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Learning to deal with weightlessness

The advantages of being human

After the first projects had confirmed that human beings were capable of tolerating the acceleration forces and vibrations during the take-off and landing phases of a space mission, and that they were able to endure the effects of weightlessness and radiation inside a shielded space capsule, plans began to be made for journeys into the far-flung regions of space.

As the duration of manned journeys into space grew longer, it soon became apparent that the human organism was even more resilient than had originally been assumed.

Apollo 11Before long, thanks to modern technology, men even walked in space and, on 21 July 1969 during the Apollo 11 mission, landed on the moon. Neil Armstrong, Edwin ‘Buzz’ Aldrin and Michael Collins spent a total of eight days in space, from 16 July 1969 to 24 July 1969. They returned to Earth with 25 kg of rock samples from the moon, for analysis by researchers.


The advantages of being human

The first astronauts were little more than passengers squeezed into the narrow confines of their space capsule. The realisation that the human organism could adapt to living conditions on board a spacecraft opened up a wealth of previously unimaginable possibilities. The two main advantages of sending people into space are that they are better at dealing with unexpected events than computers, and that they can carry out scientific experiments there.

As a result, the qualifications required by would-be astronauts have totally changed. The early missions were manned exclusively by military test pilots. Nowadays, candidates have to meet a very different set of requirements, including a high level of academic achievement and strong social skills. Many of today’s astronauts are trained scientists whose work includes supervising experiments designed to gain new insights into the origins and nature of the universe, life on Earth, and the other planets in our solar system.



A special dossier full of informative articles has been created about 50 years of manned spaceflight


Go back to the Living in Space Dossier: Human beings beyond the confines of the Earth’s atmosphere

Human spaceflight