EXPLORATION OF MARS THE CHALLENGE OF WEIGHTLESSNESS
Duane Graveline, MD
Fred Kelly, MD
On 30 June 1971 three cosmonauts died on Soyuz 11 when an exhaust valve was accidentally triggered open and the atmosphere rushed out of the cabin. Two of the cosmonauts unhooked from their seats and tried to rise from their couches to close the valve located above the head of the cosmonaut in the center seat. Could they have successfully closed the valve if they had not just spent 24 days in weightlessness?
We will never know the answer to this question, but during the last forty years we have collected considerable information about the effects of prolonged weightlessness on the human body. This paper reviews the results of scientific study and actual experience in weightlessness during long duration missions aboard Russian and American space vehicles. It reviews the various countermeasures that have been used and the relative effectiveness of these countermeasures, and it draws conclusions that may or may not agree with NASA’s official position.
These conclusions are drawn from the perspective of one of the first two physicians to be hosen as a NASA scientist/astronaut in 1965 and an early NASA flight surgeon who participated in the support of Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, Sky Lab, and early shuttle missions. Astronaut Duane Graveline, who in 1960 was the first physician to study weightlessness in a simulated environment, will present the paper.