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ISS Mars Space Science

Vision Problems For Some Returning Astronauts 203

astroengine writes "A newly discovered affliction has some doctors wondering if astronauts traveling to Mars could have problems with their eyesight by the time they got there. About one-third of U.S. crew members aboard the ISS return with impaired vision, one case of which was permanent. The reason for the late discovery of this mysterious affliction is the reluctance of astronauts on active service to come forward — the risk of being grounded after complaining of blurry vision is considered too great."
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Vision Problems For Some Returning Astronauts

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  • One of many? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SoTerrified ( 660807 ) on Friday September 23, 2011 @10:58AM (#37491754)

    I wonder how many other minor 'afflictions' from space travel are ignored/explained away that we haven't heard about for the exact same fear of being grounded...

  • by mdm-adph ( 1030332 ) on Friday September 23, 2011 @11:08AM (#37491954)

    We'll get right on that -- do you want it before or after we make the FTL drive?

  • Re:One of many? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by instagib ( 879544 ) on Friday September 23, 2011 @11:12AM (#37492006)

    ... which would be unprofessional and probably reckless behaviour on behalf of the astronauts. One can understand the emotional reasons, but the huge efforts made for their safety would be in vain if they are not honest about their capabilities.

  • Re:One of many? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 23, 2011 @11:21AM (#37492156)

    Yeah but this isn't just a career, this is going into space. It's more exclusive than being a movie star. Once you're in that club, I bet you'd do anything to stay in.

  • by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Friday September 23, 2011 @11:32AM (#37492318) Journal
    If you're referring to centrifugal forces, then you might like to do the sums sometime to work out how big it would need to be for the difference between perceived gravity at your feet and in your head to be close enough not to be noticed (say, within 0.05g). Then add in the amount of extra space you'd need because you can now only use one side of every room, rather than the entire volume. Then multiply the result by the cost of getting things into space. And then realise why the ISS does not do this.
  • Re:One of many? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by YrWrstNtmr ( 564987 ) on Friday September 23, 2011 @11:52AM (#37492596)
    ... which would be unprofessional and probably reckless behaviour on behalf of the astronauts. One can understand the emotional reasons, but the huge efforts made for their safety would be in vain if they are not honest about their capabilities.

    This is pretty normal among regular air force and navy aircrew.
    If you have to go see the flight surgeon, there are two outcomes. 1. remain on flight status, or 2. get removed from flight status. There is no 'up'. Hell...one of the Shuttle crew had Parkinsons [discovery.com] when he went up for the last time.
  • well... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by xaoslaad ( 590527 ) on Friday September 23, 2011 @12:48PM (#37493332)
    As someone who grew up wanting to be a Marine I can tell you I was willing to do anything to get in. When I was diagnosed with Crohn's disease I thought I was done; I had surgey at 15 and had a few section of my intestines removed; 12 inches, 8 inches, and 4 inches. Funny thing was after that I didn't really need meds anymore; not at all actually. Having gone into remission save for almost daily abdominal discomfort or pain, probably because I eat any damn thing I want even though I probably shouldn't.

    I walked into recruiting stations over and over again; sometimes years apart until I found a recruiter with an immense tolerance for bullshit. Wouldn't you know it that with enough visits to doctors, MEPS, paperwork going up to Navy BUMED, and everything else I was able to get in. Waiver for Crohn's, waiver for my eyes since they're also complete crap, and moral waiver for being a naughty juvenile on one occassion. They make waivers for everything

    Queue four years of active duty service; rank of Sergeant, Good Conduct Medal, NAM, etc., etc. I probably wasn't so much your most likely candidate for success in such an environment and was told lots of times buy lots of people that I couldn't. You're too sick. You're too smart. You're too weak. You can't listen to people telling you what to do...

    So, some things to take away from my story:
    1.) Fuck everyone who tells you you can't do something.
    2.) Everyone is imperfect; make what you can of your lot.
    3.) A lot of the general rules in our system just don't work in side cases (like say Crohn's being a permanent disqualifier from military service.)
    4.) That's why there's a waiver for everything.
    5.) Fuck everyone who tells you you can't do something.

    Having been through all that though I can DEFINITELY understand where they are coming from; it is infuriating beyond words to be told you can't do something you know you are full well capable of. I could shoot, I could run, I could do the MOS that was assigned to me (went in open contract), I could swim, and I could do anything else that was asked of me. And I did. When I got out I had a job with a high tech company I am sure everyone here is familiar with as a System Administrator before I even finished my terminal leave and used the G.I. Bill to get my college degree as well.

    Some people just don't want to make excuses. They don't want to be a statistic. They don't want to be one of the numbers. They don't want to have one of the myriad bullshit mental conditions 99% of America can be diagnosed with if they just see a doctor so that they can give up lay down and profess that they were willing but unable because of the lot they got in life. They don't want to go around for the rest of their life saying, I tried to join X branch of the military but couldn't because they had flat feet. Not everyone wants to be a charity case if you can believe it. Some of us want to earn our keep and make something of our selves. It is the idea that our country was born on. It's the idea that is lost and will be the cause of this countries demise as well. I feel for these people immensely when their vision starts to go and they have to deal with the possibility of some flight surgeon screwing with them.

    Words to live by: Nothing. Will. Ever. Stop. Me.
  • Re:One of many? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Surt ( 22457 ) on Friday September 23, 2011 @01:17PM (#37493710) Homepage Journal

    Exactly why you should just devise tests for every required physical capacity, and administer them before every launch. The cost would be trivial compared to the cost of the launch.

  • Re:Lasik (Score:4, Insightful)

    by TheBig1 ( 966884 ) on Friday September 23, 2011 @01:24PM (#37493808) Homepage
    LASIK doesn't have better outcomes; the success rates for PRK and LASIK are just about identical. However LASIK does give you faster healing. I opted to do PRK for my surgery. Even though it was about a month before I was back to perfect vision, IMHO it was worth it. Since there was no flap cut into my cornea, my eyes are now 100% healed (in fact the eye doctor couldn't even tell that I had had surgery). With LASIK, even though the flap does heal well, it is never 100% as strong as before. As another poster pointed out, though, even the USAF has authorized LASIK surgeries for their pilots for some years, so the differences are minimal. Cheers
  • by Syberz ( 1170343 ) on Friday September 23, 2011 @01:43PM (#37494050)

    As long as there's a hot astronaut co-scientist with me, I'd be willing to make the one-way trip.

  • Re:well... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Skreems ( 598317 ) on Friday September 23, 2011 @02:01PM (#37494258) Homepage
    In this case, where there are literally tens of people who will actually get to go, it's egotistical as hell to demand that YOU be the one who gets to go, when if you hadn't lied they may have chosen someone more qualified. Who knows what past or future catastrophe could have been prevented if someone who was ACTUALLY as good as you think you are had been in the driver's seat? (I'm talking only about the NASA scenario, not your Marine story)
  • Re:well... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 23, 2011 @02:40PM (#37494722)

    Trying your best, pulling your weight, and being persistent to do something you want to do is a hell of a lot different that jeopardizing your life and the lives of your crew because you want to go into space again. The difference between your story (which I commend, it is very inspirational) and theirs, is they selfishly risking the lives of others.

You can write a small letter to Grandma in the filename. -- Forbes Burkowski, CS, University of Washington