Encyclopedia of Bioastronautics

Living Edition
| Editors: Laurence R. Young, Jeffrey P. Sutton

Managing Behavioral Health in Space

  • Walter SipesEmail author
  • Albert Holland
  • Gary Beven
Living reference work entry

Latest version View entry history

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-10152-1_118-2


Behavioral health in space is the practical application of aerospace psychiatry and aerospace psychology techniques to positively influence the mental well-being of astronauts, cosmonauts, and their family members.

Space flight possesses unique stressors in an unforgiving environment. Behavioral health is currently ranked second to the risk of space radiation exposure as a potential impediment to a successful exploration class mission. Lessons learned have revealed that prior Russian space flight missions have been terminated early due to psychological decrement. Therefore, it is critical to have in place a comprehensive and integrated program to prevent, detect, assess, and manage behavioral health issues in human space flight.

Lessons Learned

Several human space flight missions in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s produced issues with behavioral health due to psychological factors. In 1974, the crew of Skylab III expressed displeasure with their excessive workload and...

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Further Reading

  1. Inglis-Arkell E (2012) What does space travel do to your mind? NASA’s resident psychiatrist reveals all. http://io9.com/5967408/what-does-space-travel-do-to-your-mind-nasas-resident-psychiatrist-reveals-all
  2. Levine JS, Schild RE (eds) (2010) Section V psychology, stress behavioral health of astronauts and crew. In: The human mission to mars: colonizing the red planet. Cosmology Science Publishers, Cambridge, MA. pp 291–347Google Scholar
  3. Schmidt LL, Keeton K, Slack KJ, Leveton LB, Shea C (2009) Risk of performance errors due to poor team cohesion and performance, inadequate selection/team composition, inadequate training, and poor psychosocial adaption. In: Mcphee JC, Charles JB (eds) Human health and performance risks of space exploration missions. pp 45–84. http://ston.jsc.nasa.gov/collections/trs/_techrep/SP-2009-3405.pdf
  4. Slack KJ, Shea C, Leveton, LB, Whitmire AM, Schmidt LL (2009) Risk of behavioral and psychiatric conditions. In: Mcphee JC, Charles JB (eds) Human health and performance risks of space exploration missions. pp 3–44. http://ston.jsc.nasa.gov/collections/trs/_techrep/SP-2009-3405.pdf
  5. Whitmire AM, Leveton LB, Barger L, Brainard G, Dinges DF, Klerman E, Shea C (2009) Risk of performance errors due to sleep loss, circadian desynchronization, fatigue, and work overload. In: Mcphee JC, Charles JB (eds) Human health and performance risks of space exploration missions. pp 85–116. http://ston.jsc.nasa.gov/collections/trs/_techrep/SP-2009-3405.pdf

Copyright information

© This is a U.S. Government work and not under copyright protection in the US; foreign copyright protection may apply 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Aerospace Psychology ConsultantsTucsonUSA
  2. 2.Behavioral Health & Performance Operations TeamHuman Health and Performance Medical Operations Group, Human Space Operations Branch, Johnson Space CenterNASA HoustonUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • David F. Dinges
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of Pennsylvania, Perelman School of MedicinePhiladelphiaUSA