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The art of cosmonaut survival

Jacek Palkiewicz and cosmonaut survival training

Jacek Palkiewicz • Official website of the explorer and traveler

The art of cosmonaut survival

Arctic Circle

Expedition's year: 1991

Author: Jacek Palkiewicz

An overwhelming, vast wilderness surrounds us. A lonely, snowy desert with an icy layer of soil, smitten by a piercing wind, has something majestic about it, making people feel quite humble.

Beyond the Arctic Circle, I lead survival classes that are part of the program to train Russian cosmonauts in the event of an emergency landing in unknown terrain.

Our task is to spend 48 hours on a lonely tundra in biting frost. Food rations are very modest. Each of us gets 1 liter of water, a tablet of prunes with nuts, chocolate, cottage cheese, biscuits, a bag of coffee, two sugar cubes and a bag of lemon powder. This is not much, especially in cold climates, but in the situation we now find ourselves in, the problem of eating takes second place.

In our primitive refuge, the temperature drops to 20°C below zero. To defend ourselves against the increasingly troublesome cold, we work out our muscles throughout the entire body. We struggle to lift our legs from time to time and practice moving our fingers and toes non-stop. We try to make various grimaces to at least warm our faces a little bit. We often stand up from our seats and do some vigorous movements, but the space craft is so small that there is no room for longer exercising sessions.

When the pale disc of the sun appears over the horizon late in the morning, we are at the end of our strength, but fortunately the fight against our deadly enemy is also over.

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