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49th anniversary of the RSC Energia cosmonaut team

May 22, 2015

Almost half a century ago, on May 23, 1966, a team of cosmonaut testers was established at the flight testing department of TsKBEM (OKB-1, now RSC Energia). Thus began the history of our country's first civilian cosmonaut team.

The need for participation in the missions of specialists who are directly involved in the development of space hardware and have in-depth engineering knowledge was understood by the S.P. Korolev himself after the first historic missions of manned spacecraft of the Vostok series. He sent his proposals to the government and the USSR Academy of Sciences.

"…It should not be forgotten that the crews of space ships will consist of engineers, specialists, scientists, doctors, researchers. …At long last, we must earnestly address the issue of selecting cosmonaut candidates from among the workers in the industry", - stated S.P. Korolev at the enlarged meeting of chief designers held on July 26, 1963, which reviewed the results of the flight test program of Vostok spacecraft.

In order to prove the feasibility and effectiveness of a space mission by an engineer cosmonaut and a scientist cosmonaut, in 1964 the mission of the first multi-seater spacecraft Voskhod was carried out. The crew of the spacecraft for the first time included an engineer of OKB-1 K.P. Feoktistov, one of the developers of the spacecraft of the Vostok, Voskhod and Soyuz series.

On May 6, 1964, a flight testing department was established at OKB-1, which was headed by an honored test pilot, Hero of the Soviet Union S.N. Anokhin. The department was entrusted with the task of conducting all kinds of flight tests on the equipment, instrumentation and units of manned spacecraft, organizing selection of candidate cosmonauts from among the employees of the company and providing to them on-the-job training to become spacecraft crews.

In 1965 a commission from the Institute for Biomedical Problems, out of dozens of specialists of OKB-1, selected for spaceflight training 12 people out of which eight constituted the first team of civilian cosmonauts.

On March 15, 1966, the Ministry of General Machine-building issued order No.121, according to which OKB-1 was entrusted with selection and training of civilian cosmonaut testers and cosmonaut researchers for missions aboard spacecraft of the Soyuz series. On May 23, 1966, a company directive established a team of cosmonaut testers at the flight testing department of TsKBEM. This decision was reaffirmed in a decree by Military and Industrial Commission dated June 15, 1966. In 1967 the Government approved "Regulations on the Cosmonaut Testers and Cosmonaut Researchers of the USSR", according to which spacecraft crews were to be formed from the Air Force and TsKBEM cosmonauts. According to these Regulations, civilian cosmonaut testers from TsKBEM, along with their flight training at the Air Force Cosmonaut Training Center, were engaged in the development and testing of space hardware and equipment directly at the company.

Civilian cosmonauts from the Corporation team took part in testing manned spacecraft Soyuz and space hardware for the lunar program; missions to long-duration orbital stations of Salyut type; implementation of the mission under the international program Soyuz-Apollo; work under Buran program. During the period of 1981 through 2010, they completed a tremendous amount of work on experts' test support fro the development of orbital stations Salyut, Mir, the Russian Segment of the ISS. Some of the expeditions and completed mission task are to this day unequalled in world space flight.

On April 30, 1981, a decree of the USSR Council of Ministers No.425-127 approved an improved "Regulation on the USSR Cosmonauts", that were prepared by a joint decision of the Minister of the General Machine Building in concurrence with the Ministry of Defense of the USSR. It defined special roles and tasks of cosmonaut testers and cosmonaut researchers of the NPO Energia cosmonaut team.

On December 7, 2010, the Federal Space Agency issued an order "On Establishment of a Unified Cosmonaut Team" on the basis of the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center, which was transferred to Roscosmos from the Defense Ministry. By that order RSC Energia employees, holding positions of candidate cosmonauts and cosmonauts were transferred to similar positions at the Cosmonaut Training Center.

Nevertheless, the flight test department of the Corporation was preserved. It had become a team of like-minded people, consisting of young engineers, test engineers, experienced pilot cosmonauts and scientists. The staff of the flight test department takes active and systematic part in the work to design activities for the crews of advanced manned systems.

"Sergei Korolev himself was a glider pilot, who followed the principle "you built something, you fly it yourself". Nowadays, when new-generation manned space systems and deep-space exploration projects are being developed, approaches to organizing crew activities and forming crews for spacecraft that were proposed by Korolev become especially relevant. We are convinced that specialists developing space hardware will definitely be taking part in flight tests of manned spacecraft",- believes Alexander Kalery, Hero of Russia, cosmonaut pilot of the Russian Federation, head of the spaceflight center of RSC Energia.

In the nearest future, young engineers-testers of the department are going to take part in competitive selection to the cosmonaut team and plan to take part in flight tests of advanced space technology.

JSC RSC Energia: the leader in the rocket and space industry, and the prime contractor for manned space systems. The Corporation conducts work on the development of unmanned space and rocket systems (launch vehicles and orbital transfer vehicles), and high-technology systems for various non-space applications. Since August 2014, the Corporation is headed by Vladimir Lvovich Solntsev.

 

RSC Energia press-center

 

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