22:14 GMT +3 hours28 November 2014
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Brazil's first astronaut to conduct nano research in orbit

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STAR CITY (Moscow), February 8 (RIA Novosti) - Brazil's first astronaut, who is due to blast off for the world's sole civilian space station at the end of March, said Wednesday he was intending to conduct nanotechnology research while in orbit.

Speaking at his first news conference ahead of the March 30 flight to the International Space Station, Lieutenant Colonel Marcos Pontes said he was expected to conduct nine nanotechnology-related experiments that were currently under discussion.

Pontes, who is undergoing training at a cosmonaut training center outside Moscow, also said he would use the onboard photo and video cameras to monitor his country's territory.

The Brazilian is flying to the ISS under an agreement signed by the Russian and Brazilian leaders in October 2005.

Pavel Vinogradov, commander of the 13th expedition to the ISS, which also includes U.S. astronaut Jeffrey N. Williams, said in turn they were in for extensive research being conducted on the station.

"We have a long list of assignments," Vinogradov said. "We will continue a plasma crystal experiment, and technological, medical, and biological experiments. And we will make two spacewalks as part of the Russian program and two as part of the American one."

The astronauts were traditionally asked questions not linked directly to their upcoming space mission. One of them was about their crew number. The three men said they did not mind the figure 13, known as the devil's dozen.

"I am not superstitious," Vinogradov said. "To me, 13 is only the figure between 12 and 14. We believe in ourselves and are ready to fulfill our mission."

Pontes added that he was not a full-fledged Expedition 13 member because he would only spend a week on the space station and return to Earth with the 12th crew. Pontes also said he believed in God and sensed his compatriots' prayers for him.