Scientists should be used as human GUINEA PIGS, space chief says

Space scientists should be used as human GUINEA PIGS on test flights like engineers were in the Stalin-era, head of Russian space agency says

  • Dmitry Rogozin, head of Roscosmos, made the claims to officials
  • He said designers of Russian a spacecraft should be used as test dummies
  • Comments were met by nervous laughter, with people unsure if he was serious
  • Spokesperson said he only meant designers should be ‘personally responsible’

Space scientists should be used as guinea pigs to test the equipment they build, the head of the Russian space agency has said.

Dmitry Rogozin said engineers of the next-generation Russian spacecraft, Federatsiya should be used as test dummies for the first manned flights – just like they were during the Stalin-era.

The comments were met by nervous laughter, with people unsure if he was being serious. 

Federatsiya – which translates as Federation – is tentatively set for its first manned flight in 2024.

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Space scientists should be used as guinea pigs to test equipment they build, the head of the Russian space agency (pictured) has said

‘When comrade Stalin was shown an armoured vehicle that he was supposed to ride in — with claims that a [submachine gun] couldn’t pierce it — he put the car’s designer inside and sprayed it with machine-gun fire,’ Mr Rogozin told officials according to a report by The Times.

He said the practice should be used during safety tests for the Federatsiya. 

Scholars estimate that under Stalin – who was leader of the USSR from 1929 to 1953 – more than a million people were executed in political purges.

Millions more died in the vast prison camp system or as a result of mass starvation and deportations.

A Roscosmos spokesperson said the comments were not meant to be taken literally. 

He said Rogozin only meant that designers should be held ‘personally responsible’ for their results.


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The Russian space agency has had a series of setbacks with Soyuz rockets.

Earlier this month a sensor was damaged during assembly of a Soyuz rocket which forced it to abort its trip two minutes after it was launched.

The Soyuz-FG rocket carrying Nasa astronaut Nick Hague and Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexei Ovchinin failed shortly into the October 11 flight, sending their capsule into a sharp fall back to Earth.

The two men landed safely on the steppes of Kazakhstan despite the failed launch.

Previous manned Soyuz missions have also failed with astronauts on-board.

In 1983 a crew was forced to eject from their rocket as it exploded on the launchpad and a 1975 missions saw the Soyuz capsule crash back to Earth from 90 miles up after a rocket failure.

The crews survived in both missions.

Dmitry Rogozin said engineers of the next-generation Russian spacecraft, Federatsiya should be used as test dummies for the first manned flights – just like they were during the Stalin-era (pictured, right)

Earlier this month a sensor was damaged during assembly of a Soyuz rocket (pictured) which forced it to abort its trip two minutes after it was launched

In total Soyuz rockets have been launched 745 times of which 21 have failed.

Thirteen of those failures have been since 2010, calling into question the continued reliability of the rocket. 

Earlier this month Rogozin laid out plans to develop a moon base operated by remote-controlled avatars. 

He claimed this endeavour is more ambitious than the iconic US ‘Apollo’ programme of the ’60s and ’70s. 

‘This is about creating a long-term base, naturally, not habitable, but visited. But basically, it is the transition to robotic systems, to avatars that will solve tasks on the Moon surface,’ Rogozin said.    

He was not drawn on the appearance or role of these robotic systems and did not provide a timeline for its introduction.

He was not drawn on the appearance or role of these robotic systems and did not provide a timeline for its introduction. Roscosmos has also mused that it will put humans on the moon for the first time around 2030 (file photo)

The Soyuz rocket: Decades of blasting into space

The Soyuz programme is an ongoing human spaceflight programme which was initiated by the Soviet Union in the early 1960s, originally part of a Moon landing project.

There have been 138 manned missions, of which 11 have failed and one astronaut has died.

Here are some of the notable failures, including one in 1967 when an astronaut was killed, one in 1975 when two astronauts hurtle to Earth.

1967: Soviet astronaut Vladimir Komarov was killed during landing due to a parachute failure

1975: Two Russian astronauts had to abort a mission to a Russian space station at an altitude of 90miles due to a rocket failure.

They hurtled towards Earth and safely landed in the Altai Mountains on the Russia-China border. 

One of the astronauts never flew to space again, never fully recovered from the accident and died aged 62 in 1990. The other made two more flights. 

1983: A rocket malfunctioned during the countdown to take off in southern Kazakhstan.

Automatic systems ejected the two Russian crew-members just seconds before the rocket exploded. The fire burned on the launch pad for 20 hours. 

2002: A Soyuz ship carrying a satellite crashed during launch in Russia when a booster suffered an engine malfunction. The ship landed near the launch pad, killing one engineer on the ground.

2011: A Soyuz-U mission carrying cargo failed to launch to the International Space Station when the upper stage experienced a problem and broke up over Siberia.

2016: Another cargo ship was lost shortly after launch, likely due to a problem with the third stage of the Soyuz-U. 

August 2018: A hole in a Soyuz capsule docked to the International Space Station caused a brief loss of air pressure and had to be patched. 

The Russians claimed the hole was drilled deliberately in an act of sabotage either on Earth or in orbit. Another theory is that the hole was a production defect.

Roscosmos has also mused that it will put humans on the moon for the first time around 2030.  

The space agency is reportedly looking into the use of lunar soil as a potential building material and using 3D printing techniques to manufacture a variety of structure. 

Mr Rogozin revealed that Russia would go to the moon despite issues plaguing its new piloted spacecraft. 

It says it will use the Angara carrier rocket and the existing Soyuz spacecraft to reach the moon.   

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