The main tasks of space biology and medicine

In space flight, man had to face a whole series of new factors for the first time. They can be conditionally divided into three groups.

  • The first includes low barometric pressure, lack of molecular oxygen, ionizing radiation, unfavorable temperature conditions, meteorite hazard.
  • The second group includes factors that are caused by flight in a rocket aircraft: noise, vibration, acceleration and weightlessness.
  • The third group of space flight factors includes those that are associated with a person’s stay in a sealed spacecraft cabin: the artificial atmosphere of the spacecraft, nutritional characteristics in flight, features of work and rest, isolation, restriction of movements, emotional stress, etc.

The main stages in the development of space biology and medicine in the USSR.

At the first stage (1948−1952), the researchers had to:

  • Choose the most convenient biological object for research;
  • Develop methods for studying the physiological functions of an animal that are suitable for use in rocket flight conditions;
  • To study the nature and degree of influence of flight into the upper layers of the atmosphere on the state of individual physiological functions of the body and the behavior of animals;
  • Find out the possibility of using a detachable cabin for rescuing animals and equipment from high altitudes;
  • Test the operation of control and recording equipment in unusual conditions of such a flight;
  • To develop a system for ensuring living conditions for animals in a small pressurized cabin for flight on a rocket up to an altitude of 100 km.

At the second stage, the scientists faced a number of tasks to ensure the safety of the flight of living organisms on rockets.

  • Develop ways to ensure the safety of animals when flying in a depressurized cockpit, during free fall and when parachuting from a great height;
  • To study the survival and vital activity of animals when ejected from the cabin in the upper atmosphere;
  • To study the influence of weightlessness and other flight factors on the organism of animals;
  • Test the operation of the recording equipment in flight on a rocket, during ejection from it, in free fall, etc.;
  • To determine the possibility of using the created parachutes to ensure the safe descent and landing of animals with equipment after their ejection at different heights and at different speeds of the rocket flight.

The third stage began with animal studies during flights on geophysical rockets to an altitude of 212 and 450 km in 1955. Dogs weighing 5−7 kg were selected as experimental animals. During the flight, their pulse, blood pressure, respiration were recorded, and an electrocardiogram was taken. Filming was carried out continuously throughout the flight.

The fourth stage of research took place on November 3, 1957 when the first biological satellite of the Earth was launched. Unlike high-altitude rockets, satellites made it possible to study the behavior and state of living organisms over a long period of satellite movement in orbit. The study of the effect of flight factors on the animal’s body was to be carried out only by indicators that could be transmitted by telemetry.

The fifth stage of research is associated with the names Belka and Strelka. The main task of the launch of the second spacecraft was to study the effect of space flight factors on biological objects as well as the development of flight safety systems and return to Earth.

The sixth stage is the preparation of the first manned flight into space on April 12, 1961.

The seventh stage of research is the flight of the Voskhod-2 multi-seat spacecraft. The cosmonaut crew included researchers of various specialties.