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Southport & Mersey Reporter® covering the news on Merseyside.

Date:- 10 December 2007

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Russian cosmonauts visit Spaceport

Picture 2: Cllr Ron Abbey (far left) and Cllr Jack Spriggs (far right) show Alexander Volkov (centre left) and Alexander Martynov (centre right) one of the exhibits at Spaceport.

60 schoolchildren from Liverpool and Wirral scooped the trip of a lifetime – a visit to Spaceport and a chance to meet 2 Russian cosmonauts.  The lucky youngsters, from Egremont Primary School in Wallasey, Wirral and Pleasant Street Primary School in Liverpool, spent almost 2 hours listening and talking to Alexander Volkov and Alexander Martynov.

Both cosmonauts talked to the children about space, with Alexander Volkov reliving his yearlong visit to MIR space station.  Alexander Volkov spoke in Russian and Alexander Martynov translated his words – and the children inundated the cosmonauts with questions.

How do sleep with no gravity? “Upright and inside a sealed bag. It’s pretty windy even though it is enclosed but it’s pretty comfortable. Let’s just say I didn’t have any problems sleeping!”

What was space like? “The weightlessness is amazing. You can float like a bird inside the space station and the view of the Earth is like nothing you could imagine.”

Was space food nice? “It was OK but everything tastes the same. The chocolate and sweets were good but nowhere near as good as the food back home.”

When you landed back on Earth in your capsule what did it feel like? “Landing isn’t easy, we had a parachute to bring us down but it certainly wasn’t soft like I expected! The most difficult thing is to adapt to the gravity back on Earth, I could only walk with someone helping me but within 3 months I was ready to go up again.”

Throughout the question and answer session the cosmonauts took the chance to reinforce the importance of science and discovery.

Alexander Volkov added:- “I was 13 when I saw Yuri Gagarin go into space and I decided there and then that that was what I wanted to be. I studied hard at school, then college and university and I never looked back. You can achieve anything in life if you have the passion, desire and commitment.”

Picture 1: Alexander Volkov (left) and Alexander Martynov

Alexander Martynov added:- “We are working on a manned flight to Mars with countries across the world. It is within our reach within the next 15 years. And, who knows, one of you sitting in this room could be on that flight. All it takes is your desire.”

During their visit, the 2 Alexanders spotted a Russian internal spacesuit belonging to a former colleague of theirs Vladimir Lyakhov. Worn on MIR space station during a visit by Lyakhov in 1988, the space suit was bought at Christies Auction house in London earlier this year. It was Lyakhov’s last mission and, according to a laughing Alexander Volkov; “He certainly wouldn’t fit into it now! Let’s just say he is much, much bigger now than he was then!”

Ken Moss, Spaceport Manager, said:- “Very few children get an opportunity to speak to a real Russian cosmonaut. These children got to speak to 2!  We are delighted such pre-eminent cosmonauts, such as Alexander and Alexander, have taken the time to visit Spaceport and talk to the children in such as fun and humorous way. The visit backs up what Spaceport is all about; it is both educational and enjoyable.”

Alexander Volkov has flown on several flights, including 1 to Mir, during the 1980s and 1990s. He was awarded the rank of Hero of the Soviet Union and Space Pilot of the USSR, Order of Lenin, Order of October Revolution and the Golden Star medal for the courage and heroism shown during his flights. He has also worked as Commander of the Cosmonauts Team at the Cosmonauts Training Center, preparing Russian and foreign cosmonauts for future flights to space stations.

Alexander Martynov worked in the Russian Mission Control Centre from 1968 until 1992 as Head of Ballistics and controlled MIR space station for many years. He designed re-entry modules and controlled their flights to provide soft landing on the Earth, Mars, Venus and other planets of the Solar system. He is a Doctor of Technical Science and is the author of 120 scientific articles and six books dedicated to spacecraft motion control in planetary atmospheres.

 Christmas shopping hazardous for females

WOMEN in the UK may find Christmas shopping bad for their wallets and their health, according to the latest data from National Accident Helpline. 

With the Christmas shopping season well and truly upon us, National Accident Helpline is sending a caution to female shoppers to take care.  National Accident Helpline data shows during the month of December, enquiries from women involved in retail accidents rose 96% between 2003 and 2006.

National Accident Helpline Director, John Campbell, said each year their call centre receives more than 100,000 enquiries.  “Over the last 6 years National Accident Helpline has referred 13,078 people who’ve had a shopping accident to one of our no-win no fee solicitors,” he said.  “68% of these referrals were for shopping accidents involving women.  During the festive season we receive more enquiries about retail accidents from females and reports show that it’s women who have to do the majority of Christmas shopping for households.

By far the most common causes of retail accidents, according to our calls, are from trips, slips and falls in shopping centres, stores and supermarkets.  We would caution female shoppers to be alert to the following when Christmas shopping:

* Christmas displays which may not be adequately secured or extend out into walkways

* protruding clothing racks and stands set at shoulder or head height

* fallen fruit and vegetables in supermarkets which can cause nasty slips and falls

* heavily polished flooring in department stores and wet-spills in supermarkets.”

Research released last month by Deloitte, showed that although 7 million Britons are expected to shop online this festive season, stressed shoppers still enjoy the experience of traditional high streets, department stores, supermarkets and out of town retail parks for their Christmas presents.  The report also highlights a shrinking Christmas trading period meaning more people are delaying their Christmas shopping until later in December.

“We expect that even with the popularity of online shopping, traditional shopping areas will be busy and congested this season, especially at crunch-time in the week before 25 December,” John Campbell said.   “This places more pressure on people’s sense of caution.  If you are misfortunate and suffer a slip or trip whilst Christmas shopping you should report it the store or centre management immediately and seek a doctor’s advice.  As a responsible citizen it’s your responsibility to report accidents to ensure that they don’t happen to someone else.

National Accident Helpline provides retail accident victims with confidential advice on the process of personal injury claims and outlines what is involved. We then put valid cases in touch with a specialist personal injury solicitor so that they can cover the costs of their medical treatment and lost-income time for being of work.”

For further information or advice on personal injuries visit or call free on 0800 2798 263.


Museum of Liverpool free public debate

MEMBERS of the public are invited to join a debate about the new People’s City gallery at the Museum of Liverpool. Have your say on what it means to be a Liverpudlian, the Liverpool spirit and how living in the city affects your identity. The debate will take place at 1800-2000 hours on Wednesday 12 December 2007 at World Museum Liverpool. The discussion is the third in a series of public forums giving people the opportunity to comment on the main themes that will be focused on in the Museum of Liverpool.

o Community historian Ray Costello will be asking ‘what makes a true Scouser?

o Jon Belchem, editor of Liverpool 800: Culture, Character and History, will be discussing how place impacts on personal identity

o Local historian Frank Carlyle will be investigating the Liverpool spirit

People’s City is 1 of 4 main areas in the new museum. It will focus on the rich history of diversity in the city from the Stone Age settlers who left their imprints in the sand in Formby through to migrants and seafarers arriving to look for employment from all over the world. The gallery will include themes such as housing and health, opportunity and deprivation, social reform, religion and trade unionism and a key exhibit will be the model of the proposed Liverpool Catholic Cathedral by world-famous architect Edwin Lutyens.

Free refreshments available from 5.45pm. Places are limited, please call 0151 478 4543 to book.

Click on to find out more!

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