Having completed emergency egress and sea survival training last week, my fellow Astronauts for Hire and I next made our way to The NASTAR Center in Southampton, Pennsylvania just outside Philadelphia. There, we spent three days undergoing the Suborbital Scientist Training Program, which provides a good foundation in space physiology for prospective scientist-astronauts. Following the NASTAR program, we went to the Ashton Graybiel Spatial Orientation Laboratory to learn how unusual force environments affect the body's vestibular system.
Following a tour of the NASTAR Center, we spent the morning of the first day in the classroom learning about human physiology at high altitude. For the most part, we focused on how the low oxygen conditions of the upper atmosphere can lead to hypoxia. This prepared us for the afternoon activity where we took a ride in NASTAR's hypobaric chamber. The main purpose of the exercise was to give the participants a chance to experience the symptoms of hypoxia under safe, controlled conditions so that later if we ever are exposed to a low oxygen environment we can recognize the effects it will have on us.