MOSCOW, May 30. /TASS/. A space crew’s immersion into a prolonged artificial sleep during an inter-planetary flight may lead to cosmonauts’ reduced work ability and adversely affect how their bodies function after they wake up, an expert told TASS on Thursday.
Head of the Laboratory for the Prevention of Hypo-Gravitational Disturbances at the Institute of Biomedical Problems within the Russian Academy of Sciences, Doctor of Biological Sciences Yelena Fomina said that the issue of cosmonauts’ induction into a prolonged sleep, hibernation, and its consequences had been insufficiently studied.
In zero gravity conditions, the human body quickly begins to lose its physical work capacity and all of the human’s body systems degrade very quickly. This may jeopardize the positive outcome of the entire space mission, since there is a probability that the cosmonauts won’t be able to perform their assigned operations on the designated planet after they wake up, the expert pointed out.
"On Earth, you can afford to be lazy and skip going to the gym. In outer space, you cannot allow yourself not to undertake fitness activity. If a crew is immersed in sleep during an autonomous flight, the cosmonauts will have to undergo enhanced fitness to restore their physical shape after they wake up. This is a separate subject and it is necessary to carry out lengthy experiments in hypokinesia [insufficient motor activity] and zero gravity, and study the effects and the speed of restoring (the body) to its normal state," the scientist said.
An incident occurred on the International Space Station (ISS) when a running machine, the basic simulator in the Russian disease prevention system, broke down. As a result, the cosmonauts who stayed in orbit at that time had no opportunity to do any sport and lived through a very difficult period of restoring their physical shape after they landed, the researcher said.
Today, the Russian crewmembers begin undertaking enhanced exercises on a running machine twice a day on the orbital outpost before their flight back to Earth. This is very important for their quick re-adaptation to gravity after they come back to Earth, she noted.
An experiment was held during the Soviet period when several groups of persons involved in the tests had to lie in bed for a year. One group did not undergo any physical training at the beginning and started to do physical exercises already at the very end of the year. As a result, the absence of physical exercises considerably reduced the activity of all the human body’s systems. Even enhanced physical exercises did not help restore all the functions of the human body at the proper level. However, the work capacity could be restored quite quickly, she said.