Science not a priority

During the 1980 selection of female cosmonaut trainees, women from a variety of agencies and ministries were considered and tested, including Irina Latysheva of the Academy of Sciences. Because there was no AN cosmonaut team at that time, she transferred to NPO Energiya and qualified as a civilian research-engineer cosmonaut. She was never called for mission training, but she remained a member of the team for several years, formally retiring on 25 February 1993. Other likely candidates for the AN (later, RAN - Russian Academy of Sciences) team existed in the 1980s, but although many passed the medicals, none were selected. In 1985, Arkediy Melua, a specialist in information processing at the St. Petersburg Department of the Institute of Natural Sciences and Technology History of RAN, passed his medicals but progressed no further. In 1988, Sergey Fursov also passed his medical examination and was authorised for cosmonaut training, but he never began the course.

Latysheva, Irina D. was born on 9 July 1953. Employed by the Institute of

Radiotechnics and Electronics of the AN, she was later seconded to the Space

Research Institute (IKI), prior to selection for cosmonaut training.

Apparently, science was not a priority for crew assignments in the 1980s and 1990s, though in 1993 after the break-up of the Soviet Union, a decision was made to reform the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAN) cosmonaut group. Though no scientist-cosmonaut has flown in space, several other cosmonauts have gone on to earn CTSc and DSc degrees after their space flights. In the 1980s, two former engineer-cosmonauts with space station experience transferred to the AN, even though there was no formal team in place at that time.

Veteran civilian engineer cosmonaut Georgy Grechko (selected from OKB-1 in 1966) had flown two space station missions in 1975 (thirty days) and 1978 (ninety-six days) before transferring to the Academy of Sciences "team" on 6 July 1985. He flew his third and final mission in 1985 as a scientist, not a flight engineer, representing the Institute of Atmospheric Physics of the AN where he was employed as chief of a science laboratory. Leading up to this mission, Grechko prepared a broad programme of scientific experiments, which he conducted on the Salyut 7 space station during his week-long mission. He later expressed a desire to fly a fourth mission - perhaps to the Mir space complex - but this never materialised. Grechko retired from the AN team on 1 March 1992. The second experienced cosmonaut to transfer to the AN (on 4 November 1989) was former NPO Energiya cosmonaut Valentin V. Lebedev. He had been selected as an engineer-cosmonaut in 1973 and had flown two missions (in 1973 for eight days and in 1982 for 211 days). He transferred to a team working at the GeoInfo Centre of the AN, but he never flew again and retired from cosmonaut status on 25 February 1993.

Following the reactivation of the RAN team in 1993, former Air Force pilot-cosmonaut Anatoly Artsebarsky was seconded to the Centre for Applied Research of the RAN, acting as an advisor in the creation of a new RAN cosmonaut group. He was in line to head up the team when it was formed. His transfer occurred on 7 September 1993 and he officially enrolled in the RAN team in January 1994 as Chief of Sector for Information Technologies at the Laboratory of Large Scale Constructions (Space Stations). He began the difficult task of forming the RAN team, but by 1 April, only Artsebarsky himself was required to pass a medical as there were no other cosmonauts formally assigned to the team. On 28 July 1994, Artsebarsky formally retired from the RAN "team" and since he was its only member, the team again disbanded. On 20 March 1995, Yuri Stepanov, a medical research engineer, transferred from the IMBP group (to which he had been selected ten years before) to the RAN team, but left in February 1996.

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