Aidyn Aimbetov, born July 27, 1972 in the village of Zaria Kommunizma, Kazakh-SSR, is a Kazakh Cosmonaut for the Kazakh Space Agency Kazcosmos. He will become the fourth Kazakh Cosmonaut to fly to space, conducting a short-duration visit to the International Space Station in 2015.
After finishing school in Kazakhstan, Aimbetov enrolled in the Armavir Higher Military Pilot School from which he graduated in 1993 as a pilot-engineer. Aimbetov then began serving in the Armed Forces as a fighter pilot and later became the commander of the flight section of the airbase near the town of Taldykurgan.
Aidyn Aimbetov initiated his first application for the Cosmonaut program in 1993, but was not selected for further evaluation. His second request was made in 2001 and in the summer of 2002, under the Russian-Kazakh joint spaceflight agreement, Aimbetov was called to the Institute of Biomedical Problems for medical evaluations that he passed. In November of 2002 a meeting of the Interdepartmental Commission took place at the Government of the Republic of Kazakhstan with participation of Russian representatives to discuss the selection of the first Kazakh Cosmonaut Group. Out of over 2,000 applicants, Aidyn Aimbetov and Mukhtar Aymakhanov were selected to begin Cosmonaut training.
Aimbetov was green-lighted by the Chief Medical Board in December 2002 and reported to the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in June of 2003 after approval was given by the Interdepartmental Commission of Rosaviacosmos. He concluded his basic training run in June 2005 with excellent grades, being qualified as a Test Cosmonaut. Aimbetov continued training in Star City as part of general ISS and Soyuz flight training.
In 2008, negotiations between the Russian and Kazakh governments were underway regarding the flight of a Kazakh Cosmonaut on a Soyuz spacecraft in the fall of 2009. Aimbetov was on the shortlist of two candidates for the flight and the mission was scheduled for September 2009.
However, in April of that year, the Kazakh government withdrew their Cosmonauts from the mission due to problems in financing the flight.
With no flight assignment on the horizon, Aimbetov began working as an adviser to the Chairman of Kazcosmos. Starting in March 2011, he took the position of Deputy Head of the Department “Information and Educational Support of Space Technologies” at the Institute of Space Research. He also took a teaching position at the Young Cosmonaut School in Schoolchildren’s Palace in Astana.
Given the unfavorable outlook of ever getting a flight assignment, Aimbetov’s Cosmonaut class mate Mukhtar Aymakhanov gave up his Kazakh citizenship and became a Russian citizen in hopes of raising his chances of getting to fly a mission. Aimbetov remained in Kazakhstan where he was granted a status of Cosmonaut of the Republic of Kazakhstan in 2012. Throughout the years, Aimbetov kept up training and continued renewing certificates to remain flight ready in case a chance of going to space would present itself.
A seat on Soyuz TMA-18M opened up in May of 2015 when British singer Sarah Brightman withdrew from her Space Adventures tourist flight for personal reasons. Satoshi Takamatsu – often referred to as her backup because the two trained together, never intended to fly on Soyuz TMA-18M and had only enrolled in a Cosmonaut training experience. Therefore, the seat on Soyuz TMA-18M was open and had to be filled rather quickly given the planned September launch date.
On June 22, 2015 Aidyn Aimbetov was assigned to the mission as a Flight Participant in a decision by the Interdepartmental Commission. In July, his status among the crew was changed to Flight Engineer 2 to reflect his qualifications for a mission on the Soyuz TMA-M spacecraft. Aimbetov and Takamatsu participated in water survival training in Russia in late June before Aimbetov participated in refresher training sessions in Soyuz preparation for his September launch date.