Space is very close: 194 days in Earth orbit
At the Headquarters of the Russian Geographical Society in Moscow, a solemn ceremony was held for the presentation by cosmonauts Oleg Artemiev and Sergey Korsakov of the expeditionary flag of the Murmansk Branch of the Russian Geographical Society that had been in space to the participants of the 2020 Integrated Joint Expedition of the Northern Fleet and the Russian Geographical Society to explore the islands of the Arctic archipelagos.
How many can boast of traveling both in the Arctic and in space? Perhaps only one. And this is the flag of the Murmansk branch of the Russian Geographical Society, which made both of them.
Having covered 11,529 miles during the Integrated Joint Expedition of the Northern Fleet and the Russian Geographical Society to explore the islands of the Arctic archipelagos, visited eight seas, became a participant in 33 landings and witnessed the discovery of 125 artifacts, the flag of the Russian Geographical Society on March 18, 2022, together with the crew consisting of the commander of the ship Oleg Artemyev and flight engineers Sergei Korsakov and Denis Matveev went into space on the Soyuz MS-21 spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome.
– The flag of the Russian Geographical Society made the journey into space together with my personal belongings, — says Oleg Artemiev. — During the flight, he was in my cabin. The flag witnessed how we put into operation two modules delivered to the station in 2021. We prepared, tested and put into operation a robotic arm. By controlling it, being inside the station or on Earth, it is possible to remotely carry out work in outer space. With his help, we installed a radiator on the Nauka laboratory module and installed an airlock. During the flight, I went out into outer space five times. Every astronaut dreams of this, although it is considered that this is the most dangerous and difficult job that can be in orbit. It is hard to work in a space suit, you need to constantly use physical force. The entire tool is adapted for him – sometimes it is very difficult to perform even the simplest operations in a spacesuit. The flag of the Russian Geographical Society also witnessed how, on the eve of May 9, we unfurled in outer space a copy of the Banner of Victory in the Great Patriotic War, which was hoisted over the Reichstag on May 1, 1945.
After spending 194 days in space, the flag of the Russian Geographical Society left the low Earth orbit and, together with the crew, landed on September 29, 2022 near the Kazakh city of Zhezkazgan.
Oleg Artemiev, Sergey Korsakov and Denis Matveev unfurled the Russian Geographical Society flag at the International Space Station (ISS) on Geographer’s Day (August 18) and took photographs, which, together with the flag and their autographs, were handed over to the Society’s Headquarters to the participants of the 2020 expedition to the Arctic archipelagos.
Today is a very exciting day for me, which I have been waiting for more than a year, – shares a member of the Murmansk branch of the Russian Geographical Society, a member of the expedition to the Arctic archipelagos Irina Karakyan. — This flag traveled with us from Murmansk to Chukotka and returned back. And today it was a great honor to receive it personally from the hands of Oleg Artemyev, a man who conquers and explores our space, whom I admire. It seemed to me that the cosmos was far from us, but it turned out to be very close, literally at arm’s length.
A joint integrated expedition of the Northern Fleet and the Russian Geographical Society to explore the islands of the Arctic archipelagos started from Severomorsk in May 2020. Its participant, documentary filmmaker, cameraman, test engineer of the first category of the Energia rocket and space corporation Alexander Kuznetsov participated in the filming of a documentary film, as well as in the creation of 3D models of the monument to polar explorer Nikifor Begichev on Dixon, the remains of the polar station on Kotelny Island and other historical objects.
– We visited various polar stations, where Irina Karakyan asked polar explorers to put their seals with the name of the polar station on the flag, — says Alexander Kuznetsov. – TThat’s where I came up with the idea of sending a flag into space. The ISS also has unique seals with the name of the station and the name of the expedition. It seemed to me that there is something symbolic in this, since our flag of the Russian Geographical Society began its journey in such inaccessible places as the Arctic.
Irina Karakyan participated in the expedition as head of the military memorial service of the logistics headquarters of the Northern Fleet. She and her colleagues searched for, photographed and described memorial objects. For example, on Dikson, the expedition members found military burials from the Great Patriotic War, and on the Mikhailov Peninsula and Nansen Island they examined two artillery batteries.
We had a very busy work schedule.– recalls Irina Karakyan. — In a day, it happened, two or three going ashore. As far as the artillery battery on the Mikhailov Peninsula, we walked through the swamp, having filled our boots with water. The job of inspecting and describing the battery took about seven hours, and even though we were cold, with wet feet, none of us got sick. We couldn’t afford it. All the resources of the body are included in extreme conditions in order to complete the task. I was a representative of the Northern Fleet and could not let him down. When we returned from the expedition, I asked the directorate of the Murmansk branch of the Russian Geographical Society to leave a flag for myself. Today he returned to me from outer space and from now on will accompany me on all future expeditions.
Now, on the expeditionary flag of the Murmansk branch of the Russian Geographical Society, next to the stamps placed at the Dikson post office and at the polar station of Cape Sterlegov on the western coast of the Taimyr Peninsula, there are stamps confirming that it was also in near-Earth orbit on the ISS.