Microgravity-induced physiologic changes could impair a crewmember's performance upon return to a gravity environment. The Functional Task Test aims to correlate these physiologic alterations with changes in performance during mission-critical tasks. In this study, we evaluated spaceflight-induced cardiovascular changes during 11 functional tasks in 7 Shuttle astronauts before spaceflight, on landing day, and 1, 6, and 30 days after landing. Mean heart rate was examined during each task and autonomic activity was approximated by heart rate variability during the Recovery from Fall/Stand Test, a 2-min prone rest followed by a 3-min stand. Heart rate was increased on landing day during all of the tasks, and remained elevated 6 days after landing during 6 of the 11 tasks. Parasympathetic modulation was diminished and sympathovagal balance was increased on landing day. Additionally, during the stand test 6 days after landing, parasympathetic modulation remained suppressed and heart rate remained elevated compared to preflight levels. Heart rate and autonomic activity were not different from preflight levels 30 days after landing. We detected changes in heart rate and autonomic activity during a 3-min stand and a variety of functional tasks, where cardiovascular deconditioning was still evident 6 days after returning from short-duration spaceflight. The delayed recovery times for heart rate and parasympathetic modulation indicate the necessity of assessing functional performance after long-duration spaceflight to ensure crew health and safety.
Research Containing: Spaceflight
Sustained weightlessness affects all body functions, among these also cardiac autonomic control mechanisms. How this may influence neural response to central stimulation by a mental arithmetic task remains an open question. The hypothesis was tested that microgravity alters cardiovascular neural response to standardized cognitive load stimuli. Beat-to-beat heart rate, brachial blood pressure, and respiratory frequency were collected in five astronauts, taking part in three different short-duration (10 to 11 days) space missions to the International Space Station. Data recording was performed in supine position 1 mo before launch; at days 5 or 8 in space; and on days 1, 4, and 25 after landing. Heart rate variability (HRV) parameters were obtained in the frequency domain. Measurements were performed in the control condition for 10 min and during a 5-min mental arithmetic stress task, consisting of deducting 17 from a four-digit number, read by a colleague, and orally announcing the result. Our results show that over all sessions (pre-, in-, and postflight), mental stress induced an average increase in mean heart rate (Δ7 ± 1 beats/min; P = 0.03) and mean arterial pressure (Δ7 ± 1 mmHg; P = 0.006). A sympathetic excitation during mental stress was shown from HRV parameters: increase of low frequency expressed in normalized units (Δ8.3 ± 1.4; P = 0.004) and low frequency/high frequency (Δ1.6 ± 0.3; P = 0.001) and decrease of high frequency expressed in normalized units (Δ8.9 ± 1.4; P = 0.004). The total power was not influenced by mental stress. No effect of spaceflight was found on baseline heart rate, mean arterial pressure, and HRV parameters. No differences in response to mental stress were found between pre-, in-, and postflight. Our findings confirm that a mental arithmetic task in astronauts elicits sympathovagal shifts toward enhanced sympathetic modulation and reduced vagal modulation. However, these responses are not changed in space during microgravity or after spaceflight.
A habitable atmosphere is a fundamental requirement for human spaceflight. To meet this requirement, the cabin atmosphere must be constantly scrubbed to maintain human life and system functionality. The primary system for atmospheric scrubbing of the US on-orbit segment (USOS) of the International Space Station (ISS) is the Trace Contaminant Control System (TCCS). As part of the Environmental Control and Life Support Systems' (ECLSS) atmosphere revitalization rack in the US Lab, the TCCS operates continuously, scrubbing trace contaminants generated primarily by two sources: the metabolic off-gassing of crew members and the off-gassing of equipment in the ISS. It has been online for approximately 95% of the time since activated in February 2001. The TCCS is comprised of a charcoal bed, a catalytic oxidizer, and a lithium hydroxide post-sorbent bed, all of which are designed to be replaced on-orbit when necessary. In 2006, all three beds were replaced following an observed increase in the system resistance that occurred over a period several months. The beds were returned to ground and subjected to a test, teardown and evaluation (TT&E) to investigate the root cause(s) of the decrease in flow rate through the system. In addition, various chemical and physical analyses of the bed materials were performed to determine contaminant loading and any changes in performance. This paper will mainly focus on the results of these analyses and how this correlates with what has been observed from archival sampling and on-orbit events. This has provided insight into the future performance of the TCCS and rate of change for orbital replacement units in the TCCS.
