If you really want to, you can fly into space
How to become an astronaut?
After school, it definitely won’t work out: that you need to have a specialist or master’s diploma and at least three years of work experience in a specialty. But in many ways, the requirements for modern candidates for the space squad have softened, compared with those put forward in Soviet times.
In 2012, Roscosmos officially began to conduct open recruitment to the astronauts. Previously, they were chosen mainly from military pilots. It was necessary to be a member of the CPSU, to be no older than 30 years old, to have a height not exceeding 170 centimeters and physical fitness at the level of a master of sports.
The character is persistent, Nordic
What is required now? Party affiliation is not important, but they generally look at the reputation. Lovers of alcohol, drugs and conflicts are immediately screened out. Do not allow people with a criminal record. Dual citizenship is also an obstacle. In space, everything is painted in seconds, so punctuality is important. Long round-the-clock interaction with the group requires psychological stability. All this is revealed by tests.
Future astronauts should be able to get along with the team. Two days a year they rest. One of them is in the New Year, when they arrange a Christmas tree, exchange delicious gifts and souvenirs from their families. The rest of the time is continuous teamwork.
Cosmos does not tolerate people who start up with a half-turn or do not respond to stimuli at all. There is nowhere to go out the door and you cannot order the departure of the master to fix the breakdown or malfunction. You need to be able to quickly absorb new information and complete tasks in a short time.
But these are flowers. Not everyone can withstand three days in the sound chamber - a special room with artificial lighting and full sound insulation. 48 hours from the entire time spent in this simulator, the candidate should not sleep. Previously, the stay was longer. On the tenth day of his stay on March 23, 1961, Valentin Bondarenko died in a sign chamber: for a long time there was a rumor in this connection that he could not stand the silence. In fact, the reason for the fire, which he himself created by negligence.
Even 15 years ago, the test lasted not ten, but five days. Of these, it was necessary to stay awake for three days and two nights. The subject at this time solves mathematical problems, passes psychological tests. During the entire test period, the astronaut with the help of video and measuring instruments is observed by doctors and psychologists.
Healthy as an astronaut
Not with any physique, you can become an astronaut: the dimensions of the ship’s cabin introduce restrictions. For modern Soyuz MS-07, you need to have a body weight of 50–90 kilograms, a height of no more than 190 centimeters while standing and no more than 99 in a sitting position, and also a foot not exceeding the 46th shoe size. There is still a dependence on the size of the spacesuit “Falcon KV-2”. Chest girth should not exceed 112 centimeters, shoulder width - 52, and the distance between the armpits - no more than 45 centimeters. In 2023, the first manned launch of the new Federation ship is planned, where more space is provided for astronauts. This means that the requirements for their physical data will also change.
The health of a candidate who “fit in size” must be iron, and sports training must meet certain standards:
- 15 pull-ups
- 3 min 35 s give 1 km to overcome,
- 360 ° turn on the trampoline.
Check strength, speed, stamina and coordination. A strong vestibular apparatus is especially important.
In addition to the sound chamber, the centrifuge becomes a difficult test. The device creates an overload that not everyone can withstand. It is measured in units, where one unit is equal to body weight, while 30 units are already deadly. In Soviet times, it was required to withstand 12 units, and today's figure is 8.
But there are nuances here. The astronaut Oleg Kononenko's vestibular apparatus could not withstand the loads on the simulator. However, the desire to fly into orbit outweighed, and after targeted training in one of the military units, the selection committee gave the go-ahead.
Candidates are taught how to set up a spacecraft, a map of the starry sky, the dynamics of the flight of the ISS and the Soyuz MS. You must be able to work with on-board equipment, including in emergency situations. Future astronauts will practice managing the ISS Russian compartment on its exact copy. To study the foreign components of the station - Japanese JAXA, American NASA and European EKA - Russian astronauts are sent on business trips. There are no boundaries in space.
The initial requirements include basic knowledge of English. By the way, foreign astronauts must learn technical terms in Russian. But nevertheless, languages and other humanities are not considered priority: preference is given to pilots, candidates with a technical education, scientists in the field of basic sciences, and doctors. Among the 552 people who flew into space, only five businessmen, five teachers, as well as a journalist, intelligence officer, diver and lawyer.
Future astronauts not only learn themselves, but also teach others. During the entire period of preflight training, they travel a lot to schools and suburban camps with educational programs.
