Training prepares astronauts for life in orbit
Many long hours and years of training turn the potential astronauts of today into the spacefarers of tomorrow. With the advent of the International Space Station, preparing men and women for work on the orbiting outpost has become a highly complex process.
Training is coordinated between the major partners, with each being responsible for instructing astronauts in the operation of the elements it has or will supply to the Space Station.
Mission specific training for European elements and payloads, such as the Columbus laboratory and the Automated Transfer Vehicle, will take place for all international astronauts at the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) in Cologne, Germany, which is the home-base for European astronauts.
The first Advanced Training Class for the Space Station’s international partners started in April 2001, with astronauts from Japan, Canada, Europe and NASA taking part. This lasts 18 months and is performed at the various training sites in USA, Japan, Canada, Russia and Europe in blocks of two months.
For all potential Space Station astronauts there are three phases leading to a crew member being declared ready for a flight – basic training, advanced training, and increment-specific training.
In the first year basic training provides teaching on space technology and science, medical skills and skills for operational work with Station systems and payloads, including special capabilities such as underwater diving as the basis for spacewalk or extra-vehicular activity (EVA) training.
Advanced training provides Station crews with knowledge and skills related to general operation of the Station elements, payloads, transport vehicles and communication with the ground.
At this stage the training is generic as the potential crew members become familiar with all systems and specialise in a subset of functions, such as resource and data operations, robotics, navigation, maintenance, intra- and extra-vehicular activities, medical aspects and payload operations for long-term, on-orbit payloads. This aspect of training is given to astronauts at all the partners’ facilities to provide first-hand familiarity with specific flight elements and operations.
The final stage of training is known as increment-specific (an 'increment' being the period between crew exchange aboard the Station) which gives an assigned crew (and backup crew, if applicable) the knowledge and skills required for the planned and contingency onboard tasks of their mission. For this crews train together for about 18 months in order to foster team integration and spirit.
Last update: 25 October 2001