365 days 23 hours 5 minutes; also, he has made three spacewalks, where he spent 20 hours and 20 minutes.

During the meeting with students, employees, and teachers of RosNOU, Oleg Artemyev spoke about the profession of an astronaut and answered many questions collected by the student scientific society of RosNOU.

 

Oleg Artemyev, what would you ask Gagarin if you could meet with him?

I would just talk to him as a person. What are the fellow travelers talking about on the train? They share interesting stories from their lives. So I would talk with Gagarin in the same way. I think a conversation would be interesting for both.

What is the place of man in the world? Is a man only an insignificant part of the universe or something more?

I think a person is capable of a lot. It all depends on the person him/herself, his/her environment and how he/she adjusts this environment for him/herself. A good example is Sergey Korolev: Boris Raushenbakh, one of his closest associates, said that Korolev was not the best engineer, designer or scientist. Korolev was a commander and could organize the people who were around him. And look what came of it. There were people who were against him and his flights into space, he was exiled, but thanks to his dream, acumen, desire and motivation, he created such an environment and atmosphere around him that he changed a lot in this world. So man is not just a part of the universe.

What is more important for the astronaut: psychological stability or physical characteristics?

If a person is not psychologically stable, he can undergo a course of therapy, and if he lacks some physical characteristics, but he is smart and adventurous, he can come up with such technologies that physical characteristics will not interfere with him. It all depends on desire. Everyone has chances; you just have to try.

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What would you be if you hadn't become an astronaut?

In Bauman Moscow State Technical University, I studied in a very interesting specialty: technology and low-temperature physics. This is a limitless field of activity. I would work as a cryologist or stay in the university department, there are a lot of interesting things: experiments and science. I'm also interested in geology and volcanology. I would like to be a volcanologist.

What did you feel when you first saw the Earth from space?

I felt that everything was not in vain, it was not for nothing that I flew, that I spent years preparing for the flight. I’ve been preparing for almost 11 years, and I had thoughts to finish everything and return to engineering and scientific activities, but when I ended up in space, I realized that it was worth it. Perhaps these are selfish thoughts, because you fly into space to do a certain job, but I thought: “Even if something happens now and the flight has to be interrupted, it was not in vain.”

I also wish you one day to see the Earth from the side. This is a very important moment for each person – a person immediately becomes completely different.

When will we fly to Mars?

Now there is a goal to return to the Moon in 2028, and when the transport system between the Moon and the Earth is established, we can fly to Mars. I think a very reasonable project is to send unmanned ships, prepare using the robots a site on Mars, so that people can conduct scientific and research activities there.

The goal of astronautics is not to put a flag somewhere, but to conduct thorough research. We will do this, I hope, by 2045. But these are forecasts. It is one thing when the state is engaged in space exploration; and another thing when enterprising private companies begin to do this. When people have besides desire and dream, there is also practical motivation. Take for example Elon Musk. He has plans to fly to Mars in five years, and I hope he succeeds. His successes in space can spur government programs. Entrepreneurial people push forward progress.

If you could choose a planet to fly to, which one would you like to choose?

It would be Mars or Venus. Despite the fact that the conditions on Venus are much more aggressive, it is easier to carry out terraforming on it. There are microorganisms that can absorb harmful substances and produce oxygen.

 

Oleg Artemyev also answered questions about how to take photos in space, whom he considers being an “ideal person”, when he realized that he wants to be an astronaut, what to do if you get sick in space, and many others. Also, he invited everyone to submit an application to the cosmonaut corps, where recruitment is currently underway.

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