31 July 2011

Press Release: Astronauts4Hire, Ashton Graybiel Spatial Orientation Lab Partnership


July 31, 2011

Astronauts4Hire, Ashton Graybiel Spatial Orientation Lab Partnership

Tampa, Florida – Astronauts4Hire is pleased to announce it has entered into a research and training partnership with the Ashton Graybiel Spatial Orientation Laboratory (AGSOL). The two organizations recently signed a memorandum of understanding agreement focused on addressing the goals, challenges, and issues of astronaut training for private spaceflight.

A particular emphasis of the collaboration between Astronauts4Hire and AGSOL will be improving task performance under modified gravity conditions and mitigating space motion sickness, which has plagued almost three quarters of all astronauts. Representatives from Astronauts4Hire toured the AGSOL on July 14 and gained a firsthand perspective of the lab’s capabilities to support human sensorimotor control in unusual force environments.

Located at Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts, AGSOL researchers have spent the last three decades studying human spatial orientation and movement control under varying gravity conditions. "Our unique ability to contribute is our expertise in studying human motion sickness," says Janna Kaplan, who researches human adaptation to various conditions of spaceflight.

The lab is equipped to train for motion sickness adaptation as well as disorientation recovery in order to reduce discomfort and improve human productivity. James R. Lackner, Riklis, professor of physiology, founder, and co-director of AGSOL, added, "We probably have more experience in parabolic flight than any research group in the world, in terms of human factors. And we have the only functioning, full-scale artificial gravity environment operational in the world in the present time."

"Assessment of each individual’s susceptibility to motion sickness and training to help manage motion sickness are of vital importance to ensure quality mission assurance," said Astronauts4Hire President Brian Shiro. "With only 5 minutes of time in microgravity on suborbital flights, we cannot afford to waste time feeling ill or disoriented and potentially jeopardize the success of a client's payload."

Astronauts4Hire Chief Science Officer Dr. Luis Saraiva, who initiated the partnership with a visit to the AGSOL in April, also strongly endorsed the lab. "I am proud to be working with the Ashton Graybiel Spatial Orientation Laboratory to advance understanding of human performance under the provocative conditions of microgravity. They are world renowned in their field and will bring invaluable know-how to our training program."

Astronauts4Hire and the AGSOL will next work together to identify, plan, and execute research studies and training protocols to improve preparation of astronauts for private spaceflight. This will include monitoring pre- and post-flight adaptation and developing operational procedures to maximize efficiency to ensure experiment success during missions.

About Astronauts4Hire:
Astronauts for Hire, Inc. (A4H) is a non-profit corporation whose objectives are to provide opportunities for students and professionals to develop and refine the skills necessary to become commercial astronauts and to assist these qualified candidates with networking opportunities in the space research community. A4H's commercial astronaut candidates are accomplished scientists and engineers who can support a wide variety of payloads. They are available today for contract and consulting work with researchers to design and conduct experiments on microgravity, suborbital, and orbital missions. For more information, please visit www.Astronauts4Hire.org or contact Public Relations Officer Ben Corbin at ben.corbin[at]astronauts4hire.org or at (850) 685-2218.

About Ashton Graybiel Spatial Orientation Laboratory:
The Ashton Graybiel Spatial Orientation Laboratory (AGSOL) is part of the Neuroscience program at Brandeis University. Since 1982, AGSOL researchers have studied space motion sickness, human performance, spatial orientation and movement control in altered gravity environments, including artificial gravity, high G and weightlessness of parabolic flight, and virtual environments. For more information, please visit www.graybiel.brandeis.edu or contact Senior Research Associate Janna Kaplan at jannakap[at]brandeis.edu or at (781) 736-2038. Also see the related BrandeisNOW article at http://webserver.brandeis.edu/now/2011/july/graybiel.html.

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Interested parties can download and distribute the press release as a MS Word or Adobe PDF document.


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