Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin and General Director of State Corporation for Space Activities Roscosmos Igor Komarov participated in the linkup.
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President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, friends.
First of all, congratulations on your professional holiday. Russia is celebrating Cosmonautics Day. Today is also the 55th anniversary of the world’s first manned spaceflight, the legendary flight of Yuri Gagarin.
Primarily, I would like to address the international crew of the ISS. You are celebrating this holiday at work. I wish you success.
Roscosmos cosmonaut Yury Malenchenko: Thank you very much, Mr President, for your congratulations. It is a great responsibility for us to be onboard the space station, especially today. We note with satisfaction that all the experience gained since Yuri Gagarin’s first flight has been preserved and multiplied. These days, we can perform many tasks here, which we do successfully with our friends and partners as part of the ISS international programme. Let me pass the microphone to Timothy Kopra.
NASA astronaut Timothy Kopra: Good afternoon! My congratulations. This is a historic event.
Vladimir Putin: Once again, let me wish success to everybody working in orbit right now.
I would like to note that we are pleased to see and we attach great importance to the fact that, despite any difficulties that we face back here on Earth, people in space work shoulder to shoulder, arm in arm, and help each other tackle the most important challenges facing not only their own countries but the entire humankind. This is a very important aspect of our cooperation with the United States and other countries as well.
Our legendary cosmonauts are now at the space launch centre that was primarily designed to contribute to the development of various areas of the Russian economy and promote cooperation with our international partners. It is from there that commercial launches will take off, as well as piloted space flights, including for our partners, once the new Vostochny Space Launch Centre is ready.
We can now see cosmonauts and astronauts once again on the screen. I just wanted to make sure that they heard me and to give them an opportunity to speak. Please, go ahead.
Yury Malenchenko: Yes, Mr President, we heard what you said very well. Thank you for the attention to space programmes. We are very pleased with this cooperation framework. We strongly believe that everything we do up here will be relevant on Earth and will benefit everyone on the planet.
Vladimir Putin: We will be thinking about you, supporting you and waiting for your return to your Fatherland. All the best to all of you.
Let us now move to our legendary cosmonauts, our space pioneers and ask them a question that comes naturally to mind in this situation. How do you like this new space launch centre? You have seen others, so it is easy for you to compare. Please, go ahead.
Valentina Tereshkova: Mr President, I would like to begin by expressing my deepest gratitude for your attention and care, and for your support of our space exploration programmes.
We stand in awe at what we have seen today, at this incredible achievement of human endeavour. We have met with many people today, and all of them thanked you for your support and for this spaceport in Russia that will serve everyone who works in space.
Alexei Leonov: This is an exciting moment, and we are excited at what we have just seen. I would like to recall what Neil Armstrong said about Yuri Gagarin. He said that Yuri had called all of us into space. Although put so simply, this phrase defined his country’s attitude. And Yuri summoned all of us here today, 55 years since he made his flight.
This is a unique occasion, as I can see our wonderful boys on the screen, the six people who today embody all of humankind.
There you are in Moscow, and the boys are in orbit, while Valentina and I are lucky to be in this new centre. The building where we are standing is a huge testing rage, and considering that it has been built so quickly… It is a unique structure that has been built with the use of the latest technology.
I am a lucky man, as I have been to many space launch centres and so can compare them to this new centre. I have been at space centres abroad, and I have been to Plesetsk and Baikonur, where we started and from where our spacecraft were launched. We have learned so well that now we can be proud of what we have seen here today.
The process is elaborate, with spacecraft blocks delivered to the terminal and after that nobody will see them anymore until the launch, which cannot be stopped by bad weather or any other adverse conditions.
This is a very beautiful area, and very sunny too. They say the area gets 300 sunny days a year. And the nature is quite unusual, very much like Plesetsk, Russian nature. People enjoy being here. We have met with all the crews. They are very happy with what is going on here. I am glad that this is so.
We can rightly hope that this is the start of a fundamentally new path from Earth into space.
I should also report that we inaugurated a monument to Yury Gagarin today in Uglegorsk, a remarkable and very elaborate piece of art. People had a very different perspective on this matter, that of high moral ground and a desire to brighten up their lives, finding inspiration in what is happening right here.
Thank you very much; we will be hard at work.
Vladimir Putin: Ms Tereshkova, Mr Leonov, I must tell you directly that everything we do today in the space industry builds upon what you, your colleagues and friends started.
Today, you are at our new facility. You know, a curious idea just came to mind. You mentioned Uglegorsk, a city close to the newly built Vostochny Space Launch Centre. Vostochny was primarily designed for peaceful purposes and international cooperation. However, it is based at what used to be a Soviet missile division base.
I would very much like us to build on your experience and use all the best practices that we have acquired together with our partners, including the United States, Japan and Europe, to calmly and steadily move towards cooperation by choosing areas that would make us closer. Perhaps space exploration could help us better understand each other here on Earth. You have great, or should I say, immense experience in this respect, and we will strive to take it into account and use it in our future endeavours.
I would like to congratulate you on this holiday, as well as your colleagues who are now working in orbit, and those who built the Vostochny Space Launch Centre. It goes without saying that this is a major, top-priority national project.
I hope that this relatively remote corner of Russia will have everything for cosmonauts and researchers to work successfully, and the necessary infrastructure and social facilities. As you know, and have probably seen, a town is under construction there. I expect it to be a comfortable place to live and work in for all those who dedicate their lives to studying outer space.
Let me congratulate you once again on this holiday and wish you all the best. Good luck.