Libmonster ID: BY-1590

by Sergei KRIKALYOV, Cand. Sc. (Psychol.), the USSR pilot-cosmonaut, Head of the Gagarin Research and Test Center for Cosmonaut Training (NIITsPK), Boris KRYUCHKOV, Dr. Sc. (Tech.), Deputy Head for Scientific Work (NIITsPK), Andrei KURITSYN, Dr. Sc. (Tech.), Department Head (NIITsPK)

In December of 2012 the Russian Federation Government approved the State program "Space Activities of Russia for 2013-2020". Among its major components there are provisions concerning the use of the International Space Station (ISS) for development of technologies of flights to planets and bodies of the Solar system. The unusual experiments carried out at the Center with participation of ISS crews immediately upon completion of their long-term flights are called to study problems of providing for efficient human activities in outer space.


The 21st century will most probably be an age of man's flight to Mars. Although taking into account the contemporary technology level and man's potentialities such mission still seems difficult to accomplish. Another side of the problem deals with financing of such expensive project, which requires astronomic expenses. Most likely, its implementation will require international cooperation, which will provide for more efficient integration of scientific and technical potential of the participating countries. By now substantial progress is achieved in the studies of Mars by unmanned vehicles. The results of their flights with guiding artificial satellites into orbits and operation of instruments on the planet's surface confirm also assumptions of a possible manned mission. In practice some countries are already engaged in preparatory works though outside of any specific project but inside of experimental and design works, thus creating necessary scientific and technical reserves.

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Different concepts of a manned mission are offered. They differ mainly in structural and layout schemes of an interplanetary complex, motivation for their reliability, options of power plants, selection of routes, etc. The initial mass of a spacecraft (at start from the Earth's orbit) can reach 1,500 t. Approximately 850 t of fuel will be needed only for its acceleration. Options of rockets are studied for such purposes as well as launch mass reduction schemes at the expense of application, for example, of a double aerodynamic deceleration in the atmosphere of Mars for going out into the near-Mars orbit (project of the European Space Agency) et al.

Much less attention is paid to biomedical and psychological problems, which man will inevitably face in such overlong space flight. They were partly studied on the orbital stations Salyut, Mir, ISS and also in special experiments under the Mars-500 program*. However, many questions remain still open.

One of the major problems to be studied is evaluation of efficiency and potentialities of a space crew in carrying out a complex operator's work both during a long flight to Mars and also on its surface. It is especially acute due to high self-dependence of the flight. The operational radio communication with a ground control center will be impossible as a signal passage delay will be from 8 to 40 min. It should be noted that the distance between the two planets is from 50 to 400 mln km, therefore the mission will take 2.5-3 years.

The national manned space exploration accumulated extensive experience in performing long-term missions on orbital stations. The missions on Salyut-7 lasted 211 days (cosmonauts Anatoly Berezovoy and Valentin Lebedev from May 14, 1981 to February 12, 1982) and 237 days (Leonid Kizim, Vladimir Solovyov and Oleg Atkov from February 7 to October 2, 1984). Aboard the orbital complex Mir five flights were performed each lasting around a year by the following cosmonauts: Yuri Romanenko, 326 days, from February 5 to December 29, 1987; Vladimir Titov and Musa Manarov, 365 days, from December 21, 1987 to December 21, 1988; Sergei Krikalyov, 311 days, from May 11, 1991 to March 25, 1992; Valery Polyakov, 437 days, from January 8, 1994 to March 22, 1995; Sergei Avdeev, 379 days, from August 13, 1998 to August 28, 1999. A large body of data is obtained, which can be used for preparation of long-term missions to deep space.


At present the duration of main missions to ISS is about 6 months, which can be compared with a flight to Mars, and crew functions are close to those which will be performed on an interplanetary spacecraft. Thus, it can be expected that physical, functional and psychophysiological conditions of ISS cosmonauts upon completion of their half-year flight are near to those of a spacecraft crew who have reached Mars. It gives grounds to study potentialities of ISS crew to perform complex operator's activities in overload and below-G conditions immediately upon return to the Earth and lay down recommendations for execution of similar works on Mars basing on the obtained results.

