UnNews:Russian astronaut abandons bow and arrow for space flight

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12 October 2007

Bowandarrow

A Russian astronaut practices with his bow and arrow

MO'S COW, Russia (UnNews) --Russia is sending a cosmonaut into space without a bow and arrow for the first time in 20 years, due to a shortage of arrows.

For more than 20 years astronauts have carried a bow and arrow on all Russian space flights, Cosmonaut Yogi Malenchenko will join colleagues on a flight to the International Space Station (ISS) today, but he will travel without the specially-designed weapon.

Created in 1982 and in service since 1986, the TP-82 is primarily designed to fend off hostile extra-terrestrials whilst not appearing overly threatening.

It is also meant to protect the shuttle's crew if they land in a hostile environment back on earth.

The unique bow fires three arrows at a time, which may be standard, burning or tipped with depleted uranium. The bow is also sharpened along one edge and can function as a machete or an emergency shaving kit for both men and women.

However, the bow's original ammunition has deteriorated so much it is no longer viable and no new arrows are available.

Nevertheless, the cosmonaut will not risk going into space completely unarmed. "Malenchenko will be taking with him a baseball bat," a Russian space official said.

His will not be the only weapon on board the flight. ISS crew commander and US astronaut Peggy Whitson will be wielding a "kamcha" - a traditional Kazakh horse-whip, which Russian space officials advised her to take "as a symbol of a commander's authority on board". The whip will also be used on those cold, boring nights in space when a bout of flagellation raises spirits and increases camaraderie amongst the crew.

"I do not believe I will have to use it," she said in Russian with a wink yesterday. "Well, let's have it, just in case any of the boys get out of hand."

The voyage to the space station blasts off on Wednesday afternoon.

The Russian Soyuz rocket is due to dock with the ISS on Oct 12. Once in space, the astronauts will spend six months in orbit studying first-hand the effect of hallucinogenic drugs on piloting a spaceship.

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