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Solitary confinement on ISS

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#1
Has anybody really given deep thought to the series of crews who are sent constantly to the International Space Station - ISS - for a duty spell of 6 months ? Probably not. The glossy image of unique adventure and excitement overshadows the prospect of being shut up in a metal capsule for 189 days with no outside help, dominates the public mind.

Every single day is the same as the next for 6 solid months. it is essentially a scientifically decorated tiny living room, kitchen and toilet. Every second being weightless and eating a boring assortment of vacuum packed food with some difficulty, where every spec of debris floats around the cabin and poses a failure hazard. They cannot allow bits and pieces however small to float around indiscriminately.The usual daily tasks of hygiene, washing, personal toiletries and housekeeping are not exactly simple or private.

No Doctors, Surgeons or other medical aid if one is taken ill, no repair man available if things go wrong, no walkies and no shopping expeditions. In fact no nothing. The view outside never changes, it is the same every single day and night.

This entire period is a monumental challenge to personal sanity and a number of these astronauts have been in space for a year or more.

To me, it is a massive threat to mental stability and a rather optimistic challenge to maintaining good health over the entire mission period. The threat of sudden death from a variety of causes is a constant factor and of course the possibility of never returning to Earth and being marooned in space for all eternity, is a very real prospect. The only taxi service to and from the ISS is currently an exclusive facility provided only by the Russians. America opted out with their discontinuation of the Space Shuttle.

It matters little how much these people are trained, when in space training is simply a vital survival skill, that is all. The rest is back to GOOD LUCK.

Comments please - not about my post, but about the orbital situation of sheer endurance these astronauts have to sustain, constantly for periods of 6 months or more.
 
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#2
Hi Bald Eagle. There's a bona fide Science Forum here you can use for these posts - this topic is better than a lot of the pseudo science nonsense that finds its way in!

http://www.techpowerup.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=77

It must be very mentally taxing and I imagine there is an unthinkable battery of psychological profiling that goes on prior to the mission selection. It also makes me think of the proposed Dutch(?) private mission to send a couple to Mars. That's a one way trip :eek:

The frontiers of space appear to be more than lonely, the great future pioneers will also be martyrs.
 
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#3
I cannot speak from experience on the "in space" portion, but as for the Isolation I CAN. I've spent almost 5 months in "segregation", however with daily food being pushed through a slot in a door. So NOT as bad as SPace. The closest I have experienced was spending 8 1/2 months in a house that was secluded in the woods, By myself, with ABSOLUTELY no contact of any kind, or ever leaving the property, e.g. no store, or whatever. No phone, or TV, only ME, MY thoughts, and the Darkness.

uncertainty is IMO EASILY one of the WORST parts about the specific experience that you sited. Not knowing, or rather KNOWING that anything can happen , anytime. That MUST be horrifying.
I feel that since people never REALLY are truly detached from society entirely for the most part, that FEW can really appreciate that factor. its one of those , "you have to live it to know it" kinda things. IMO
 
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#5
That can be alleviated with fun computer games and a decent internet connection. They should really focus on getting fast wifi internet up there.
 
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#6
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#7
The thing with the ISS is that it isn't completely isolation, and it isn't doing the same thing every day.

There are other people on the ISS, and they are in constant contact with mission control. Plus, each day they are doing different experiments. The biggest drain I would think would be the constant knowledge that if something goes wrong there is no one to come help.
 
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#8
That can be alleviated with fun computer games and a decent internet connection. They should really focus on getting fast wifi internet up there.
I like the optimism your showing dude.

Iss astronauts have it easy :p the russians simulation of a mars mission was worse in that it was longer and the only excitement they had was to finally arrive at Mars ie a room with a sandpit in it. :)
 
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#9
Just a point on crewing.

The crew for the ISS must not be less than 3.

There are more people at times, but NOT permanently. At crew changeover, every 6 months, there are temporarily 6 crew members present, until the docked return vehicle is fully prepared for the return journey. The maximum crew is 6, but this is not consistent, it varies. The problems outlined in my OP for 3 crew members are equally applicable to any number.

Very rarely there have been up to 10 crew members on board, probably due to transport problems or some short term specific scientific purpose. It was soon dropped down to the regular crew number of 3. The life support systems and food storage provisions are not adequate to sustain more than 3 crew members for a long period unless special supplies have been delivered by the recovery vehicle.

So apart from infrequent irregularities, only 3 crew are normally present - there ARE no more members on board. The only contact with another human outside the craft is through the constant audio communications with ground control - Russian and American, plus the onboard visual computer monitor contact.

The station is maintained at an orbit between 278 km (173 mi) and 460 km (286 mi) altitude. As the ISS constantly loses altitude because of a slight atmospheric drag, it needs to be boosted to a higher altitude several times each year.
 
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#10
Long term duty on the ISS is not something that everybody can do or will want to do. First thing is that they want to and choose to be there.

NASA and the other space agencies spend years selecting and training personnel to do these jobs and pay special attention to the items you mentioned as well as many others.

