Psychology of Space Exploration: Contemporary Research in Historical Perspective

By Douglas A. Vakoch | Go to book overview

Chapter 5
Managing Negative Interactions in Space Crews:
The Role of Simulator Research

Harvey Wichman
Aerospace Psychology Laboratory
Claremont McKenna College and Claremont Graduate University


ABSTRACT

This chapter argues that a watershed period has been reached in the history of spaceflight that requires a “paradigm shift” in the way spacecraft are designed and people are selected and trained for spaceflight. In the beginning, space programs had minimal spacecraft, and flights were of short duration. Heroic human specimens were then recruited and extensively trained to perform in these machines no matter how difficult or uncomfortable it was. Spacecraft technology is now sufficiently sophisticated to design spacecraft to be much more accommodating to human occupants. The historical timing of this shift in thinking is heralded by the coming together of sophisticated space technology, the rise of space tourism, and the desire for spaceflights of greater duration than brief sorties into Earth orbit.

Simulator technology has developed in step with spacecraft technology. However, simulators are used primarily in training. The chapter concludes with an illustration of how simulators can be used as behavioral research laboratories. A study conducted for the McDonnell Douglas Aerospace Corporation is presented; in it, a spaceflight simulator was used to explore both applied and theoretical questions with a diverse group of civilian passengers in a simulated 45-hour orbital spaceflight.


INTRODUCTION

In the 47 years since Yuri Gagarin became the first person in space and the first person to orbit Earth, several hundred cosmonauts and astronauts have successfully flown in space. Clearly, there is no longer any doubt that people can live

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