Broadcast 831 (Special Edition)

The Space Foundation Conference

12 Nov 2007 Dr. Vadim Y. Rygalov
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Dr. Vadim Rygalov was the guest for this special two hour Space Show program. Dr. Rygalov continued his discussion from the last time he was a guest on the program regarding mental, emotional, and stressful situations encountered by cosmonauts and astronauts as a result of long term spaceflight. We began the discussion talking about the high stress environment in space and human psychological factors, first with suborbital tourism and future tourist stays of up to a week or so at a space hotel. We then shifted the focus to longer term stays for professional astronauts/cosmonauts for the Moon, then tourists. Dr. Rygalov received many listener questions asking about depression, earth separation, taking meds such as anti-depressants, and mixed gender crews. Dr. Rygalov provided us with fist fight stories from the Soviet space program's numerous isolation tests, fear and anxiety within the crew in space and much more. One listener, Fred, even asked about detailed hygiene, sanitary, and bathroom issues for tourists on longer stay space trips. Dr. Rygalov went into detail about mental, emotional, and stressful issues for space travel, the research that is still needed, who is now doing the research if at all, and our present state of readiness to undertake colonization or even a trip to Mars. He was also asked about radiation issues, microgravity and much more. This is a very comprehensive discussion about mental, emotional, and stressful issues relating to our being in space. These facts are not commonly known and are not usually discussed in human factors discussions or among space advocates or even NASA but as we will learn from Vadim, NASA knows these facts as well and their files are full of the stories and issues as are the Soviet and Russian space files. Toward the end of the program, the discussion took a surprising turn as Vadim said he had only discussed perhaps 30% of what is in Soviet space files on these issues. Much of the rest is still classified, he is still not free to discuss some things, and he did not even mention the transcendental effects that space has had on many cosmonauts and astronauts. As a fun question, I asked Vadim if there were cases in the Soviet space files about cosmonauts reporting alien experiences or seeing something like aliens. You can imagine my surprise when he said yes and told us that these were full crew experiences, not just an isolated case with one cosmonaut here and another there. Unfortunately, time for this program and our use of the studio with Leighton Broadcasting in Grand Forks did not permit us to explore this subject in more detail with Vadim, but he did conclude by suggesting we all stay open minded on many issues relating to space and the space environment. If you want to ask Dr. Vadim Rygalov any follow up questions or give him comments, please send them to me at drspace@thespaceshow.com and I will promptly forward them to him.

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