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Behavioral Health and Performance Support

  • Christopher F. Flynn

This chapter reviews the stressors and countermeasures that affect crew behavioral health and performance during space flight. This review is based on the experiences of crewed space flight in both the Russian and U.S. programs, including Space Shuttle flights lasting from 1 to 3 weeks, Mir space station flights lasting longer than 1 year, and findings from analog environments that are similar in terms of isolation and other features to the in-flight environments on the Space Shuttle and on the Mir and International Space Stations (ISS).

Significant physical and psychosocial stressors challenge crews during mission training, space flight, and mission recovery. In fact, at least one crew has been dissolved before a longduration flight because of incompatibility [1]. Severe stress experienced by crews during Mir and NASA-Mir flights probably contributed to mission-limiting cardiac dysrhythmias and the appearance of emotional symptoms among crewmembers [2,3]. Fatigue and overwork conditions have also affected longduration crews. Journalists have identified these conditions as important factors contributing to the depressurization accident on the Mir space station in 1997 [4]. Psychological stressors known to have affected long-duration crews include the death of a family member; significant interpersonal frictions, both between crewmembers and between space crews and ground crews; overwork and “underwork”; and life-threatening “nearevacuation” events on board a spacecraft, which to date have included fire, depressurization, and loss of power. Although Russian space mission aborts were officially related to diagnoses of intractable headaches, chronic prostatitis, and cardiac dysrhythmias, behavioral conditions were equally important in the early termination of these missions [5,6].

Keywords

Behavioral Health Space Flight Performance Support Psychological Adaptation Behavioral Health Problem 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christopher F. Flynn
    • 1
  1. 1.Menninger Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral SciencesBaylor College of MedicineHoustonUSA

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