LIVING ALOFT: Human Requirements for Extended Spaceflight






[278] Since space missions are run by human effort, planners and managers must take human motivation into account. Conditions must be established to ensure that participants join and remain with a mission, perform their roles dependably, and respond spontaneously and appropriately to unanticipated situations (Katz and Kahn, 1978).

Much of our present knowledge regarding human motivation has to be reexamined before it can be applied effectively in isolated and confined settings. The dominant theme in this section is that some of the conditions that motivate and satisfy people on Earth are either unavailable or are substantially altered in environments such as those likely to be found in space. However, some writers (Law, 1960; Natani and Shurley, 1974) have noted that exotic environments offer [279] certain inducements which were not found in most other locations. Specifically, polar outposts, sub aquatic dwellings, and space-capsule societies may offer an environment (1) that tolerates total immersion in work, or "workaholism"; (2) in which people are likely to be judged more on the basis of their performance than on the basis of their appearance, age, race, and similar qualities; (3) that is socially uncomplicated; (4) that is financially uncomplicated; and (5) that offers adventure.

To effectively shape behavior, rewards and punishments must be connected to performance (L. Miller, 1979). This linkage presupposes criteria for evaluating performance. According to Lawler (1976), evaluative criteria must be firmly linked to organizational purposes and goals, clearly and unambiguously expressed, set at Ievels which at once recognize organizational requirements and human capabilities, and accepted as fair and equitable by the people to whom they apply.

Certain variables associated with extended-duration spaceflight may mate it difficult to establish evaluative standards which satisfy such criteria. Many of the tasks involved will be peculiar to space. Furthermore, performance levels are likely to be affected by weightlessness, somatic dysfunction, and other correlates of extended-duration flight. It may thus be very difficult to set appropriate performance standards. For example, Cooper (1976) believes that some of the antagonism and irritability expressed by crewmembers of the third manned Skylab mission, Skylab 4, reflected performance standards which were too high because they did not take weightlessness and related variables into account. The general remedy in such situations is to allow the subjects of the evaluation to help set the evaluative criteria (Lawler, 1976; Weick, 1977). Unfortunately, at the onset, few workers will have had sufficient experience in space to identify appropriate performance standards.

We might expect highly motivated, self-confident people of the type likely to volunteer for space missions to set unrealistically high performance standards. Later failure to meet these standards (perhaps brought about by unanticipated conditions) could prove to be a major blow to self-esteem and morale. The relationship of personality factors associated with volunteering, levels of aspiration, and the impact of success and failure under conditions of isolation and confinement are themselves important topics for further study.


[280] Rewards


Work provides people with two kinds of satisfactions or rewards. First, there are extrinsic rewards (such as monetary compensation) that have value outside of the immediate work situation. Second, there are intrinsic rewards (such as a growing sense of competence) that come from the performance of the work itself. Both are important for attracting workers and ensuring high levels of performance. However, there are individual differences in responsiveness to extrinsic and intrinsic rewards. In Antarctica, for example, scientific-investigative personnel tended to seek intrinsic satisfaction in the venture; Navy support personnel tended to seek extrinsic satisfactions in the form of extra pay and accelerated promotions (Kanas and Fedderson, 1971; Natani and Shurley, 1974).

Extrinsic rewards- The two most prominent extrinsic rewards are pay and social recognition. However, the reward value of each may be diminished under the conditions of extended-duration spaceflight. For example, pay might not be collected for months or years. In some cases, crewmembers may never return to Earth, with the result that they will not enjoy (firsthand) social recognition from the folks back home.

Pay is satisfying because it provides basic necessities, because it provides luxuries, and because of other reasons. Space capsules, polar camps, military bases, ships at sea, prisons, and other environments which hold people captive on an around-the-clock basis must provide them with basic necessities independent of their levels of contribution to the group. Furthermore, space environments will not be able to support large stores of luxury items. Some of pay's immediate utility may be lost under the conditions of extended-duration spaceflight because pay will not be necessary for survival and will not purchase many luxury goods. Pay will not be rendered valueless, however, because people can and often do work toward very distant financial goals. Laboring in an environment in which necessities are provided and there is little opportunity to squander money offers an excellent opportunity to amass a small fortune.

