Junior Researcher, Institute of Biomedical Problems of Russian Academy of Sciences

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STEM is hard but in this field you can create, invent, discover anything! It is like a magic!

Anastasia Stepanova

What do you do?

I am a mission specialist for 4 months Scientific International Research in Unique Terrestrial Station (SIRIUS) held by Institute of Biomedical Problems and NASA. After SIRIUS19 experiment ended I started to work on crew selection for 8 months SIRIUS-20/21, ergonomics and improvements of analogue station, public outreach and search for new science and business partners to cooperate in SIRIUS project.

Why did you choose this field?

I always dreamed about space and like every soviet kid, I wanted to become a cosmonaut. But my path to the space dream is unusual! I was born in Uzbekistan, ex-USSR republic, in a multicultural, multi-religious family. At the age of five, I experienced the end of one world and a new world forming. In those years, inspiring science fiction books describing the space advanced humanity gave the hope for the better future. The confidence of having Moon, Mars colonies by the time when I am 25 was quite real. But with the years passed, nothing has changed. In 2005 I moved to Moscow to pursuit master degree in Journalism at Moscow State University. Where I also studied for four years the Space Journalism under Russian cosmonaut Yuriy Baturin. Together with two other journalists, we wrote the book about cosmonautics "I wish you a good flight". Exactly those words said Korolev to Gagarin just right before the start of first manned space flight. Life itself is a strict teacher that shows if not following your heart you won’t be happy. It took me few years to realize that my life has a meaning to me only if I am useful and work in space field. I decided to change everything. After all, I still have a chance to pursuit my space dream.
In 2013 I applied for unique twin study Mars analogue mission “Mars160”, where successfully made it to the finals. This program involved the same seven person international crew doing similar science operations for the same period of time – 80 days – initially at the Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS) in Utah desert and then continuing at the Flashline Mars Arctic Research Station (FMARS) in Canadian Arctic. From the moment of my acceptance for the “Mars160” in 2014 until the actual mission, I had two years to prepare and be useful to the crew. Therefore, my space journalism degree was not enough and I enrolled in Bauman Moscow State Technical University for bachelor degree in Robotics. I also finished course for becoming first responder and serve now as first responder at Russian volunteer public squad “SpasRezerv”.
In 2019 I got selected to be in the main crew in international project – Scientific International Research in Unique Terrestrial Station (SIRIUS) conducted cooperatively by the Russian Institute of Biomedical Problems (RAS) and the NASA Human Research Program. The 4 months isolation mission SIRIUS19 simulated long duration space flight to study issues related to human isolation and confinement. Now I have bachelors degree in robotics and ready to apply for cosmonaut selection!

What do you look at and think, "I wish younger me would have known this was possible"?

I wish I knew back in my 18-s that even the toughest dream such as becoming the cosmonaut is possible if you believe in yourself and work hard.

Why do you love working in STEM?

Working in STEM gives the opportunity to be part of bright new future. Creating, solving all the aspects which can help people to explore deep space.

Best advice for next generation?

Do not doubt yourself, always follow your heart! STEM is hard but in this field you can create, invent, discover anything! It is like a magic!

Inspo quote / fun fact / role model

"What now is Proven, Once was Imagined.” William Blake, Proverbs of Hell

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