The exercise and environmental physiology of extravehicular activity
Cowell, S. A., et al. (2002). "The exercise and environmental physiology of extravehicular activity." Aviat Space Environ Med 73 1: 54-67
Extravehicular activity (EVA), i.e., exercise performed under unique environmental conditions, is indispensable for supporting daily living in weightlessness and for further space exploration. From 1965-1996 an average of 20 h x yr(-1) were spent performing EVA. International Space Station (ISS) assembly will require 135 h x yr(-1) of EVA, and 138 h x yr(-1) is planned for post-construction maintenance. The extravehicular mobility unit (EMU), used to protect astronauts during EVA, has a decreased pressure of 4.3 psi that could increase astronauts' risk of decompression sickness (DCS). Exercise in and repeated exposure to this hypobaria may increase the incidence of DCS, although weightlessness may attenuate this risk. Exercise thermoregulation within the EMU is poorly understood; the liquid cooling garment (LCG), worn next to the skin and designed to handle thermal stress, is manually controlled. Astronauts may become dehydrated (by up to 2.6% of body weight) during a 5-h EVA, further exacerbating the thermoregulatory challenge. The EVA is performed mainly with upper body muscles; but astronauts usually exercise at only 26-32% of their upper body maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max). For a given ground-based work task in air (as opposed to water), the submaximal VO2 is greater while VO2max and metabolic efficiency are lower during ground-based arm exercise as compared with leg exercise, and cardiovascular responses to exercise and training are also different for arms and legs. Preflight testing and training, whether conducted in air or water, must account for these differences if ground-based data are extrapolated for flight requirements. Astronauts experience deconditioning during microgravity resulting in a 10-20% loss in arm strength, a 20-30% loss in thigh strength, and decreased lower-body aerobic exercise capacity. Data from ground-based simulations of weightlessness such as bed rest induce a 6-8% decrease in upper-body strength, a 10-16% loss in thigh extensor strength, and a 15-20% decrease in lower-body aerobic exercise capacity. Changes in EVA support systems and training based on a greater understanding of the physiological aspects of exercise in the EVA environment will help to insure the health, safety, and efficiency of working astronauts.
ISSN: 0095-6562 (Print) 0095-6562 (Linking)
Accession Number: 11817621