Space simulations of 1960s focused on survival

Excerpt from the March 6, 1965, issue of Science News Letter

Outer space on Earth — In an effort to foresee as many as possible of the problems of space travel, man is building a vast array of strange testing devices, designed to create at least part of the feeling of space…. Experiments have been undertaken in places ranging from the bottom of the ocean (which simulates low gravity) to a rocket-powered vibration machine…. The toughest test for man in space, however, will still be — when he gets there.  — Science News LetterMarch 6, 1965


Early simulations of life in space focused on survival in temperature and atmospheric extremes. As space programs aim toward longer missions to distant targets such as Mars, quality of life has become increasingly valued. Recent bed rest studies have evaluated the effects of microgravity (SN: 6/15/02, p. 376), and hugely long confinement research suggests disruptions may occur in astronauts’ sleep (SN: 2/9/13, p. 8). Psychology and teamwork — of man and woman — also take on critical importance in planning very long trips (SN: 11/29/14, p. 22).

Bethany was previously the staff writer at Science News for Students. She has a Ph.D. in physiology and pharmacology from Wake Forest University School of Medicine.

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