October 31st, 2002

Struggling to Recruit Future Cosmonauts The Moscow Times

Ivan Pozdayev and his classmates at the International Space School in this Russian military enclave ignite a model rocket made from Coca-Cola bottles and grin as it soars high over the treetops. But the 12-year-old frowns when asked if he wants to be a cosmonaut. A rocket scientist, then? He shrugs, “Maybe.” “Unfortunately, there is very little interest among young people,” said Igor Barmin, chief engineer of the Baikonur Cosmodrome. “It is a serious problem, one we haven’t found a solution for.” But in a move that some experts described as hopeful, space officials proposed an ambitious international project in August to send people to Mars in 2015. Details were vague, but experts said that sort of high-profile project is needed to bring glamour back to the space program and get the attention of young Russians.