NASA Astronauts could be struck down by Astro-sickness, the dreams of boldly going where only a few have gone before has inspired hundreds of people to sign up with space tourism companies like Virgin Galactic. But Nasa astronaut Anna Fisher, who made history by becoming the first mother in space, has warned many are unprepared for the rigors of spaceflight and the toll it will take on their bodies.
It is not like riding a commercial aircraft, not at all, and I can see all these problems with people up there and throwing up and messing up somebody’s flight that they paid $250,000 for. Your first moments in space are not always your best. I remember when we were in the shuttle and you are at 3Gs for the last two minutes or so, and it’s a little hard to breathe, and then the engine shuts off, and boom, you are weightless, it’s that fast.
The Apollo 8 crew were the first astronauts to report space sickness in 1968, and by Apollo 9 the crews were feeling so bad that their spacewalk had to be rescheduled. Nasa’s training aircraft where astronauts can experience weightless is colloquially known as the ‘vomit comet’ because it makes people feel so ill.
It is widely known that microgravity seriously impacts metabolism, heat regulation, heart rhythm, muscle tone, bone density, eyesight, and the respiration system.
In 2016, research from the US also found that astronauts who traveled into deep space on lunar missions were five times more likely to have died from cardiovascular disease than those who went into low orbit or never left Earth.
And last year Russian scientists found microgravity causes such alarming changes to the immune system, which astronauts would struggle to shake off even a minor virus, like the common cold if they became infected.
The bottom line is every system of the body is affected by microgravity, whether it’s kidney stones, receptor touch, fluid redistribution, inner ear changes, losing ten times your bone mass. Also in your sensory canals, there is a mismatch between what you’re feeling and seeing so it takes a while to adapt not only to get your space legs when you come back you find you are walking down the hall at an angle because you have to recalibrate to not moving all over the place.
And not only are their dangers in space, but also back on the ground. Dr. Johnson said it took around two weeks to recover from spaceflight, with astronauts warned not to drive for a fortnight and resist flying for a month.
And during the weeks when the spine is adjusting to Earth’s gravity, space travelers will be 13 times more likely to suffer a slipped disc. Space agencies are particularly worried by solar and cosmic radiation and have still not come up with a way to protect astronauts on lengthy visits to Mars or the Moon. The Apollo 14 mission missed a dangerous solar flare by just two weeks which could have caused cancer or even killed the crew.