Centrifuge Training

CSA Astronaut Chris Hadfield stands under the massive centrifuge in Star City after a session of simulations training.
(Source: CSA)

CSA Astronaut Bob Thirsk exercises with an arm ergometer.

Once cosmonauts become proficient in the manual re-entry trainer, they move onto the next level of simulation: the Star City centrifuge. The Cosmonaut Training Centre has an impressive centrifuge that can generate high g-loads. The faster the massive 18-metre centrifuge arm rotates, the higher the g-load.

The centrifuge also plays a role in re-entry training. The bulbous end of the arm contains a functional mock-up of the Soyuz cockpit. The level of g-force induced by the centrifuge is determined by how its pilot performs at the controls in the cockpit. In other words, the pilot is penalized for any mistakes they make during the manual re-entry simulation with a high g-load!

To prepare their crews for spaceflight, the Russians encourage specialized exercises, including workouts with an arm ergometer. A similar device is placed on the Space Station, which the cosmonauts use regularly to maintain the shoulder strength and endurance required for long-duration spacewalks.