The five-year experience of experimentation in the autonomic regulation of blood circulation on board the International Space Station is presented. The heart rate variability (HRV) analysis was the basic methodical approach in these investigations. The probabilistic approach to the estimation of the risk of pathology under long-term spaceflight conditions based on HRV analysis is described. The individual type of autonomic regulation was taken into account in the analysis of the results of the investigations. The type of regulation inherent in every cosmonaut under the conditions of weightlessness has been shown to be retained during subsequent flights. New scientific data on the relationship between the character of the adaptive response of the body to spaceflight factors and the individual type of autonomic response have been obtained. Staying in weightlessness has been shown to be connected with the readjustment of regulatory systems and with transition to the zone of prenosological states. Adaptation responses in weightlessness are characterized by the increased tension of the regulatory systems and the preservation of sufficient functional reserves. The mobilization of additional resources is required after returning to earth, due to which the functional reserve of the mechanisms of regulation decreases. Cosmonauts with the vagotonic and normosympathotonic types of autonomic regulation appear to be the most resistant. The knowledge of the type of autonomic regulation allows us to judge the potential response of the cosmonaut to spaceflight factors. The likelihood estimates were calculated, and the risk categories were determined by the results of HRV analysis in the last months of the flight. Three pathology risk groups were identified. In conclusion, the theoretical and applied significance of the experiments was considered.
The development of space cardiology is considered, from the first flights of animals and humans to the studies conducted on board International Space Station (ISS). The material is recounted in four sections in accordance with the theoretical statements presented in the book “Space Cardiology” (1967). The first section is analysis of rearrangement of blood circulation under the conditions of microgravity. Long-term microgravity has been demonstrated to require mobilization of additional functional reserves of the body. During the first six months of the flight, the cardiovascular homeostasis is supported by the regulatory mechanisms of the blood circulation system, whereas in the case of a more prolonged impact of microgravity, intersystem control is actively involved (suprasegmental divisions of autonomic regulation). In the second section dealing with the roles of the right and left divisions of the heart in adaptation to microgravity of the cardiovascular system, the important role of the right heart at the initial stage of a space flight (SF) is emphasized. The third section addresses the problem of reducing the orthostatic stability; this study has been initiated as early as the first manned space flights. The results obtained on board ISS testify to the importance of evaluating the functional reserves of the blood circulation system. The fourth section presents data on the new methods of myocardial examination that are to be soon introduced into SF medical provision. In conclusion, some new projects in space cardiology are discussed.
Autonomic cardiovascular and respiratory control during prolonged spaceflights aboard the International Space Station
Impaired autonomic control represents a cardiovascular risk factor during long-term spaceflight. Little has been reported on blood pressure (BP), heart rate (HR), and heart rate variability (HRV) during and after prolonged spaceflight. We tested the hypothesis that cardiovascular control remains stable during prolonged spaceflight. Electrocardiography, photoplethysmography, and respiratory frequency (RF) were assessed in eight male cosmonauts (age 41–50 yr, body-mass index of 22–28 kg/m2) during long-term missions (flight lengths of 162–196 days). Recordings were made 60 and 30 days before the flight, every 4 wk during flight, and on days 3 and 6 postflight during spontaneous and controlled respiration. Orthostatic testing was performed pre- and postflight. RF and BP decreased during spaceflight (P < 0.05). Mean HR and HRV in the low- and high-frequency bands did not change during spaceflight. However, the individual responses were different and correlated with preflight values. Pulse-wave transit time decreased during spaceflight (P < 0.05). HRV reached during controlled respiration (6 breaths/min) decreased in six and increased in one cosmonaut during flight. The most pronounced changes in HR, BP, and HRV occurred after landing. The decreases in BP and RF combined with stable HR and HRV during flight suggest functional adaptation rather than pathological changes. Pulse-wave transit time shortening in our study is surprising and may reflect cardiac output redistribution in space. The decrease in HRV during controlled respiration (6 breaths/min) indicates reduced parasympathetic reserve, which may contribute to postflight disturbances.
