SpaceX’s first all-civilian crew underwent hypoxia training at Duke

Durham County News

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Much of what goes into staying alive during an emergency in space happens on Earth prior to orbit.

That includes how to react if there is a drop in pressure that decreases oxygen levels, thereby decreasing judgment and performance.

As this scenario is occurring an astronaut may not know it’s happening.

“So the aim of the training was to expose them to the situations, high carbon dioxide, low oxygen, so they could feel it, we gave them some tests to do so they could see that their performance was impaired,” said Dr. Richard Moon, a professor of anesthesiology and medical director of the Hyperbaric Center at Duke University.

The training Moon refers to happened at the largest civilian hyperbaric chamber in the U.S., which is located at Duke.

In this July 2, 2021 photo provided by John Kraus, from left, Sian Proctor, Chris Sembroski, Jared Isaacman and Hayley Arceneaux pose for a photo at Duke Health in Durham, N.C, during hypoxia training to understand how each crew member reacts in a low-oxygen environment. (John Kraus/Inspiration4 via AP)

It is also where SpaceX’s first all civilian crew learned what to do in a case like this.

“In the unlikely event, hopefully, it won’t happen, that either of those situations were to occur in space they would recognize and be able to introduce countermeasures,” said Moon.

The four-person crew will spend three days in space and orbit the Earth every hour and a half.

“It was a delight to work with the four astronauts from SpaceX, each one of them is accomplished in their own field, they were truly delightful to work with,” he said.

Moon’s team has previously worked with NASA as well.

Wednesday night’s countdown will be as thrilling as any.

“We wish them the best and I’ll be watching with my eyes glued to the TV when they launch this evening,” Moon said.

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