Cosmonauts traveling to the International Space Station (ISS) in April have been inoculated against Covid-19 with the Sputnik V vaccine, named after the world’s first artificial Earth satellite, which was launched by the USSR.

The first shots of the pioneering jab were administered to members of both the main and substitute crews on Tuesday, the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center said. The course of Sputnik V requires two injections, with the follow-up administered around 21 days after the initial one.

The men who received the vaccine were Oleg Novitsky, Pyotr Dubrov, Anton Shkaplerov and Dmitry Petelin. Their colleagues will receive the formula on Thursday.

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The large-scale vaccination of staff at the Cosmonaut Training Center, located in Star City in the Moscow Region, was also kickstarted on the day.

The Sputnik 1 spacecraft was launched by the Soviet Union in 1957, becoming the first-ever artificial Earth satellite. The event was responsible for the phrase “Sputnik moment” entering the lexicon as an expression used to describe an extraordinary feat of human thought.

First man-made satellite was launched on October 4, 1957. Sputnik / Sergey Pyatakov

The Sputnik V vaccine was registered in Russia last August, ahead of any other vaccine against coronavirus anywhere in the world. According to its developers, it has shown 91.4 percent efficacy. 

It is currently being deployed in vaccination campaigns both at home and in Argentina, Belarus, and Serbia, and dozens more countries have expressed an interest in purchasing Sputnik V.

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Expedition 65 will begin at the ISS in April. The seven-member crew comprises the three Russian cosmonauts, plus two NASA astronauts, and spacemen from Japan and France respectively. It’s planned that the mission will last some 180 days.

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