Flight-specific training consists of all activities related to preparing for an assigned flight on either the Shuttle or the International Space Station (ISS). Based on the mission profile, a specific training program and schedule are designed, to ensure the crew receives training in the mission’s requirements and the performance of equipment and systems for each of the experiments to be conducted on their flight. Crew members qualified to perform spacewalks (extravehicular activities, or EVAs) receive additional training for specific EVA tasks, such as installing the airlock on the ISS.
After being selected for an expedition crew, astronauts spend approximately 12 months in advanced training, followed by approximately six months in ISS expedition specific training. The training takes place primarily at the Johnson Space Centre in Houston, and at the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre in Moscow; the crew also spend a significant number of weeks training at the Canadian Space Agency, The European Space Agency and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. Both primary and back-up astronauts work closely with mission controllers to participate in integrated simulations to fine-tune the operations of every system on the station. If the primary astronaut cannot fulfill his or her responsibilities, the back-up astronaut can then fly in his or her place.
To encourage cohesion among the crew, who will be living together in close quarters when they arrive at the Space Station, the expedition crew (and back-up) trains whenever possible with any visiting crews that will be on orbit during their stay.
Because expedition crew remain on the Space Station for up to six months at a time, they participate in mandatory training sessions while onboard the ISS, using CD-ROMs, simulations and on-board trainers to maintain skill proficiency and to train for new tasks if needed. Fitness training is an essential part of this program, to maintain physical strength and to minimize muscle and bone deterioration, which occurs as a result of living in microgravity.