See: A. Grigoryev, B. Morukov, "Mars: Ever Closer", Science in Russia, No. 1, 2011; "Update on 'Mars-500'", Science in Russia, No. 3, 2012. -Ed.

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Methods for studies of human potentialities and efficiency immediately upon completion of long-time flights are new and have not been used until now. The appropriate concepts and a model of experiments with the participation of ISS crews are developed for implementation of the suggested approaches.

The manual controlled descent of a landing module and the work on the planet's surface including complex engineering systems, will be an important objective of an operator's work of the Mars mission crew. Therefore, in the course of our experiments it was planned, first, to assess potentialities of the cosmonaut and the quality of performing by him manual spacecraft control modes during descent on the planet in conditions of simulated gravity loads. And secondly, to simulate his movements in a pressure suit and some typical operations of his extraship activities in conditions close to Martian ones. Naturally these experiments did not at all cancel post-flight rehabilitation measures compulsory for ISS crews.

It is usually suggested to follow the sequence of Mars exploration by analogy with flights of Apollo vehicles to the Moon. We all remember that at first Apollo-8 (commander Frank Borman, command module pilot James Lovell, lunar module pilot William Anders) and Apollo-10 (commander Thomas Stafford, command module pilot John Young, lunar module pilot Eugen Cernan) performed a circumlunar mission. Only after that Apollo-11 (commander Neil Armstrong, command module pilot Michael Collins, lunar module pilot Edwin Aldrin) performed a historic mission, i.e. man set foot on the Moon*.

See: Yu. Markov, "First Flight to the Moon", Science in Russia, No. 6, 2009.-Ed.

But the similar plan of missions to Mars is irrational due to its great remoteness from the Earth and a high cost of the project. The mission will be more efficient if in the very first flight the cosmonauts make landing and exit to the Mars surface.

We shall note here an important technical aspect well known to specialists. Any manned spacecraft is designed with two landing system loops, automatic and manual. The cosmonaut ought to be able to perform a manual descent to Mars if the automatic equipment fails. But in this case a reasonable question arises: Will he be able to perform a manual control of a landing mode to Mars with necessary precision and safety after his long flight? Different theoretical models provide too remote approximation to reality as they cannot take account of numerous factors affecting the crew during a long space flight.


The specialists of the Center developed and implemented a full-scale experiment using a centrifuge TsF-18, which allowed assessment of cosmonauts' potentialities of manual controlled descent to Mars. In the centrifuge cabin a seminatural model of such operation was realized.

The cosmonaut's place of work (contour couch and equipment for manual controlled descent) was located in the centrifuge car having the 18 m rotation radius. The cabin drive control system allows orienting man on any given direction of a total G-vector. The centrifuge is fitted with instrumentation and recording equipment, which provides for monitoring of technical and physiological parameters.

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The corresponding equipment of the Soyuz spacecraft type was used for a manual control loop in this experiment. The participants of the experimental "flight to Mars" included ISS-33/34 crew members (Oleg Novitsky and Yevgeny Tarelkin) and ISS-34/35 crew member (Roman Romanenko) immediately after completion of their flights on the orbital station with the duration of 143 and 145 days respectively, which is comparable by duration with the flight route "Earth-Mars". The experiment was carried out 32-34 hours after the cosmonauts landed, which is comparable with the time of the spacecraft's stay on the Mars orbit prior to its descent to the planet. The chosen structure and content of the manual descent operations were almost similar to those possible under control by a landing module (monitoring of command transmission, trajectory forecast, etc.). The cosmonauts worked off-line without adjustment of their actions with the help of the ground Flight Control Center. The gravity loads created by the centrifuge did not exceed 3 units, which fell fully within the requirements for a manned spacecraft descent to the planet. Each cosmonaut performed a manual controlled descent in three modes:

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static (without rotation of centrifuge), dynamic (with rotation of centrifuge) and again in a static mode.

In the course of an experiment assessed were gravity load values (nx) and landing distance (Lx) of a module with the crew, which depended on correctness and accuracy of control commands of the cosmonaut. Different initial conditions of entering the atmosphere by a spacecraft were introduced in all three modes for each participant.

