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Russian President Vladimir Putin had a radio link-up with the new crew of the International Space Station
Russian President Vladimir Putin had a radio link-up with the new crew of the International Space Station (ISS), Pavel Vinogradov and Jeff Williams, and congratulated them on the Day of Cosmonautics that is celebrated on April 12 and marks the first manned flight to space. The contact with the ISS was established from a so-called situation room in the Kremlin that allows communicating with any part of the world. The first link-up between the Kremlin and the ISS was held on April 23, 2002. Putin also congratulated an ISS crew from the Mozhaisky Military Space Academy in St. Petersburg in 2003. “We always watch how you work, we always admire your courage, and we wish you luck,” the president said in his Wednesday addressing to the spacemen. He said that “work in orbit will never become a routine work, and not simply real professionals, but only courageous people of strong spirit can do it”. Putin stressed huge importance of space exploration. “The life itself has proved that none of global problems - be it ecology or ensuring comprehensive international security - can be successfully solved without the most broad use of space means.” In the opinion of Putin, “we have entered the community of highly developed countries and got a foothold in it largely due to space”. “From the very beginning of the space era, we have realised our special, historical mission and not simply explored space technologically, for many years have been spiritual adherents of this activity,” Putin said. The president had visited Baikonur and Plesetsk cosmodromes. He keeps a panel of photos of Russian cosmonauts that was presented to him in the Star City. Putin knows many of them personally, as he handed in state decorations to cosmonauts many times. April 12, 2006, marks the 45th anniversary of the flight of Yury Gagarin to space. More than 430 spacemen from dozens of countries worked in orbit since then, including more than 100 in the International Space Station. The ISS replaced Russia’s orbiting space station Mir that was dumped in 2001. The first segment of the ISS, Russian-made Zarya, was launched in 1998, and the first crew settled in the space station in 2000. The 12th crew of the ISS, Russian Valery Tokarev, NASA astronaut William McArthur and Brazil’s first astronaut Markus Pontes, who spent a week in orbit, have returned from the ISS a few days ago. They are staying for postflight rehabilitation in the Star City. The new crew, commander Valery Vinogradov and flight engineer Jeff Williams, will be replaced in the ISS in the autumn. Regular flights of US shuttles have not been resumed after the demise of Columbia in February 2003, and Russia does most of work to deliver people and cargoes to the ISS. Russia keeps leading positions in manned flights too. Deputy Prime Minister, Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov said that 96 Russia’s satellites, including 59 military ones, operate in orbits.
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