Insane Things Astronauts Have To Do While Training

By Aaron Love 10 months ago

It Can Take Two Years!

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Bare in mind that before you're selected as a space candidate, most astronauts tend to have also completed a bachelors which is typically a four year course, some then complete their Ph.D. and then they have to go through months and months of tests to ensure they're suitable. So that's probably around 6-8 years already right? Then they have to go through all the extensive training that we're about to look at that usually takes around 2 years minimum to finish. Do you think that you could put yourself through that?

They Fly Training Jets

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Before they can ever consider entering space, astronauts (from the US) have to practice using the NASA T-38 jets in order to improve their flying skills. In fact, its used as a great way to improve future astronauts confidence when it comes to using some more complex flight systems, similar to the ones they'll use when in their spacecrafts. Alongside this they also get an opportunity to create a realistic working relationship with their fellow astronauts and its also much cheaper than actually sending them out in a rocket frequently.

Learn Basic First Aid

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As part of their training, astronauts have to come to learn how to look after themselves within space, and this can take a lot of time and effort, based solely on how many things can go wrong whilst you're up there alone! Although it seems obvious, they have to be taught the basics like how to cover a wound properly to avoid infections as well as how to correctly do CPR or use defibrillators on someone that might come across heart issues on the spacecraft. So you might want to keep astronauts around you during the bad times!

How To Avoid Motion Sickness

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I'm sure there's a load of us out there that have had to deal with motion sickness in some form or another, some people get them after being filled with adrenaline on rollercoasters, whilst others can't handle a simple trip in their cars. However, I'm sure you can appreciate that astronauts don't have it easy and motion sickness is a very common issue that might arise, particularly during the initial takeoff. During their training they try to learn ways that will avoid them throwing up as they're leaving the earth, that'd be a mess wouldn't it?

Dentistry?

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It might seem crazy to imagine, but in order to head up to space with NASA and the similar institutions in other countries they actually have to learn how to complete the basic procedures like how to keep them completely hygienic, how to extract teeth and also some temporary methods to keep the teeth healthy whilst they await being able to visit a real dentist when they come home. It's quite crazy they have to do this when you know that it actually takes dentists here in the US around 8 years of education to become a professional dentist.

Injections And IV's

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You might only associate things like IV's with being in the hospital, particularly in the ER department after it's been requested that you end up staying overnight. But astronauts are actually forced to learn how to administer IV just in case someone on the spacecraft requires a fluid replacement at some point during a period of the journey. Alongside this, they'll also have to learn how to give injections in case anyone needs to have their blood taken, it's important to look after each other up there.

How To Read ECG'S

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Yeah, you're probably beginning to realise that astronauts basically become second-hand emergency workers during their training to head up in to space. I suppose it makes sense, its a long way down if someone became ill and needed some medical help isn't it? So whilst in space they also take regular ECG's of each member on the spacecraft, this is to make sure that their heart activity looks as it should and so they shouldn't be worried about coming across any problems whilst they're stuck in space together.

How To Remain Healthy

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It's not just medical procedures that they have to go through in order to keep themselves safe in space, astronauts also have to go through extensive periods of training in order to understand how to maintain their physical health whilst out of orbit. This includes how to exercise, and also how to keep eating nutritiously without having 'real' food available to them. Not only this, but they're also taught processes that, supposedly, will keep them healthy in terms of their mentals as well as their physical health.

Wilderness Survival

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So this one might seem a little crazy to you, but astronauts are actually made to learn some essential wilderness survival skills just in case on their return to earth they end up landing in quite a remote area of earth. So imagine a Bear Grylls type character landing in some astronaut gear basically! Some of the things they're taught is how to build shelters safely, how to start fires efficiently, how to forage and what they should forage to eat as well as the best ways to navigate without any assistance. How scary would that be!

How To Signal For Help

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This one follows on from the prior point quite well, but if an astronaut and their team end up landing in remote areas they are also taught the best way to survive on various terrains whilst also trying to find themselves some help in the form of a rescue. So, although you're probably thinking about building a big SOS sign out of rocks on the beach (which they are still taught!) there are also a number of other signals as well as radio communication (if the spacecraft survived enough) for them to be able to find and rescue them.

