Welcome to space

Joe Allen has described the first day in space as being, ''like a baby deer on ice. Your feet go out from under you, you bang into everything, and you move around with your arms held out in front of you. Space is like an undersea world, with a dream-like quality in which things seems to move more slowly. By pushing off from the wall of the spacecraft you keep going until you reach the other side, holding out a hand to stop your momentum. Early on you awkwardly bump into things, but slowly you learn to adapt and use gentle pushes to move around.''

The downside of experiencing microgravity for the first time is the onset of what has become known as Space Adaptation Syndrome (SAS), more commonly referred to as space sickness. On average, about half of all space explorers have some kind of dehydration upon entering space for the first couple of days of the mission. In the early programmes, movement inside the spacecraft was severely restricted and it was only

Allen wears the Shuttle constant-wear garment in his seat on the mid-deck of Columbia for his first ride into space.

when crews could translate between spacecraft that the first indications of motion sickness became apparent. First appearing during the Vostok 2 flight for the Soviets, and on Apollo 8 and 9 for the Americans, it was during the Skylab programme that the increased volume of the spacecraft (and quick movements of the crew) really brought the problem to the fore. On STS-5, both Bob Overmyer and Bill Lenoir suffered from SAS, while Brand, the only veteran on the crew, also felt a little discomfort. Joe Allen found no problem at all in adjusting to weightlessness. As Overmyer recovered, Lenoir's sickness worsened and on the third day, he threw up - something he described as more like a "wet belch'' - prompting the mission management team and flight surgeons to postpone the planned EVA for twenty-four hours from Flight Day (FD) 4 to FD 5. By the fourth day, Lenoir felt much better.

Lenoir felt generally fine for the first two days prior to his sickness, but he ate a large supper at the end of FD 2 and woke early the next morning with a vomiting episode, general malaise and stomach problems. During FD 3 he ate nothing, but he drank fluids and took medication and after a night's rest, he improved considerably.13

Fellow scientist-astronaut Bill Thornton, a specialist in human adaptation to space flight, told Lenoir after the mission that he thought he would get sick, because his vestibular sensors were so acute that he could sense minute movements that no one else could. Lenoir had never become sea sick or air sick, even during jet pilot training,

The first two mission specialists in space. Lenoir and Allen are shown on the aft flight deck of Columbia during the STS-5 mission.

so he had no reason to expect that this would happen. Thornton suggested that Lenoir's mental adrenalin during the build-up to flight, the launch, and activities during the first day - and after waiting so long to fly - was the reason he did not become ill until after the second satellite deployment. This had completed the primary objectives of the mission, allowing him to relax. Lenoir has described the symptoms as similar to ''a low grade hangover.''9

With Columbia safely on orbit, it was time to get on with those primary objectives - the deployment of the two communication satellites and the EVA demonstration. However, one of the more unusual activities in securing the vehicle for orbital flight occurred when Vance Brand taped up the side hatch handle, to remind everyone that it would not be advisable to try to use the double lock handle to steady themselves in the mid-deck since it opened outwards, away from the pressurisation compartment!

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