As part of space week, students performed exercises that astronauts use when preparing to go into space AND after returning from their mission for rehabilitation.
Astronauts practice strength and agility through training exercises designed by NASA Astronaut Strength, Conditioning & Rehabilitation Specialists (ASCR). These fitness specialists conduct an annual fitness test, design individual exercise programs, and provide one-on-one pre-flight and post-flight conditioning activities for the astronauts. The agility we use every day on Earth is different from the agility used in space. Being in space over a period of time can affect astronaut’s agility. This is observed once the astronauts return to Earth. Due to the astronauts living in microgravity environment and not using their muscles as they do on Earth, their muscles weaken. After they return from a long duration mission, astronauts work with ASCRs to restore and maintain agility as before their spaceflight mission.
When astronauts go into space and return to Earth, they experience challenges with balance and body control due to changes in gravity. When they leave the Earth, their bodies adjust to little or no gravity. Upon return, their bodies have to re-adjust to Earth’s gravity. The agility course is used to measure balance, footwork skill and agility in response to gravity changes. After a few weeks back on Earth, their balance control returns to pre-flight condition.
The Speed of Light
In preparation for space travel, astronauts invest many hours with NASA ASCR’s and instructors to practice their hand-eye reaction time. Operating the robotic arm on the International Space Station (ISS) or landing the space shuttle requires crew membersto have quick reaction times. Crew members must also be prepared for environmental hazards such as lighting and solar winds which could have a negative impact on reaction times. Fatigue, physical stamina and noise levels can also have a detrimental effect on an astronaut’s reaction time. One responsibility of space shuttle pilots is to safely land the shuttle at the end of the mission. Pilots must practice landing techniques before they go into space. They use simulators on Earth to improve hand-eye coordination and sharpen concentration skills. Experience has shown that shuttle pilots with better hand-eye coordination and sharper concentration skills have more success landing the shuttle after a 12 to 14 day mission.