Aerospace Physiology,
Spatial Awareness Briefing
Scope
 The nominal environment is similar to commercial
aviation with a few exceptions.
 Qualified Non-Crewmembers can expect the same
physiological responses and hazards as commercial
aviation.
 The aerobatic maneuver can induce physiological
responses not generally experienced outside of this
environment.
 Research Experiment operations may present
increased inherent hazard or exposure.
Overview
 Basic physiology associated with moderate altitude
aviation
 Nominal and off-nominal conditions
 Altitude Countermeasures
 Basic physiological response to parabolic flight
 Physiological Countermeasures
Goals
 Ensure Qualified Non-Crewmembers have a basic
understanding of their physiological response to the
predicted environment.
 Ensure Qualified Non-Crewmembers have a basic
understanding of simple countermeasures.
 Ensure Qualified Non-Crewmembers have the
tools to focus on their research and complete
mission safely and successfully.
Hypoxic Hypoxia
 Hypoxia: A state of oxygen deficiency in the blood, tissues , and
cells sufficient to cause an impairment of mental and physical
functions.
 Any condition that interrupts the flow of oxygen to the
lungs:
 Breathing air at reduced pressure (above 10,000’)
 Breathing smoke/fumes/research experiment gasses
 Choking/Drowning
 Medical problems
 Emphysema
 Asthma
 Pneumonia
Signs are objective and can be seen by an
observer
 Increased rate and depth of breathing
 Cyanosis
 Slurring of speech
 Poor coordination
 Mental confusion
 Euphoria
 Belligerence
 Lethargy
 Unconsciousness
Symptoms are sensations a person can detect
while in a hypoxic state (in this case)
 Blurred vision
 Apprehension
 Tunnel vision
 Nausea
 Air Hunger
 Dizziness
 Hot & Cold flashes
 Fatigue
 Euphoria
 Headache
 Numbness
 Belligerence
 Tingling
Insidious Onset
The most dangerous
aspect of hypoxia is its
insidious onset
Time of Useful Consciousness
[TUC]
 The period of time from the loss of oxygen supply
or exposure to an oxygen poor environment to the
time when deliberate function is lost.
TUC or Effective Performance Time
[EPT]
 Slow decompression
 FL430: 9-12 sec
 FL350: 30-60 sec
 FL280: 2.5-3 mins
 FL250: 3-5 mins
 FL180: 20-30 mins
 Rapid decompression
 FL430: 5 sec
 FL350: 30 sec
 Fl280: 90 sec
 Fl250: 2.5 mins
 FL180: 10-15 mins
Factors Affecting TUC
 Altitude
 Time at Altitude
 Rate of ascent
 Activity Level
 Physical fitness
 Diet
 Fatigue
 Temperature
 Human Factors
Treatment
 Get on 100% oxygen
 Check equipment
 Control your rate and depth of breathing
 Let a crewmember know
 Pilot will descend aircraft below 10,000 feet as soon as
practical
Hyperventilation
 A condition where the rate and depth of breathing is
abnormally high causing an excessive loss of CO2 in the
body
 Increase in pCO2 stimulates breathing
 Inadequate respiration or high CO2 levels
 Physical exertion
 Decrease in pCO2 reduces breathing
 Causes
 Emotional



Fear
Excitement
Anger
 Hypoxia
Hyperventilation
 Signs
 Tetany
 Unconsciousness
 Symptoms
 Tingling
 Dizziness
 Hot & Cold flashes
 Vision impairment
 Fainting
 Muscle tremors
 Nausea
 Numbness
Prevention
 Don’t Panic
 Control your rate and depth of breathing
 Pause between inhale and exhale
 Talk out loud
Trapped Gas
 Expanding gas inside the hollow body cavities that
cannot escape
 Areas affected
 Ears
 Sinuses
 G.I. tract
 Teeth
Ears
 Middle ear
 Problems usually occur on descent, rarely on ascent
 Causes:



Head cold/upper respiratory infection
Blocked or constricted Eustachian tube
Failure to valsalva properly
Middle Ear
 Symptoms:
 Fullness
 Dull hearing
 Pain
 Prevention:
 Do not fly with a cold
 During ascent: yawn, chew, swallow, rock head side to
side
 During descent: valsalva
Valsalva
Pinch both nostrils closed and tilt head up 10 deg
2. Take a breath of air and close mouth
3. With mouth and nose shut, blow as if you were
trying to blow your nose.
1.
Note: the maneuver should be short in duration but
sharp. Do not overpressure the ear!
