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Shuttle-Mir Stories - Thagard on Returning to Gravity

Returning to Earth gravity after months in microgravity is an interesting experience. In his Oral History, U.S. Mir astronaut Norman Thagard describes how it feels to come back to Earth.

He says, "I felt pretty good. I felt very heavy, but then I had felt heavy on landing or entry on the [shuttle flights]. I remember on my first flight in 1983 telling Bob Crippen, our commander, that he could quit pulling all those Gs any time he wanted to. And he said, 'Well, we're pulling about a tenth of a G right now.' And that was just a six-day flight. But after 115 days, it was that feeling only even more pronounced. I felt very heavy . . ."

. . . Thagard says that the heaviness went away within an hour or two. "By the time they had done all of the medical tests out in that people-mover and gotten us back to the Owens Building there at Kennedy Space Center, I didn't feel heavy anymore. I still didn't feel totally gainly. I felt a little awkward, more so than on my shorter shuttle flights. I had a real sensation that if I were to bend forward, if I weren't careful, I'd continue to go forward. And if I bent back, if I weren't careful, I'd continue to go back . . ."

Thagard relates that he had "the usual problem of going down a hall . . . If you had to make a . . . left or right turn, you would tend to overshoot. You'd tend to brush your shoulder on the opposite wall . . ."

Related Links:
Life in Microgravity
Human Life Sciences
Thagard Increment
Profile: Norman Thagard
Norm Thagard Oral History (PDF)

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