Essay on Human Factors in Long-Duration Spaceflight

1162 Words 5 Pages
A manned mission to Mars is an extremely dangerous excursion. Crewmembers can expect a six-month flight to the planet, one year of occupation, and a six-month travel back. During this period, numerous human factors challenges can complicate, and even ruin the entire mission. This paper will identify human factors challenges the crew will face, describe why they are so dangerous, and finally, identify ways to mitigate these challenges.
The first challenge in a long-duration spaceflight is almost immediately apparent after lift-off, leaving the gravitational pull of Earth, and entering a micro gravity environment. Weightlessness can have several different impacts on the human body. Astronauts who orbit the Earth on the
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One way to do this is with extensive exercise. Not just two or three times a week for 30 minutes. Crewmembers must exercise six times a week for almost three hours at a time using equipment such as the ergometer, treadmill, and the Resistance Exercise Device (RED) ("Use It or Lose It," 2004). Another way to fight the effects of micro gravity is to create an artificial gravity. Creating artificial gravity can be done using one of two techniques, a rotation or acceleration. The entire spacecraft could rotate, or a single section of the spacecraft could do the rotation. This would give the astronauts the opportunity to live or weight train in a non-weightless environment (Hsu, 2010). High acceleration and deceleration rates of the spacecraft could also provide a normal gravitational environment ("Space Travel," n.d.).
Once the mission leaves the Earth’s atmosphere and travels into space, the next challenge awaits. The Earth’s atmosphere and magnetic field act as a shield and deter a large portion space radiation. Space radiation comes from our Sun in the form of solar radiation and also comes from outside our solar system in the form of cosmic rays (Gray, 2013). Radiation may be the most dangerous phenomenon a long duration spaceflight could face. Solar flares erupt from the Sun and send millions of tons of charged particles into space at speeds