Copyright © 2005 by Ryan L. Kobrick. Published by The Mars Society with permission
THE HUMAN SPACEFLIGHT TRAINING RECOMMENDATIONS AGAINST WEIGHTLESSNESS PROJECT (H-STRAW PROJECT) EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
Ryan L. Kobrick*, Dr. Sarita Dara, John Burley, and Stuart Gill
*University of Colorado at Boulder, Kobrick@Colorado.edu
In any exploratory human space mission, the human element is the key design driver and therefore plays a pivotal role in the overall mission success. For the next generation of exploratory missions to the Moon, Mars, and beyond, one of the critical issues for mission success lies in overcoming the physiological limitations of prolonged exposure to microgravity. The aim of this project was to take a holistic approach to counter the key physiological problems and thereby combine “humans” and “technology” in order to push new frontiers. A training scheme was developed along with a novel conceptual training device called ViGAR (Virtual Gravity Artificial Reality), a pedal-powered audio-visual environment to provide sensory information that matches the effects of the pedal input while being subjected to artificial gravity created by the ViGAR’s centripetal motion. ViGAR could have multiple benefits including: cardiovascular and muscular conditioning; reduction of bone loss; sustained low artificial gravity conditions; and psychological benefits of re-coupling vestibular and visual information. The synergistic benefit of this technology will exceed the effects of addressing these problems separately and will provide the crew with and invaluable entertainment source and the possibility of a ‘virtual escape’ from the confinement of the spacecraft. Along with the conceptual design of ViGAR, a training scheme was outlined that simultaneously addressed the physiological and psychological problems associated with long duration spaceflight. This scheme used along with ViGAR could prove to be a design guide for future space missions beyond low Earth orbit and on to Mars.
The H-STRAW Project was a submission in the Human Missions Category for the European Space Agency’s 1st Aurora Student Design Contest in 2003 and was awarded a special jury prize at the final presentation round in Barcelona, Spain.
Keywords: Microgravity; Countermeasure; Artificial Gravity; Virtual Reality; Exercise