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The Effects of Liquid Cooling Garments on Post-Space Flight Orthostatic IntolerancePost space flight orthostatic intolerance among Space Shuttle crew members following exposure to extended periods of microgravity has been of significant concern to the safety of the shuttle program. Following the Challenger accident, flight crews were required to wear launch and entry suits (LES). It was noted that overall, there appeared to be a higher degree of orthostatic intolerance among the post-Challenger crews (approaching 30%). It was hypothesized that the increased heat load incurred when wearing the LES, contributed to an increased degree of orthostatic intolerance, possibly mediated through increased peripheral vasodilatation triggered by the heat load. The use of liquid cooling garments (LCG) beneath the launch and entry suits was gradually implemented among flight crews in an attempt to decrease heat load, increase crew comfort, and hopefully improve orthostatic tolerance during reentry and landing. The hypothesis that the use of the LCG during reentry and landing would decrease the degree of orthostasis has not been previously tested. Operational stand-tests were performed pre and post flight to assess crewmember's cardiovascular system's ability to respond to gravitational stress. Stand test and debrief information were collected and databased for 27 space shuttle missions. 63 crewpersons wearing the LCG, and 70 crewpersons not wearing the LCG were entered into the database for analysis. Of 17 crewmembers who exhibited pre-syncopal symptoms at the R+O analysis, 15 were not wearing the LCG. This corresponds to a 21% rate of postflight orthostatic intolerance among those without the LCG, and a 3% rate for those wearing LCG. There were differences in these individual's average post-flight maximal systolic blood pressure, and lower minimal Systolic Blood pressures in those without LCG. Though other factors, such as type of fluid loading, and exercise have improved concurrently with LCG introduction, from this data analysis, it appears that LCG usage provided a significant degree of protection from post-flight orthostatic intolerance.
Document ID
Document Type
Conference Paper
Billica, Roger
(NASA Johnson Space Center Houston, TX United States)
Kraft, Daniel
(Harvard Medical School Boston, MA United States)
Date Acquired
August 17, 2013
Publication Date
July 1, 1997
Publication Information
Publication: The Sixth Alumni Conference of the International Space University
Subject Category
Man/System Technology And Life Support
Accession Number
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.

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