Human Factors in Space Flight.

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Description

After forty years of experience with human space flight (Table 1), the current emphasis is on the design of space vehicles, habitats, and missions to ensure mission success. What lessons have we learned that will affect the design of spacecraft for future space exploration, leading up to exploring Mars. This chapter addresses this issue in four sections: Anthropometry and Biomechanics; Environmental Factors; Habitability and Architecture; and Crew Personal Sustenance. This introductory section introduces factors unique to space flight. A unique consideration for design of a habitable volume in a space vehicle is the lack of gravity during a space flight, referred to as microgravity. This affects all aspects of life, and drives special features in the habitat, equipment, tools, and procedures. The difference in gravity during a space mission requires designing for posture and motion differences. In Earth s gravity, or even with partial gravity, orientation is not a variable because the direction in which gravity acts defines up and down. In a microgravity environment the working position is arbitrary; there is no gravity cue. Orientation is defined primarily through visual cues. The orientation within a particular crew station or work area is referred to as local vertical, and should be consistent within a module to increase crew productivity. Equipment was intentionally arranged in various orientations in one module on Skylab to assess the efficiency in use of space versus the effects of inconsistent layout. The effects of that arrangement were confusion on entering the module, time spent in re-orientation, and conflicts in crew space requirements when multiple crew members were in the module. Design of a space vehicle is constrained by the three major mission drivers: mass, volume and power. Each of these factors drives the cost of a mission. Mass and volume determine the size of the launch vehicle directly; they can limit consumables such as air, water, and propellant; and they impact crew size and the types of activities the crew performs. Power is a limiting factor for a space vehicle. All environmental features (e.g., atmosphere, temperature, lighting) require power to maintain them. Power can be generated from batteries, from fuel cells, or from solar panels. Each of these sources requires lifting mass and volume from Earth, driving mission cost. All engineering decisions directly impact the design for habitation design and usage.