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Friday, April 13, 2018

“Space medicine is under threat of collapse”

Roscosmos jointly with the Russian Academy of Sciences is now actively developing the concept of manned spaceflight. Up to what year will stay at the space station? How and with whom we will prepare for distant interplanetary flights? What problems we will solve on the moon? The time at which solves these issues main space Agency, almost military: we have money enough, time to lose no, but to keep what we had once won, must. And some things even improve. And this, according to the new head of Roscosmos Igor Komarov, requires full consolidation of all the potential “space” of enterprises and institutions, and most importantly — to avoid duplication of their functions each other.

However, apparently, heard the call not all.

Someone is trying to “cut” with Roscosmos cash bitches in a billion (!) rubles for the creation from scratch of what we have available and works very well for dozens of years! We are talking about building a new Institute for space medicine. In a strange story, one that unfolds in the margins of the space Agency, which other than an attempt to sabotage and will not name, understood the correspondent of “MK”.

photo: Oleg Voloshin

The centrifuge of short radius to simulate gravity.

The other day in the editorial office were the documents, testifying that already a year as a highly respected medical organization of the Federal medical-biological Agency () is trying to “persuade” the Russian space Agency to give her the primacy in all matters related to biomedical support of space flights, and, of course, the financing of these projects in the next 10 years. Only — attention! for starters, the Agency needs to rebuild the Institute and to deploy the necessary network of laboratories… “the Inclusion of construction projects in the Federal target program will provide stable funding that will allow for timely commissioning of a unique specialized facility required for the development and improvement of the system of medicine care manned space flights”, — is written in the application form for participation in the space program.

The enthusiasts would turn a blind eye to the fact that the country already has the unique and highly specialized institution, and well-coordinated, successfully operating for more than 30 years, the system of biomedical support of space flights. And — here’s the opening! — build nothing else, everything is already built!


Sending the first man into space, our country is still a leader in the selection and training of people for orbital missions and biomedical support of their routes. We are going to consult with them sign multimillion-dollar contracts American, European, Japanese space Agency.

photo: Oleg Voloshin
Medical laying Russian cosmonaut.

More than 10 years I write about space medicine and know selection, flight training and rehabilitation after the flight unit of the Russian space Agency “Centre of cosmonaut training. Y. A. Gagarin” in Star city. State scientific center “Institute of biomedical problems Russian Academy of Sciences” in 1963 provides the state of health of cosmonauts during the flight and also participates in post-flight rehabilitation. Who trains the vestibular system of astronauts on earth? . Whose treadmills work in the Russian segment of the ISS? Development designers IBMP. Who created for astronauts suit “Penguin” and the pants, creating weightlessness in a simulated stay on the Earth? IBMP. What’s what, but in the matter of biomedical support of cosmonauts IMBP school and has no equal in the world. While the Americans are only going in March to make the first annual flight to the space station, to our he will be the fourth! Not only that, we were flying and more than a year — record of the doctor from IBMP RAS Valery Polyakov at 437 days haven’t beat anybody. It almost flew “to Mars” and came back, proving that in the perfect training system developed by the Russian space doctors, such flights are quite feasible. And that was back in 1994!

photo: Oleg Voloshin
To investigate the effects of weightlessness on the musculoskeletal frame of immersion in the bath.

To talk about the Affairs and plans of the doctors and biologists can be endlessly remembering and heard around the world experiment with long-term isolation “Mars-500”, and absolutely fantastic at first glance, the idea of defending the ship from cosmic radiation by means of an artificial magnetic field. Thus, scientists would have killed two birds with one stone, protecting from harmful cosmic rays and hypomagnetic environment in a far space.

photo: Oleg Voloshin
One of the stages of the experiment “Mars-500” was held at “the red planet”, IBMP

And here amid all this abundance working programs, products and ideas (many of which do not disappear in anticipation of space flight, and are used to treat people on Earth) back in January of last year, suddenly received an unexpected ambitious request to the head of Roscosmos (it was then still Oleg Ostapenko). “In connection with the formation of the Federal space program for 2016-2025 send You an application for the implementation of investment projects… the Main project result is the creation of experimental and technical base of the Institute of space medicine scientific clinical center, Federal biomedical Agency of Russia with the special stands and equipment, allowing to carry out research at world level in the field of space medicine,” writes the Deputy head of the FMBA Vladimir Rogozhnikov. The Annex States that “the success of space exploration would have been impossible without intensive development of space medicine”, and therefore the FMBA requests 956,9 million rubles, of which 253,1 would go for construction works, 476,3 — for the purchase of equipment, other 76,9 — on other expenses…

photo: Oleg Voloshin
The centrifuge of short radius to simulate gravity.

It would be unfair not to mention that medical-biological Agency also participates in the organization of flights. But its function is limited solely health issues: check for infectious patients in the vicinity of the launch complex, to prevent the entrance of infection to the launch site, to provide the necessary funds in case of emergencies during takeoff and landing, to be ready to be hospitalized victims after the fire and so on. To work during the flight, the specialists were never involved. But it is a different specialization, and no experience here will not get far. But it seems that the promotion of the Russian space medicine and not put in the forefront in this case. The main — building, billion rubles…

Cosmonaut Sergei Volkov in overalls “Penguin”.
Photo courtesy of the archives of IBMP

It is possible that the offer from the FMBA was done in the expectation that the leadership of Roscosmos, which has recently changed every year or two, not very well versed in medical and biological preparation of manned flights. But then, according to elementary logic, the head had to consult with those who are in the know, with doctors and astronauts.

