Tag Archives: astronauts

Chris Hatfield describes how a bureaucratic tangle with the space doctor bureaucracy almost grounded him before his ISS expedition.

Bureaucracy in space: In a new book, astronaut Chris Hatfield describes how a bureaucratic tangle with the space doctor bureaucracy almost grounded him before his ISS expedition.

“The secrecy and paternalism really bothered me. They trusted me at the helm of the world’s space ship, but had been making decisions about my body as though I were a lab rat who didn’t merit consultation.” The “they” Hadfield refers to are members of the Multilateral Space Medicine Board (MSMB), a body of representatives from the U.S., Canada, Europe, Japan and Russia who judge the medical fitness of astronauts to go on missions. ….

The bureaucracy wanted Hatfield to undergo an emergency operation to make sure everything was okay. He refused,

triggering what Hadfield describes as a “Kafkaesque” journey through “a bureaucratic quagmire where logic and data simply didn’t count.” … “Internal politics and uninformed opinions were what mat­tered,” he says in the book. “Doctors who hadn’t ever performed a laparoscopic proce­dure were weighing in; people were making decisions about medical risks as though far greater risks to the space program itself were irrelevant.”

I find this interesting in that, of the astronauts I have interviewed over the years, I can’t remember any who had good words to say about the official government doctors they had to deal with, both in the U.S. and in Russia.

NASA picks 8 new public relations figureheads, calls them astronauts.

NASA picks 8 new public relations figureheads, calls them astronauts.

To put it bluntly, NASA presently can’t put any astronauts into orbit, and might not be able to do ever again. Any astronauts on NASA’s payroll will thus likely have to beg a seat on a spacecraft built by others. Eventually, that begging won’t get them anywhere, which means that the work these new astronauts will mostly do will be to sell NASA to the public.

In the past, the PR work of astronauts only consumed a significant part of their time. For the present and probably in the future, it will be the only work they do.

Which makes me question the need to hire these astronauts in the first place. If I had my druthers and ran NASA, I’d rather wait until I actually need some astronauts and then hire the pilots who are flying SpaceShipTwo.

A new federal law has now confirmed the ownership by astronauts of their souvenirs.

A new federal law has now confirmed the ownership by 1960s astronauts of the equipment they saved as souvenirs from their missions.

Sadly, the law excludes moon rocks given as gifts by NASA to astronauts and NASA employees, as well as any material given to astronauts in the post Apollo era, which means we should continue to see midnight raids by NASA bureaucrats of the homes of retired NASA employees to confiscate objects they thought they owned.

Russian officials today announced that they will hold additional open cosmonaut recruitment drives, similar to the first held earlier this year, but with revisions.

Russian officials today announced that they will hold additional open cosmonaut recruitment drives, similar to the first held earlier this year, but with revisions.

It appears that the first drive was too short, only six weeks long, and did not get them as many applicants as they would have liked.

Russia has been forced to extend the application period for those who wish to become cosmonauts due to of a lack of response.

Russia has been forced to extend the application period for those who wish to become cosmonauts due to of a lack of response.

Only 151 applicants responded to this first-ever open astronaut application process in Russia’s history. This contrasts badly with NASA’s recent application call, which received the second highest response ever, 6372 applicants.

More than 6,000 people submitted their applications to NASA last week to become astronauts, the most since 1978.

More than 6,000 people submitted their applications to NASA last week to become astronauts, the most since 1978.

Once again, this is strong evidence that Americans want to explore space, and that there is a market out there for private enterprise to cash in on. NASA doesn’t even have a way to put any of these astronauts into space, and yet, people come out in droves to apply.

A new study has been released detailing the vision problems experienced by astronauts on space flights longer than six months

A new study has been released detailing the vision problems experienced by astronauts on space flights longer than six months. Hat tip to Clark Lindsey.

The visual system changes discovered by the researchers may represent a set of adaptations to microgravity. The degree and type of response appear to vary among astronauts. Researchers hope to discover whether some astronauts are less affected by microgravity and therefore better-suited for extended space flight, such as a three-year round trip to Mars.

In their report, Drs. Mader and Lee also noted a recent NASA survey of 300 astronauts that found that correctible problems with both near and distance vision were reported by about 23 percent of astronauts on brief missions and by 48 percent of those on extended missions. The survey confirmed that for some astronauts, these vision changes continue for months or years after return to Earth.

The dangerous environment of space

A just released report from the National Academies, Preparing for the High Frontier: the role and training of NASA astronauts in the post-space shuttle era, describes the challenges that NASA faces in staffing its astronaut corps in the coming years. More important, however, is some new information buried in the report about the hazards of long term exposure to weightlessness.

For example, it seems a significant number of astronauts have come back from spending months at ISS with serious vision problems, caused by a newly discovered condition dubbed papilledema, the swelling of the optic disk.
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