Human tolerance to space flightMedical studies of astronauts and cosmonauts before, during, and after space missions have identified several effects of weightlessness and other factors that influence the ability of humans to tolerate space flight. Weightlessness effects include space motion sickness, cardiovascular abnormalities, reduction in immune system function, loss of red blood cells, loss of bone mass, and muscle atrophy. Extravehicular activity (EVA) increases the likelihood that decompression sickness may occur. Radiation also gives reason for concern about health of crewmembers, and psychological factors are important on long-term flights. Countermeasures that have been used include sensory preadaptation, prebreathing and use of various air mixtures for EVA, loading with water and electrolytes, exercise, use of pharmacological agents and special diets, and psychological support. It appears that humans can tolerate and recover satisfactorily from at least one year of space flight, but a number of conditions must be further ameliorated before long-duration missions can be considered routine.
Huntoon, C. L. (NASA Johnson Space Center Houston, TX, United States)