Sinus Problems
 Usually happen on descent but can happen on ascent
 Causes:
 Cold, URI, etc
 Allergies
 Smoking
 Chlorinated pools
 Symptoms
 Sudden severe pain
 Referral pain in upper teeth
Sinus Problems
 Prevention:
 Don’t fly with a cold or congested
 Treatment:
 Valsalva
 See flight surgeon
Gastrointestinal [GI] Tract
 Causes:
 Decreased atmospheric pressure
 Diet/digestive Process
 Swallowed air
 Symptoms
 Discomfort
 Distention
 Cramps
 Pain
GI
 Prevention
 Proper diet and good
eating habits
 Avoid carbonated
drinks
 Avoid chewing gum or
other that may cause
you to swallow air
 Treatment
 Belch
 Pass flatus
 Massage lower abdomen
 See flight surgeon
Teeth
 Causes:
 Untreated dental problem
 Trapped pocket of air after dental work
 Symptom:
 Pain on ascent
 Treatment:
 See flight surgeon
 See your dentist
Spatial Awareness and Motion
Sickness Prevention
 Disorientation
 The inability to determine one’s true body position or
motion; a condition that can occur when sensory inputs
disagree with one another or do not match up with the
actual motion or position.
Organs of Equilibrium
 Vision (eyes)
 Vestibular
 Proprioceptive
 Orientation and body responses
Vestibular Apparatus
 Semicircular canals detect rotation
 The Otolith Organs detect direction and intensity of
Gravity and g-forces.
Semicircular Canals
True sensation
False sensation
 No turn
 Constant turn
 Accelerating turn (right)
 Sense of turning clockwise
 Decelerating turn (right)
 Sense of turning counter
clockwise
Semicircular canals are stimulated by Angular Accelerations
Otolith Organs
True Sensation
False Sensation
 Tilt forward
 Forward acceleration
 Sense is tilt backwards
 Centripetal acceleration
 Sense is upright
 Upright
 Tilt backward
Proprioceptive Sense
(‘seat of the pants’)
 While we are in contact with the Earth, the pull of
Gravity squeezes pressure sensors in the various
portions of the body, thus telling us in which direction
the Earth is.
 In parabolic flight, however, g-forces in other
directions make the proprioceptive sense unreliable.
The Visual System
 The Visual System provides the strongest and usually
the most reliable orientation information during
flight.
Causes of Motion Sickness
 Sensory conflict
 Stressors
 Erratic head movement
 Pre-existing illness
 Diet
 Unusual environment
 Lack of visual cues
 Poor ventilation
Motion Sickness Symptoms
 Increased salivation and swallowing
 Nausea and vomiting or retching
 Sleepiness, fatigue, or weakness
 Warm or cold sweat
 Flushing of the skin
 Pallor
 Headache (usually frontal)
 Dizziness
Prevention of Motion Sickness
 Proper posture during flight
 Eliminate or reduce self imposed stress
 Maintain hydration
 Eat before flight
 Avoid erratic head movements (especially in high g)
 Well rested
 Prescription anti-motion sickness medications
Treatment of Motion Sickness
 Remove from provocative environment
 Stop provocative movements or activities
 Cool down
 Isolate senses (i.e. close your eyes)
 Prescription anti-nausea or anti-emetic medication
QUIZ
1) Hypoxia can be a result of:
Depressurization of the cabin at altitude
b) Breathing smoke/fumes or research gasses
c) Both of the above
a)
2) The most dangerous aspect of Hypoxia is:
a) Insidious Onset
b) Hot & Cold Flashes
c) Cyanosis
QUIZ
3) How many minutes of useful consciousness would you
have if the cabin suddenly lost pressure at cruise altitude?
a)
b)
c)
3
½
10
4) What area is affected by pressure change?
a) Ears
b) Sinus
c) GI tract
d) All of the above
Anti-Motion Sickness Guide
 Researchers have intensely studied motion sickness and its
causes for many years. How and why motion sickness occurs
remains hotly debated. However, some things are clear:
1. Motion Sickness is related to mismatch between the senses (inner ear, vision,
etc.).
2. In some people, as the brain adapts to the changes in the environment, the
brain produces nausea and vomiting as a side effect of the process.
3. The stronger the motion, the harder the brain has to work and the greater the
chances for motion sickness.
4. Anyone can suffer from motion sickness if placed in the right environment.
1.In a given motion environment, motion sickness will only occur if the motion is severe enough.
2.The amount of motion required for motion sickness is different for each individual and for each type of environment.
