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Prediction of Emergency Capsule Egress Performance

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INTRODUCTION: Critical mission tasks for Martian exploration have been identified and include specific duties that astronauts will have to perform despite any adverse effects of chronic microgravity. Specifically, astronauts may have to perform an emergency capsule egress upon return to Earth, which places specific demands on compromised cardiovascular and neuromuscular systems. Therefore, the purpose of this project was to determine the relationship between cardiorespiratory fitness and simulated capsule egress time.

METHODS: There were 15 subjects who volunteered for this study. Vo2peak and peak power output (PPO) were determined on cycle and rowing ergometers. Critical power (CP) was determined by a 3-min all-out rowing test. Subjects then performed an emergency capsule egress on a mock-up of NASA’s Orion space capsule. Peak metabolic data were compared between the cycling and rowing tests. Pearson’s correlation was used to identify relationships between egress time and Vo2peak, PPO, and CP.

RESULTS: Vo2peak, Vco2peak, and minute ventilation were not different between cycling and rowing tests. Cycling elicited a greater PPO than the rowing test. Egress time was negatively correlated to rowing PPO (r = −0.60), but not cycling or rowing Vo2peak, cycling PPO, or CP.

CONCLUSIONS: Rowing PPO/kg correlates with egress time. Although individuals with higher PPO/kg were able to finish the task in less time, individuals with low fitness levels (Vo2peak ≤ 20 ml · kg−1 · min−1) could complete the egress within 2 mins. These results suggest that cardiorespiratory fitness should not limit emergency egress and that this can be assessed using rowing exercise.

Alexander AM, Sutterfield SL, Kriss KN, Hammer SM, Didier KD, Cauldwell JT, Dzewaltowski AC, Barstow TJ, Ade CJ. Prediction of emergency capsule egress performance. Aerosp Med Hum Perform. 2019; 90(9):782–787.
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Keywords: Vo2max; critical power; exercise; microgravity; spaceflight

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 2019

More about this publication?
  • This journal (formerly Aviation, Space, and Environmental Medicine), representing the members of the Aerospace Medical Association, is published monthly for those interested in aerospace medicine and human performance. It is devoted to serving and supporting all who explore, travel, work, or live in hazardous environments ranging from beneath the sea to the outermost reaches of space. The original scientific articles in this journal provide the latest available information on investigations into such areas as changes in ambient pressure, motion sickness, increased or decreased gravitational forces, thermal stresses, vision, fatigue, circadian rhythms, psychological stress, artificial environments, predictors of success, health maintenance, human factors engineering, clinical care, and others. This journal also publishes notes on scientific news and technical items of interest to the general reader, and provides teaching material and reviews for health care professionals.

    To access volumes 74 through 85, please click here.
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