2016 NASA placement

UCL student Harriet Caulfield has recently spent a month at NASA's Johnson Space Centre as a student on the fantastic Aerospace Medicine Course.

Harriet is a student on CASE Medicine's Space Medicine and Extreme Environment Physiology module which takes place at UCL. She has kindly taken the time to write an overview of her experience and share some images from her time there.

My experience at NASA's Johnson Space Centre

By Harriet Caulfield

Spending a month participating in an Aerospace Medicine course at NASA's Johnson Space Centre and UTMB was an incredible experience.

Eminent astronauts, doctors and scientists, all leaders in their fields, gave us a fascinating insight into the numerous medical considerations that must be taken into account when sending humans into space: physiology in spaceflight, preventative medicine and medical challenges facing astronauts.

Dr Charles Berry, almost 93 years old, shared with us his unique experiences as the doctor for the original astronauts. In contrast to this very personal level of teaching, commercial space companies, such as SpaceX, spoke about their plans for space tourism. After one lecture on space suit engineering I tried on a space suit which had been worn in space.

At Johnson Space Centre we trained on the resistive and aerobic exercise devices they have on the International Space station (ISS) and which the astronauts train on. We explored the mock up of the ISS and had lectures on the Orion mission, looked at the extensive ISS medical kit and were shown examples of space food which has definitely improved over time!

One of the highlights of the course was visiting the Neutral Buoyancy Lab where astronauts train for extravehicular activities. We participated in hypobaric pressure chamber flights which brought us to a simulated altitude of 25,000 feet; we then removed our oxygen masks to see our own response to hypoxia and teach us how to recognise the signs! This ranged from a tingling of the extremities to people being completely unaware of the instructions they were being given. Other highlights included the opportunity to fly and land a (very realistic) aircraft simulator, and hearing fascinating tales from astronauts about current experiments being performed on the ISS.

It was an amazing experience; the course has taught me so much about current research in space medicine and exploration and has made me even more excited about its future.

To see some photos of Harriet's time at NASA, please view our gallery below.

NASA 2016

Created : 20th Jul 2016
4 images

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