Thus, alternative economic systems should be explored. Small items, such as candy bars and cigarettes, are known to influence the behavior of adult workers in normal organizational settings; when distributed by supervisors small reports have symbolic as well as material value (Lawler, 1973; L. Miller, 1979). Under conditions [281] of isolation and confinement, relatively minor luxuries and conveniences may assume high value, and a prolonged shower, the use of a private room, or increased access to telecommunications or recreation equipment may prove to be powerful incentives. One possibility for consideration is the establishment of a token economy within the space-capsule microsociety. Certain behaviors might be rewarded with tokens which can later be traded for the few available luxury goods or services. Thus, an immediate reward system would supplement the long-term reward of accumulated pay. We hypothesize that such a system would have to meet stringent requirements of fairness in the crew's eyes; otherwise, it could undermine morale. That is, the rewards gained by one crewmember must not be offset by the frustration and embarrassment of other crewmembers. It is possible that such an incentive system, even if scrupulously fair, could prove disruptive in a closed society.

At present, space travelers receive substantial recognition from their coadventurers, from family and friends, and from society. But the conditions of extended-duration spaceflight may militate against a steady stream of social recognition. Communication with people on Earth is likely to be limited, society may become bored with missions which only rarely have news to report, and heroic welcoming ceremonies upon return are likely to become infrequent as space travel becomes routine.

Helmreich and his associates (Radloff and Helmreich, 1968; Helmreich et al., 1980) predict that both the costs of space travel (defined in terms of risk and discomfort) and the rewards of space travel (defined in terms of social recognition) will decrease as technological and other factors conspire to make space travel safer and more routine. However, they also predict that the rate at which the costs may be expected to decline is not likely to be as fast as the rate at which the rewards will decline. At some time in the future the risks and discomforts of life in space are likely to become disproportionate to the rewards.

However, there may be certain steps which could help retard or offset declining social recognition. One step would be active publicity campaigns to advise the public of the importance of individual missions. Another step would be to increase recognition from people within sponsoring agencies such as NASA to offset decreasing recognition from society at large. A third possibility is to alter the basis for recognition. For example, less emphasis might be placed on reaching and returning from the destination and more emphasis [282] placed on scientific, technological, production, and leadership achievements during the missions' course.

Intrinsic rewards- Intrinsic rewards or satisfactions are those which derive from activities themselves. Crewmembers are likely to value work. However, there may be a discrepancy between the high level of importance crewmembers accord work and the lesser extent to which work activities will occupy their time and absorb their energy (Kanas and Fedderson, 1971; Kubis, 1972; Law, 1960; Natani and Shurley,1974; Rohrer,1961).

Work is likely to be important to crewmembers for several reasons. First, crewmembers are likely to be selected on such bases as intelligence, drive, and an interest in achievement, and they are also likely to have strong interests in the technical or business end of the mission. Such people can be expected to place an especially high priority on work. Second, work and work roles are likely to be of great importance to crewmembers because the work role is the one everyday role that is likely to be maintained in an isolated and confined group (Rohrer, 1961). Astronauts may be expected to remain active in their occupational roles as pilots, physicians, and systems engineers, but to relinquish other roles such as spouse, parent, and scout Ieader. Under conditions of extended-duration spaceflight, the work role may be the only everyday role that remains intact.

But although crewmembers are likely to place a high priority on work, future flights (unlike past flights) are likely to be marked by periods of relatively light task demands. Although the craft will have to be staffed to handle times of peak activity, there will be long stretches during which there is very little meaningful work to do. In the Antarctic (Natani and Shurley, 1974) and on sailing ships (Day, 1969), low work load is associated with low morale.

Certainly, a major research issue is finding suitable meaningful work to maintain interest on long, and potentially tedious, missions. Leonov and Lebedev (1975) suggest including among the crew people who have expertise in areas that other crewmembers would like to learn about; hence, a space mission could become, in part, an educational activity. "Think tanks," consulting activities, and other knowledge industries, and possibly even effort-intensive light industries (electronics and the like) could also reduce the proportion of leisure time and increase the proportion of productive time, thereby helping to satisfy work-oriented individuals.

