LIVING ALOFT: Human Requirements for Extended Spaceflight






[75] Isolation studies present a fairly consistent picture of how time in confinement is spent. First, in situations where there are real mission related tasks to perform, work dominates the interests of the confinees. When individuals enter such a confinement situation they appear to shift their expectations from the work/leisure/rest cycle of their everyday lives to a focus concerned almost exclusively with work (Parker and Every, 1972). They show relatively little interest in leisure activities and even tend to hoard their workloads (Eberhard, 1967). In confinement situations without specific work requirements, subjects show no special interest in either work or recreation. Although subjects enter confinement with ambitious plans of how to use their time constructively, these plans are rarely carried out. Rather, subjects tend to operate at a low level generally and simply pass the time until the confinement is over.

Since most confined groups emphasize work and deemphasize leisure, the question arises as to why this should be so. We would offer the following explanation. Individuals, on entering confinement, take on challenging new jobs and are committed to succeeding at these jobs. Where work is required as part of the confinement task, they incorporate these assignments into their new emphasis. Where work is not assigned, they concentrate on simply surviving the confinement. Their goals are only for the short term; after reaching these goals, they can resume "living." One might expect that a greater emphasis on leisure, as well as on unassigned work, will occur only when the individuals begin to think of the confinement situation as "normal." This would be expected to occur when the individuals have been (or anticipate being) confined for an extended period of time, or when they have experienced confinement repeatedly and have grown accustomed to its demands.

The physical structuring of the confinement situation may also contribute to an emphasis on work. Most people think of work and [76] recreation as occurring in physically separated locations. In confinement there is no place for the individual to "get away." It will be important to determine if this factor is significant in the preference of confinees for work over leisure activity and if so whether functionally distinct areas can substitute for physical separation.




As work loads lighten and as prolonged, uneventful periods become more frequent, the use of off duty hours in spaceflight will be a major concern. Although recreation does not hold high priority among confined individuals, in some situations, notably long duration confinements, recreational pastimes have been pursued. In these cases, confinees have shown a clear preference for what might be described as passive/noninteractive recreation, i.e., movies, television, books, music, looking out the windows, etc. Cards, dice, and other games of competition have been used little among confinees (Seeman, Singer, and McLean, 1971). Several interesting exceptions have been noted to the general rule favoring passive/noninteractive entertainment in confinement. A Monte Carlo night was held during a wintering over at Little America and an amateur concert was staged aboard the "Ra" on its Atlantic crossing (reported by Leonov and Lebedev, 1975, p. 165). Planned activities also marked the fallout shelter experiments conducted at the University of Georgia (Hammes and Ahearn, 1967; Hammes et al., 1968). Here, subjects not only engaged in active and interactive leisure activity, but initiated their own forms of group entertainment, improvising from available materials. Among the activities engaged in by these subjects were group singing, bingo, talent shows, guitar playing, skits, dancing, spelling and history bees, and even a beard contest, as well as games, coloring, letter writing, etc.

The usual selection of passive over active leisure activity in confinement raises some interesting questions. Is this response related to the general tendency to withdraw, found in virtually every confinement situation (see chapter I)? Or does it relate to the kinds of leisure activities to which the individual is accustomed? Each individual entering confinement has a specific (and limited) repertoire of leisure time activities from which to draw. Assuming for the moment that his or her normal recreational activities are both active and passive, it would be unlikely that the active leisure activities supplied in confinement would correspond to the habits of the confined individual To engage in active leisure activity, the space traveler would have to substitute a new activity for his usual form of recreation.

[77] Yet Christiansen and Yoestling (1977) have demonstrated the difficulty in substituting one recreational activity for another, even within the same activity type. No such substitution is required for passive activity. Passive leisure pursuits tend to be in the area of the mass media - television, magazines, movies, etc. These activities generally transfer rather easily to a confinement environment. And, as the name implies, mass media are enjoyed by almost everyone, while there is little evidence that scrabble or even card games are enjoyed by a large proportion of people.8 Also, considerable evidence suggests that our normal leisure activities are more passive than we acknowledge.9 If so, we should not be too surprised that people in confinement tend toward passive recreation.

In order to foster a healthy psychological environment in space, it would be valuable to know if the choice of spectator diversions such as movies, television, etc., by confinees reflects a desire to be passive, a desire to be noninteractive, a preference for the familiar, or some combination of these factors. An unusual emphasis on passivity [78] would suggest a general morale problem. If selection is based on the desire to be noninteractive, and therefore nonconflicting, this behavior would be expected to change when crews are sufficiently large or flights are sufficiently long. If a desire to avoid conflict is the motivation, then man/machine interactions such as computer games might be well received. By competing essentially against himself, the person could enjoy the challenge of competition without incurring the costs of interpersonal conflict. Similarly, competition with outsiders might be enjoyed. On Soyuz 9 cosmonauts played chess with a ground team, thereby avoiding the in group competition issue. Active, but noncompetitive activities also offer promise for maintaining a healthy attitude in confinement. For instance, the psychological benefits of planting and tending gardens have been demonstrated in terrestrial settings (Kaplan, 1973; Langer and Rodin, 1976). Russian cosmonauts had an opportunity to tend plants during flight and apparently took great pleasure in this task in spite of the difficulty in completing the plant development cycle in weightlessness (Leonov and Lebedev, 1975, p. 159; Oberg, 1981). It has been reported that cosmonauts on Salyut 7 did successfully complete the cycle of plant growth, from planting seeds to obtaining new seeds, and also harvested onions, parsley, and borage from the vegetable garden onboard (Tess, Moscow, October 12, 1982). This success should heighten the appeal of planting and tending gardens in space. If the choice of passive activity in confinement is based on preference for the familiar, then a careful selection, where possible, of materials geared to the interests of the particular confinees might provide some incentive to break from the passive pattern.

