04 July 2013

A busy month of A4H training

Hot on the heels of NSRC 2013, A4H members came together to participate in several training activities throughout the month of June.  First, Flight Members Ben Corbin and Jim Crowell completed Basic Suborbital Space Training at the NASTAR Center, where they built up their personal G-tolerance on simulated spaceflights in the PHOENIX Centrifuge, learned about high altitude physiology through an hypobaric chamber ride, and participated in several other academic lectures related to the aerospace environment in order to maximize their preparation for spaceflight. Associate Member David Attig joined Ben and Jim to complete high altitude training.


Then, Flight Members Dr. Mindy Howard and Kristine Ferrone completed Sensorimotor Human Factors Training at SIRIUS Astronaut Training. The 2-day "Protocol A" program focuses on preparing for the inevitable spatial disorientation, sensory illusions, movement errors, and motion sickness most people will experience on space flights. Academic lectures were followed by practical training in the facility's Multi-Axis Rotation and Tilt (MART) device, the Rotating Room, the Vection Chamber and treadmill. The understanding and awareness Mindy and Kristine acquired through this training helps them to understand their own individual symptomology in order to maximize their efficiency, productivity, and comfort on spaceflights.


Next, Kristine was joined by fellow Flight Members Dr. Jose Hurtado and Ben Corbin at Survival Systems USA (SSUSA) for underwater emergency egress training through SSUSA's Dunker Training Course. The program teaches participants how to handle aircraft ditching emergencies with and without supplemental oxygen and how to survive at sea until help arrives. Practical elements of the training included inverted escape from the Shallow Water Egress Trainer (SWET) followed by evacuation from the Modular Egress Training Simulator (METS). Since more than two thirds of the Earth is covered with water, chances are an abort scenario could result in an unplanned spacecraft water landing. This training taught Kristine, Jose, and Ben how to remain calm under such life-threatening situations.


While Jose, Ben, and Kristine were busy learning how to suppress their natural fear of drowning, Associate Member Dr. Karina Descartin participated in the NASTAR Center’s AeroSpace Medicine Lab Course. The 5-day course went beyond the centrifuge and altitude training elements to also include spatial disorientation, night vision, ejection seat, distraction factor, and survival training in order to demonstrate the physiological stresses of flight for aerospace medicine students and professionals.


Finally, the busy month of training was rounded out with Flight Member Joseph Palaia's preparations for two exciting missions. He underwent aerobatic, unusual attitude, and ejection seat training for an upcoming flight on a F-104 Starfighter jet with Starfighters Aerospace. Later this summer, Palaia will fly as a payload operator for the DART (Dust Altitude Recovery Technology) system to collect high altitude dust from the upper troposphere and return it for microbial study. In the meantime, Joe has just embarked on an expedition to the Flashline Mars Arctic Research Station (FMARS) in the Canadian High Arctic, where he is commanding a crew on a 2-week mission to upgrade the simulated Mars habitat facility in preparation for a year-long mission to begin in summer 2014. We wish him and his team well!

Congratulations to everyone on a successful month of training!