Space in Russia (5)
A Testing Time at the I.M.B.P.
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Medical tests on astronauts are depicted in a stamp issued by Czechoslovakia in 1970 in a series of cosmic explorations and the final stamp illustrated here is from the Soviet Union depicting tests on cosmonauts at IMBP. This 5k stamp was issued in 1987 in a set of three to mark the Soviet-Syrian flight.
Psychologists are working too at IMBP. These “shrinks” do numerous tests with the men and women who will be trained for spaceflight. Psychological compatibility within the members of space crew is self-evidently a factor of paramount importance for long missions. A crew of two or three or more have to live and work together in isolation from the outside world, sometimes for half a year or longer. Spacefarers are human beings with individual inclinations, strengths and weaknesses. Many factors are involved with mental stability, such as character, perception of the world, inner culture and even age. Taking account of these factors, specialists work out recommendations and special tests for selection of crew members. This is what cosmonaut Alexei Gubarev, commenting on this subject said in the book Soviet Cosmonautics: Questions and Answers (Novosli Press Agency Publishing House, Moscow, 1988)
Space may make a wholly different person out of you. I experienced this during my flight with Georgi Grechko aboard Salyut-4 in 1975. During the first three days of work in orbit we did not notice any changes. On the earth, we were friends – our relations business like, lie displayed goodwill towards each other. Such healthy relations are essential for work in space. A few days later we began to feel nervous. Sometimes we had different ideas about the same developments. Soon I noticed that Georgi began to lose self control and that he was highly strung. On the ground he was distinguished for his self control, modesty and calmness, lie both tried to fight the unfamiliar nervousness. We smoothed out our differences, forgave one another and became reconciled to each other’s deviations in actions and behaviour. And in many ways we succeeded.
A Soviet stamp issued March 28, 1975 commemorates this Gubarev-Grechko Soyuz 17 light to space station Salyut 4.
Therefore it is necessary to select astronauts with a high “safety factor” and that’s what the doctors do at the IMBP. Prof Matsnev uses an apparatus in which a candidate is tested. It changes position – head down or in horizontal orientation. Likewise other parts of the body in acceleration. Sensors attached to the body read and register body activity.
Astronauts must be supermen and women but yet they are human, reading their conclusion after the first spaceflight. It was extremely difficult, almost cruel and it was impossible to experience or imagine this there on earth. This experience includes many sensations: constant closeness, loneliness and a permanent feeling of danger – for do not forget as spaceflight becomes ever more routine that a meteorite could hit a spacecraft and then all inside are lost.
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