Psychology of Space Exploration: Contemporary Research in Historical Perspective

By Douglas A. Vakoch | Go to book overview

Afterword
From the Past to the Future

Gro Mjeldheim Sandal
Department of Psychosocial Science
University of Bergen

Gloria R. Leon
Department of Psychology
University of Minnesota


ABSTRACT

Although NASA has been criticized for many years for neglecting psychological issues in research and operations, the past several years have witnessed an increased recognition of the importance of psychosocial and cultural factors in the success and safety of human space missions. The challenges associated with future long-duration missions involving extreme environments, isolation, and greater crew autonomy as the distance from Mission Control increases require effective countermeasures to mitigate the risk for behavioral health problems, psychiatric disorders, and impairments in effective crew interactions and task performance. International space missions also underscore the need to understand the potential safety implications of individual and cultural differences at a national, organizational, and professional level that involve both space crews and ground-based personnel. While the research literature on space psychology has increased over the last few years, many unanswered questions remain that require additional investigation.


INTRODUCTION

Since the first solo flight of a human being into Earth orbit, human spaceflight has undergone significant changes in terms of crew composition, mission duration, and complexity. Even the major achievement of the establishment of the

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