The 'Antarctica - World Continent' expedition, devoted to St. Petersburg's 300th anniversary, sets off for the South Pole tomorrow. This was announced yesterday at a press conference by the expedition's leader, Alexander Begak. According to Begak, the first Russian hot-air balloon in the Antarctic will be launched by the expedition. The first ever parachute jump from a balloon at the South Pole will also take place.
'The team will bring a stone, which will be the foundation stone for a chapel to be built in memory of polar explorers at the home of Russian polar exploration - St. Petersburg,' said Begak. He noted that the expedition was the fifth part of the 'Alexander Begak's Heavenly Odyssey' project, which is aimed at attracting attention to the problems faced by modern youth in search of new ideas. 'We - the 'Heavenly Odyssey' team - want to use ourselves as an example to the new generation of Russians of the unlimited possibilities of man,' concluded Begak.
The first part of the project - the raising of the Channel One balloon - took place on October 30, 2002. The second stage - a press conference and demonstration of how to raise a hot-air balloon took place in St. Petersburg on November 6. The third stage - developing parachute procedures in low-pressure, high-altitude conditions - was held on Mt. Elbrus between November 12 and 20. The fourth stage - the team's preparation in the Gagarin Space Centre's 'Survival' department - began in the Moscow Region on November 21 and ends today on the eve of the expedition's departure.