Forty-five years ago today, the legendary team of space trail-blazers was formed at the Yury Gagarin cosmonaut-training center. "It full complement - now it makes up 21 cosmonauts - led by its commander Yuri Lonchakov will leave for the town of Gagarin to celebrate the momentous date," Sergei Tafrov, deputy head of the center, told RIA Novosti. The name of the first man on Earth to make a space flight was given in 1968 to the town of Gzhatsk, an ancient Russian town in the Smolensk region, near which Yuri Gagarin was born and lived.
At the same time, according to him, the next permanent crew of the ISS - Russian Sergei Krikalyov, American John Phillips and a visiting astronaut, Italian Roberto Vittori, are continuing their training for the flight, and so will not go to Gagarin together with the others. "Krikalyov, for example, has a scheduled experiment, Sprut, from nine in the morning, exercises on the simulators, and trying on the Kentavr suit, while Vittori has experiments lined up under the European Space Agency program," Tafrov remarked. "Any celebration will upset the crew's training schedule, now that they are on the home stretch," the center's representative added.
This is not the only team of cosmonauts in Russia at present, however. The first - the most famous and numerous one formed from air force pilots - is based in Star City at the cosmonaut training center. The space missile corporation Energiya, located in Korolyov outside Moscow, also has its own team of "civilian" cosmonauts. Besides, Moscow's Institute of Medical and Biological Problems of the Russian Academy of Sciences has likewise trained a team of cosmonaut-medics. Doctor Valery Polyakov holds the world record for long-duration space experience. At different times there were different specially formed teams, including the now-disbanded women's one.
Roskosmos is currently examining the possibility of creating a single team of cosmonauts. Most likely it will be formed around the historical core of the Gagarin cosmonaut training center.
Roskosmos head Anatoly Perminov had told RIA Novosti earlier that his "personal opinion is that Russia should have a single team of cosmonauts. The Defense Ministry asked the Federal Space Agency to consider its proposal for a stage-by-stage transfer of the Gagarin center's cosmonauts team to Roskosmos. We are now looking into this suggestion, and such a possibility exists in reality," Perminov noted.
He said that very soon the cosmonauts' team in Star City may get a reinforcement. "Every month I receive letters from executives and individuals to consider their candidacies for space flight. Clearly, the cosmonauts' team should be renewed," he said.