The problems with a space capsule stranded in orbit last week have shaken Soviet officials and forced them to rethink how cosmonauts should be trained, the director of the program said Friday.
Vladimir A. Shatalov told reporters that the Soviet space program had enjoyed "a very quiet time" in recent years and "nothing teaches us more than the difficulties we encounter in life."Cosmonauts Abdul Ahad Mohmand of Afghanistan and veteran Soviet spaceman Vladimir Lyakhov were stranded in orbit for 26 tense hours on Sept. 6 because of equipment and crew problems on their Soyuz TM-5 capsule. After two unsuccessful attempts to reenter the atmosphere, the capsule landed safely in Soviet Central Asia as food and oxygen ran dangerously low.
"I think that after this flight all the experts in space technology, the mission control center and training center will make many useful conclusions that will be realized in changes in the design, logic of management, documentation and equipment of the center, in the organizational structure and probably in the methods of cosmonauts' training," said Shatalov.
The two cosmonauts, Shatalov and other space scientists faced a Moscow news conference Friday to assess the problems of the flight.
"We altogether, including the Mission Control Center, the cosmonauts and engineers, were a bit complacent about our life and maybe our preparedness got a bit lower - our preparedness for functions in unexpected situations that can always emerge in any flight," Shatalov said.
Before the capsule was stranded, it docked with the Mir orbiting space station, where it left off a doctor who is to monitor the health of two cosmonauts conducting experiments there since December.