Scott Kelly is the astronaut who was sent to space in March 2015. Scott was selected, along with Mikhail Korniyenko, to be part of a USA and Russia joint mission for a yearlong space trip to the International Space Station. The reason for the mission is for a scientific research project that studies the health effects of long term spaceflight.
The trip lasted 342 days in space, however, the experiments of taking samples of blood, urine and saliva started a year before the blast off, and in-fact after the return of Scott, these samples are still to be taken continually more than a year after his return. The experiments taken on the ISS are mainly taken to help us get to Mars, ensuring that humans are ‘go’ for a long-duration mission and that crew members will maintain their health and full capabilities for the duration of a Mars mission, a mission to Mars would likely last about 3 years, in that half the time is actually getting there and back and half the time on actual Mars.
Another reason for the mission was to see how bones are affected by the 12 to 16 months living on a spacecraft and what countermeasures can be taken to reduce risks to crew members.
From start to finish Scott Kelly had experienced the nooks and crannies of what things affect a human going into space.
Some of the effects are listed here;
T-plus 10 seconds: Possible loss of consciousness
When the spacecraft has cleared the tower and the acceleration of the liftoff is building to 4G, your body feels four times its normal weight, you are then crushed back into the seat and moving your arms is very difficult. What is happening is the G-force is pushing your blood into your feet this can cause unconsciousness because you need a good blood supply to our brain to stay conscious.
Fighter pilots, at even relatively low G-forces, have impaired vision – or “grey out” – as the blood pressure to the head drops. These days’ astronauts are orientated so the acceleration is felt through their chest.
T-plus 10 minutes: Nausea
The first thing astronauts normally complain about is the nausea or vomiting, this effect of the lack of gravity on the inner ear, affects: balance, co-ordination and spatial orientation. This also affects the person’s ability to track moving objects which has implications on piloting skills.
T-plus two days: A fat face
When Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield was interviewed he stated that one of the difficulties he reported experiencing in orbit was a blocked nose he stated also “Being in space is like standing on your head; fluids tend to pool in the upper part of your body, giving you a swollen face”. This is similar to when your ankles swell on a long-duration flight, because fluid pools in your feet.
T-plus one week: Muscle and bone loss
As there is less gravity in space, your body starts to deteriorate.
In another interview with Kevin Fong, founder of the Centre for Altitude, Space and Extreme Environment Medicine at University College London he stated that “A lot of the body’s systems depend upon gravity to keep them conditioned”.
“In some experiments with rats, they’ve seen up to a third of muscle from particular muscle groups being lost within seven to 10 days of flight- that’s a huge, huge loss.”
Shortly after Scott’s return to Earth the side effects of being in space for so long and coming back to a completely different area started to kick in. Scott described some of the effects such as his swollen legs after all the fluids being pushed to his head now being pushed back down to his legs, and his sensitive skin now being described as a burning feeling.
As well as the physical affects, psychological effects such as missing loved ones was of the problems being stuck up for 340+ days in a spacecraft. He also said that there was a “big difference” between 159 days, which was his previous amount up in space compared to the new record of 342 days.
However, Scott describes his journey as being “very privileged” and “very rewarding”. He also posted more than 700 pictures of space and ‘Earth from above’.
Written by Jonah, BBC School News Reporter
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