Russians blast off without space pistol Russia is sending a cosmonaut into space without a fearsome triple-barrelled "space pistol" for the first time in 20 years, due to a shortage of ammunition. The gun has been in service for more than 20 years Yuri Malenchenko will join colleagues on a flight to the International Space Station (ISS) today, but he will travel without the specially-designed weapon. Created in 1982 and in service since 1986, the TP-82 pistol was not primarily designed to fend off hostile extra-terrestrials. Instead it is meant to protect the shuttle's crew if they land in a hostile environment back on earth. The unique pistol has three barrels which fire hunting rounds as well as rifle bullets and signal flares. Its butt serves as a machete and a spade. advertisement However, the gun's original ammunition has deteriorated so much it is no longer viable and no new bullets are available. Nevertheless, the cosmonaut will not risk going into space completely unarmed. "Malenchenko will be taking with him a simple pistol," a Russian space official said. His will not be the only weapon on board the flight. ISS crew commander and US astronaut Peggy Whitson will be wielding a "kamcha" - a traditional Kazakh horse-whip, which a Russian space official advised her to take "as a symbol of a commander's authority on board". "I do not believe I will have to use it," she said in Russian with a smile yesterday. "Well, let's have it, just in case." The voyage to the space station blasts off on Wednesday afternoon. The Russian Soyuz rocket is due to dock with the ISS on Oct 12. Once in space, the astronauts will spend six months in orbit. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/10/09/wpistol109.xml& Cliffs: Even the russians are having a shortage of surplus ammo, opt to take pistol and whip to the space station instead. BTW apparently 2 of the barrels fire 12.5mm and the third is 5.45mm.