20:17 GMT31 May 2020
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    These days Russian Cosmonaut Oleg Artemyev is rehabilitating in Greece. After two space missions and a total time of 365 days, 23 hours and 5 minutes spent in space, the Russian cosmonaut has chosen Greece to get back to “earthly rhythms”.

    Artemyev is a great lover of the country. "Long live the friendship of Russia and Greece" was the message in the autograph that he gave to Sputnik Greek edition.

    The 47-year-old commander of Soyuz MS-08 successfully dealt with a mysterious hole in the hull of the International Space Station and went viral when he made Ivanka Trump, the daughter of the US president, laugh. Artemyev's love for Greek history and tradition, as well as the hustle and bustle of space life, monopolised the conversation with Sputnik.

    "What surprises me most about Greece is the country's history. I went to a Soviet school, where history and geography were among the major subjects. At school, we studied Greece and its myths in great detail. Later, when I came here as an adult, I was very much interested in visiting the places I had studied at school.

    Children remember things much better than adults, so I could link what I had heard about ancient Greek heroes with various periods of Greek history", the cosmonaut who's just visited Crete said.

    "I look forward to seeing the centre of Athens, visiting the Acropolis and the Parthenon," Artemyev told Sputnik.

    Oleg Artemyev often photographed Greece from space, at the request of his colleagues and the Roscosmos training programme.

    The Russian astronaut Oleg Artemyev
    © Sputnik / Lambros Zaharis
    The Russian astronaut Oleg Artemyev

    "It was part of 'Space Courses' — Alexander Serebrov's educational programme that is gradually recovering. There were physics and astronomy courses; they also had some courses on volcanoes and Greek myths. In Russia, Greek mythology is very popular and our task was to take pictures of the places where those myths had taken place", he explained.

    READ MORE: Soyuz MS-11 Docking International Space Station

    "We have photos from all over Greece; the place I like the most is Crete as I haven't been anywhere else so far".

    For Artemyev, it's the spacewalk that is the most difficult but at the same time rewarding challenge. "They say, you can't say you've been in space if you haven't gone on a spacewalk. This is the most unforgettable experience. You can forget many things, but spacewalking remain in your mind forever", the cosmonaut underlined.

    The cosmonaut believes that living in the ISS changes a man. "For those who get to outer space, this is like their dreams have come true. However, it's not that romantic; this is a lot of hard work. As a child, you think differently; you think it's more of a romantic trip. Space makes you a different, much friendlier person. Usually, they say, you go there as a patriot of your country and come back as a patriot of the entire planet", Oleg Artemyev says.

    The crew of Soyuz MS-08 stepped into the spotlight when they detected a hole in the hull of the spacecraft.

    "For us, it was a situation for which we had practised a lot. Fire, decompression and toxic atmosphere are three major emergency situations, which take up about 70-80% of practice time. The hole was repaired nominally, and the station continues to operate; there are no problems", the cosmonaut says.

    READ MORE: ISS Toilet Swarmed By 'Space Bugs' That Could Infect Astronauts — Research

    "As for the hole itself, it was so tiny that it hadn't caused much damage to the station. It was like a mosquito that bites an elephant — the station is so big this hole doesn't really matter. A special committee is now working on this issue. On December 11, there will be a spacewalk and our colleagues will check the hole out. Then they'll continue working on it back on Earth", he added.

    In September, Oleg Artemyev's compliment to Ivanka Trump went viral; the video's been called "the cutest ever".  

    When asked about it, he laughed and explained the story to Sputnik.

    "We had a conversation with Ivanka Trump and the crew had to take part in it. Initially, the crew commander gave a speech, and then we were taking turns speaking. When it was my turn to speak, I would probably say nothing. Initially, I wanted to ask her to ease the sanctions against Russia, but they told me I couldn't say such things. They told me to speak about anything except sanctions", he said.

    The Russian astronaut Oleg Artemyev
    © Sputnik / Lambros Zaharis
    The Russian astronaut Oleg Artemyev

    "When we work out, we always watch the news on the internet. These are mainly US and British media etc. as Russian news is not available. Consequently, they are constantly showing Ivanka Trump. I told her: "I think you're a very kind and nice person. When we see you on TV and the news, it makes us feel good".

    However, Artemyev later found out that some media outlets had "misinterpreted the whole thing and even said that we're having an affair".

    Views an opinions, expressed in the article are those of Oleg Artemyev and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.


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    Space, International Space Station (ISS), Oleg Artemyev, Russia, Greece
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