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Why is Russia arming its cosmonauts before they go into space?

Russia is testing a special gun for returning cosmonauts stranded in remote areas, the head of the state’s space agency has announced.

Dmitry Rogozin, the head of the Roscosmos agency revealed on Wednesday that a weapon could be included in the emergency pack provided to cosmonauts by 2021.

“This weapon is, in fact, already being tested,” he told Russia’s TASS news agency.

The move follows the decision to launch manned missions from the Vostochny cosmodrome, located in the country’s Far East—Russia had until recently relied primarily on the Baikonur cosmodrome in neighbouring Kazakhstan.

“It’s possible that the landings will also be in the (Far East) area, which is not populated, with forest and forest-steppe, and cosmonauts are saying that it would be good to have (a weapon) in the kit,” Rogozin added.

Cosmonaut Oleg Kononeko, who landed back on earth in June after commanding a mission on the International Space Station, also told Tass that a weapon was needed.

“A re-entry capsule may land at any point on the globe. It’s possible that it could be rough terrain, that we may need a special knife to build shelter, and perhaps we need a weapon, because of wild animals,” he also said.

From 1986 to 2007, Russian cosmonauts carried the TP-82 survival gun in their emergency packs. The gun had a detachable shoulder stock that included a machete.

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