Partnership “above the Earthy fights”
On August 16, 2018, Canadian media representatives were given an opportunity to follow and interview David Saint-Jacques, who will become the ninth Canadian astronaut to travel to space, at Gagarin Research & Test Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, Russia, in the course of the “media days” program prearranged by the Russian Cosmonaut Training Center and Canadian Space Agency earlier, in June.
On December 20, 2018, Expedition 58/59, consisting of David Saint-Jacques alongside with Anne C. McClain (NASA, USA) and Oleg Kononenko (Roscosmos, Russia), is scheduled to fly to the International Space Station. The Canadian astronaut will serve as a co-pilot for the Soyuz spacecraft, assisting his more experienced Russian colleague in commanding the transport vehicle. Among other shared responsibilities of the crew, David Saint-Jacques, due to his particular knowledge, is assigned to do science experiments, operate Canadarm2, test new technologies and check the state of health of his fellow astronauts during their six-month stay on board the Space Station. At the moment, the entire crew is preparing for their mission at Gagarin Research & Test Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, Russia.
The Russian language is a must for all the astronauts undergoing the mission-specific training in Russia. The crew is expected to communicate in Russian with the Mission Control Center aboard the Soyuz. David Saint-Jacques, native Francophone, speaks five languages, including Russian. In this epoch of depression of Canada-Russia cooperation, he says in his recent interview to The Canadian Press on August 16 that astronauts and cosmonauts are fortunate to be “a part of one of those few strings that still exist between the nations.” Earlier, in April, 2018, the Canadian astronaut, in response to a journalist’s question about current tensions between states, compared the present International Space Station “which was built by 16 nations, with the four biggest contributors being the United States, Russia, Germany and Japan” with “an incredible miracle of international collaboration.” “You have to look back […] to an era where there was very little collaboration between these four nations. So, space does that. That is one of those areas where humans work, play well together and honestly want to achieve the same goal,” answered David Saint-Jacques to the CBC.