Roscosmos selects four new candidates, all men, to begin cosmonaut training

Roscosmos' 2021 cosmonaut candidates, from top left to bottom right: Sergey Irtuganov, Alexander Kolyabin, Sergey Teteryatnikov and Harutyun Kiviryan.
Roscosmos' 2021 cosmonaut candidates, from top left to bottom right: Sergey Irtuganov, Alexander Kolyabin, Sergey Teteryatnikov and Harutyun Kiviryan. (Image credit: Roscosmos/GCTC (Montage by

Russia has chosen four new candidates to begin cosmonaut training after an extended one-and-a-half-year selection process.

Roscosmos, Russia's federal space corporation, revealed the results of its latest recruitment on Thursday (Jan. 28). The campaign, which began on June 3, 2019, ended Wednesday after at least a month delay due to the coronavirus pandemic.

"The winners are Sergey Irtuganov, Alexander Kolyabin, Sergey Teteryatnikov and Harutyun Kiviryan," Roscosmos announced on its website Thursday (Jan. 29). "In the near future, they will take general space training course for the next two years."

"Roscosmos congratulates on passing the selection!!" the space agency wrote.

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Irtuganov, 32, graduated with honors from the Ulyanovsk Higher Aviation School of Civil Aviation in Ulyanovsk, Russia, earning his engineering degree. Kolyabin, 34, served as a deputy commander of a fighter air squadron after graduating from the Krasnodar Higher Military Aviation School.

Teteryatnikov, 32, graduated from the Naval Engineering Institute and has worked on the operation of submarines. Kiviryan, 27, earned his engineering degree with a speciality in rockets from the Baltic State Technical University "Voenmeh" in Saint Petersburg and has worked as a test engineer at RSC Energia, Roscosmos' prime contractor for crewed spacecraft.

Kolyabin and Kiviryan had earlier applied to join the cosmonaut corps, but were passed over for other candidates until now.

The four men were selected out of an initial pool of 2,229 applicants who entered Roscosmos' open competition. At the minimum, candidates needed to be 35 years old or younger and have a technical degree to be eligible.

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Roscosmos' 2018 class of cosmonauts are seen at their training facilities in Star City, Russia after qualifying for spaceflight assignments in December 2020. From left to right: Alexei Zubritsky, Alexander Gorbunov, Konstantin Borisov, Kirill Peskov, Oleg Kononenko (1996 class), Alexander Grebyonkin, Oleg Platonov and Sergei Mikayev. (Image credit: Roscosmos)

Medical screenings, evaluations and interviews narrowed the field to 64 people, including nine women, out of the 183 who provided the necessary documents.

This is Roscosmos' second cosmonaut class in the past nine years to exclude women. The cosmonaut corps, which currently has 30 active members, includes only one woman, Anna Kikina, who reportedly is assigned to launch on her first spaceflight in the fall of 2022.

In total, over the past 60 years of Soviet and Russian cosmonaut selections, only four women have been chosen to fly in space.

The new selection comes a month after the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, outside of Moscow, graduated Roscosmos' 2018 class of cosmonauts after their two years of basic training. Konstantin Borisov, Alexander Gorbunov, Alexander Grebyonkin, Alexei Zubritsky, Sergei Mikayev, Kirill Peskov and Oleg Platonov successfully passed the state exam and became qualified for spaceflight assignments as test cosmonauts.

An eighth member of the class, Yevgeny Prokopyev, did not qualify and was reassigned to basic space training, according to the Cosmonaut Training Center website. Prokopyev is the younger brother of cosmonaut Sergey Prokopyev, who spent 197 days aboard the International Space Station in 2018.

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Robert Z. Pearlman Editor, Contributor

Robert Pearlman is a space historian, journalist and the founder and editor of, an online publication and community devoted to space history with a particular focus on how and where space exploration intersects with pop culture. Pearlman is also a contributing writer for and co-author of "Space Stations: The Art, Science, and Reality of Working in Space” published by Smithsonian Books in 2018. He previously developed online content for the National Space Society and Apollo 11 moonwalker Buzz Aldrin, helped establish the space tourism company Space Adventures and currently serves on the History Committee of the American Astronautical Society, the advisory committee for The Mars Generation and leadership board of For All Moonkind. In 2009, he was inducted into the U.S. Space Camp Hall of Fame in Huntsville, Alabama. In 2021, he was honored by the American Astronautical Society with the Ordway Award for Sustained Excellence in Spaceflight History.