1990-07-01

Heart Rate and Pulmonary Function While Wearing the Launch-Entry Crew Escape Suit (LES) During +Gx Acceleration and Simulated Shuttle Launch 901358

Space shuttle crewmembers have been equipped with a launch-entry crew escape system (LES) since the Challenger accident in 1986. Some crewmembers, wearing the new pressure suit, have reported breathing difficulties and increased effort to achieve the desired range of motion. This study was conducted to quantify the reported increased physical workloads and breathing difficulty associated with wearing the LES. Both veteran astronauts and centrifuge panel members were exposed to various +Gx profiles (including simulated shuttle launch) on the USAF School of Aerospace Medicine (USAFSAM) human-use centrifuge. Maximum heart rate data showed no increased workload associated with arm and head movement in the LES when compared to the flight suit/helmet ensemble (LEH). However, the LES did impose a significant increase in breathing difficulty beginning at +2.5 Gx which was demonstrated by a decrease in forced vital capacity and subjective questionnaires.

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