3.If the amount is way over the required level, motion sickness can develop rapidly; lower, it may take hours for
symptoms to develop.
4.Anti-motion sickness medications work by decreasing your sensitivity to motion.
Known Environment
1. Moving around a lot while in a motion environment increases the amount of
motion your brain must process.
2. Although looking out the window at the horizon can help your brain process
the sensory information in some cases, looking out the window of the Zero-G
aircraft does not help.
3. Approximately 30% of flyers are insensitive to the type and amount of motion
experienced during parabolic flight and do not get sick on that flight.
4. Approximately 5-10% of flyers are very sensitive to parabolic flight in the Zero-
G aircraft.
5. The remaining 60-65% of flyers have moderate sensitivity to motion of
parabolic flight. For these people, how they behave during flight really affects
whether they will develop motion sickness or not.
a. There is not a good way to predict how you will do during parabolic flight.
Prepare for your flight
1. The day and night before:
a. Get plenty of rest the night before.
b. Do not engage in rigorous athletic activities within 24 hours
of flight.
c. Drink plenty of liquids to make sure your body is well
hydrated.
d. Do not drink alcohol within 24 hours of flight. People who
drink alcohol are often dehydrated the next day. Alcohol also
effects the brain’s ability to adapt to new motion
environments which leads to worse motion sickness.
Prepare for your flight (con’t)
2.
The morning of the flight:
a. Eat a light breakfast at least two hours prior to flight (e.g.
cereal). Do not overeat. Do not fly on an empty stomach.
b. Avoid eating food that may be irritating to your stomach. Do
not eat greasy or spicy meals (e.g. bacon, omelets, etc.).
c. Wear light weight clothing (shorts, T-shirt) under your flight
suit. It is better to be too cool than too warm.
d. Drink plenty of non-carbonated fluids to make sure your
body is well hydrated. Water is the best fluid to drink.
Preventing motion sickness
During parabolic flight (High–g)
1. DURING THE 1.8G PULL-OUT PHASE (LASTS ABOUT 18-21
SECONDS)
a. Body Position:
i.
Keep the entire body as still as possible (do not strain, just relax in
place).
ii.
The best body positions are either lying flat or sitting with your back
against the cabin wall.
iii.
Flyers that lie flat on their back develop less severe motion sickness.
iv.
Sitting may be required when performing projects that require constant
observation.
v.
Use the position that is most comfortable. Feel free to experiment with
different orientations of sitting and lying.
Preventing motion sickness Con’t
During parabolic flight (High–g)
Activity:
b.
i.
Do not nod, move or shake your head in any way. Minimize fast
head movements.
ii.
iii.
Do not move around.
If you must move around because of your experiment, staying in a
seated position and sliding around using your hands while keeping
your head still is best.
iv.
Relax during this portion of the flight. Straining or exerting yourself
can cause motion sickness to develop.
v.
If you must perform tasks during this period, do not move your body
to face the tools or equipment.
Transition
1. During the transition from 1.8g to microgravity (lasts
about 3-5 seconds):
a. Keep still
b. Wait until after the transition is complete to begin moving
(you will feel the difference). Sparing the extra few seconds
will make a big difference for you.
c. Smoothly re-orient your body to face your experimental
activities.
d. Do not turn, nod, or bend your neck while moving.
Micro-g
1. During the microgravity period (last 18-24
seconds):
a. Body Positions:
i.
Always keep your head and neck stiff like you are wearing a
neck brace.
ii.
Never turn, bend or shake your head separate from body.
iii. Keep yourself
in an upright orientation.
 Do not face upside-down. Especially at first. This can
be quite disorienting
Micro-g
Activity:
b.
i.
At first, keep your activities to a minimum to allow your body to adjust to
parabolic flight.
ii.
Hold on to the restraints to keep stable
iii.
Relax! You have plenty of time to experiment with microgravity during the flights.
iv.
Use only smooth and slow body movements.
v.
Use the objects and restraints around you to help you move around.
vi.
Do not kick or flail around.
vii.
You may carefully and gradually increase your activity level if:
1.
You are feeling fine.
2.
You have become accustomed to floating, and know how to use the foot restraints.
3.
You have completed your required experiments.
 Do not interfere with other people’s experiments or
activities
Transition
1. During the transition from microgravity to 1.8g (lasts about
3-5 seconds):
a. When you hear the call, “30 low”, or “feet down”:
i.
Stop what you are doing.
ii.
Smoothly orient yourself so your feet are towards the floor.
iii.
