July 23, 2003
Space wedding snag?

In our last episode, the fair maiden Ekaterina Dmitritv was issued a marriage license by Fort bend County so she could wed her handsome prince, the cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko, who is currently orbiting the Earth in the International Space Station. The wedding, which is scheduled to take place while Malenchenko is still up in the sky, will be via a communication link, or will use a proxy if the technology fails them.

But suddenly, there are dark clouds on the horizon:

Could it be the Russians have not quite shed their suspicions and secrecy from the days of the Cold War? Or could it be he's upstaging superiors in the space program?

The Russian Space Agency has said repeatedly that the wedding between Yuri Malenchenko, 41, the orbiting cosmonaut, and his fiancee in Texas has been postponed.

The bride-to-be says not so. "Nothing is going to stop us from getting married. It is still going to happen," Ekaterina Dmitriev said Tuesday. Besides, the invitations are in the mail.

American and Russian officials could not offer clarification on the conflicting information.

"We haven't barred him from doing that, we simply told him that it was unclear how he could do that from the point of Russian law," Sergei Gorbunov, a Russian space agency spokesman, told The Associated Press. "He (Malenchenko) gave it a thought and said that he would wait until October," when the current space station crew is set to return to Earth.

Could some intrigue be at work here?

Malenchenko is an air force colonel and under Russian law is considered the holder of state secrets. He can marry a foreigner only after getting permission from his superiors, Gorbunov said. The secrecy rules, which date from Soviet times, theoretically could force a person to wait for five, maybe 10 years to get such permission, he said.

Dmitriev was born in Russia and moved to the United States when she was a child. She is now a U.S. citizen.

It's a Commie plot against them! Run for your lives!

Or could it be (cue dramatic music)...something else?

Russian air force chief Col.-Gen. Vladimir Mikhailov reportedly was angered by Malenchenko's plans and told the newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda that a "cosmonaut mustn't behave like a movie star."

Malenchenko quietly arranged to have his tailcoat and wedding ring flown to him aboard a Progress cargo ship that arrived at the station in June.

Jealousy in space! Intrigue in the ionosphere! Where's Alexis Carrington when you really need her?

Will the maiden marry her spaceman on schedule? Will the bumbling bureaucrats pillory their plans for conjugal contentment? Will I be able to scrape together another alliterative allegory to portray their plight? Tune in next time and find out.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on July 23, 2003 to Elsewhere in Houston | TrackBack