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A Postcard from Romania

A Postcard from Romania

John Vickers and Space Operations Director, Dr. Simon Evetts, recently took a trip to Romania to meet former cosmonaut, Dumitru-Dorin Prunariu. A sight-seeing and business trip in one, read John’s account of their visit.

I have mentioned before, but it is worth reiterating, that I am just so fortunate to be doing what I am doing. Not only because of the countries that I visit and the purpose of those trips, but for the wonderful people I meet.

That is exactly what made a recent trip to Romania so special. I haven’t been to an eastern European country before (on the basis that Turkey is either an exception, or is in Asia), so I was really looking forward to the experience and to meeting a genuine cosmonaut, retired Lieutenant-General Dumitru-Dorin Prunariu.

Romania is a good distance from the UK - approximately a three-hour flight - so it feels as if you are off to somewhere new and exciting. When we landed we were exceptionally fortunate to be met by Dorin (his preferred name to friends), who also acted as chauffeur, tour guide and general font of knowledge on all things Romanian and Russian Space Agency-related!

You don’t often get a Lieutenant-General (retired or not) driving you around, giving you a tour, being your host whilst also being the person you’re keen to impress. That down to earth nature (forgive the pun) really characterises Dorin as a person. It makes talking to a former cosmonaut a lot less fraught, for a start.

Our first look at Bucharest was fascinating. There’s a certain 1950’s ‘air’ to it. We came in to the city via a road that had some stunning houses along its length as well as the zoo. In complete contrast, the hotel we’d booked was modern, stylish and a complete pleasure to stay in - it was just a pity that we only had a little over 24 hours in Romania. That’s not a lot of time to get to know someone, let alone a whole city.

John, Simon and Dorin in Romania

A highlight of the trip, besides dinner with Dorin and his wife, was visiting the Palace of the Parliament, the world’s second largest building. It’s an amazing building and we were privileged to receive such special access, via Dorin’s ‘celebrity’ status and wealth of contacts.

But the best highlight was securing Dorin’s kind consent to join the team and represent Blue Abyss in discussions with Russia’s Space Agency, Roscosmos. This is a huge coup for us.

By already engaging with NASA and ESA, and with Dorin’s help, making contact with Roscosmos, we feel that we are demonstrating both an acknowledgement of the history of Space exploration, as well as opening ourselves to the widest possible audience for agency-related training.

Space is not divided along arbitrary political or national borders. Space is open to all of us. Firstly for exploration, and secondly for resources. But obtaining those resources must be approached sensitively and with a sense of duty if we wish future generations to benefit.

So, as our International Space Agency Engagement Programme continues to thrive, we turn our attention to offshore, renewable energy and the deep oceans!

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Posted in People | Space

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