Experiment “Mars-500”. Audit of medicines.
Photo courtesy of the archives of IBMP

In Roscosmos told us that consultations were. All the proposals of the experts into account. But it turned out that the story did not end there. The project was a bit underworked, and in September last year at the meeting of the first Deputy head of Roscosmos Vladimir Ivanov was invited to include it as an investment FCCP event until 2025.

photo: Oleg Voloshin
Sputnik “Bion-M”

What turns out? From the rostrum people say that we need to save money, to cut back their appetites, piled threat to those who don’t understand this, recall relatives… And at the same time those same politicians decide to the detriment of the state to Finance the project, duplicating the existing system. In December 2014, its recommendations to approve the construction gives a design Institute “IPROMASHPROM”, construction office. And how is it that the medical opinion from the CPC and IBMP? It seems that if Roscosmos and consulted, it is certainly not with them, and with the nurses.

Than all it will end, nobody knows (in the Russian Federal space Agency said that the fate of this project is not yet resolved) Say that the current head Igor Komarov, who took the helm after all the above correspondence, imposed an annual moratorium on all possible changes of legal entities and competencies of the companies in the industry. Need time to properly figure it all out. And I want to believe that Komarov will succeed.

The international crew of the experiment “Mars-500”.
Photo courtesy of the archives of IBMP

— You know, specialization in space medicine is absolutely necessary, — told me one of the employees of CTC. Gagarin. — Take, for example, vision. Rarely anyone from astronauts it perfect. To determine the deviation can in the FMBA, and we, at CTC, but that’s to say, is it possible to fly with one or another deviation from the norm, can only here, where dozens of years have conducted research on this issue. It is clear that in the FMBA are now fighting for a place under the sun, trying to win over all medical issues related to spaceflight. But I think it will not benefit our manned space exploration, not too convenient this is and the Russian Federal space Agency, which will have to allocate money to an outside organization related to the Ministry of health. After all, there is their own medicine even the railway workers, and even astronauts and even more so must be its own system. I think that in America, there are clinical centers of the FMBA of our stronger, but they do not crush space medicine. In particular, in the structure NASA has a special Department, and it is called — Flight clinic. It is headed by the person whose post sounds: the physician of NASA. We do not exist, but after decades of them at CTC. Gagarin and IBMP RAS has accumulated a vast experience, born of the scientific school, which in many ways is a role model to those same Americans. So why ruin it?

Valery Polyakov and Sergei Krikalev at the Mir station. Preparing for a medical experiment.
Photo courtesy of the archives of IBMP

I would say the FMBA had proposed something different, original. So there is nothing new! “Advanced” tasks of the investment project there called “deployment of the Department of experimental gravitational physiology”, “experimental design lab”, “block spaces for human exposure to simulated weightlessness.” All this, even with similar names, and has been working in the IBMP.

photo: Oleg Voloshin
Space doctors are ready to research for the training of a person to interplanetary flight.

Imagine for a moment that Roscosmos still agreed with the idea of the FMBA and has allocated almost a billion rubles for the construction. If now to start to build a new Institute, to expand the departments and units, then the Agency will need a minimum of three years to create only infrastructure! This means that employees will be able to directly do business only in 2018. And this is the imminent destruction of our space medicine! Even a year and a half delay in the work now could have catastrophic backlog from advanced space-faring Nations that have already come on the heels of us. For example, in establishing a rotating capsule to simulate gravity on Board. The idea is that being in such capsule within an hour or two can be replaced at the station of heavy workouts. Our sample, which are now experiencing in the IBMP, while American is better — it creates the opportunity for the astronaut to change position during prolonged rotation, monitors the work of all organs and body systems. “Not voimsa now, we lose the championship and will never catch up” — as they say in Roskosmos true professionals. Those who, after reading about capsule artificial gravity, people might think it’s nonsense (like, again you and your Mars) answer: while in IBMP RAS develop orbital variant, analogue terrestrial it already treats people. In the country several years ago established the direction of gravitational medicine, and all thanks to space development! It is proved that under conditions of high gravity, created when the force of gravity is greater than on our planet, has a benefit in the treatment of lower extremities vessels, accelerates the regeneration of bone tissues in fractures, there are effective options of hypertension.

photo: Oleg Voloshin
Simulator interplanetary station which performed the experiment “Mars-500”.

To Express their opinion about possible impending restructuring of space in the medical unit, we asked the Hero of the Soviet Union, Hero of Russia, world record-holder for time spent in space, now occupying the post of first Deputy Director of TSNII of machine-building for manned space programs Sergey KRIKALEV.

— Currently in space medicine have developed an equilibrium, cooperation of professionals, which performs its functions: CTC — selection and training of astronauts for flight, IMBP accompanies the flight, scientific experiments, the FMBA is responsible for sanitary conditions, says Krikalev. It’s like a three — legged table: one file — the table will fall. I’m always alarmed when we have any good deed of trying to replace the building, whether it’s a science city or institution, which require a very large cost to the budget. Would it be easier to support those objects that have long and successful working?

By the way, now in IBMP is already preparing for the delivery of a beautiful new building constructed, by the way, due to the investment activities of the Academy of Sciences. As I said earlier in the Institute, the corps is positioned to expand work on the preparation of interplanetary flights as a center with international participation. Support him and the Russian Federal space Agency, and Russian Academy of Sciences and FANO. On the initiative of Russia created an international group with the participation of American, German, European and Japanese space agencies. This building will be ready this year, and IBMP just need to retrofit it with the necessary equipment. Give them not a billion but at least a few million rubles, and return on foreign investments and development of advanced technologies will be a hundred times more.

The concept of manned space flight should be the basis of the Federal space program from 2016 to 2025, which is promised to prepare in March. The main document is not signed yet, but potential participants of the programme are outlined, the investment component is already under discussion. It is clear that many would like to get funding, but few of them argue for the preservation of the priority of Russia with cost minimization. It seems that approaching the moment of truth.

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