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ZVYOZDNY GORODOK, March 19 (RIA Novosti) - For the first time, two Russian cosmonauts simulated a manually controlled landing from the orbit on Mars after they spent half a year in the space, a deputy head of the Russian Space Training Center said on Monday.
Cosmonauts Oleg Novitsky and Yevgeny Tarelkin, who returned from the International Space Station (ISS) on Saturday after spending there 143 days, used a centrifuge at the Space Training Center in Moscow Region’s Star City, to successfully imitate a manually controlled landing on Mars.
“Because it takes at least half a year to reach Mars, we had no data until yesterday, whether cosmonauts will be fit and capable of conducting a manually controlled landing on Mars in the future,” said Boris Kryuchkov, a deputy head of the Space Training Center.
“We now know that it is real, because for the first time in history cosmonauts Oleg Novitsky and Yevgeny Tarelkin, who returned from the ISS on March 16, have confirmed such possibility,” he added.
Kryuchkov said that similar experiments will be further conducted involving cosmonauts from future ISS expeditions.
Last week Russia's space agency Roscosmos and the European Space Agency (ESA) signed a final agreement giving the green light to the ExoMars project to send unmanned probes to Mars.
The ExoMars project will launch an orbital probe to Mars, followed by the landing on the Martian surface of a lander module in 2016. A Martian "rover" probe will be launched in 2018 to explore the surface of the planet.
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The growing outright rivalry between the United States and China gives Russia more foreign policy weight, enabling it to assume the role of a balancer. So far it has been doing so rather skillfully. Today it may participate in a joint naval exercise with China that Beijing positions as outwardly anti-American. But tomorrow it can team up with the naval forces of the Old World.