1. Archive

Two astronauts begin cosmonaut training

Two American astronauts who have begun their yearlong training as cosmonauts will follow Russian training techniques and wear Russian space suits bearing both nations' flags.

Astronauts Norman Thagard, 50, and Bonnie Dunbar, 44, moved into their Star City apartments and started their Russian language courses Monday.

"We plan to train in the Russian program, in the Russian way," said Thagard, who will go into space on March 1, 1995, aboard a Russian rocket and spend three months on the space station Mir with a Russian crew.

Dunbar, who is training as Thagard's backup on the Mir mission, is scheduled to fly aboard a U.S. shuttle that will bring a new Russian crew to the space station and take Thagard back to Earth in June 1995.

Most Russian space missions are six months, with the longest exceeding a year. In the eight years since Russia launched the Mir into orbit, it has amassed great experience with long-duration space flights, experience the United States hopes to tap.

Of particular interest to the United States is the Russian method of preparing crews psychologically for long-duration flights.

The first phase of the U.S.-Russian space partnership began in early February, when cosmonaut Sergei Krikalev flew aboard the U.S. shuttle Discovery.

The United States plans 10 shuttle flights to the Mir.