Female astronaut asked about hair, makeup plans in space

Watch the video above: Russian cosmonaut Elena Serova answers questions about family, makeup and hair.

TORONTO – On Thursday, Elena Serova became the first Russian cosmonaut aboard the International Space Station (ISS).

So why was she fielding questions about her hair?

Serova — just the fourth female cosmonaut in Russian history, the first in 17 years — joined her colleagues Alexander Samokutyaev and Barry Wilmore, as well as the backup crew of Gennady Padalka, Mikhail Kornienko and Scott Kelly, the day before the trio launched to the ISS.

Expedition 41: In the front row are Russian cosmonaut Maxim Suraev (left), commander; and NASA astronaut Barry Wilmore, flight engineer. Pictured from the left (back row) are NASA astronaut Reid Wiseman, European Space Agency astronaut Alexander Gerst, Russian cosmonauts Alexander Samokutyaev and Elena Serova, all flight engineers. NASA

While it’s not unusual for astronauts and cosmonauts (a cosmonaut is the Russian name for astronaut) to answer questions about nerves, family and personal issues at these events, it is a bit unusual to ask astronauts questions that seem better suited to a fashion show.

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Take the following exchange, for example.

A reporter stood up, and at first, the question seemed on track to mark the historic occasion of the return of a Russian woman to space.

“You are the first woman cosmonaut in 17 years, so what are you expecting from that flight?”

So far, so good.

“Are you going to take make-up with you?” the reporter continued.

READ MORE: New astronaut crew docks with International Space Station

NASA astronaut Barry Wilmore (obscured at right) and Russian cosmonauts Elena Serova and Alexander Samokutyaev (right), participate in a routine operations training session in the Space Vehicle Mock-up Facility at NASA’s Johnson Space Center. NASA

Another reporter asked 38-year-old Serova — a trained rocket engineer — about how she might “share secrets” with her daughter while in space.

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While Serova’s answer was gracious (she thanked her and mentioned that she will maintain time for private discussions, and that, hey, her husband is there with her daughter) it became obvious that her patience wore a thin by the end of the press conference.

When asked about her hair, she replied, “Why don’t you ask Alexander about his hair?”

Serova and her crew arrived safely at the ISS on Thursday at 10:11 p.m. (EDT) to begin their six-month mission — and maybe share hair tips.

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