Russia to send ‘Barbie cosmonaut’ to space for the first time along with ballerina and actress for new movie

RUSSIA is preparing to send "Barbie cosmonaut" to space for the first time in a bid to encourage more girls to aim high in sciences. 

The mission's crew will also include a trained ballerina and an actress who will participate in a full-length movie to be filmed this year on the International Space Station. 

Space agency chief Dmitry Rogozin insisted that Anna Kikina, 36, must be given a place on an imminent mission, and she is also expected to take part in a spacewalk.

A new Barbie doll was made in Kikina’s likeness earlier this year – and now her long-awaited place on an ISS mission in 2022 has been confirmed. 

In fact, since 2016 she is the only woman cosmonaut in training, a situation the Russian space agency wants to improve by encouraging Russian girls that "any dream can come true – you just need to believe in yourself and move forward".

Only four of 124 Soviet or Russian cosmonauts have been female.

Reports say that Roscosmos chief Rogozin personally "ordered the cosmonaut training centre to include Kikina in one of the upcoming Soyuz crews set to fly to the ISS in 2022".

Space chiefs want girls to aim high while also being "feminine".

"Anna is a role model for many," said a statement.

"She is both strong and feminine, bold and gentle, wise and with an excellent sense of humour – a bright personality in which professionalism and warmth are harmoniously combined."

But career cosmonaut Kikina will be beaten into orbit by one of four "superwomen" actresses vying to be chosen for a part in the space film.

Two are actress and ballerina Sofya Arzhakovskaya (aka Sofya Skya), 33 and popular sitcom star Anna Mordovina, 34.

Also on the list is actress and children’s charity worker Yulia Peresild, 36, who played Soviet sniper Lyudmila Pavlichenko in the 2015 war film Battle for Sevastopol.

Novice actress and pilot Galina Kairova, 26, is also on the list.

All four have undergone medical checks and initial cosmonaut training and the winner will be announced in mid-May.

The successful candidate will blast into space as a "tourist" with film director Klim Shipenko, who has been confirmed to fly by Roscosmos for the movie-making mission backed by Russia’s main state-owned TV channel. 

Shipenko will make the final decision on who is his star in the production, called The Challenge.

A back-up will also be selected for the role.

"We understand that it is always the director who decides who he will work with," said Rogozin. 

"It is important for us now to show him which of these girls is ready to handle the challenge of the spaceflight."

Cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov will have the job of flying the pair to space on a Soyuz MS-19 spacecraft.

Some 3,000 had applied for the lead female role. 

"We need to find not just an actress but a true superhero," said Russian general producer Alexey Trotsyuk.

"This is a unique space experiment. The actress selected through the contest and a medical commission will have to perform the functions of a cosmonaut-researcher and to become a full member of the crew," said Rogozin .

The aim is to "popularise Russia's space activities and glorify the cosmonaut profession", said the agency. 

When the contest was announced, women were told that they had to meet certain physical attributes.

They must be aged between 25 and 45, with a "chest girth of up to 112 cm (44 inches), bodyweight of 50-75 kg (110-165 lbs), and a maximum width of hips in a sitting position of 41 cm (16 inches)."

They were also told they must be able to flawlessly recite one of Russia’s most famous romantic poems –  Pushkin’s letter from Tatiana to Eugene Onegin.

Sporting prowess and a higher education were demanded along with no criminal record.

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