[283] One set of conditions under which intrinsic satisfactions are likely to be high is when work assignments are congruent with personal interests. Underlying theories of vocational selection is the principle that people's interests (preferences for classes of activities) will in part be served or frustrated by the person's work setting and the nature of his or her job. When there is a good match between the person's interests and the job requirements and rewards, that person should find the job intrinsically satisfying. A good point of departure for future research in this area is Holland's (1959, 1973, 1976) theory of vocational selection. According to Holland, people tend toward one or more of six personality types: realistic, investigative, artistic, social, enterprising, and conventional. Different occupations, suggest Holland, tend to cater to one of the six personality types. Holland's basic argument is that attempts should be made to discourage square-peg people from ending up in round-hole jobs, but as Campbell (1974) notes, Holland argues this in a very sophisticated way. People may have mixed interests and occupational environments may have mixed characteristics. Thus, a person won't simply succeed in one type of occupation and fail in all the rest; some occupations should be satisfying, some dissatisfying, and some in between. Similarly, a given occupation doesn't require a specific kind of person. Many people may be able to do a tolerable job, but some people can be expected to do a better job than others.

Holland's theory of vocational selection has become the basis for the formerly atheoretical Strong-Campbell Interest Inventory (SCII). This self-report test consists of 325 items arranged into seven parts; essentially, these involve indicating preference for various school subjects, occupational alternatives, and types of people. Respondents' answers are compared with normative data collected from workers in different fields. The SCII has good psychometric properties (in particular, test-retest stability) and might eventually be extended to help select people for different roles in missions of different sizes and durations. Certainly, a point of departure might be gathering normative data from people who have adapted, to varying degrees, to conditions of isolation, confinement, and risk.

According to Hackman and Oldham (1974), many jobs can be designed in such a way as to maximize intrinsic motivation. These authors identify five job dimensions which have been shown, again and again, to affect worker commitment and job performance. First, jobs are intrinsically motivating to the extent that they provide workers with the opportunity to engage in varied activities and to exercise a range of different skills. Second, jobs are intrinsically [284] motivating to the extent that they have task identity; that is, they result in a whole and visible (as compared with partial or obscure) piece of work. Third, intrinsic motivation is likely to be high when a task is significant in the sense that it affects the physical, psychological, or social well-being of other people, or clearly contributes to the attainment of group goals. Fourth, jobs are likely to be intrinsically motivating to the extent that they provide the worker with autonomy, that is, the opportunity to assume responsibility and exercise individual discretion. Finally, jobs which make some provision for workers to gauge their progress or performance tend to be more satisfying than jobs that do not provide performance feedback. Thus it would be useful to know more about designing spacecrew tasks to incorporate the features that are known to promote intrinsic motivation.

Also of interest here is Kahn's (1973) work-module form of organization. This is implemented by first determining the shortest length of time that is economically feasible and psychologically meaningful to work at a given task, such as navigating, analyzing data, or cooking. For purposes of illustration, let us assume this unit of time to be 2 hr. Time task units define work modules. From the overall perspective, a large-scale mission might consist of thousands of modules involving scores or hundreds of crewmembers performing hundreds of tasks. Under conventional forms of organization, missions might consist of a certain number of shifts or watches, each of which requires repetitive activities on the individual worker's part.

Under the work-module system, a crewmember would be allowed to qualify for several different kinds of tasks (such as navigating, analyzing data, and working in the galley) and then construct his or her own schedule using the requisite number of modules. For example, one crewmember might choose two modules of navigating, one of analyzing data, and one of working in the galley to satisfy the requirements of an 8-hr shift. Still another might change job content by day of the week. Moreover, Kahn's system could provide a crewmember with the opportunity to vary the way he or she distributes work in the course of the overall mission. Thus, within the limits established by the individual's qualifications and the organization's needs, crewmembers could, in effect, construct their own jobs.




Although it will be possible to "select out" individuals with histories of criminal or delinquent behavior, increasing crew size and [285] heterogeneity will be accompanied by an increased likelihood of deviant behavior (Shurley et al., 1977). As noted in our earlier discussion of group dynamics, peer-group pressures will help keep individual crewmembers in line, as, under conditions of isolation and confinement, rejection and ostracism are severe penalties indeed. However, it is likely that informal sanction systems will need to be supplemented by formal sanction systems which include standards or rules, policing mechanisms, sets of graduated punishments, and procedures which govern the application of these punishments.

