Space Sickness

The minor scare proved more than worth it; both Fullerton and his veteran colleague suffered bouts of space sickness during their first few days in orbit. Lousma's previous flight experience, it seemed, by no means guaranteed him immunity from the nauseous motion sickness which had been reported by countless astronauts and cosmonauts over the years. Both men took Dexedrine and Scopolamine medication and consumed the required amount of calories each day. The sickness did not affect their ability to work, however, and post-landing checkups would reveal both men to be in excellent health.

''Of course, everybody has their acclimation problems,'' Fullerton would later recall. ''That's pretty consistent through the population. It takes about 24 hours to get to feel normal, at varying levels of discomfort. Most can hang in there and do their stuff, even though they don't feel good.'' Clearly, all astronauts, after entering a new and utterly alien environment, need time to gain their 'space legs' and this had posed particular problems with Fullerton and Lousma's predecessors, the STS-2 crew of Joe Engle and Dick Truly, neither of whom had flown into orbit before.

''They had not had time, in a two-and-a-half-day flight [to acclimatise, when] they were cut short,'' Fullerton continued. ''By the time they got on-orbit and traced down the problem and the decision was made to come back early, they were getting ready to come back. So they had no time other than to kind of respond, do things that the ground was coming up [with] and they had some dizziness and orientation problems on entry that Jack and I worried about a lot.

''One thing that we had was a 'g-suit', like they wear in the F-18, except that for entry you could pump up the suit and just keep it that way, and so that helped you keep your blood flow up near your head. The other thing about the motion sickness is we're not sure there's a direct correlation to flying airplanes. I know if you go up and do a lot of aerobatics day after day, you get to be much more tolerant of it. So Jack and I flew literally hundreds of aileron rolls [in our T-38 jet trainers].

''If I did roll after roll, I could make myself sick, and I got to the point where it took hundreds of them to make me sick. For the first day or so [in space], I didn't ever throw up or anything; I never got disoriented, but I felt kinda fifty-fifty. You're pretty happy to just float around and relax rather than keeping on charging. And into the second day, this is really fun and great and you feel 100%. Whether the aileron rolls helped or not, I'm not sure, but it was relatively easy.''

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