Final Soyuz TMA-M crew completes winter survival training
On Feb. 3, 2015 three members of the Expedition 48 crew to the International Space Station (ISS ) completed a 2-day winter survival training session in a snowy Russian forest. NASA astronaut Kathleen Rubins, Russian cosmonaut Anatoly Ivanishin and Takuya Onishi of the Japanese Space Agency (JAXA ), practiced the skills necessary for the landing of the descent module of Russian Soyuz manned spacecraft in extreme conditions of wooded and marshy areas in winter. The trio will fly to space in May 2016 on board the Soyuz TMA-20M spacecraft. It is the final Soyuz TMA-M which will be replaced by the upgraded Soyuz-MS.
After completing a mission, Soyuz normally lands in the steppes of Kazakhstan. However, the crews are well trained if they go down in other areas such as deserts, icy or even areas covered in water. The emergency services may be required in up to 36 hours to rescue the astronauts from other places of earth.
To provide training in just such a contingency, it is mandatory for all space travelers to handle the different situations of the areas where they could get a landing under control. The space travelers must have survival training.
During the training the expedition 48 crew has worked out the landing in the descent module, the removal of suits, making different types of fires (general and signal), construction of shelters from cold and wind, cooking and eating. They also have learned how to communicate with the search and rescue service and how to provide medical assistance to possible victims.
“Training for the Soyuz spacecraft started in Russia this year. In this program, I am learning about the Soyuz’s systems, from studying the operation procedures to training with simulators. In the practical training, I am mainly learning how to handle potential trouble scenarios,” Onishi said last year.
“There is also training for the Russian module of the International Space Station. At the same time, in the United States, I am learning about the systems of the U.S. modules, as well as the Japanese and European ones. Once I finish this, as in Russia, the training will focus on handling emergency situations.”
The survival course is supervised by the experts of the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City outside Moscow, who control the process of training, together with trainers, doctors and psychologists. At the end of the tests, they assess the work and the actions of the drill’s participants.
Rubins and Onishi will fly to space for the first time, while Ivanishin flew to the ISS on board Soyuz TMA-22 spacecraft in Nov. 2011.
Tomasz Nowakowski is the owner of Astro Watch, one of the premier astronomy and science-related blogs on the internet. Nowakowski reached out to SpaceFlight Insider in an effort to have the two space-related websites collaborate. Nowakowski's generous offer was gratefully received with the two organizations now working to better relay important developments as they pertain to space exploration.