the first african in space
the crew


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Photos of Earth (3 images)
Mark spent much of his time on the International Space Station taking photographs of the surface of the Earth for the Plankton Lensa experiment.
Click here for a list of the 100 sites, with co-ordinates, he undertook to photograph.
What a view!
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Soyuz Training (22 images)
The Soyuz sim has been the site of most of our training in the last three months of preparation. Once each individual member of the crew has finished studying the systems of the Soyuz in detail, the crew begins a series of integrated simulation training runs. These involve detailed simulations of procedures in the launch, orbital flight, docking, undocking and re-entry phases of flight. The experts sit at a series of consoles, and dream up emergencies and off-nominal events for the crew during their training. The design of the Soyuz rocket and capsule, mainstay of the Russia manned program, has operated more-or-less unaltered for 40 years. To this day it operates without a modern computer on board. These photographs show some of the Soyuz simulators in Star City. Flight Suits
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Meetings (12 images)
Hundreds of details of the flight contract, scientific program and training have required the attention of a team from South Africa and their Russian counterparts. Here are some pics of those groups hard at work. At some times, it felt as though negotiating the details of the program was just as complex as the rocket launch itself. Negotiations
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After the mission (9 images)
Mark and the rest of the crew return to fans, press conferences, and the uncomfortable glare of the spotlight of the world. Eyes and ears
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Weightlessness (30 images)
Some of the most exciting training happens in a huge Russian cargo plane, flying great big arcs in the sky, so that the passengers experience periods of weightlessness similar to that in space. This has to be seen to be believed. They call it the 'comit comet', and it's quite a ride. Most of these flights were for training purposes, but some of the parabolas in each flight are devoted to the sheer pleasure of zero-g. If you're a little crazy, you can come to Star City and try this out for yourself! Buranov and Boris
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Black Sea Training (23 images)
The Soyuz is designed to land under a parachute on the Kazakh desert, not on the ocean. However, if we have to make an emergency descent, we could land anywhere between the arctic and the antarctic. 73% of that territory is ocean, so we have to be able to survive a sea landing. The Soyuz will probably float, but we have to be trained to evacuate a sinking Soyuz, to be lifted from the sea by helicopter, and to use the emergency equipment while afloat. This training was done on the Black Sea near Sotchi. Heat Exhaustion
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Bolshoi Unsorted Gallery (151 images)
This is an unsorted, take-your-chances, temporary (probably) gallery of images that have not yet been assigned to another gallery. In theory we'll remove this once the gallery sorting is done, but it might turn into a never-ending process! The dreaded arm ergo
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Star City (34 images)
This is a collection of images of Star City at different times and seasons. It's a very peaceful place in a beautiful forest setting. As you can see, there has been very little money for upkeep in the last ten years, and much of the infrastructure is crumbling. With the new commercial space program they are starting to refit and redo the critical buildings. Star City Lake
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Russian Sights (22 images)
This is a gallery of some of the amazing sights and scenes of Russia. We've only had the chance to explore Moscow, Star City and (soon) the launch complex at Baikonur (which is really in Kazakhstan). This is a huge country, and it will take a long time to see all of it! Here's just a taste for you. Matrushka Magic
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People (18 images)
This crazy project has brought together people from several continents. Along the way we have met a fascinating cast of characters, and we've been lucky enough to make wonderful new friends. Here are some of the many faces behind the FAIS! Freddy Khan
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Medical Testing (32 images)
The one constant focus of the cosmonaut training program has been medical fitness for flight. The first portion of the project involved intense medical tests of every aspect of the cosmonaut candidate, and there were three seperate medical commissions during the training process. This gallery captures scenes from the medical testing. Heartbeat At 8 G's
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Space Technology (41 images)
