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December 2, 1958

Letter, M. Khrunichev et al to the CPSU CC

This document was made possible with support from Carnegie Corporation of New York (CCNY)

Nº OS-2129ss


December 2, 1958

Top Secret


To the CPSU CC[1]


At the instruction of the CPSU CC [Central Committee], the proposals of Comrades Bakulev, Parin, Chernigovskiy, and Yazdovskiy about increasing scientific research-work in the field of medical and biological support of spaceflights have been considered.


The development of modern aviation and missile technology requires the broad development of scientific research work in the field of medical and biological support of flights into the upper layers of the atmosphere and space.


The indicated proposals about the necessity of increasing this work have great practical significance.


At the present time only the Scientific-Research and Testing Institute of Aviation Medicine of the USSR Ministry of Defense is engaged in questions of aviation medicine. It includes a Department Nº 8, which deals with the questions of the medical support of spaceflights.


The subject area of the Institute includes the development of the problems of ensuring the living conditions of a human organism as applied to the modern and future equipment of aviation and missile technology having a great speed, acceleration, and altitude of flight, and also the study of other factors influencing the organism (a long time in a small closed cabin, cosmic and ultraviolet rays, weightlessness, high temperature, etc.)


The Institute was the first to experimentally show the possibility of the flight of an animal into the upper layers of the atmosphere and on an artificial earth satellite. The conditions of a person at an altitude of up to 40 km have been studied through simulation in pressure chambers and methods have been developed to ensure life in these conditions. At the present time work has been directed at the support of flights at high altitudes, including into space.


However, the insufficiency of researchers and the material base of the Institute is hindering the broad development of scientific research work in this field. In spite of the multiplicity of questions under development by the Institute the staff still has only 120 researchers. The Institute is insufficiently supplied with scientific apparatuses and equipment.


The proposal about the organization of an independent institute of the medical problems of spaceflight based on the Institute of Aviation Medicine ought to be considered premature at the present time since this would entail splitting up the researchers and material and technical resources, a reduction of the level of scientific work in both institutes, would create excessive parallelism, and would require additional expenditures of material.[2]


In addition, it ought to be noted that the problems of the medical and biological support of flights both into the upper layers of the atmosphere as well as into space are inextricably interconnected and represent a single whole. Space medicine is a continuation of aviation medicine and is developing based on the latter. This is organically a single field of science, the indivisibility of which is determined not only by the commonality of the problem, but also by the unity of the scientific collective, the obligatory continuity in its work, and a common technical basis.


Consequently it seems more correct not to scatter scientific and material resources around several organizations, but to strengthen the existing Institute of Aviation Medicine of the USSR Ministry of Defense, turning it into the Scientific-Research and Testing Institute of Aviation and Space Medicine so that it can jointly solve the questions of medical and biological support of spaceflights with the USSR Academy of Sciences and the USSR Academy of Medical Sciences in the near future.


A draft CPSU CC and USSR Council of Ministers decree on this question is attached.


M. Khrunichev[3]

K. Rudnev[4]

M. Nedelin[5]

A. Nesmeyanov[6]

A Bakulev[7] (he is ill)

Ye. Smirnov



Archival source: APRF. f. 3, op. 78. d. 1051. ll. 4-5. Signatures



[1] In the upper margin of the first page there is a mastic stamp “Minutes Nº 200 of the CC Presidium, Point 14.” In the left part is a typed notation “ST-1074”.

[2] This is a reference to the proposal (Document No. 1) on establishing a new institute to focus only on space medicine.

[3] Mikhail Vasil’yevich Khrunichev (1901-1961) was a deputy chairman of Gosplan.

[4] Konstantin Nikolayevich Rudnev (1911-1980) was chairman of the State Committee of Defense Technology (GKOT), the “ministry” in charge of the missile and space programs.

[5] Marshal Mitrofan Ivanovich Nedelin (1902-1960) was deputy minister for special armaments and reactive technology in the Ministry of Defense.

[6] Aleksandr Nikolayevich Nesmeyanov (1899-1980) was the president of the USSR Academy of Sciences.

[7] A. N. Bakulev’s signature is missing; Aleksandr Nikolayevich Bakulev (1890-1967) was president of the Academy of Medical Sciences from 1953 to 1960.

Proposal submitted to the Central Committee (CC) by a number of industry leaders, scientists, and military officials proposing to strengthen biomedical research to support a future human spaceflight.

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Selected, edited, and annotated by Asif Siddiqi. Translated by Gary Goldberg and Angela Greenfield.


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