Layperson Physiological Tolerance and Operational Performance in Centrifuge-Simulated Spaceflight

Rebecca S. Blue, Karen M. Ong, Kristi Ray, Anil Menon, Jaime Mateus, Serena Auñón-Chancellor, Ronak Shah, William Powers

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    2 Scopus citations

    Abstract

    INTRODUCTION: Prior study has indicated that individuals of varied age, medical history, and limited-to-no experience tolerate spaceflight conditions. We sought to expand upon the understanding of layperson response to hypergravity conditions expected in commercial spaceflight by exposing subjects, following minimal training, to centrifuge-simulated, high-fidelity commercial spaceflight profiles. We further explored how these individuals perform in simulated operational activities during and following hypergravity. METHODS: Volunteer subjects participated in up to five centrifuge runs (maximum +4.0 Gz, +4.5 Gx, 6.1 G resultant; onset rate <0.5 Gz · s−1, ≤1 Gx · s−1). Profiles included two winged spacecraft simulations with sequential and combined +Gx/+Gz and two capsule simulations representing nominal +Gx launch and reentry. The final profile simulated a capsule launch abort, with a more dynamic cycling of +Gx exposures and oscillatory multi-axis exposures simulating parachutes and water motion. Touchscreen tablets were used to administer pattern-replication tasks during and after profiles. RESULTS: A total of 46 subjects participated, including 4 diabetics and 9 with cardiac disease. There was increased frequency of motion sickness, subjectively associated with capsule-type profiles, and increased termination of participation compared to prior studies. There was no association between medical history, age, sex, or motion sickness history and tolerance or noncompletion. Tablet test errors were common; accuracy and time to completion were associated with age. There was no association between any time metric or accuracy and sex. DISCUSSION: T his study improves understanding of layperson tolerance in commercial spaceflight analog conditions, and the capsular profiles broaden the applicability of the findings. The frequency of task errors highlights the potential for mistakes in operational activities when performed by laypersons.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)584-595
    Number of pages12
    JournalAerospace Medicine and Human Performance
    Volume94
    Issue number8
    DOIs
    StatePublished - Aug 1 2023

    Keywords

    • G-exposure
    • acceleration
    • commercial spaceflight
    • human centrifuge
    • hypergravity
    • spaceflight participant
    • task performance

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Medicine (miscellaneous)
    • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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