Make sure there are no people or equipment under you.
iv.
Gently let the gravity pull you towards a clear area on the floor.
v.
Allow yourself to gently fall into your most comfortable 1.8g position.
vi.
Use your hands, feet and body to push yourself into the right position.
vii. Always
keep your head still and stable relative to your body.
viii.Once you
are in a relaxed position, ride out the remainder of the 1.8g
period without moving your body or head.
Turns
a. While the aircraft is turning, between sets of
parabolas:
i.
The plane will enter the turn after a high-G pull-out. Do not
move until the pull-out is over.
ii.
Once the pull-out is over, and the turn has begun, rest a few
moments until your body is used to the stable gravitational
force.
iii. After a
few moments of adjustment, you may walk about the
cabin like normal without difficulty.
Symptomatic
a. If you do start feeling motion sick:
i. Limit all of your activity.
ii.
Hold firmly onto available restraints.
iii.
Keep yourself upright during microgravity.
iv.
Do not turn, nod or shake your head at all.
v.
Do not look out the window.
vi.
Keep your eyes open.
vii.
Only look at objects that are right side up.
viii. Rest quietly
ix.
in your most comfortable position during the 1.8g pull-outs.
Have a motion sickness bag open and sticking out of each of your upper flight suit
pockets.
x.
If the sickness goes away with rest, you may return to activity.
Onset
a. If you do get motion sickness:
i.
Continue to restrain yourself to the cabin floor.
ii.
Sitting up is the best position.
iii.
Press the motion sickness bag around the mouth with both hands
iv.
Do not choke off the neck of the bag with your hand.
v.
Hold the bad snuggly against your face until all vomiting or retching ceases.
vi.
Once vomiting/retching has ceased immediately seal the motion sickness bag.
vii.
Use available paper towels to immediately clean up any spills.
viii. Place
the used motion sickness bag and paper towels into a Ziploc bag.
ix.
Make sure you have fresh motion sickness bags available.
x.
Most people feel much better after getting sick.
xi.
If you continue to be sick, stay along the cabin walls out of the way of other flyers.
xii.
Flight personnel may move sick individuals to the seats in back.
Medication
1. Anti-Motion Sickness Medications:
a. Are effective in limiting motion sickness.
b. Work by decreasing your sensitivity to motion.
c. However, if the motion is severe enough, you can still experience motion
sickness.
d. The beneficial effect of the medication can be nullified if you do not follow the
recommendations outlined earlier.
e. The available medication may have some side effects:
i.
Dry mouth
ii.
Mild sleepiness/sedation
iii.
Mild decreased concentration
iv.
Changes/blurring of vision
Prevention
a. Hard candies and water are available during the flight to help with dry
mouth.
b. The medication must be taken properly for it to work:
i.
Must be taken exactly as directed by flight personnel.
ii.
Must be taken at least one hour prior to takeoff to be effective.
iii.
Must be taken under the direct supervision of the flight personnel.
c. Because some of the potential side effects might impair your ability to
safely drive a vehicle, you must designate someone who will drive you
around for the rest of the day after you take the medication. You
cannot receive the medication if you do not have a designated driver.
After the Flight:
a. General recommendations:
i.
By the time most flyers disembark from the airplane after their flight, they are
feeling fine . If anything, they are hungry and thirsty.
ii.
Occasionally, first time flyers can notice some dizziness or feeling of instability
after their flight. This could potentially interfere with their ability to drive or
operate heavy machinery. Because of this, it is recommended that on the day of
your flight, you do not drive, operate other machinery or engage inactivity that
requires a lot of coordination, especially if you feeling dizzy or unsteady.
iii.
After your flight, make sure to drink plenty of fluids. Flying in the Zero-G aircraft
can deplete your body’s fluid stores.
iv.
You should minimize alcohol intake after a flight. It can lead to more dehydration
and can negatively interact with the anti-motion sickness medication. Drinking
alcohol after flight can cause motion sickness symptoms to return.
v.
Avoid strenuous activity. Your body needs rest to adapt to the vigorous sensory
information it experienced during flight.
Post Flight
a. If you are not feeling well after your flight:
i.
Occasionally, some people continue to have symptoms of motion sickness after
returning from flight. Symptoms are virtually always gone after a good night’s rest.
ii.
If you are still feeling quite poorly after your flight, tell the flight personnel before you
leave the hangar.
iii.
If you do continue to have motion sickness symptoms, the most important thing is to
rest and avoid any activity or motion.
iv.
Rest quietly in a cool, dark environment.
v.
