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Work under stress: how the astronauts work with the risks on the Ground and in space
Material posted: Publication date: 21-05-2018
Sergei Volkov that the astronaut is the main risk as being influenced by personal relationships at work, and about the little things that can be fatal for the crew.

The main risk for the astronaut to fly into space. Flight is a paragraph in the employment contract that is implied but not guaranteed. And this, of course, a shame. Taken in the cosmonaut detachment of one hundred applicants. And then he has only a 50% chance to fly. And it is necessary to wait for 5-7-10 years. And when you selected and are about to start, things can go wrong. Can you get sick just before the flight. Or so I had before the first flight, when it had to sit in the ship: it turned out that the suit is not sealed until the end.

In total I spent 540 days in space, was there three times, went to outer space, and it was all. But this time, when my suit was unsealed before the start, is probably the most scary for me personally. Could stay on the Ground, not fly. Fortunately, at that time, the cost. But I was ready even without a space suit into space to go, so unbearable was the thought that I will remain.

And even if you are lucky, fly, then you're in a white spacesuit and a white rocket that takes you up, is 3% of the work. The rest is routine training, which brings your actions to automatism. Because the responsibility is huge. When the astronaut sits in the rocket, he finds himself on top of the pyramid. But at the very moment when the rocket launched, the pyramid flips, and if you feel the pressure of all his weight. It's not just the overload of acceleration. This burden of responsibility. For themselves, for other people, for the space station cost $300 billion.

The phrase "risk management" in our case is not used. However, as "project management", although there are projects and managers. Terminology just stayed a long time. Risk assessment and work with them — it's different structures. And the case of the astronauts, of course. I generally prefer the Russian approach. Our astronauts are given much more autonomy than American astronauts, for example. They always have a "Houston, we have a problem" — no step tread without precise instructions from the Ground.

But what, perhaps we should change the current practices is in the amount of information that is given to astronauts. We can report: preparing for the spacewalk. And that's all. And we understand that unplanned exit. Start guessing, excitement — something probably went wrong, perhaps, some danger, it is necessary to fix it. And when was the last time give full instructions of what happened and what to do, very relieved. From my point of view, the person who is responsible should get all the information. Let it be incomplete let inconclusive. But it is much better than the unknown.

We are always prepared instructions in case of emergencies. And on Earth we are endlessly working on them. But to work out and impossible to foresee. Once we broke the toilet. More precisely, one of its parts. At the station there were two such items — new, just in case of breakage. And they both were defective, incorrectly assembled. Well, who could predict this? It seems a trifle ridiculous, and because of it there is a real danger that you will have to fly to Land ahead of time, to conserve the station. It is terrible to imagine what financial losses.

Manned spaceflight is an area where errors often occur because of the technology and not the fault of the people who govern it. Although the human factor is also affected. We have a gradation of errors: significant, insignificant... Only 5 types. At the end of the flight contract, the Commission assesses the performance of each, counts the number and severity of errors, pinpoints what's causing it in each particular case. Working on that whole research team.

Worst of all, when the crew ceases to be a crew when personal relationships fall apart, and from each other at the station nowhere to go. Usually this is based on the principle of two against one. Then for two flight is just unpleasant, and for the third — a living hell. And in this case the weak link: stress can't do the job, does not keep focus, doing everything for too long, makes mistakes. It is, fortunately, rarely happens. But when it does, return to Earth three sick tired of people and their flight is disrupted. The main task of the commander of the crew is still on the Ground so pick the team that nothing of the sort happened.

So we were ready to stressful situations and do not stiffen in case of danger, we specifically extend the comfort zone. To do this, we have, for example, training of survival. They repeat a scenario in which the lander flies somewhere not there and we need to hold on before arrival of rescuers. But their main result is an extension of the comfort zone. Our behavior is evaluated and dismantled psychologists: how does it interact with other team members, as decisions made under stress.

These exercises reduce the risk in flight. But, of course, every astronaut is taking a risk — the risk of death. It is clear that we rely on the integrity and experience of all those thousands of people that are employed in one space flight. It should be understood that all the equipment the pilot, and all flight testing. Because manned space missions are all single-piece production. And we are the testers who are aware of the riskiness of their work.


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