Yesterday I visited the "Honecker-Bunker". Some parts of it are Soviet-made (about 5 % of the whole structure, the guide estimated), and somehow that brought about a sudden memory flashback of the picture on the left, which I recalled that I had saved into the folder "My images/sov" way back in 2001 ...
The gesticulating Cosmonaut is Konstantin Kozeyev, a rookie who in 2001 went on the nine day Andromedé mission on a Союз ТМ-33 to the International Space Station as a cosmonaut-engineer, along with commander Viktor Afanasiev and flight engineer Claudie Haigneré of the European Space Agency. One of their main objectives was to replace the Station's Soyuz vehicle, which serves as the main rescue craft for the Space Station crew in case of emergency (this is done every six months to ensure that the rescue craft is always in top condition). Other important points were to show how the work on the ISS was shifting more and more towards scientific research, and to give the space programmes some general PR. (Read more about the mission.)
Kostya was born 01.12.1967 in Korolyov (then Kaliningrad) outside Moscow, the "cradle of Soviet and Russian space exploration". Both his parents worked at the Rocket and space corporation Energia. After serving in the army, he worked for a while as a speedskating trainer, and then he continued the family tradition and got a job at Energia, at first as a technician, and then, after finishing his studies at the Moscow State Aviation Technological University, as a production engineer, working with training programs for weightless conditions and extra-vehicular activity at the ISS.
In 1996 he was selected as a cosmonaut and began his strenuous training.
(The two photos above are from the photo report section of videocosmos.com.)
Andrei Nikulin from the newspaper Новости космонавтики (Cosmonautics News) interviewed Kostya ahead of his mission in 2001.
This is how Nikulin describes his first impressions of him: "Kostya's unusually open and honest smile unconditionally wins you over, and it goes in a most striking way with his calm, solid and reserved manner. I would even say: modest. Such people you can trust, they will never let you down. Probably these are very valuable qualities for those who are sent up into orbit and whose profession can be defined with one simple word - Cosmonaut. Exactly like that, with a capital letter."
(The above photo with Kostya's cat Varya was made at the interview.)