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Shuttle-Mir Background - Gargarin Cosmonaut Training Center

NASA's Mir astronauts trained for their Shuttle-Mir missions mainly at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center (GCTC), at Star City, about 30 kilometers north of Moscow.

The Soviets' decision to construct a cosmonaut training center was made on January 11, 1960. In 1968, it was named for the first man in space, Yuri Gagarin. On May 15, 1995, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Russian government established the Russian State Scientific-Research Center of Cosmonaut Training, also named after Yuri Gargarin. It was placed under the authorities of the Russian Ministry of Defense (Air Force) and the Russian Space Agency. Beyond training Soviet and Russian cosmonauts, the GCTC had trained 25 international crews by April 1, 1996, including 24 astronauts from 17 countries.

Like NASA's astronaut training center at Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, the GCTC offers high-tech training facilities including: integrated simulators for the Soyuz spacecraft and the Mir space station modules; a Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory for extra-vehicular activity training, consisting of a 5,000 cubic meter water tank; a Il-76 MDK aircraft "flying laboratory," for the simulation of microgravity; and both large (TsF-18) and small (TsF-7) centrifuges, for the simulation of G-loads during launch.

The GCTC also offers survival training for many possible landing situations, including mountains, woodlands, marshes, deserts, in the Arctic and on the sea. All seven Shuttle-Mir astronauts returned to Earth onboard space shuttles, but an emergency evacuation of Mir in a Soyuz was always a possibility. Russian cosmonauts have experienced several "rough" landings. For example, cosmonauts Belyayev and Leonov landed on permafrost in 1965; Lazarev and Makarov landed on a mountainside in 1975; and Zudov and Roshdestvensky splashed down in Lake Tyngiz in 1976.

This web site offers many insights into the astronauts' training for Shuttle-Mir. A list of several interesting links can be found at the end the Training text section.

Related Links:
Training of Astronauts in Russia

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