As a rule, the cosmonauts normally withstood the maximum gravity load parameter in compliance with the recommended methods of descent. However, there were some differences as compared with the preflight data on the landing range for the first mode.

Before and during the centrifuge rotation and also thereafter the specialists carried out medical control, monitoring and recording of electrocardiogram data, tachooscillogram data, pulse rate and respiration rate, data of electromyogram of muscles and breast, abdominal wall and thigh. The cosmonauts' health state was also assessed by video cameras.

Before and during action of gravity load, the parameters of heart rate, arterial pressure and body temperature of the test subjects were within the physiological standard. The mean and maximum heart and pulse rates did not exceed the values recorded during preflight trainings as concerns the descent control charts. In terms of medical parameters the experiment caused no difficulties.

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The gravitational force on Mars is 2.63 times less than on the Earth (0.38 g). Therefore, the cosmonauts performed modeling of their stay on its surface in simulated conditions of reduced weightness on the Vykhod-2 stand designed for training of extraship activities. The stand was equipped with a "force-compensating" system of weightlessness and an automatic control system. Creation of the required force and its transfer to the object was effected by the direct current electric motor (M) and transfer mechanism (Y). Active force impacts realized on the stand by electric drive, balancing the static and dynamic components of resisting forces to motion during horizontal and vertical movements of the cosmonaut in a pressure suit allow to achieve high quality modeling.

How come that the experiment conditions approached hypothetic planet conditions? The cosmonaut in an Orlan pressure suit achieved "weightlessness" of 0.38 g by a special system, which conformed to Martian gravitation (by the way, this stand allows also achieving lunar gravitation). The required mobility in the pressure suit was achieved by reduction of excess pressure in it to 0.1-0.12 kg/cm2 (in case of simulation of orbital spacewalking during flights in near-Earth space the excess pressure in such pressure suits makes up about 0.4 kg/cm2). Standard operations for work on the planet's surface were chosen and time of the experiment was determined substantially. It was the fourth day after landing of ISS crews, which can be compared with the time of exit to the planet's surface after landing on Mars and adaptation to 0.38 g gravity.

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The following operations were assessed during the experiment: airlocking systems control, open/close operation of escape hatch, shifting of the cosmonaut along standard routes of the passage (with or without a container), going up and down the gangway, work with tools, holding with taut ropes and carbines, coupling of electric connectors, installation and removal of aerials. The continuous medical control was carried out at all these stages. Increased heart and pulse rate was recorded as well as of respiration rate, and also of the time of physiological parameters recovery depending on the duration of the cosmonaut's stay in the pressure suit. The body temperature of the test subjects remained normal with an insignificant rise by the end of cyclogram.


It should be noted that up to now no experiments with the participation of cosmonauts to assess possibilities of carrying out complex operator's activities immediately after completion of long-term space flights were implemented either in the interests of the ISS or for flights to outer space. The results obtained first at the Center can be used for improving occupational safety on the ISS and also for training a future expedition to Mars. For example, it was confirmed in advance for the first time that after the long-term flight the cosmonauts could realize manual control of descent on a spacecraft of the Soyuztype. The possibility of operator's activities on its surface after such long-term stay in space was also shown.

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Even today the existing equipment allows simulation of some conditions of the crew activities in flights to the Moon and Mars. But of course long interplanetary flights will require for their participants not only modernization but also creation of such new technical means.

The approaches considered in this paper are applicable also in evaluation of activities of crews, for example, at lunar bases, during landing on asteroids, in operations at the Lagrangian points*, etc. At present at the Center

*Lagrangian points are called in honor of the French mathematician, astronomer and mechanic Joseph Louis Lagrange, who discovered first this phenomenon in 1772. In point L, (about 1.5 mln km from the Earth) the orbital period of an object becomes equal to the orbital period of our planet. It is an ideal place for arrangement of space observatories and telescopes as it is situated in the shadow of the Earth.--Ed.

a research program is being developed with the participation of a group of cosmonauts from the Roscosmos, which includes different preflight and post-flight experiments. The research program will include studies of operator's, physiological, psychological and other qualities of cosmonauts in different types of activities, including use of robot manipulators, robot androids, transport facilities, etc.


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