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Shuttle-Mir Stories - Thagard on "Space Sickness"

A significant percentage of space travelers experience "space motion sickness," including nausea and vertigo, at least during the early parts of their spaceflights. U.S. Mir astronaut Norman Thagard discusses space sickness in his Oral History.

He says, "The Russians claimed for years and years that they... don't have space motion sickness, or at least not anything that's worth commenting about in their program. And yet I suffered from it on all four of my space shuttle flights. What I found out on the Soyuz is there is a reason why they do better. You cannot move around. There's not that big volume on the Soyuz. . . . You just don't move around, and you certainly don't have as many head movements . . ."

With a shuttle launch, Thagard explains that immediately after orbit is attained, "you start moving your head, . . . unlocking lockers and getting equipment out. . . . You basically hit the deck running when you're on a shuttle flight. You've got so much to do and so little time in which to do it, that immediately upon clearance [and] a "go" for orbit, you're up, just darting . . . and throwing big head movements . . ."

Thagard states, "There is absolutely no question that that's what causes and exacerbates space motion sickness. Because I couldn't move around [on the Soyuz], I really never got beyond stomach awareness. . . ."

Related Links:
Long-Duration Spaceflight
Life on Mir
Space Shuttle Life
Human Life Sciences
Thagard Increment

Profile: Norman Thagard
Norm Thagard Oral History (PDF)
Life in Microgravity

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