There is some evidence that the use of leisure relates to the composition of the group as well as to the characteristics and inclinations of individuals. A factor which distinguished the more active fallout shelter subjects (Hammes and Ahearn, 1967; Hammes et al., 1968) from other groups was the unusual degree of diversity in their compositions. Each group reflected to some extent the age, sex, education, race, and socioeconomic status represented in the general population. Groups ranged in size from 30 to over 1000 individuals, and in age from 6 months to 79 yr. Apparently in these experiments it was the women who instigated group activities, perhaps through a felt need to entertain the children. The high level of interaction among these confinees is very provocative and suggests that heterogeneous groups, especially those including women and children, may have a completely different approach to the use of leisure than groups of young men, the usual subjects of confinement studies. A [79] better understanding of the dynamics of group leisure could have broad implications for selection practices generally.

An issue that will be of particular interest in extended spaceflight is how the quality of leisure activities changes over time. As Fraser (1968b) points out, data are not consistent. Experience on nuclear submarines shows a movement away from escapist leisure to an educational use of leisure later in the cruise ( Kinsey, 1959; Ebersole, 1960); however, experience in the Antarctic has shown a trend in the opposite direction (Rohrer, 1961). These differences could be accounted for by differences in crew morale, with high morale related to a high level of energy and more creative use of leisure. The kind of work performed might also, over time, influence the kind of recreation sought. Assuming a reasonably high level of morale, one might anticipate that a person engaged in demanding mental activity during working hours would seek more escapist recreation than one working at a monotonous task all day. Since work in space is likely to become progressively less demanding, one might expect a shift towards more enriching recreational pursuits as flights become longer and more routinized.

Russian planners have initiated some novel approaches to recreation. Cosmonauts have been able to watch concerts on their "videotheque," and have had music and news broadcasts piped in. They have also had two way radio and video communication with family members, friends, scientists, actors, musicians, etc. These events were planned giving weight to the individual interests of crew members, the psychological climate in the space cabin, and the flight stage (Gazenko, Myasnikov, loseliani, Kozerenko, and Uskov,1979). Cosmonauts on extended flights also had letters and presents from home, along with special foods and fresh milk, delivered to them in space. An interesting conclusion from a Russian 70 day confinement study was that unfamiliar and eccentric films (in this case horror movies) could be used to relieve a depressive mood (Leonov and Lebedev, 1975, p. 164). Another spaceflight innovation used by the Russians was the grab bag. Cosmonauts on Salyut 6 were surprised by small, but apparently delighting toys, novelties, etc. The unexpected undoubtedly plays a very large role in what we see as the fullness of experience and needs further exploration as to how it can be utilized as a positive force in spaceflight.


[80] Exercise


Until recently it was believed that a proper exercise program could reverse the significant physiological/anatomical changes associated with the body's response to 0-g. However, studies of prolonged bedrest suggest that exercise, by itself, is insufficient to meet these ends. For instance, changes in endocrine and metabolic functions now are believed to result from changes in hydrostatic pressure and from lack of postural cues, rather than from a lack of activity (Vernikos Danellis, Winget, Leach, and Rambaut, 1974).

If physical activity is less than a perfect solution to the physiological effects of weightlessness, such activity at least slows some of the body's responses to 0 g, and helps maintain the individual at an acceptable level of physical functioning. The Skylab 4 crew were in space for the longest period, exercised the most, and required less postflight recovery time than the crews of Skylab 2 or Skylab 3. Physical activity also confers psychological benefits such as relief from depression or lessening of anxiety (Wood, 1977). In addition, there is a widespread belief that physical activity (eventually) rewards the performer with a general sense of well being.

To date, the exercise facilities in space habitats have, of necessity, been limited to those which provide the most physical benefit, while weighing as little as possible and occupying the least possible space. Research on exercise conducted at Harding College (C. Smith, Corbin, and Olree, 1976) provided the basis for the exercise regimes adopted for the American Skylab series. Skylab 2 astronauts used both a bicycle ergometer and an isometric device for their 28 days in space. As a result of this flight it was determined that additional exercise times and programs were required. During the 59-day Skylab 3 mission, ergometer time was increased, and a minigym provided additional exercises for the astronauts' trunks, arms, and legs. On the 84-day Skylab 4 mission, ergometer time was further increased, and a treadmill was added. Typically, astronauts used the treatmill 10 min/day (Van Huss and Heusner, 1979).

