October 4, 2013
Cosmonaut Wins Lawsuit Against Space Training Facility
Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
Sergei Volkov, a Russian cosmonaut with over 199 days logged in space, won a $40,000 lawsuit against Russia's space training center.
Volkov is head of cosmonauts at the Gagarin training center. The 40-year-old cosmonaut complained that he hadn't been given back pay and on Friday a court upheld his suit by ruling that the center should pay cosmonauts with military backgrounds for the spaceflights they have completed.
The cosmonaut started out as a military pilot and went on long-term missions at the International Space Station in 2008 and 2011. Officials had made the decision to strip retired military men of extra pay for their space experience, which frustrated Volkov enough to open up a lawsuit against the Russian space training facility.
The court in the Moscow region upheld the lawsuit, ordering the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center to pay cosmonauts with military backgrounds for the spaceflights they have completed. It also awarded him $43,500 in back wages. Extra pay for space experience for a veteran cosmonaut like Volkov could be equal to a monthly salary.
During Volkov's Expedition 29 mission, he joined Alexander Samokutyaev to perform a spacewalk installing a 57-pound mini-satellite designed by Russian engineers. He returned to Earth on November 22, 2011 when he and the rest of his crew landed safely in Kazakhstan.
Cosmonaut Sergei Zaletin told the RIA Novosti news agency that Volkov was representing all military cosmonauts in this lawsuit.
OF LAWSUITS AND ALIENS
A cosmonaut suing a space flight training facility is a rare thing in Russia, but not as rare as a Russian military space official saying that the country is unprepared to deal with a space alien invasion.
Sergei Berezhnoy, an aide to the head of the Titov Space Control Center said on Wednesday that Russia would be powerless to act should Earth become the target of an interplanetary incursion, according to RIA Novosti.
Berezhnoy said that Russian aerospace defense authorities have not been tasked with preparing of the contingency of an alien attack. He added that "there are enough problems on Earth and in near-Earth space."
The Titov Space Control Center is run by the Russian Aerospace Defense Forces, which is the country's primary military and commercial satellite control facility. This facility operates about 80 percent of Russian orbital spacecraft.