Working with a manned space program is like walking into a toy shop for tech-minded geeks. Star City and Houston are packed with fascinating pieces of technology, some of it brand new, some of it very historical. The Soyuz was designed in the early 1960's, the Russian segment of the ISS was based on Mir, designed in the 1980's, and the US segment was mostly designed in the 1990's, so we have to work with multiple generations of space hardware. And some of the specialists out here in Russia are very comfortable using the same equipment that they developed Sputnik with in the 1950's. Here are some examples. Soyuz Capsule on Deck
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International Space Station (11 images)
The International Space Station (ISS) is the first space station built as an international cooperative project, involving 16 countries. The lead partners are the US and Russia, both of whom have manned launch capability. The ISS consists of several modules launched and docked at different times, as well as a set of radiators and solar panels, a robotic arm, and soon a broad truss that widens the span of the station in space and creates room for additional modules. Mark will visit the ISS as a member of the 3rd Soyuz rotation crew, whose job it is to ensure that there is a fresh 'lifeboat' attached to the station. Mark will fly the new lifeboat Soyuz to the ISS, and return in an old one that is nearing the end of its certified flight time in space. ISS Certification Team
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Winter Survival Training (11 images)
One department at Star City is devoted to 'survival training'. These guys worry about landings in strange parts of the world, and how the crew will survive until they can be rescued. In theory the Russians can find and rescue the crew anywhere in the world between 56 degrees South and 56 degrees North, within three days. That has never really been tested, since every manned Soyuz has managed to land somewhere in Kazakhstan or Russia. Every year they have two or three 'exotic' survival training sessions, and the crews that are scheduled to fly in the coming year attend them. We had two: sea survival (in case we land in the ocean) and winter survival (in case we land in Siberia or Canada). This gallery has winter survival pics, see the Black Sea Training gallery for sea survival pics. Cosmonaut Lumberjacks
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Crew Photographs (26 images)
I have the privilege of flying with two great professional cosmonauts: Yuri Gidzenko of Russia, and Roberto Vittori of Italy. Yuri is a fighter pilot and very experienced cosmonaut, having flown to Mir and to the ISS on long-duration crews. This will be Roberto's first flight, but he has trained for two years at NASA as an astronaut, and 8 months in Star City as a cosmonaut, and before that he was one of Europe's top test pilots. In this galleries we have a series of photos of the crew. Iceman Mark
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Science (23 images)
Most of Mark's time in space will be used to conduct a series of experiments designed by South African scientists, with Russian collaboration and assistance. Yuri will support Mark and act as a backup or control in many of these experiments. These pictures show some of the equipment, people and testing that make up the science program. Take a load off
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Photo of the Day Gallery (18 images)
Mark's story in pictures, as captured by the "Photo of the Day" on the front page of the website. Click on the thumbnail to see Mark talking to South African president Thabo Mbeki, meet the first group of school children he spoke to via live HAM radio link-up and more. All abuzz
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Touchdown! (19 images)
Mark, Flight Commander Yuri Gidzenko and Italian Roberto Vittori receive a warm welcome from family and friends after landing in the Kazakhstan Desert on Sunday 5 May. Looking regal
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Before the Launch (28 images)
The tension and excitement are visible in these photographs, taken just before Mark and the rest of the crew put on their space suits and took the bus to the Soyuz rocket on the launch pad. Questions fly
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Landing Countdown to 05:51 05 May

Landing Complete!

The Team
Mark Shuttleworth
Dale Cupido
Karen Sharwood
Lara Keytel
Danie Barry
Freddy Khan
Vaughan Oosthuizen
Ravi Naidoo
Vuyo Dwane
Richard Mills
Nicolette Cronje
Wayne Derman
Peter Ribton
photos of earth
soyuz training
after the mission
black sea training
bolshoi unsorted gallery
star city
russian sights
medical testing
space technology
international space station
winter survival training
crew photographs
photo of the day gallery
before the launch
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Gallery Highlights

Church of Jesus Christ

Zero-G Heart Rate Data

Next-generation Soyuz TMA Cockpit

Mig-25 Afterburners