Effective Teamwork

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This one seems like quite an obvious one, but in order for a space mission to go as well as it possibly can, the team involved need to be able work together as efficiently as they can, and it wouldn't harm anyone if they actually got on as friends too! Not only is this made to be instilled in the team during the mission, but its also important when it comes to situations when the team finds themselves stuck in remote areas! They have to work together and support each other, no matter how stressful in order to keep there survival chances high.

Stress Relief

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Speaking of stress, astronauts are obviously thrust (no pun intended) into some extremely stressful situations, so I'm sure you realise that it probably takes a lot of time and effort to be able to control these stress levels whilst also being able to mitigate any chances it can happen in the future. It's extremely important that astronauts maintain levels of no (to low) stress in order to keep themselves safe from issues like panic attacks and any other form of breathing-related issue that could arise from becoming too stressed.

They Take Public Speaking Classes

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This might seem like quite a weird thing for an astronaut to have to go through as they're preparing to head up to space, but in the case of the spacemen and woman that are to exit their space crafts, like the Apollo missions back in the late 60's and early 70's they were made to take some public speaking classes to make sure they would be able to give a good speech on the radios. We all remember the first step for mankind speech so it seems as though these public speaking classes are actually useful aren't they?

They Have To Learn Other Languages

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Not only do the astronauts have to go through public speaking classes for their own languages, they also need to be able to have learned some additional languages as a result of the nationalities of the other people that they might have to communicate with when they're up there! Obviously, despite tensions between Russia and the US, all ISS crew members have to be able to communicate in Russian so they can talk to the Russian Mission Control Center. Could you commit to all of this alongside your training?

Use Mock-Ups

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Just as I mentioned how astronauts use the T-38 jets earlier in order to practice flying complex machinery, they also spend a lot of time at a place called the 'Space Vehicle Mock-up Facility' where NASA have recreated some parts of the spacecrafts and the ISS on the surface of earth so that they aren't thrown in to the unknown (which sounds crazy when they're actually in the middle of nowhere!). This also helps them understand how it is that they have to move around, how much space they're going to have etc.

Practice Being Weightless

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One thing you'll obviously know that astronauts have to learn before they exit our orbit is being able to understand how they're going to be moving around in an area with zero gravity. The initial feeling of being weightless can be quite unnerving and many people begin to feel quite ill so its important they get some practice in. NASA astronauts use something known as the Vomit Comet where they're spun around to feel weightless. I'm sure you can quite easily work out why it is the machine got its name!

They Have To Practice Moving Things

Image Source: NASA
Not only do the astronauts in training need to practice their own movement, they also have to understand how things within the spacecraft and the ISS will be moving around too. Although you might think its easy to move things like cups and plates in space, you also have to imagine that they will just keep floating and floating, there's nothing that will stop them from moving except you. So this might go under the radar, but astronauts need to know how and where to restrain items to keep them from causing an issue.

They Practice Under Water

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One of the scariest things that an astronaut has to do, although one of the things I'm sure millions of us wish we had the option to do, is complete space walks whilst out of the orbit. As you can probably imagine, there's very little you can do as a way to get a full understanding of how this will work when you're still on earth so NASA had to find a way for them to practice properly. Ultimately, they settled on creating what is essentially a massive swimming pool where they practice using space vehicles under water.

They Have To Be Prepared To Vomit

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With all the issues of motion sickness that astronauts have to deal with (around 3 quarters of all astronauts suffer from it) they have to be prepared to go through a few stages of sickness during their trip out of orbit. And the main issue they'll come across is vomiting, which we all hate as it is, so imagine how much worse it'll be if it comes out within a space helmet or floats around the spacecraft. If you want to get into it, it occurs because the fluids within the human body get shot around during the take off.

Trained In Mechanics

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You won't be surprised to hear that the systems within the spacecraft and also on board the ISS are extremely complex and in some situations, they might break or need some maintenance in order to keep all the machinery going at the optimum speeds. So obviously, astronauts really need to be on the ball when it comes to their mechanical abilities. These issues could arise at any time so they need to be ready to diagnose and address the issues at the click (or non click) of the buttons. Could you work under those circumstances?

