When the space shuttle Atlantis returns from the International Space Station it will mark the end of an era for American space travel. We will all be holding our breath for its final safe landing to end a brilliant 30 year career. Reflecting on this, Lawrence Klein, Vice President and Co-Founder of Thought Technology Ltd., recalls, “One of our company’s proudest achievements was to have its FlexComp Infiniti system chosen as the physiological monitoring equipment used in NASA’s NEEMO-9 project.” Included in this report is a video that explains how biofeedback was used in support of the NASA mission.
For decades, NASA has been studying astronaut’s physiological responses to zero gravity, to living in outer space and to staying in space vehicles and space stations for extended periods of time. The NEEMO-9 project involved under water research since the environment provides some useful similarities to working in space. For three days of the 22-day mission two astronauts wore the FlexComp Infiniti™ system. Measurements for heart rate and electrocardiogram, respiration, skin conductance, hand temperature and finger blood volume pulse were taken to gauge the effect of isolation, workload and fatigue on the astronauts. The data collected was later studied by the research team.
NASA recently conducted underwater research, since the environment provides some useful similarities to working in space, using off the shelf technology, developed by Thought Technology. NASA researcher William Toscano described the mission, “Our project was called Neemo-9. It was 22 days long, with 2 astronauts participating. They wore the FlexComp Infiniti™ system for three of the mission days. What we were looking was the effect of isolation, workload, and fatigue on the individuals. We’re using the Neemo-9 environment as an analog of a space station.
As NASA’s involvement in space and underwater research winds down, private enterprise is poised to take over. As an example of the privatization of space and underwater exploration, the next space flight may be a commercial one. Interestingly, Sir Richard Branson has just embarked on what has been referred to as mankind’s greatest diving challenge where selecting the best breathing system is crucial for survival. Breathing is life sustaining under water or in space, however here on earth with an abundant supply of oxygen many of us still do not breathe correctly. Those familiar with the use of biofeedback in controlling stress know the importance of proper breathing techniques.
Thought Technology has sponsored the creation of EZ-Air Plus software distributed by the Biofeedback Foundation of Europe. Dr. Hal Myers, President of Thought Technology commented, “The EZ-Air breath pacing program helps the user master optimal breathing techniques. It’s simple enough for anyone to use on their home, office or laptop computer. Similar functionality is also included in our sophisticated Biograph Infiniti software and FlexComp hardware used by NASA to add respiration pacing to clinical standards.”
As this chapter in US history comes to a close, the skills learned in the NEEMO-9 project, using psychophysiology and biofeedback will continue to contribute to the International Space Station. Thought Technology salutes the people of NASA, their work and the mark they have made on history. NASA’s exploration has proven that Infiniti has a role to play in health and human performance at work and at home.
Material adapted from Thought Technology Ltd.