International Space Station Project
Shuttle pilots returning from short duration missions have demonstrated an adverse effect of microgravity exposure on their ability to control the spacecraft. As NASA prepares for exploration missions further afield a high priority has been placed on determining how long-duration spaceflight affects sensorimotor performance, how this translates to operator proficiency, and what countermeasures should be developed. We were recently awarded a grant from NASA to develop a full motion sensorimotor test system for assessment of operator proficiency in astronauts returning from the International Space Station (ISS). Astronauts will perform a battery of sensorimotor tests before and after extended missions (6 months) aboard the ISS, as well as assessments of their ability to land a T-38A Talon jet, drive a car and operate a mars rover during full motion simulations. Three systems motion simulators, based on the CKAS V7 motion base, have been developed in New York, Johnson Space Center in Houston, and the University of Sydney. Dr. Hamish MacDougall of Sydney University is the co-Principal Investigator, and worked with HAL on the implementation of the cabin, subject seating and visual displays. To date we have tested seven astronaut subjects, with four sessions prior to flight and three sessions after return, on landing day (R+0) and R+4 and R+8. All subjects have exhibited a marked decline in performance on the driving task (maintaining lane control while driving on a mountain road) and three subjects performed poorly during the T-38 landing simulation (see ISS video gallery).
Supported by NASA grant NNX09AL14G (S. Moore PI). ISS video gallery