reply to post by Aggie Man
It is probably not what you are particularly wanting, but this story will illustrate that when you perform basic scientific research, you never know
where it can lead you.
In the early days, we had wanted to learn more about how the human body responds to micro-gravity. While there were several other supporting research
findings, we had just had a mission where a radioisotope had been injected into the bloodstream of an astronaut while on-orbit. The data showed that
there was a greater circulation effect than what we had thus far believed.
While planning how to gain more information, the best idea we came up with was to place Central Venous Pressure (CVP) lines into a couple of
astronauts prior to launch, then record the physiological information for two days. Then, the CVP lines would be removed.
What we really wanted to know was how much of the physiological fluids shifts started at MECO (Main Engine Cut-Off - when the launch sequence was
ended and the actual microgravitational portion of the mission began), and how much of the shifts developed more slowly. There were scientists that
argued that as soon as microgravity was initiated, the shifts were immediate. There were other scientists who felt these shifts would be of a slow
onset, as the body responded to all of the changes of microgravity.
We initially used two foreign astronauts, because they were just so pleased to be within the American space program to fly into space in the orbiter.
So, about 4 hours prior to the opening of the launch window, the crew surgeon watched while two surgeons placed the CVP lines in through the
antecubital spaces in the inside of the elbow. The two astronauts rode out to the launch complex, were placed into the orbiter and strapped in, then
waited for the launch. Unfortunately, the launch failed to occur, so they went back to the Health Stabilization Unit, which was a specially prepared
"hotel" for them to stay in at the NASA KSC Headquarters Building, created specifically to isolate the crews prior to launch activities. Once
there, the CVP lines were removed, and the crews rested for the next day's launch attempt. The next day, the same thing happened. It wasn't until
the sixth launch attempt before the crew actually launched into space. Afterward, the astronauts really complained that they had felt like
pin-cushions because they had been stuck so many times.
BTW, the research had proved quite valuable, because it turned out that some of the fluid shifts actually took place even BEFORE the astronauts
launched. Because they had laid on the backs for so long on the launch pad, the fluids shifts that we had previously thought were 100 % as the result
of microgravity, began because of their reclining position being on their backs, with their legs in the air.
However, when the American astronauts protested being stuck with wires running into the opening of the right upper part of their heart on repeated
occasions, there were engineers who felt some of the new types of external measuring equipment could provide the same type of information without
having to have any internal wires or inserted leads. Sure enough, the engineers did develop a device that actually provided more information than we
had previously hoped for. Later on, the contractor was able to create a scaled-down version of this device, then known as a Bio-Z, and I actually
have one in my office today.
These fluids shifts are interesting, because fluid shifts from the lower portions of the body to the upper thorax, neck, face, and head. For female
astronauts, since the breasts are on the upper half of the body, there is enlargement of the breasts' sizes. Some women actually appreciated this
effect, while others, more well endowed, actually had enough swelling to experience discomfort. One particular astronaut took up a bikini top so she
could have pictures taken of her in her "enhanced" condition. The fluid shifts also cause swelling in the nasal tissues, decreasing their sense of
smell and taste, and producing increased amounts of snoring. One male astronaut snored so loudly, they made him move from the middeck to the upper
flight deck, yet still snored so loudly that he disturbed the sleep of his crewmates. Upon coming back to Earth, NASA told him that if he didn't
have a soft palate revision surgery that they would not allow him to go back up because of his snoring.