Prospects of medical monitoring of long-duration space flights by means of non-contact recording of physiological functions during sleep time
The methods used to investigate the body functional state in sleep under the conditions of a long-duration space flight are of great scientific and practical interest. The Sonocard experiment is based on the method of seismocardiography. The goal of this experiment is to validate and improve the procedure of non-contact recording the in-sleep physiological data for monitoring the crew state. The very first results have demonstrated that, as on Earth, sleep is crucial for recovery of the functional reserves expended during the daytime under the conditions of microgravity. Using the new technology, the recovery processes, as well as individual adaptation to a long-term space flight, can be studied. This method makes it possible to evaluate the sleep quality, mechanisms of recreation, and body functionality. These data may enrich substantially the information used by medical operators of space missions in the control centers.
Assessment of individual adaptation to microgravity during long term space flight based on stepwise discriminant analysis of heart rate variability parameters
Optimization of the cardiovascular system under conditions of long term space flight is provided by individual changes of autonomic cardiovascular control. Heart rate variability (HRV) analysis is an easy to use method under these extreme conditions. We tested the hypothesis that individual HRV analysis provides important information for crew health monitoring. HRV data from 14 Russian cosmonauts measured during long term space flights are presented (two times before and after flight, monthly in flight). HRV characteristics in the time and in the frequency domain were calculated. Predefined discriminant function equations obtained in reference groups (L1=−0.112⁎HR−1.006⁎SI−0.047⁎pNN50−0.086⁎HF; L2=0.140⁎HR−0.165⁎SI−1.293⁎pNN50+0.623⁎HF) were used to define four functional states. (1) Physiological normal, (2) prenosological, (3) premorbid and (4) pathological. Geometric mean values for the ISS cosmonauts based on L1 and L2 remained within normal ranges. A shift from the physiological normal state to the prenosological functional state during space flight was detected. The functional state assessed by HRV improved during space flight if compared to pre-flight and early post-flight functional states. Analysis of individual cosmonauts showed distinct patterns depending on the pre-flight functional state. Using the developed classification a transition process from the state of physiological normal into a prenosological state or premorbid state during different stages of space flight can be detected for individual Russian cosmonauts. Our approach to an estimation of HR regulatory pattern can be useful for prognostic purposes.
The devices “Puls” and “Pneumocard” were developed to further investigate autonomic cardiovascular and respiratory function on board the ISS. Investigations on board the “Mir” station showed transient changes in neurohumoral regulation indicating individual adaptation of regulatory systems. Therefore, an experiment “Pulse” has been performed starting with the fifth expedition on the ISS. The aim of the experiment is to investigate adaptation of the autonomic nervous system by measuring cardiorespiratory parameters during standardized tests at zero-gravity. Our results suggest that the adaptation to zero-gravity in terms of the autonomic cardiorespiratory control was adequate in all cosmonauts ( n = 5 ) . However, the characteristics of the responses during flight depend on the individual regulatory type. The individual evaluation of the regulatory systems especially during the initial stages of flight, during episodes of space sickness and after landing may shed light on critical changes of functional reserves and allow to reduce inflight and postflight disturbances.
The present suite of advanced space plant cultivation facilities require a significant level of resources to launch and maintain in flight. The facilities are designed to accommodate a broad size range of plant species and are, therefore, not configured to support the specific growth requirements of small plant species such as Arabidopsis thaliana at maximum efficiency with respect to mass and power. The facilities are equally not configured to support automated plant harvesting or tissue processing procedures, but rely on crew intervention and time. The recent reorganization of both spaceflight opportunities and allocation of limited in-flight resources demand that experiments be conducted with optimal efficiency. The emergence of A. thaliana as a dominant space flight model organism utilized in research on vegetative and reproductive phase biology provides strong justification for the establishment of a dedicated cultivation system for this species. This paper presents work on the design of a small plant cultivation facility directed at supporting research on the vegetative growth phase of A. thaliana . The design of the facility is based on the use of existing space flight hardware, and configured to support the fully automated germination of seed, cultivation of plants, and final termination of plant growth by chemical fixation and preservation of plant tissue.