NASA Releases Book About Psychology of Human Spaceflight

WASHINGTON -- NASA’s History Program Office is releasing a new book that examines the different psychological factors that affect astronauts during space travel, especially long-duration missions.

The book, “Psychology of Space Exploration: Contemporary Research in Historical Perspective,” is a collection of essays from leading space psychologists. They place their recent research in historical context by looking at changes in space missions and psychosocial science over the past 50 years. What makes up the “right stuff” for astronauts has changed as the early space race gave way to international cooperation. Different coping skills and sensibilities are now necessary to communicate across cultural boundaries and deal with interpersonal conflicts.

“The essays give a comprehensive overview of this complex subject, providing novel insights for behavioral researchers and historians alike,” NASA’s Chief Historian Bill Barry said. “The data is important as we work to send astronauts to Mars, which will mean longer missions without real-time communication with family and friends leading to increased potential psychosocial stresses.”

The book’s editor, Douglas A. Vakoch, is a professor in the Department of Clinical Psychology at the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco. He also is a manager at the SETI Institute.


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