Space is a harsh environment and getting sick in this final frontier could prove dangerous for spacefarers. Bone mass loss, muscle atrophy, fluid shift toward the head, changes in immune system, radiation hazards and psychological stressors are some of the health-related challenges caused by exposure to microgravity in the space.
The normal length of stay on the International Space Station is said to be from three to six months.
The record for a long-duration mission is held by Russian cosmonaut Valeri Polyakov, who completed a 438-day tour of duty aboard Mir space station in 1994-95. The U.S. record for the longest single spaceflight is held by astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegria, who spent 215 days in space aboard the International Space Station from September 18, 2006 to April 21, 2007.
Seeking to better understand how the human body reacts and adapts to the harsh environment of space, a year-long mission aboard the International Space Station is set to be undertaken by American astronaut Scott Kelly and Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko in 2015.
According to a NASA press release, Kelly and Kornienko will launch aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan in spring 2015 and will land in Kazakhstan in spring 2016.
The scientific data collected during the yearlong space station mission will help to increase knowledge regarding the effects of microgravity on humans and determine better and validate countermeasures to reduce the risks associated with future space explorations, say experts.
Kelly and Kornienko are scheduled to begin a two-year training program in the United States, Russia and other partner nations starting early next year.
by RTT Staff Writer
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