Here's a similar experience- serving aboard a ballistic missile submarine.... they don't even get a window
 
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#11
Long term duty on the ISS is not something that everybody can do or will want to do. First thing is that they want to and choose to be there.

NASA and the other space agencies spend years selecting and training personnel to do these jobs and pay special attention to the items you mentioned as well as many others.

Here's a similar experience- serving aboard a ballistic missile submarine.... they don't even get a window
There's a thought. A very grim one. You're also probably more likely to die a horrible knowing death in a sub.
 
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#12
The russians simulation of a mars mission was worse in that it was longer and the only excitement they had was to finally arrive at Mars ie a room with a sandpit in it. :)
A Mars mission is a different ball game, but exponentially greater in risk and the factors I have explained concerning the mental problems of solitary confinement.

Mars and Earth have elliptical orbits where there is a nearest distance and a farthest distance. When Mars is closest to Earth, the distance is 35.8 million miles and this occurs in 2018. The next closest distance will be in 2030. At the farthest distance, Mars is 249 million miles.

A return mission will take about 500+ days at the closest distance between the two planets for a Mars orbit only objective.

So the much talked of "Manned mission to Mars" optimistically planned for 2018 by the over-optimistic Mr.Tito with his visions of grandeur and aired extensively by the media is no more than a pipe dream.

Baldie, you dont want me to start with my stuff again do you? :rolleyes:
Be careful DDD, lightening can strike in the same place twice. Don't provoke the Almighty. The odds of being struck by lightening twice is 1 chance in 360,000,000,000. But in your case DDD the probability is a certainty.
 
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#13
solitary confinement is easy. anybody can do it.
 
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#14
solitary confinement is easy. anybody can do it.
The question is: what will your mental state be after said solitary confinement. :)
 
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#15
solitary confinement is easy. anybody can do it.
The psychological stress effect of prolonged space flight has been recognised since day one. It is not a myth and is taken VERY seriously by NASA and the Russians alike, with adequate screening and tests heavily included in all selection criteria for candidate astronauts. "Anybody CANNOT do it !".

An early quote covering the Russian after-spaceflight debriefing of the Salyut 6 mission is :-

“If you want to instigate the art of manslaughter just shut two men up in an eighteen by twenty-foot cabin for a month. Human nature won't stand it."

Please take this thread in a serious scientific context. Thank you.
 

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#16
The psychological stress effect of prolonged space flight has been recognised since day one. It is not a myth and is taken VERY seriously by NASA and the Russians alike, with adequate screening and tests heavily included in all selection criteria for candidate astronauts. "Anybody CANNOT do it !".

An early quote covering the Russian after-spaceflight debriefing of the Salyut 6 mission is :-

“If you want to instigate the art of manslaughter just shut two men up in an eighteen by twenty-foot cabin for a month. Human nature won't stand it."

Please take this thread in a serious scientific context. Thank you.
i know it is SERIOUS. i'm telling you that anyone can do it. and if they can't then too bad.
 

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#17
 
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#18
i know it is SERIOUS. i'm telling you that anyone can do it. and if they can't then too bad.
Look Rhino, you are NOT TELLING me anything, your comments are utter nonsense and you should know it, because if you do not, then you have my sincere sympathies. Please find another thread which suits your obvious talents more closely.

If you are such a specialist on human behaviour and a qualified Psychiatrist, then I suggest you apply for a job on NASA's astronaut candidate selection team and TELL them. See how far you get with your conviction that ANYBODY can stand the stresses of sustained isolation in space. You will not even get past the application stage.

I entered this thread for serious discussion and comments, not as a joke. There is a Joke thread already available, but I did not think this material was going to promote any roars of uncontrollable laughter and a THANKS sticker.

So far, posters are making very sensible and responsible contributions. If this topic is not good enough for a good discussion, then I do not know what is. Please don't spoil it for everybody by instigating an off-topic argumentative and unnecessary atmosphere.
 

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#19
Look Rhino, you are NOT TELLING me anything, your comments are utter nonsense and you should know it, because if you do not, then you have my sincere sympathies. Please find another thread which suits your obvious talents more closely.

If you are such a specialist on human behaviour and a qualified Psychiatrist, then I suggest you apply for a job on NASA's astronaut candidate selection team and TELL them. See how far you get with your conviction that ANYBODY can stand the stresses of sustained isolation in space. You will not even get past the application stage.

I entered this thread for serious discussion and comments, not as a joke. There is a Joke thread already available, but I did not think this material was going to promote any roars of uncontrollable laughter and a THANKS sticker.

So far, posters are making very sensible and responsible contributions. If this topic is not good enough for a good discussion, then I do not know what is. Please don't spoil it for everybody by instigating an off-topic argumentative and unnecessary atmosphere.
What's the longest amount of time you have spent in solitary confinement? Unless you can say more than 6 months I don't think you are qualified to discuss what a person can and cannot do more than I can. I am telling you that the fears of solitary confinement are self fulfilling. Anyone can do it. Will they? Well we won't know until they try. You go first.

