Russia: Two Stories of Space Blogging

Blogging from and about space gains popularity and recognition among professional space travelers and regular bloggers. Russia is no exception. While the latest fashion for NASA astronauts is space twittering [ENG], more and more space explorers are going full-text. And the fact that one wouldn't necessarily call those blogs par excellence doesn't make them less interesting.

Maxim Suraev is the first Russian astronaut to start a blog. His first post appeared on October 14 at the Web site of the Russian Space Agency (Roscosmos) [RUS]. The English translation of Maxim's online diary “The Orbital Log” [ENG] later appeared on the Web site of Russia Today and quickly gained popularity among international audience. The Wired magazine called Suraev's blog the “Best Cosmonaut Blog Ever” [ENG] and noticed that it covered a much different array of topics than one could usually see in NASA press releases or Twitter feeds.

The Wired correspondent Alexis Madrigal wrote:

We tend to receive our vision of space exploration through the American lens, so it’s great to get some outside perspective on what’s going on up there. And Suraev’s site really feels like someone’s blog.

According to the Russian Space Agency, Suraev regularly sends his blog posts via e-mail to the Web site administrators and they publish it for general audience. Then the blog is translated in English. Although Suraev's posts are not very elaborate and technically perfect but they are full of pictures and interesting observations.

Maxim Suraev at ISS

Maxim Suraev at ISS

The posts mostly describe space routine: how people live at ISS, dress, cook, play sports, deal with trash, meet new astronauts arriving to the station, etc. In fact, there are probably more pictures than words. The blog is full of humor and sometimes rebellious actions. Suraev recollects in one of his blog posts how he “smuggled” seeds of wheat to the ISS  and planted then as an experiment. When Earth-based scientists ordered to eliminate the grass, he refused [ENG].

Regular readers of my blog must recall how I “smuggled” wheat here (see pp. 15, 16, 27 – editor).
After that, the scientists from the Earth urged me to pull it out.
I am so sorry, my fellow scientists, but I just could not do that. It is growing so marvelously.
See yourself: huge ears! I only hope they will be tastier than Roman's salad! :-)

Some of the pics by Suraev are extremely funny, some are interesting, others are simply impossible to take anywhere else. Did you see the Moon like this?

Interestingly enough, Maxim's first space flight was with Guy Laliberte – a space tourist, blogger and founder of Cirque Du Soleil. Who knows, maybe it's Guy who suggested Maxim to start a blog.

Guy's blog has 201 entries covering each day of training and flight and is available in Russian, English and French (see GVO coverage of his space trip [ENG]). Since most of the entries on the blog are original observations written by Guy, they lack a little imperfection we all like about blogs. Nevertheless, some of the Guy's confessions [ENG] are breathtaking:

If I had to describe to you how I felt as the spacecraft went upward, I would have to say that the feelings were more emotional and spiritual than physical.

During the last separation stage, we distinctly heard the disconnection and, quite unexpectedly, our little stuffed animal began to fly! Our limbs felt light all of a sudden—we were weightless! We looked at each other and did a high-five! :) I quickly looked out the window and saw a marvellous and very round ball: WOW, what a magnificent site! The sky is not the limit.

After a few minutes, I saw the Earth and an almost full Moon, and we began our orbit. We stayed in our seats for a few more hours then moved over to our cabin on the other side. We removed our flight suits and, at that moment, I lived my first period of adaptation—the hardest one for me up until then—and threw up what I had eaten and drank. This lasted a few seconds then I felt different, and everything went well after that.

Guy's trip to the outer limits became a significant event in the Russian online community mainly because the space trip was organized by the Russian Space Agency. Guy has become the 7th space tourist in the world's history. The previous departure (on March 26, 2009) of 6th space tourist Charles Simonyi [ENG], head of Microsoft software group, was photo-documented [RUS] by an LJ-user chat-de-mer.

Guy Laliberte among ISS crew (Photo from the Last Drop website)

Guy Laliberte and Maxim Suraev with other members of the ISS crew (Photo from the Last Drop Web site)

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