Russian cosmonaut Yuri Onufrienko has voiced his willingness to take part in the first international flight to Mars planned for 2014-2015, the air force colonel told journalists in the Star City, the Moscow region.
Recently the Russian air space agency has announced its plans of a joint flight to Mars, involving Russia, the USA, and, probably, the EU. Russian and American experts have already started working out the project, a spokesman at the agency said.
Onufrienko headed the 4th permanent expedition to the International Space Station, ISS, that returned to Earth in June, after a 196-stay in the station. "Any human flight to space is a preparation for inter-planetary flights," the astronaut said.
Onufrienko went to the ISS with Americans Daniel Bersh and Carl Walls, the Russian head of the crew gave a high assessment to their work on the station.
The brightest episodes of the last flight were two walks in the open space in order to place different materials on the station's surface. They will be brought back to Earth after 6-12 months to be investigated for radiation and thermal resistance in the open space.
The choice of the city of Helsinki is not incidental as the capital of Finland had hosted US-Soviet negotiations on the limitation of nuclear stockpiles in 1969