The Russians used a combination of a treadmill and gravity suits on early Salyut flights, adding a bicycle ergometer on later flights. The cosmonauts followed a compulsory program of daily exercise, for instance, 2.5 hr/day on Salyut 4 (Gorokhov and Stapantsev, 1975).

[81] Related to the question of exercising in space is the problem of limited bathing facilities and the difficulties astronauts have experienced in using them. Even on Skylab with its more advanced hygienic arrangements, astronauts experienced difficulty in rinsing wash rags, collecting water after showers, etc. The success of any serious exercise program in space will require that shower equivalents be available on demand and easy to use. This means an adequate water recycling system.

The cosmonauts associated with Salyut 4 were reported to have looked forward to their exercise routines However, reports on Salyut 6 missions present a different picture. On Soyuz 26, cosmonauts Grechko and Romanenko were reported to have taken every excuse to skip the exercises, while on Soyuz 32 Cosmonaut Ryumin reported the exercise program to be "boring and monotonous and heavy work" (Oberg, 1981, p. 213). On Skylab, astronauts were less than enthusiastic about exercising and varied in their commitment to it. When bathing and space limitations are resolved, more flexibility will be available in planning exercise facilities. It is worth considering, at least on a general level, how to improve the likelihood that whatever equipment is provided will be used. A general question concerns just what motivates an individual, in any circumstance, to begin and maintain an exercise program.

In recent years, studies have appeared which demonstrate a longevity advantage to exercise (Leon and Blackburn, 1977, Rose and Cohen, 1977). However, it is doubtful that many people will be moved to maintain an exercise program because it aids their health in some amorphous manner. Unless one can draw an immediate relationship between exercise and a particular health problem which is highly salient to the individual (such as a previous heart attack), the exercise program is likely to be short lived. Alternatively, we would suggest that if individuals believe that exercise will help them to look better (or prevent them looking progressively worse) there is greater probability that the exercise program will be maintained. If the benefits of exercise become internalized, as when the individual feels release of tension or increase in energy, then the chances improve that exercise not only will be maintained, but actively sought.

As noted above, individuals in confinement avoid competitive encounters This fact alone eliminates much of what is usually thought of as exercise or physical activity. It is likely that the avoidance of competition will diminish as crews become large or as people are in space long enough to risk occasional hurt feelings. However, [82] competition with others is not essential to a physical activity program, as one can work alone or noncompetitively with others.

Two factors appear to us to be common to people who maintain a physical activity. First, they have identified something which particularly interests them, and second, they seek to acquire or improve a skill. People who seek to improve a skill can be reinforced by the progress they make; this gives them a decided advantage over individuals who begin a program for general health benefits or for diversionary purposes. Therefore, some attempt must be made both to match the interests of the crewmembers with the exercise equipment offered and to provide the potential for working towards improvement.

It is likely that individuals in space will develop interests in movements unique to space. For instance, gravity forces less than 1 g constitute a new environment with a new set of physical challenges. Astronauts on Skylab were enthusiastic about the possibilities of tumbling and acrobatics in space, and suggested that all future space stations include a facility for acrobatics. Whether pursuing an old or a new interest, we believe it important to design equipment to aid the individual in setting goals for himself and tracking his progress.

8 Reading and watching television have been found to be popular pastimes among pilots, engineers, and scientists, whereas such activities as games, painting, etc., are relatively low on their preference list (Eberhard, J. W. and F. A. Hooper, Jr.; Off Duty Activity Equipment and Facilities for Advanced Spacecraft, NAS 9 9338, Serendipity, Inc., Arlington, VA, 1970; and Karnes, Edward W., J. Kirby Thomas and Leonard A. Loudis; Recreational Preferences in Potential Space Crew Populations, Human Factors, 13(1) , 51 58, 1971). An earlier examination of leisure activities of male professionals in aerospace corporations showed basically the same trends (Eddowes, E. E.; Survey of Leisure Time Activity, Implications for the Design of a Space Vehicle, Aerospace Medicine , 32, 541 544, 1961). These findings closely approximate preferences found in the general population (Group for the Advancement of Psychiatry, The Psychiatrist's Interest in Leisuretime Activities, Report No. 5, New York, 1958).

9 The amount of time spent watching television raises the question of how active the average person is in leisure pursuits. Virtually every home in the United States has a television set, and the television is turned on for an average of 6 hr/day (Television and Growing Up: The Impact of Televised Violence, Report to the Surgeon General, U.S. Public Health Service, from the Surgeon General's Scientific Advisory Committee on Television and Social Behavior, U.S. Dept. of Health, Education and Welfare, Publication No. (HSM) 72 9090, December, 1971). Although youngsters and the elderly tend to be the main consumers of television, most adults report watching television for at least 2 hr daily (LoScinto, L. A.; A National Inventory of Television Viewing Behavior, in E. A. Rubinstein, G. A. Comstock and J. P. Murray (eds.), Television and Social Behavior, Vol. 4, Television in Day to Day Life: Patterns of Use. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC,1971).