If possible, drink plenty of clear liquids.
vi.
Eat light food (crackers, bananas) only as tolerated.
vii.
If, despite these measures, you are still feeling uncomfortable, further medical advice
regarding motion sickness is available. Contact Flight Clinic (281) 483-7999. Tell the
person who answers that you have just flown on Zero-G aircraft and would like to speak
to the Flight Surgeon. The Flight Surgeon will evaluate your situation and determine
what to do next. If no answer, contact JSC Security at (281) 483-4658.
Detailed Research Activity Planning
(Putting it all together):
 Exactly what are you going to do during parabolic flight? What steps
must you compete during your experiment? To understand exactly
what each step of your experiment entails, think about the following
points. To help yourself keep things straight, write things down.
a. What physical motions and activities are needed for a given step?
b. Think about exactly when each step must be performed. Will the activity
be performed in microgravity, during the high-G pull-out or both?
Determining this will help you determine where to put the equipment so
that it is easily available during the appropriate period without having to
move around.
c. Does the task require one hand, two hands, or no hands? Makes sure you
are adequately restrained to get the job done without floating away.
d. What equipment do you need to perform the task? Make sure the
equipment is positioned so that you don’t have to move around to get to it.
Detailed Research Activity Planning
(Putting it all together): (Con’t)
e. Do you think you’ll be doing the step during the high-G pull-out? Practice performing
the step while lying down or sitting down and keeping your head still. Plan on using a
stiff notepad so you can write while lying down and holding notepad over your head.
f. How long do you think it will take to perform the task? Remember that it usually will
take you a lot longer than you think it will. Practicing on the ground under normal
gravity will show you how long it typically takes. A rough estimate is to double the time
to see how long it will take you during parabolic flight - practice it on the ground first!
g. What do you do if you or one of your experiment partners gets motion sickness and
can’t complete their steps? Can somebody else finish their steps for them? Can you?
h. Carefully look at each step of your activities and compare them to the recommendations
given earlier. If you determine that an activity might cause you to break some of
recommendations given above, think about how to adjust that activity or place your
equipment to minimize a problem with the activity. Doing this before flight can help
you eliminate physical activities positions that are too provocative.
Conclusion:
 Although motion sickness can occur during parabolic flight,





there are steps that you can take to prevent it.
Knowing what to do (and not to do) is the key to motion
sickness prevention.
Taking a little time to plan ahead will go a long way to help you
finish your experiment, experience microgravity and have a great
time!
Following these step-by-step guidelines is the best way to avoid
motions sickness. These guidelines also discuss how to manage
motion sickness symptoms and limit their impact on your flight
experience.
Don’t forget that the RGO aircraft flight personnel are also
available for advice or assistance. They have put forth a lot of
care and effort to make sure your parabolic flight experience is
enjoyable and rewarding.
Plan ahead, don’t worry and have a Great Time!
QUIZ
 During the high–g pull-out you should ____
a)
b)
c)
Move around
Hold your head and neck still
Make rapid head movements
 The night before your flight you should____
a)
b)
c)
Drink plenty of fluids and rest
Stay dehydrated
Drink only clear alcoholic beverages
 The morning of your flight it is best to eat ___
a)
b)
c)
Nothing
Greasy food
Light meal that agrees with you
 During the micro-g phase of flight you should__
a)
b)
c)
Kick and flail
Move slowly and in control, holding on to structure
Twist you head and neck quickly
 If you feel ill it is best to______
a)
b)
c)
Stop what you are doing
Look out the window
Lay face down
QUIZ (Con’t)
 If you are about to get sick you should____
a)
b)
c)
Sit up, signal NASA TDs, hold bag firmly around the mouth with both hands.
Let go and float free
Close your eyes and squeeze the bag tightly
 If you begin to get sick you must____
a)
b)
c)
Get everything in the bag
Go the lavatory
Go to the front
 Effects of parabolic flight may last ____
a)
b)
c)
Well into the evening in some cases
A lifetime
12 minutes
 Avoid ____ immediately after flight
a)
b)
c)
Drinking alcohol, strenuous activity, driving if on meds
Walking, or dancing
The ‘noid
 Medications are effective and may affect you for ____
a)
b)
c)
Eternity
A week
Several hours
Signature Page
I ______________, have read and understood the causes
and potential effects of parabolic flight, and the
associated physiological and spatial disorientation
issues.
DATE OF BRIEFING: _____________
_____________________________
NAME
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Aerospace Physiology, Spatial Awareness Briefing