Broadcast 470 (Special Edition)

19 Mar 2006 Dr. Vadim Y. Rygalov
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Dr. Vadim Rygalov was the special guest for this two hour Space Show program. Dr. Rygalov began the interview with a discussion about psychological and isolation problems faced by Soviet cosmonauts in long term space flight. Long term space flight was defined as anything over 3-5 months in duration. Less than that is considered short term space flight. Furthermore, Dr. Rygalov characterized six phases of psychological status for cosmonauts/astronauts. Phase 1 was termed the acute stage and was approximately 2-3 months. Phase 2 occurs about 3-5 months in space and is the intermediate phase or the mind state with peak performance. Phase 3 is a psychological state taking place from 5-7 months in space with general deterioration in performance, mood, etc. It can last up to 9 month of space travel. Phase 4 is the state where now external psychological support is needed and essential. Phase 5 happens about three weeks before the mission ends when the astronaut/cosmonaut realizes that the mission end is near and tries to excel at finishing everything that has not been completed. There is also a Phase 6 which has to do with the after effects of these phases and the recovery needed back on Earth. Dr. Rygalov spends considerable time discussing each of these stages and answering listener questions. In addition, many questions were asked him about gender differences in space, in the Russian program versus the NASA program, the non-Russian gender research, violence and aggressiveness among space crews, and more. He told us new or seldom heard stories about several Soviet incidents in space with both short and long term flights regarding psychological and mental problems. During his discussion, he talked about other human space factors and the rate of incidence of problems, especially space sickness. Solutions to these problems were discussed or the need for additional research was stressed. We also talked about the difference between a lunar colony and the Mars mission given that on the Moon, its only a few days from Earth and the settler can still see the Earth and that is a significant help in maintaining our connection to Earth. You can contact Dr. Rygalov with your comments or questions by using his UND email address which is vrygalov@space.edu.

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