State Organization “Gagarin Research&Test Cosmonaut Training Center”

State Organization “Gagarin Research&Test Cosmonaut Training Center” was built to support manned space programs, space exploration activities, space engineering, cosmonauts’ training, as well as ensuring cosmonauts’ safety in space and providing post-flight rehabilitation program for cosmonauts.

Main areas of activity of the State Organization «Yu.A. Gagarin Research & Test Cosmonaut Training Center»

  • Organization of cosmonaut/astronaut selection and training, medical examination, post-flight medical maintenance and rehabilitation;
  • Development, arrangement, and modernization of ground-based technical facilities used cosmonaut/astronaut training;
  • Conduction of scientific research and development related to the problems of the manned cosmonautics;
  • Providing cosmonauts with special flying training using aviation equipment of the Cosmonaut Training Center;
  • Rendering services for the commercial projects which conform to the Center activity profile.

Professional selection of cosmonauts

Cosmonaut selection comprises actions, methods, and procedures which allow selecting candidates with personal characteristics and competence which meet professional requirements of a cosmonaut most of all.

Leading organization for cosmonaut selection in the Russian Federation is State Organization “Gagarin Research&Test Cosmonaut Training Center”.

Professional selection comprises:

  • Examination and evaluation of cosmonaut candidates health status and qualification;
  • Evaluation of knowledge and trainability including studying and learning space engineering within the frame of necessary requirements;
  • Examination and evaluation of psychological and psychophysiological characteristics;
  • Evaluation of professional motivation and  behavioral standards;
  • Evaluation of professional activity level.

At every stage of the selection cosmonaut candidates should meet different requirements. The whole process of the cosmonaut selection is based on the requirements of the RF Space Program. While making decision of selection time constraints, number of the candidates, and their experience level the following things should be taken into consideration:

  • National and international (Russia-assisted) manned spaceflight programs;
  • Number of (active) cosmonauts being trained;
  • Cosmonaut qualification and specialization requirements for the future is under discussion;
  • Duration of the training for the spaceflight (considering staged training process);
  • Requirements to the cosmonaut professional experience.

Requirements to a cosmonaut candidate

In the course of the cosmonaut selection process the following examinations are fulfilled:

1. Examination of medical and psychological characteristics of candidates:

  • Standard clinical examination;
  • Psychological examination;
  • Special function tests;
  • G-tolerance examination;
  • Hypoxia tolerance examination;
  • Vestibular tolerance examination;
  • Antiortho-orthostatic tolerance examination;
  • Physical readiness evaluation.

2. Professional selection:

  • Cosmonautics awareness;
  • Learning ability;
  • Complex technologies mastering capability
  • Computer skills;
  • Foreign language skills;
  • Logical thinking;
  • Knowledge of physics, mathematics;
  • Knowledge of literature, Russian language.

Stages of development of selection and cosmonaut training system (СОПК)

Stages of development are caused by a significant complication of manned space programs and are connected with fundamental change of its scientific and methodological basis:

Stage 1: 1961 – 1971

  • is connected with autonomous flight of transport ships such as “Vostok», «Voskhod» and the first Soyuz» up to 4 days;

Stage 2: 1971 – 1977

  • is connected to the flights at the stations “Salute” – “Salute-5” up to 60 days;

Stage 3: 1977 – present

  • is associated with long flights on long-term stations “Salute-6”, “Salute-7”, “Mir,” “ISS” lasting an average about 200 days.

1In the first phase it was necessary to form the foundation of scientific-methods base for cosmonaut training. It was created by experts who had come to the Center from scientific research and test institutions, primarily from military research institutes, academies and Air Force medical service. At this stage a cosmonaut’s function in control of a spacecraft, especially «Vostok» and «Voskhod», was limited. Therefore, medical aspects dominated in the cosmonaut training. Only with the advent in 1967 of «Soyuz», which provided greater control on the part of crew, engineering and technical aspects of cosmonaut training were developed. Technical and simulator training of cosmonauts were directed to the formation of stable skills in spacecraft control and  formed by multiple working out of all flight operations on simulators.

2 The second stage is connected with flights to orbital stations, beginning with the first station «Salute» and even «Salute-5», included. At this stage, together with the increasing complexity of crews’ MSV activity, the requirements for engineering and technical training of cosmonauts increased significantly as well. The crews, consisting of two cosmonauts had to learn not only to control the transport vehicle «Soyuz», but also the station «Salute». There were new advanced features of a crew connected with long flights aboard the station. Ground training cosmonaut program for space flights at this stage became more complex. It took the diversification of types of training and their integration into a single program. Scientific and methodological basis of the cosmonaut training was further developed through the synthesis of a large experience in preparing and executing missions. However, at this stage methods of formation of skills to perform a limited number of flight operations also prevailed.

3 The third stage of development of selection and cosmonaut training system is connected with the complexity of cosmonauts’ activity during the implementation of long-duration flights on long-term stations «Salute-6», «Salute-7», «Mir» and «ISS». At this stage there appeared a new type of transport vehicle «Soyuz-T» (1980), controlled by onboard digital computer, what led to a fundamental change of technology for its crews. Along with the increasing of complexity of transport vehicles and orbital stations, duration of space flights sharply increased and amounted to 200 days. At the same time load on a crew – physical, emotional, and informational – repeatedly increased. All this required further development of scientific and methodological base for cosmonaut training for space flights, the development of methods for cosmonauts’ post-flight rehabilitation. With the start of construction, assembly and operation of the ISS, with the active participation of international crews, to the purely technical disciplines that previously had not been presented in the cosmonaut training there were evolved some new additional items. For example, those were such new skills and knowledge, as the rules of intercultural interaction during spaceflights, the basics of business international intercourse and others.

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