Trained In Astronomy

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It seems like quite an obvious thing for astronauts to have to learn but it also goes under the radar a little bit. Certain astronauts will be required to navigate the spacecraft in space, so if they're able to use the positions of stars as a reference point for where they are then it'll help them endlessly. Besides that, it'll also help them when it comes to observing the earth and all of the geographical features on it so that they can relay it back to the scientists back on earth. That's a lot to remember on top of everything else!

What To Do If The Capsule Depressurizes?

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Capsule depressuriazation can be one of the scariest things that an astronaut might encounter whilst they're out of the orbit of earth. It's absolutely one of the most dangerous situations they can find themselves in as it can be a matter between the life and death of the people on board. Therefore they have to be trained in how to respond rapidly to the event that occurs as well as using all of the emergency equipment like the pressure suits and oxygen masks to increase all their chances of survival.

Preparing To Be Alone

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Isolation is something that astronauts will find quite troubling when they're off earth as they'll have to experience moments of loneliness, the feelings of being confined away from home and away from their loved ones. This can be quite a troubling thought to have and they can actually become quite overwhelming and hit them at random points of the day and night. The training involves them trying to find ways to manage any psychological problems they might come across although it can be hard to recreate.

ISS Science

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One crazy aspect of an astronauts training is that they are required to learn upwards of one hundred different experiments EACH if they are to be sent to work on the ISS for a prolonged period of time. Supposedly things work much more efficiently if one person is responsible for some things whilst others are responsible for separate tasks. I suppose this makes sense, but how on earth (or off it!) do they manage to remember how to carry out each of those tasks one by one. They must be drilled in to it!

They Travel The World

Image Source: European Space Agency
Astronauts actually enjoy a few trips around the world during their training different areas are able to provide different training to the astronauts. For example, most of the onboard training like practicing in jets and in mock facilities occurs in the US at NASA facilities. Whereas they might also find themselves in Europe as this is where they tend to be taught about all of the various science experiments that they might have to complete in space. I can't imagine they get too much time to be a tourist however eh?

Virtual Reality

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As technology has continued to advance astronaut training has continued to grow along with it, so they've began introducing virtual reality headsets to help give them a more immersive experience within the training programme. This has been extremely beneficial as it has helped them allow astronauts in training to witness the vehicle in motion (kind of) whilst also allowing them to witness a dangerous situation like a decompressed capsule without actually putting them in any form of real danger. I bet it's still terrifying.

How To Drive The Rovers

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Whilst out in space, astronauts are sometimes required to remotely control the rovers that land on the planets they're near or landing on. They are used in order to help prepare for landings and understand planetary surfaces. They'll definitely do this when people finally get to Mars! They practice this in various different terrains and weather conditions including deserts. Although it does sound kind of like they're getting taught how to drive a remote control car like a little kid it is obviously a lot more important than that.

Strength And Fitness Training

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You might have seen some images of astronauts when they return from space and noticed that they seem considerably weaker and less muscular than when they left. This is called muscle atrophy and is common in returning space men and woman. Therefore, to counteract dangerous muscle losses, they are forced to go through stages of building muscle mass, as well as their fitness to try and increase their chances of remaining healthy during their trip. It's also important to allow them to make sure their performance on the shuttle is to the optimum level.

Photography Skills

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One of the most important things that astronauts have to do whilst they're in space is take images in order to help the scientists on earth observe any experiments and activities during their mission. Yes, taking pictures is obviously a very easy task, we probably all take a picture of some form at least once a day. However, they have to be able to take perfect images of the earth, experiments and any other mission-related thing. So prior to their trip they are trained in the operation of a whole range of cameras and different lenses.

How To Put Out Space Fires

Image Source: NASA
Yes as you can see, astronauts are able to view fires on earth from up there in space, but they also have to be able how to spot any fire risks on the spacecraft or the ISS and also be able to stop them if they appear in a rapid fashion. Although items on the spacecraft are supposedly made to be flame-resistant, but that doesn't mean they can't happen. They have access to a number of pieces of firefighting equipment like extinguishers which are specifically made to suppress fires within a space (low gravity) environment.