Russian space experts touch down for Flinders

SA Museum Russians Friday
Chief consultant Professor Alex Akulov, left, and pilot cosmonaut and flight engineer Sergey Treshcheov with Andy Thomas’s Mir expedition suit at SA Museum on Friday.

Adelaide astronaut Andy Thomas trained with the best in Russia, and among them were this year’s Flinders Investigator Lecture presenters Sergey Treshcheov and Alex Akulov.

Sergey and Alex reacquainted themselves with their old friend’s Mir leisure suit at the SA Museum last week after arriving from Moscow for the fully booked Flinders University 2015 Investigator Lecture at the Adelaide Festival Centre.

NASA consultant Andy Thomas’s career was inspired by childhood visits to the SA Museum where his leisure suit is on display in the minerals and meteorites gallery – with his spacesuit currently on loan to the Australian Museum.

The visitors trained with the Adelaide expat during his 1997-98 space mission in Russia.

Their visit coincides with Flinders University’s induction as a member of the International Astronautical Federation and our support for the major International Astronautical Congress to be held in Adelaide in 2017.

In high-flying space travel circles, the trio remain firm friends – with NASA consultant Andy Thomas, 2002 Expedition 5 cosmonaut Sergey Treshcheov and Yuri Gagarin Research and Test Cosmonaut Training Centre senior consultant Professor Alex Akulov still in touch with each other.

Mr Treshcheov spent 184 days, 22 hours and 14 minutes in space as part of the International Space Station expedition in 2002, including a space walk totalling five hours and 21 minutes.

He and Prof Akulov are now involved in training future cosmonauts, including the 2015 intake at the Gargarin training centre, which will be part of the selection process for the proposed 2027 manned mission to the Moon.

“It might take 20 or 30 years, or longer, but I think space travel will become normal,” says Professor Treshcheov.

“Construction of settlements in space could possibly occur in the next century with technology breakthroughs.”

Professor Akulov also is looking forward to space colonisation and more frequent missions to the Moon, Mars and beyond.

“Space colonisation is inevitable, probably in the next century, and travel to the Moon and Mars will soon become a reality,” Professor Akulov says.

“The latest Moon mission is a very significant initiative, of similar magnitude to the 1963 space mission which launched the first woman into space (Valentina Tereshkova).”

Professor Akulov, who has been consulting emerging crews at the Gagarin Training Centre in health and fitness for the past four years, is also supporting World Bank projects after a previous seven-year stint as Deputy Governor of the St Petersburg region.

The pair’s Adelaide visit is hosted by Flinders University and the School of Computer Science, Engineering and Mathematics, and supported by Mathematics and Statistics Associate Professor Vladimir Ejov.

Their insights, and other speakers from the Australian space sector, will give a rare first-hand insight into the application of engineering and other disciplines in the astronautics field.

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