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Cosmonaut Quits After Finding Something “More Interesting” To Do

NASA image of Yury Lonchakov ISS International Space Station Cosmonaut STS 100 NASA photo posted on AmericaSpace
Russian Cosmonaut Yury Lonchakov has quit his position in order to do something “more interesting.” Photo Credit: NASA

According to Russian news agency RIA Novosti, Cosmonaut Yury Lonchakov has submitted his resignation on September 5. According Sergei Krikalev ,  administrator of the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center, Lonchakov has found a “more interesting job.”

Lonchakov, 48, has been a cosmonaut since 1998, and has been into space on 3 occasions, spending over 200 days in orbit. He was scheduled to fly to ISS in 2015, and as yet no replacement has been selected for his place.

He will be formally discharged from his job at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center on September 14, reports RIA Novosti.

It has been suggested that there have been murmurs of discontent among the ranks of cosmonauts since the training center was transferred from the Defense Ministry to the Russian federal space agency in 2009. According to the Moskovsky Komsomolets newspaper, the prolonged reorganization period has affected the salaries and career prospects of the cosmonauts.

This appears to be reflected in the number of applicants for cosmonaut positions. Russia’s first ever open cosmonaut recruitment campaign attracted a mere 300 applicants when it was staged last year, compared to over 8000 for NASA. Apparently, being a cosmonaut is not something that Russian children aspire to, with only 5 percent stating that they would like a career in space. According to a 2011 study by Russia’s Public Opinion Foundation, more children would rather be doctors, pilots, teachers…or truck drivers.

Given that the above listed professions tend to earn more than today’s cosmonauts, it’s not surprising that Russian children aspire to more grounded and lucrative professions.

One pressing question remains however…

What could possibly be a more interesting job than a cosmonaut?

Time traveler?  Dinosaur trainer? Jedi Knight?

Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.

This article was written by Phillip Keane and originally appeared on Space Safety Magazine – it can be viewed here: Better Things

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7 Comments

  1. Does anyone here think he may be going to work for Virgin Galactic, Xcor, SpaceX or Planetary Resources? I have no idea what the pay is for NASA or Russia Astronauts…Any ideas?

  2. This is what’s posted for NASA and ESA astronauts.

    For NASA astronauts:
    Salaries for civilian Astronaut Candidates are based upon the Federal Government’s General Schedule pay scale for grades GS-11 through GS-14. The grade is determined in accordance with each individual’s academic achievements and experience. Currently a GS-11 starts at $64,724 per year and a GS-14 can earn up to $141,715 per year.

    Military Astronaut Candidates are detailed to the Johnson Space Center and remain in an active duty status for pay, benefits, leave, and other similar military matters.

    http://astronauts.nasa.gov/content/faq.htm

    For ESA astronauts:
    The ESA astronaut position is classified in the A2/A4 grade band of the Coordinated Organizations’ salary scale. Upon entering the ESA Astronaut Corps, new recruits will generally be paid at the A2 level. Following the successful completion of the basic astronaut training, the recruit will be paid in accordance with the grade A3. The promotion to the grade A4 generally follows after the first spaceflight. Any allowances will be paid according to ESA’s Staff Regulations Rules and Instructions as well as any relevant policies.

    http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Human_Spaceflight/European_Astronaut_Selection/Employment_conditions
    http://www.esa.int/About_Us/Careers_at_ESA/Salary_and_grades

  3. I would have to check the AmericaSpace archives for the exact figure, but for his sub-orbital flight, Alan Shepard received about $25.00 in flight pay. I don’t think that Gagarin, Shepard, Grissom, Titov, Glenn, et al. did it for the big bucks.

  4. So I am thinking that we are going to see a number of “space operators” leave their government jobs for more “interesting work” in the private sector…At much higher pay? what does a space operator cost to be trained for space work…Millions of Dollars?

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