March 18, 2011
One thing I’ve always liked about the Russian space program is that it keeps the “human” in human spaceflight. NASA often seems more interested in technology than people. You can see it in the different feel of the international space station modules: the American, European and Japanese labs are full of wires and machinery, while the Russian module has pictures and religious icons on the walls, and generally seems a warmer, more personalized space.
This human touch is reflected in the charming welcome home ceremony after a Soyuz landing. In this case, it’s Kazakhs rather than Russians, but it’s the same idea. Instead of kick-the-tires walkarounds, the cosmonauts get gifts and traditional greetings, as in the video below, from Wednesday. Sure, the crew might be fidgeting inside. But wouldn’t you want one of those Russian nested dolls with your face on it?
Skip ahead to 5:45 to hear Scott Kelly describe the Soyuz landing as a “series of explosions followed by a car crash.”
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