Psychology of Space Exploration: Contemporary Research in Historical Perspective (NASA History)

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9780160883583: Psychology of Space Exploration: Contemporary Research in Historical Perspective (NASA History)

As we stand poised on the verge of a new era of spaceflight, we must rethink every element, including the human dimension. This book explores some of the contributions of psychology to yesterday’s great space race, today’s orbiter and International Space Station missions and tomorrow’s journeys beyond earth’s orbit. Early missions into space were typically brief, and crews were small, often drawn from a single nation. As an intensely competitive space race has given way to international cooperation over the decades, the challenges of communicating across cultural boundaries and dealing with interpersonal conflicts have become increasingly important, requiring different coping skills and sensibilities from “their right stuff” of early astronauts. As astronauts travel to asteroids or establish a permanent colony on the Moon, with the eventual goal of reaching Mars, the duration of expeditions will increase markedly, as will the psychosocial stresses. Away from their home planet for extended times, future space farers will need to be increasing self-sufficient while they simultaneously deal with the complexities of heterogeneous, multicultural crews. Psychology of Space Exploration: Contemporary Research in Historical Perspective provides an analysis of these and other challenges facing future space explorers while at the same time presenting new empirical research on topics ranging from simulation studies of commercial spaceflights to the psychological benefits of viewing Earth from space. In addition to examining contemporary psychological research, each essay also explicitly addresses the history of the psychology of space exploration. Leading contributors to the field place the latest theories and empirical findings in historical context by examining changes in space missions over the past half century, as well as reviewing developments in psychological science during the same period. The essays are innovative in their approaches and conclusions, providing novel insights for behavioral researchers and historians alike.

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Through essays on topics including survival in extreme environments and the multicultural dimensions of exploration, readers will gain an understanding of the psychological challenges that have faced the space program since its earliest days. An engaging read for those interested in space, history, and psychology alike, this is a highly relevant read as we stand poised on the edge of a new era of spaceflight. Each essay also explicitly addresses the history of the psychology of space exploration.

Review:

Coalition for Space Exploration --September 24, 2011


Psychology of Space Exploration, Edited by Douglas Vakoch, NASA History Series SP-2011- 4411, Government Printing Office (GPO); (Hardcover) $27.00; (Paperback) $23.00; Washington, D.C.; 2011.

You're going to find a rich, motherload of information here regarding a topic that is given little spotlight.

As the book notes, early missions into space were short jaunts, and crews were small, often drawn from a single nation. But as an intensely competitive space race has given way to international cooperation over the decades, the challenges of communicating across cultural boundaries and dealing with interpersonal conflicts have become increasingly important, requiring different coping skills and sensibilities - far different than the "the right stuff" of early astronauts.

Vakoch has done a commendable job here, bringing together a wealth of observations, sectioned in bitable contents that tell the tale: Surviving and Thriving in Extreme Environments; Managing Interpersonal Conflict in Space; and Multicultural Dimensions of Space Exploration.

To say this book is a distinctive, often forgotten aspect of human space travel, is an understatement. As detailed, there is the right stuff of the early astronauts. But moving outward, hopefully on a routine basis beyond Earth orbit - back to...and beyond the Moon to more distant locales - well, that will invoke psychosocial stresses on expeditionary crews.

These challenges are wonderfully addressed in this book by a number of leading experts in the field.

But as explained in an introductory chapter, repeated references to psychology are one thing, but "understanding and managing human behavior in space is an interdisciplinary effort" - one that draws from architecture and design, engineering, biology, medicine, anthropology, sociology, communications, and organizational studies.

Thanks goes to Vakoch for his dedication to this field, and in bringin

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