At present, the applicability of criminal law to space is spotty and inconsistent. The activities of military personnel in space are covered under the Universal Code of Military Justice. However, for civilian personnel, the law is still evolving. A recent addition to the Special Maritime and Territorial Jurisdiction Act (Amendment 6 to Title 18, Section 7 of the U.S. Code) extends the federal government's jurisdiction in criminal matters to cover events occurring within the space vehicle. This amendment dramatically increases the number of activities for which space travellers can be held accountable. However, even this amendment leaves many questions unanswered. For instance, it does not extend jurisdiction to those activities which occur outside of the spacecraft, nor does it resolve international jurisdictional issues.1 More germane to the present discussion, it is difficult to project how this or any set of statutes can satisfactorily address the broad problems associated with enforcement in long duration spaceflight.

In space, one can expect legal and moral standards to evolve which are supportive of both the safety and success of the mission. On the one hand, the mission's legal and moral standards are likely to reflect the values of the sponsoring society. On the other hand, these standards must make accommodation for the likely behavioral impacts of isolation, confinement, and risk.

One possibility, with respect to enforcement, is a security force with rotating membership. This arrangement would have the advantage of encouraging the acceptance of attitudes that would help minimize "police-citizen" schisms. The identification of appropriate policing procedures is also an important topic for future research.

[286] For instance, certain techniques which are accepted on Earth (such as the use of electronic "bugs" and human informants) may prove intolerable in the confines of the outer- space habitat.

Sanctions include social censure, material deprivation, and confinement. Social censure includes an oral dressing down or a written letter of censure. As mentioned above, such stated disapproval may be a powerful force in the closed environment of space. Material deprivations include fines and the withdrawal of luxuries or privileges. Under conditions of isolation and confinement, fines may have little significance if pay has low immediate utility, but the withdrawal of luxuries or privileges may be a major deterrant because few such satisfactions exist. Confinement includes restriction to quarters or imprisonment. Planners may be very reluctant to devote valuable living space to a brig, and find it tempting to think of imprisomnent as a rather informal arrangement. However, unlike censure and material deprivation, imprisonment serves an immediate security function as well as deterrent and retribution functions. Other forms of protection from the unrepentant or the seriously deranged include tranquilizing drugs and physical restraints.

Establishing a set of procedures for applying such sanctions in space is fraught with many knotty problems. It will be essential to protect individuals from vigilante approaches to justice. However, time-consuming and expensive legal systems such as those found in western societies may be virtually impossible to duplicate except when there are extremely large crews, and a multitiered set of appeals procedures will not be possible (except, perhaps, through telecommunications with Earth). On some missions, it may prove possible and desirable to postpone final judgment until after return to Earth or home base, but on some missions security or justice may demand immediate confinement or punishment. (It should be noted that the prospects of a long trial upon return to Earth may pose more personal and social turmoil than somewhat crude but immediate legal proceedings.) It is not clear how crewmembers will react to sanctions in space, and there is little basis for predicting subsequent reintegration into the crew.

In summary, reward systems which are reliable on Earth may prove difficult to Implement in space organizations, or, if implemented, may prove ineffective. Mission planners must identify rewards that will attract and retain mission participants and ensure dependable performance. Pay may have relatively little value in space; it is important to continue evaluating token economies and [287] other economic systems which could prove effective. As missions become routine, social recognition from society at large is likely to decline; it is hypothesized that it may be possible to offset this decline by increasing social recognition from other sources. A major research problem is identifying suitable activities to maintain interest on long and tedious missions; educational and industrial activities are salient possibilities. Further research aimed at increasing intrinsic satisfactions should include extending such techniques as the Strong Campbell Interest Inventory into the realm of space jobs, seeking improved job designs, and evaluating work-module forms of organization. Another major task is establishing a legal system which is simple, gives rise to few jurisdictional disputes, and at once preserves the interests of mission security, justice, and customary civil rights.

1 For a full discussion of the applicability of 18 U.S.C.A., 7 (West Supp., 1981) to spaceflight, see Robbins, Karen, The Extension of the United States Criminal Jurisdiction to Outer Space, Santa Clara Law Review, 23(2), Spring, 1983, 627-661.