Occupational-specific strength predicts astronaut-related task performance in a weighted suit

Andrew J.D. Taylor, Christopher J. Kotarsky, Colin W. Bond, Kyle J. Hackney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Future space missions beyond low Earth orbit will require deconditioned astronauts to perform occupationally relevant tasks within a planetary spacesuit. The prediction of time-to-completion (TTC) of astronaut tasks will be critical for crew safety, autonomous operations, and mission success. This exploratory study determined if the addition of task-specific strength testing to current standard lower body testing would enhance the prediction of TTC in a 1-G test battery. METHODS: Eight healthy participants completed NASA lower body strength tests, occupationally specific strength tests, and performed six task simulations (hand drilling, construction wrenching, incline walking, collecting weighted samples, and dragging an unresponsive crewmember to safety) in a 48-kg weighted suit. The TTC for each task was recorded and summed to obtain a total TTC for the test battery. Linear regression was used to predict total TTC with two models: 1) NASA lower body strength tests; and 2) NASA lower body strength tests + occupationally specific strength tests. RESULTS: Total TTC of the test battery ranged from 20.2-44.5 min. The lower body strength test alone accounted for 61% of the variability in total TTC. The addition of hand drilling and wrenching strength tests accounted for 99% of the variability in total TTC. DISCUSSION: Adding occupationally specific strength tests (hand drilling and wrenching) to standard lower body strength tests successfully predicted total TTC in a performance test battery within a weighted suit. Future research should couple these strength tests with higher fidelity task simulations to determine the utility and efficacy of task performance prediction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)58-62
Number of pages5
JournalAerospace Medicine and Human Performance
Volume89
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2018

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Keywords

  • Astronaut task performance
  • Exercise countermeasures
  • Strength to body weight ratio

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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