The astronaut, like Caesar, must perform several tasks simultaneously. Parachute jumps are not without it (you already understood why pilots have priority). It is necessary not only to have time to open the parachute at an altitude of 1200 meters, but also to track ground signs and make a report. Here extreme bloggers would be ahead, but they, unfortunately, are humanities. For multitasking, candidates can forget about the main thing - to open a parachute. It will open automatically, but the task will not be counted. The astronaut must be able to remove and put on a spacesuit in zero gravity. On the ground, it is created in a special IL-76 MDK laboratory airplane flying from Chkalovsky airfield.
Once a year, ten modes of weightlessness are worked out on it. Comparable conditions with outer space are in the hydrolaboratory. A copy of the ISS Russian module is immersed in water. There, a cosmonaut in a spacesuit descends to a depth of 12 meters. In the position of high pressure, indifferent balance, when objects move in proportion to the applied force and remain in a new position, and the subjects are at zero buoyancy for six hours. Their condition is monitored by divers who are constantly changing. It is not so easy to work in a suit for outer space "Orlan-MK", which weighs 114 kilograms. “Walking” outside the walls of the ship in such clothes is usually about seven hours. Even in order to bend a finger, a huge effort is required, because there is a pressure of 20 kilograms on each hand. Legs in a vacuum do not listen at all - all movements are performed by hands. On the chest of the "Orlan" is the remote control of the cooling and ventilation system. The helmet is equipped with a system of purging the ears, which lays when the pressure changes. On the back of the spacesuit is a satchel with basic life support systems designed for battery life for ten hours. A satchel is a manhole cover for entering a spacesuit. You understand that it’s not easy to turn around in this way, so you have to look at the ship through the mirror on the sleeve.
The inscriptions on the ship's hull are also written mirrored. You can recognize each other in space by stripes of red or blue. Astronauts always work in pairs. A buffer between the outer space and the ISS space is a gateway in which the pressure after a vacuum is normalized for several hours. It imitates the sound chamber. After returning from orbit, adaptation to gravity and pressure is needed. It is believed that the body gets used to the time as long as the flight itself lasted.
No one knows exactly where the ship will land. Remember, in the film “Time of the First”, the cosmonauts Leonov and Belyaev looked for several days in the taiga and were even ready to declare heroes posthumously?
Candidates practice landing on open water, in the desert, taiga and mountains. They should be able to provide themselves and their colleagues with medical care. At each stage of training, the proportion of those wishing to fly into space is screened out. Typically, 6-8 people remain out of 3000. In addition to the annual commission with a detailed examination of the body, there is a quarterly in-depth medical examination. After all, it is better that a person remains alive, even on earth. So far, interplanetary ambulances and medical cabinets aboard space stations are found only in science fiction films.
What do astronauts eat
Travel lovers know that not every kitchen can be adapted. And, at first glance, space food should be unusual. Many, especially those who have visited cosmonautics museums with exhibits from the Soviet era, present products in tubes. Yes, it used to be. But now the food is packed in sealed plastic bags. Well, where are there without canned food in cans? The composition is also normal. If on the counter the Italian mozzarella will differ in taste from the Belarusian one, then the “Maheev” ketchup in space is the same as in the “Products” store, which is in the neighboring house.
We turned for comment to Leonid Baryshev, Director of Essen Production AG, which owns TM “Maheev”, to find out how much effort it took to sign a contract for deliveries to space.
“It is no secret that for cosmonauts the quality of products is of great importance, and there are a number of strict requirements that must be followed. For me personally, it was a sign of quality for what I do. Not just another supply contract in a series of others. I am following the developments in the space program and am glad to be involved. ”
The food sets are varied and are repeated once every 16 days. Here are soups, and meat in various sauces, and fish, and Borodino bread familiar to everyone, and various vegetables, and juices.
There are even desserts: honey gingerbread, marmalade, cottage cheese with cream. During lunch, astronauts from different countries eat together and exchange their menus, which further diversifies the food.
The drinking process is interesting. If water comes into contact with air, the particles of liquid are grouped into an ideal sphere under the influence of weightlessness. It will look like accidentally spilled coffee. You can catch and drink it.
Tasting space dishes is the most enjoyable stage of testing.
Perhaps the most important condition for passing all stages of selection is motivation. The total time of preflight preparation takes about 10 years, so the upper limit of the age of applicants is 35 years. And at any time, the candidate may retire.
First there are 2 years of general preparation followed by a state exam. According to its results, the candidate is awarded the title of test cosmonaut.
Then 2 years of group training with 150 exams, tests and tests. Another two years will go into preparation for a specific space program. Astronauts in orbit are engaged in various scientific experiments: studying the work of new technology, growing plants, testing life support systems.
In one of the following sets, they will begin to prepare Russian astronauts for landing on the moon. While it is planned in 2031. Can you imagine how much knowledge is needed to complete the tasks?