Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 16 October 2019

Queasy does it: Emirati astronaut spends 10 minutes spinning in chair every day

Hazza Al Mansouri and his crew mates are being prepared for space motion sickness

Motion sickness is the scourge of first time space travellers — that's why an Emirati astronaut is spending 10 minutes every day continuously rotating in a chair.

Hazza Al Mansouri, 35, shared a video of a daily routine that involves spinning with his eyes closed to adjust his brain and ears to the movement.

The exercise in Russia's Star City is one of many training techniques to prepare the air force fighter pilot for the landmark trip to the International Space Station on September 25.

Astronauts usually feel dizzy and sick on their first day or two in space.

When astronauts first come into space they usually feel pretty rough for about the first 24 hours

Tim Peake, ISS Expedition 46/47

Maj Tim Peake — who spent 185 days in space in 2015/2016 — described the process the body goes through in a video live from the ISS.

"Something that happens when astronauts first come into space is that they usually feel pretty rough for about the first 24 hours," he said.

"A mixture of dizziness, and becoming disoriented and sometimes nauseous as well.

"A lot of this has to do with the fact that the vestibular system is a little bit messed up, all the fluid in the inner ear is in microgravity, it's just floating and so the brain is getting these mixed signals from the ears versus the eyes."

He said after the first 24-48 hours, the brain shuts down the vestibular system and becomes more reliant on the eyes.

"And that helps you because it stops the dizziness, it stops the disorientation and there's no more nausea," Maj Peake said.

Denmark's astronaut Andreas Mogensen from the European Space Agency, member of the main crew of the 45/46 expedition to the International Space Station (ISS), attends a training session at the Russian-leased Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on August 26, 2015. The international crew will blast off to the International Space Station on September 2, 2015. AFP PHOTO / STRINGER (Photo by - / AFP)
Denmark's astronaut Andreas Mogensen is spun around to prepare him for space motion sickness in 2015. AFP

In the video, Maj Peake is filmed spinning fast for several minutes with the help of Nasa astronaut Tim Kopra, a motion that would usually leave anyone feeling queasy.

"And you can turn yourself in all sorts of orientations, around, upside down and spin about and if your brain is able to cope with that situation," he said.

Maj Al Mansouri has been sharing almost daily videos and updates of his preparation before his eight-day mission to the ISS. He will be accompanied by Russian commander Oleg Skripochka and American astronaut Jessica Meir.

Earlier this week, he said he will host a traditional Emirati food night, offering canned and liquefied versions of the nation's best-loved dishes.

When MS-15 arrives on the ISS, they will join Russian commander Alexey Ovchinin and American astronauts Col Nick Hague and Christina Koch, meaning there are six on board.

Maj Al Mansouri will take to space a kandura, a family photo, a picture of Sheikh Zayed, and a UAE flag, among other personnel items. He will give a tour of the station in Arabic for the first time to viewers on the ground and take part in on-board experiments.

Updated: September 9, 2019 01:39 PM

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