Friday, February 6, 2009

Russian cosmonauts armed with 3-barreled gun

Among the training regimes that Russian cosmonauts pass before being admitted into orbit is the shooting range. The reason is that they must learn how to use a special three-barreled gun found on every Soyuz spacecraft. The TP-82 gun is part of the survival kit and is meant to be used on terra firma if cosmonauts land in the wilderness.

A gun in orbit is a controversial issue. NASA traditionally keeps a ‘no firearms on board’ policy, and their astronauts’ survival kit has had a machete-like knife as its only weapon for decades. When the International Space Station project was launched, the status of a pistol on Russian ships became one of the tricky legal questions.

The third space-faring nation China apparently sided with Russia in its attitude towards firearms in space. The Chinese media reported that the Shenzhou-6 expedition in 2005 was armed with pistols for self-defence, but no detail on the model or the number of the weapons was disclosed. Russian space experts believe that China may have borrowed the concept of the TP-82 and developed their own version.

* TP-82 with its three-barreled combination. (photo from

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