Survival and Simulations Training

Survival training is an important element of the cosmonaut training program. At the end of a mission, the Soyuz spacecraft re-enters the atmosphere in a fiery plunge followed by a more gentle descent via parachute to a designated area of Kazakhstan. The entry trajectory is tracked from the ground so that helicopters with recovery crews can speed to the landing site within minutes to help the cosmonauts out of the capsule.

However, there is always a chance that, due to unforeseen events, a Soyuz spacecraft and crew may be forced to land in a remote and environmentally hostile region of the world. In such a case, it could be hours or even days before a search and rescue team arrives at the landing site. For this reason, cosmonaut crews receive survival training.

This includes:

Learning how to set up camp and build various kinds of shelters,
(Credit: Gagarin Research and Test Cosmonaut Training Center)

...learning how to fire a gun in the event they would need to hunt for food,
(Credit: Canadian Space Agency)

...and how to set off flares to guide search and rescue aircraft to their landing position.
(Credit: Canadian Space Agency)

Much of a cosmonaut's time is spent in Star City learning the many systems that comprise the Soyuz spacecraft and the Russian segment of the International Space Station (ISS). Systems include propulsion, electrical power, thermal control, communications and others. Motion control is the most important system of the Soyuz spacecraft. For the Space Station, it is probably the life support system.

Initial systems training is provided by instructors who possess a very deep and broad knowledge of the technical and operational aspects of the space vehicles.

Of course spacecraft systems do not operate in isolation from each other. Their interaction is best demonstrated during the course of mission simulations, or "sims". Sims take place in a variety of highly realistic mock-ups. A training session will focus on a particular mission day or phase of flight.

Once a crew has acquired a good understanding of each Soyuz and Station system, they will begin sims as a means to integrate their systems knowledge, advance operational skills and develop crew-coordination skills.