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Apollo Flight Crew Vestibular Assessment (AP006)
Research Area:
Species Studied
Scientific Name: Homo sapiens Species: Human

The United States manned space flight program addressed the potential problems that could arise during flight due to vestibular disturbances, particularly motion sickness. Concern was expressed because of the highly unusual microgravity environment encountered during space flight. Interestingly, astronauts from the early Mercury and Gemini programs reported no significant vestibular problems. However, the Apollo program presented several significant changes from previous programs, including increases in the size of the spacecraft's interior and differences in the activities being performed during the mission. Due to the larger habitable volume of the Apollo Command Module (CM), as compared to the Mercury and Gemini modules, crewmen were able to move about freely within the spacecraft. In addition, inflight docking procedures allowed the crewmen to move back and forth between the Lunar Module (LM) and the Command Module. It was also noted that crewmen would make the transition from zero-g (0-G) to the one sixth-G environment on the lunar surface and then back to 0-G numerous times during the six Apollo lunar-landing missions. With these changes, particularly the greater mobility permitted by the larger volume of the CM and the LM, the potential for the first serious vestibular problems became evident. Therefore, a set of qualitative assessment procedures was developed for the Apollo series of missions in order to document the vestibular disturbances experienced by the astronauts. Opportunities for inflight quantitative monitoring of the vestibular system were severely limited because of the principal mission objectives and the technical nature of the tasks that were performed on each mission. The objective of the vestibular investigations performed during the Apollo program was to obtain definitive information regarding the effects of microgravity on the vestibular system while using primarily qualitative data collection procedures.

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Berry CA. Medical Legacy of Apollo. Aerospace Medicine. 1974. September. 1046-1051.[]

Berry, C.A. Medical results of Apollo 14 - Implications for longer duration space flights. International Astronautical Congress; 22nd; September 20-25, 1971; Brussels, Belgium.

Homick JL, Miller EF. Apollo flight crew vestibular assessment. In: Johnson RS, Dietlein LF, Berry CA, eds. Biomedical Results of Apollo. Washington, DC: NASA Headquarters; 1975:323-340. NASA SP-368. [NTRS]

Postural equilibrium
Motion sickness

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Data Information
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Irrigating temperature
Motion sickness
Nystagmus, average velocity
Nystagmus, direction
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Mission/Study Information
Mission Launch/Start Date Landing/End Date Duration
Apollo 10 05/18/1969 05/26/1969 8 days
Apollo 11 07/16/1969 07/24/1969 8 days
Apollo 12 11/14/1969 11/24/1969 10 days
Apollo 13 04/11/1970 04/17/1970 6 days
Apollo 14 01/31/1971 02/09/1971 9 days
Apollo 15 07/26/1971 08/07/1971 12 days
Apollo 16 04/16/1972 04/27/1972 11 days
Apollo 17 12/07/1972 12/19/1972 12 days
Apollo 7 10/11/1968 10/22/1968 11 days
Apollo 8 12/21/1968 12/27/1968 6 days
Apollo 9 03/03/1969 03/13/1969 10 days

Additional Information
Managing NASA Center
Johnson Space Center (JSC)
Responsible NASA Representative
Johnson Space Center LSDA Office
Project Manager: Jessica Keune
Institutional Support
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)