Furthermore, your patronizing attitude is not welcome. I have one hell of a bullshit meter and this thread is already off the charts. I suggest you relax and possibly get back on your medication before responding so rudely. :ohwell:
 
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#20
Rhino, what's the longest time You've spent in a solitary confinement, then?
 
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#21
Here's a similar experience- serving aboard a ballistic missile submarine.... they don't even get a window
Confinement problems in a nuclear submarine are similar, but with a big difference.

A nuclear submarine is very large compared to the ISS, it has a large population in comparison of between 120 -160, it has all facilities, almost like a hotel, the crew facilities are almost luxurious compared to the ISS with lots more space, the food is normal and top quality, not vacuum packed. etc. etc.

The submarine is in comparison a luxurious hotel. AND they are not weightless. AND although the dangers are theoretically high, modern submarines are so high-tech that incidents are very rare and the risk element is lowered. They can also call upon sophisticated and advanced rescue services which are readily available within a reasonable time scale of deployment.

The submarine can remain submerged for 6 months, but food supplies are only generally 90 days - 3 months.

The fact that there are 120-160 people in a submarine compared to 3-6 in an orbital space station completely destroys the isolation problem and only leaves a problem of endurance.

Very slightly, there is a rational connection of isolation problems between a submarine and the ISS, but only very slightly.

The ISS situation is by far more extreme and demands a critical crew selection of infinitely higher standards than the submarine service.
 
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#22
It's hard not to consider this a poor attempt at trolling by the OP, there are so many factual errors in their post.

First off, the ISS CREW is not in "solitary confinement" as the thread title states, they are a crew of at least three with routine visits by additional members. They also engage with ground controllers, support staff, scientists family members and the public on a daily basis. A far cry from anything considered solitary confinement.

Every day is NOT the same for the ISS crew. The available living space is considerably larger than is enjoyed by many in the military. A great deal of research, effort and cost goes into the development of their food, and it is reported to be considerably better than that served in prisons or the military.

All members of the crew are trained in first aid, there is equipment and supplies on board and top notch physicians monitoring and capable of providing guidance to orbital patients as needed. For extreme emergencies, return to earth is always possible with the docked crew capsules. Exercise equipment is provided and a physical fitness program is monitored and maintained by each crew member.

To suggest that the view outside never changes and is the same day or night is laughable.

To dismiss the importance of training and play up FUD on the threat of bad luck points again to a blatant attempt at trolling.
 
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#23
Submarine living...



Luxury.
 
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#24
It's hard not to consider this a poor attempt at trolling by the OP, there are so many factual errors in their post.

First off, the ISS CREW is not in "solitary confinement" as the thread title states, they are a crew of at least three with routine visits by additional members. They also engage with ground controllers, support staff, scientists family members and the public on a daily basis. A far cry from anything considered solitary confinement.

Every day is NOT the same for the ISS crew. The available living space is considerably larger than is enjoyed by many in the military. A great deal of research, effort and cost goes into the development of their food, and it is reported to be considerably better than that served in prisons or the military.

All members of the crew are trained in first aid, there is equipment and supplies on board and top notch physicians monitoring and capable of providing guidance to orbital patients as needed. For extreme emergencies, return to earth is always possible with the docked crew capsules. Exercise equipment is provided and a physical fitness program is monitored and maintained by each crew member.

To suggest that the view outside never changes and is the same day or night is laughable.

To dismiss the importance of training and play up FUD on the threat of bad luck points again to a blatant attempt at trolling.
I find your post insulting, immature, juvenile and amazingly naive. How dare you have the impudence to call me a troll ! Before you start throwing your weight about amongst the big boys, I suggest you get an education and become conversant with adult discussions.

If I have made some errors in my compilations, then so what ? Everybody else does, why pick on me ? I do not profess to be a NASA scientist, just an ordinary guy trying to put forward an interesting and serious subject for discussion on a Forum. I expect mature replies not offensive, childish and unimaginative behaviour.

All I have done is lay down the format for discussion, backed up with certain information etc, and expect people to pick up the ball. It is not a legal document where every word must be correctly verified - it is only a Forum pal. What do you expect - Blood ?

If any of my information is incorrect in your opinion, then dispute it and counteract it in a civil manner, not uncouthly blow it to pieces with a shotgun.
 
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#25
@ Bald Eagle. When you create threads that are presented as fact, yet they are opinion you are going to get such responses. The things you say can directly introduce conjecture and a response from others. Making such posts for the reason of getting such responses is trolling. However since you seem quite offended at these kind of responses, trolling is most likely not the proper term.

I suggest that you make known that this is just your opinion as asking people:
Bald Eagle said:
Comments please - not about my post, but about the orbital situation of sheer endurance these astronauts have to sustain, constantly for periods of 6 months or more.
simply doesn't make any sense, nor can it be done with the way you have presented it.
 
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