How to ‘wake up all night’ without getting tired according to NASA’s experience

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2022-11-24 03:27:52

Astronauts are not the only “space workers” who often work in stressful conditions

If you don’t know, rocket launches usually take place in the middle of the night, or early in the morning, when the weather tends to be milder. For example, the Artemis 1 mission took off at 1:47 a.m. ET on November 16. The first launch attempt in late August was also scheduled for 8:33 a.m. ET. That means NASA’s entire team of more than 200 engineers and technicians often stays up all night conducting tests and then fueling the boosters, in a cycle that takes about nine hours. .

This is a difficult and lengthy process, as engineers will have to spend the night carefully injecting hundreds of tons of liquid hydrogen and oxygen into several 100-meter-tall rocket tanks.

Not to mention, an even bigger challenge in fueling the SLS is that its main thrusters, hydrogen and oxygen, are cooled to -253°C and -145°C, respectively. That requires a complex system of pipelines on the ground. Even the rocket’s hydrogen propellant tank shrank up to 15 centimeters when filled with supercooled fuel.

Rockets are usually launched at midnight or dawn.

During a launch test in August, the ground controller experienced a propellant leak and a faulty engine temperature sensor. The launch took place about an hour after the scheduled take-off time, and this time was largely for the engineering team to rest before figuring out what to do next.

“Today, the team solved some problems, the team was tired at the end of the day and we decided it would be best to pause and regroup tomorrow,” he said. Mike Sarafin, the NASA executive in charge of the mission said at the time. “First of all, we will give the team a break, and let them come back fresh tomorrow.”

NASA engineers and technicians are paid very well, but given the intensity of the work they have to do, the numbers seem well worth it. And if you want to be able to work “extremely hard” and for “many hours of intensity,” like your boss Elon Musk, then the following experiences from NASA can be helpful.

Fatigue can be a dangerous thing

How to 'wake up all night' without getting tired according to NASA's experience - Photo 2.

The incident on the Hoa Binh space station is thought to be partly because the astronauts are tired from lack of sleep.

In 1997, an American astronaut and two Russian cosmonauts went to the Hoa Binh space station. A supply spacecraft was on its way to the station, and one of the cosmonauts used the remote control to manually bring it to dock. But the spacecraft crashed into the space station, breaking some structural parts, and the people on board managed to seal a damaged module with only a few minutes of air remaining.

After the crash, a number of issues with the technology emerged, but there was a larger issue that was also brought to the table. It was that the cosmonaut, who was in charge of the ship, did not get enough sleep. A psychologist for the Russian space agency has admitted there are “serious doubts” about the astronauts’ ability to dock in spaceships, but they still agree with the effort.

Stephen Hart, a neuroscientist who served as NASA’s flight surgeon for 25 years, shared: “It is not uncommon to find that human error is associated with high levels of fatigue during work.”

How to 'wake up all night' without being tired according to NASA's experience - Photo 3.

An astronaut is taking a break.

NASA’s approach to balance between productivity and rest

Hart’s main job is to ensure the health of the crew. These people must follow a military-style work schedule, and need about 8.5 hours of sleep a day while on the International Space Station. But Hart and his colleagues also advise NASA leadership on how to plan so that on-site teams will always be available at times of critical decision-making. That is the answer to the question: “When is the best time to go to bed so we can wake up for important work?”

NASA ground personnel were advised on how to alter astronaut sleep schedules with familiar substances such as caffeine and melatonin, using various tools such as blue glasses, eye masks and earplugs. . They also tried different sleeping techniques.

How to 'wake up all night' without being tired according to NASA's experience - Photo 4.

NASA apps on the App Store.

A big part of the challenge is that there is so much variation in how people respond to sleep deprivation. NASA is very interested in its space experiments, but it also wants its employees to participate in the experiments so they know what to expect. NASA then built an app based on techniques it uses to assess whether astronauts in orbit are too tired. It is intended for use by researchers in the assessment of “psychomotor vigilance” during sleep studies. You can use it on your own to see how fatigue is affecting you. On the App Store, look for an app called NASA PVT+.

“Some people stay as hard as a rock without much sleep, but others are broken and exhausted.” Hart shared. “You have to encourage people to experiment with their own bodies before they put themselves or others in stressful situations.”

Refer to Qz, NatGeo

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