News, Science

First Russian Woman On ISS

Cosmonaut Yelena Serova. Image: NASA/Bill Stafford
Cosmonaut Yelena Serova. Image: NASA/Bill Stafford

Cosmonaut Elena Serova arrived on the International Space Station (ISS) on September 26, becoming the first Russian woman to join the crew of the space station. (A cosmonaut is a Russian astronaut.)

Serova and two other astronauts made the six-hour flight in a Russian Soyuz spacecraft. They docked with the ISS while orbiting 364 kilometres above the Earth.

Her crewmates were astronauts Alexander Samokutayev of Russia and Barry Wilmore of the United States. They have both been to the ISS before.

They joined three other astronauts who have been living on the ISS since May. Those astronauts will be returning to Earth in November. Serova and her crewmates will remain on the ISS for six months, and return to Earth in March 2015.

This is Serova’s first time in space. She is 38 years old, married to another cosmonaut, and she has a daughter. She was one of five cosmonauts chosen to raise the Russian flag at the opening ceremony for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.

Serova studied engineering at the Aerospace Faculty of the Moscow Aviation Institute. She worked as an engineer before being chosen as a cosmonaut candidate in 2006. In 2009 she was certified as test cosmonaut with the Energia Rocket and Space Corporation (a company that manufactures spacecraft and produced key parts of the ISS). She began training for the ISS mission in 2011.

Including Serova, 32 women have lived and worked on the ISS. The first was American astronaut Susan Helms, in 2002. The first female commander of the ISS was American Peggy Whitson in 2007.

Canadian astronaut Julie Payette served on the ISS in 2009. Payette also flew on a mission that delivered supplies to the ISS in 1999, before it was permanently occupied. She was the first Canadian to board the space station.

Related sites

List of female astronauts.

Living in space.

Interactive ISS guide.

The effects of space exploration on the human body.

By Kathleen Tilly

Writing/Discussion Prompt
As explained in the article, Serova is the first Russian woman to join the crew of the International Space Station. Why do you think Russia did not have a female cosmonaut join the crew of the ISS until now?

Reading Prompt: Making Inferences
Serova and her crew will be on the International Space Station for 6 months. What do you think she will be doing there? What types of projects could she be working on?

Use stated and implied ideas in texts to make inferences and construct meaning (OME, Reading: 1.5).

Develop and explain interpretations of oral texts using stated and implied ideas from the texts to support their interpretation (OME, Reading: 1.5).

Language Feature: Word Meanings
Often words can be broken down into parts in order to understand them better. For example, the word ‘cosmonaut’ could be broken down into two parts: cosmo and naut. What do you think these two parts mean? After making a guess, check if you are correct using the Internet.