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- First people in space: Jügderdemidiin Gürragchaa
- On iPlayer: Ireland with Simon Reeve
- Airport design
BBC News reports today on the many howls of anguish emitted by travellers as they pass through the lower circles of the US airport network:
Patrick Smith of Ask the Pilot blog, says that with scattered exceptions major airports in the US are "incredibly noisy, dirty, and just generally user-unfriendly".
He goes on: "Our security protocols are needlessly tedious, and the connection process for passengers arriving from overseas is horrendously time-consuming. All passengers arriving from other countries are required to clear immigration, re-check their bags, and undergo the Transport Security Administration rigmarole, even if they're merely in transit to a third country."
We spent some time at airports last year, with the BBC/OU programme Airport Live, and their story of the growth of Heathrow is not atypical of transport hubs on both sides of the Atlantic. It goes some way to explaining why patience is sometimes required as you pass through:
To provide a bit more background, the OU's Simon Bell used Heathrow as an explanation of what it takes to create and maintain these terminal cities
The whole (or "both") of our BBC co-productions looking at the island of Ireland is now available to watch on iPlayer.
Next month, Tim Peake will travel to the International Space Station, becoming the second Briton to leave the planet. He'll be the fifth person born in the UK to go into space, but only Helen Sharman has been an astronaut while holding a British passport. It's perhaps funny that space travel, which seems to be a passion that unites nations, is an area where the nationalities of those involved becomes such a subject of obsession; you'll know that going beyond Earth has become a commonplace when there's no longer the need or ability to maintain a Wikipedia page of where the travellers started their journey.
Still, for a few days more the UK remains one of thirty-two nations to have only had one astronaut (eight other countries have had multiple visitors), and this week we'll be meeting some of the people who have both the honour and the weight of being their country's only space traveller.
Today, meet the only Mongolian to have gone so far: Jügderdemidiin Gürragchaa, or Жүгдэрдэмидийн Гүррагчаа. Gürragchaa was an aerospace engineer who was selected to be part of the 8th Interkosmos project. This was an attempt by the Soviets to literally lift their satellite states into space; eventually it would include nations beyond the Soviet sphere of influence.
Gürragchaa went into space on March 22nd, 1981, taking Soyuz 39 to dock with Salyut 6 and remaining in space for nearly eight days. Amongst the experiments conducted on board during this time was an exploration of the feasability of communicating between Earth and space via hologram; the first investigation into primary cosmic radiation and fourteen different observation assignments to aid Mongolian agricultural, meteorology and landscape science.
On his return to Earth, he was hailed as a Hero of the Soviet Union. He returned to the Mongolian air force, and would eventually become the country's Minister for Defence. In addition, he became the president of Mongolia's Bandy federation. Bandy, since you ask, is the earlier form of ice hockey which - despite being an English invention - nowadays is played almost exclusively in Scandanavia, the Baltic nations and Mongolia.
In the early years of Communist control of Mongolia, traditional clan names had been banned. When this ban was lifted as the USSR shifted into history, many Mongolians were unable to trace their original clan names, and so settled on new ones. Often these would take the form of their jobs - in effect, Mr Baker, or Mr Butcher (not such an unusual pattern of names). Gürragchaa chose the name Sansar - or 'cosmos'. Many astronauts claim to have become one with the cosmos; Gürragchaa actually became the Cosmos.