Home / Science / NASA has safely launched astronauts during the epidemic. This is how they do it.

NASA has safely launched astronauts during the epidemic. This is how they do it.



The four launches – including two historic missions from the US ground to the International Space Station, carried out as planned, and the team was able to secure travel to and from Earth.

Quarantine has become commonplace for many over the last year. But it’s also part of the routine for astronauts who have been out into space for a long time.

“NASA has had a strict quarantine plan for a long time,” said Robert Mulcahy, flight surgeon for the Health Stabilization Program at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. “It’s nothing new to us. NASA is conducting pre-launch quarantine, starting with the Apollo mission. 14 (in 1971) because we saw some infectious diseases in flight or pre-launch for some earlier Apollo launches. ”

Some Apollo astronauts had upper respiratory tract infections and gastroenteritis, so quarantine was carried out in advance. While the specifics of pre-space containment have changed over the years, so are the basic tenants, Mulcahy said.

Pre-flight quarantine can help prevent illnesses such as colds and flu from occurring outside of our planet. The agency argues that the health and welfare of the crew is paramount.

Astronauts and those on the Health Stabilization Program are vaccinated for preventable infectious diseases.

Before the epidemic, astronauts transported to the ISS will be quarantined for two weeks. They focus on what becomes commonplace for everyone: social aloofness and good respiratory and hand hygiene.

This includes making sure everyone in contact with the crew knows what good containment is ̵

1; something we’re all familiar with now, Mulcahy said.

Launched during the epidemic

As concerns about the epidemic and containment spread around the world in March 2020, NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy was in Baikonur, Kazakhstan in preparation for April 9, 2020. Will be sent to the space station with Russian astronaut Anatoly. Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner

The crew had been quarantined for two weeks as usual, and the launch took place as planned, despite some changes.Travel restrictions prevented the family, the media and some of the astronauts’ industry officials from attending. Can launch Those involved in the launch were all seen 6 feet apart and wearing masks.

Prior to quarantine, astronauts followed US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations regarding the coronavirus. The team members are staying in the cabin crew in Baikonur, have no direct contact with anyone who is not supervised by the onboard surgeon, and focus on preparing for flight, studying, rest, exercise and video calls. Friends and family members

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On Earth, NASA’s ground teams, such as aviation and mission control, have also been affected by the outbreak. Deliveries between teams across shifts occurred in two different rooms to reduce contact.

It was Cassidy’s third space flight, but the early days of the pandemic were reshaping his flight experience ahead of time.

“We know we will be detained. But we don’t know the rest of the world will join us, ”Cassidy said from the space station in April. “Leave that behind my heart, go out to everyone, this mission feels different.”
NASA astronauts, Russian astronauts, sent to the space station during the outbreak.

Just a few days later, NASA astronaut Dr. Andrew “Drew” Morgan and Jessica Mir are scheduled to return to Earth after spending nine and seven months on the space station, respectively. They return to a different world than the one they launched, where coronavirus is not a concern.

“It will be difficult not to cuddle with family and friends after being here for seven months,” Meir said from the space station in April. “I think I would feel more lonely on earth than here because it was expected here. We were busy pursuing an amazing job and not feeling alone. But it would be wonderful to see family and friends from a distance. ”

The agency has a procedure for returning astronauts, which continues to include post-landing health checks by on-board doctors. Doctors and other NASA crews helped the astronauts get closer to Earth’s gravity, allowing them to rise and walk shortly after landing. In the weeks after which they were examined to make sure they were healthy.

Humans have lived on the space station for 20 years.

This time around, the protocol is more comprehensive, including the CDC’s recommendations on infection control during post-flight medical tests and reading data. It has been used extensively for social aloof, handwashing and surface cleaning, and crew members are limited in who they may come into contact with.A sick NASA team member is asked to stay home.

Crew of 7, Expedition 64, poses for portraits inside the International Space Station.  From the left are NASA astronauts Shannon Walker, Victor Glover and Kate Rubins;  Roscosmos astronauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov;  NASA astronaut Michael Hopkins;  And Soichi Noguchi, astronaut JAXA
Three more launches followed in 2020, including Demo-2 and Crew-1, two historic NASA and SpaceX launches, delivering the team’s first mission from U.S. soil since 2011.

NASA astronaut Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley launched on May 30 as part of Demo-2.The Crew-1 then carried NASA astronauts Victor Glover Jr., Mike Hopkins and Shannon Walker, and Soichi Noguchi, the astronaut of the Japan, which launched in November

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There was also another launch from Baikonur featuring Russian astronauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov, as well as NASA astronaut Kate Rubins in October.

Behnken and Hurley returned to Earth in August and Cassidy, Vagner and Ivanishin returned in October. The space station currently has seven people on board, including the Crew-1 and the previous Baikonur launch.

How an outbreak changed the astronaut quarantine.

To make sure everyone is prepared for the May release of Demo-2, the existing Health Stabilization Program has been strengthened due to the epidemic.

Add a third week to the 14-day standard quarantine period. Astronauts begin to wear N95 masks if they come into contact with anyone outside their small containment bubble. he

The number of people who are close to astronauts during pre-launch containment is reduced to a minimum, including only those who are responsible for the mission.

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They are also conducting daily health surveys from 21 days before launch to have everyone in the quarantine ask about their temperatures and see if they have symptoms of an infectious disease, then 14 days before the launch. They did self-contained temperature checks and health checks for anyone wanting to experience the astronauts, Mulcahy said.

In addition, Covid-19 tests are available for astronauts and critical close contacts during the containment. Rather than meeting people in the same room, meetings were sometimes conducted with glass walls between the astronauts and NASA staff.This was similar to what was part of the process in Baikonur for Russia’s Soyuz launch, Mulcahy said.

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The latest change is that they are encouraging everyone who is eligible for the Covid-19 vaccine.

Due to the fact that many people live in a quarantine situation, astronauts are allowed to quarantine with their families as long as their family members meet the quarantine requirements.

For astronauts who want or want to enter an on-site containment area, both the Kennedy Space Center in Florida and the Johnson Space Center have good habitats. The astronauts have individual rooms, such as living areas, kitchens, and common areas for meetings or conferences. The astronaut crew residence at the Kennedy Space Center is historic. Astronauts have been there since the Apollo era.

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“It’s like staying in a mid-range hotel somewhere comfortable and getting them ready for their mission,” Mulcahy said.

Mulcahy and others on the project are closely monitoring the outbreak in the event that other changes are necessary.He believes some changes, such as daily health surveys and crew visits from behind glass walls, are likely. It remains for increased security even after the outbreak is over.

The containment program is likely not going to undergo many changes when it comes time to land the first woman and next man on the moon in 2024 through Project Artemis.

The NASA-SpaceX launch will boost scientific research on the space station.

Maintaining scheduled launches and landings during an epidemic is key to achieving such a milestone as the NASA-SpaceX launch.It is also important for the crew to spin through the space station. These teams oversee the space station and conduct hundreds of scientific experiments that have many benefits for humanity.

And it also inspired the glimmer of hope – a reason to look up and believe in the triumph of the human spirit.

“Being able to contribute and help get Bob and Doug to the space station for the Demo-2 or Crew-1 mission is an outstanding achievement,” Mulcahy said.

“These missions are exciting because they restore human spaceflight to the United States, something we haven’t had since 2011 when the shuttle went off, and that inspired people across the country and All over the world really, I think the big things. The benefits of these missions launched in a very frigid year. ”


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