Human adaptability for deep space exploration mission: An exploratory study
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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The present qualitative study conducts in-depth interviews with astronauts and other subject matter experts in order to shed light on human adaptability in extreme environments. Deep space travel will entail a range of highly stressful conditions to which astronauts must adapt. Feelings of isolation will be increased, as the space traveler is farther from Earth for longer periods of time. Daily life will take place in small and confined areas, for durations extending into years. The dangers of the extreme environment of space are ever-present, and failure of critical equipment or components can lead to death. Astronauts will need to function more autonomously, with diminished support from Earth. It is thus important to select and train future astronauts who are able to adapt to such extreme and variable conditions and continue to function effectively. Subject matter experts identify the central adaptive challenges faced by crewmembers, and what are the key individual attributes associated with human adaptability. Results also point to organizational factors, as well as several coping and resource strategies that can be applied to improve human adaptability to extreme environments and missions. These results can be used to inform selection and training programs, as well as the design of space vehicles, systems, and habitats in order to enhance astronaut adaptive task performance.