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18:07 | Feb 24 | 2012

Khomus will be heard on the space orbit

Many people dream of going to space. However, not everyone manages to do so.

Music at null-gravity
In preparation for the launch to the ISS, Oleg Kononenko decided to break the existing tradition of the astronauts for the first time in many years; he is not going to take a talisman, which is an indicator of weightlessness after the launch of the spacecraft from Baikonur, with him into space. “I'm not planning to take anything of the kind, because there are other ways to determine the onset of weightlessness,” – said the commander before the flight. His personal luggage contains only memorabilia and family photos. There is, however, an unusual cargo element – a Yakut musical instrument khomus, using which the astronaut plans to play several pieces of music during the orbital mission.
“In 2012, there will be the anniversary of the instrument, and an official delegation of Yakutia, who came to us to Zvezdny Gorodok, asked to take it into the space,” said the astronaut. “It's small, only 90 grams, I took it as a personal thing.”
“Our crew is my talisman”
In order to adequately celebrate the upcoming anniversary of khomus in space, the astronaut was trained to play it. “An expert player of this instrument recently visited me and gave me a few lessons”, Kononenko told. “I'll try to play.”
The commander’s musical abilities will be appraised by his colleagues: Andre Kuipers, a European Space Agency astronaut, and Donald Pettit, a NASA astronaut who, unlike Kononenko, do not take musical instruments to the ISS.
“I take a lot of things, but they are mostly for other people”, Kuipers shared with reporters. “My own is just a watch and a family photo, and my main talisman is our crew.”
Pettit also said that all his talismans are electronic, “I took photo and video of my family and friends in electronic form, as electronic media is a characteristic feature of our age”.
Call sign – “Antares”
Commander Kononenko, for whom the upcoming flight will be the second in his space career, chose to call his crew “Antares”. “Antares” is a bright star in the constellation of Scorpius. All astronauts choose their call signs of the constellations and I followed this tradition,” – he explained.
When asked the difference between the second flight and the first, Kononenko laconically replied: “A new status of a crew commander, a new crew and new friends. In some ways, the training is different, but as they say, repetition is the mother of learning.” Head of the Cosmonauts’ Training Center, the world record-breaker for the total duration of stay in space, Sergei Krikalev, in turn, added that “the second flight is very different from the first, most of all, due to a greater burden of responsibility”. He reminded that the upcoming flight is the third for the spacecraft of the new series, where new digital systems continue to be tested. “No doubt, the colleagues will assist the commander in flight on the new ship, but the main decisions are up to him, and thus there is more responsibility,” said the most experienced Russian astronaut.