Microgravity

Weightlessness is the common term for what is usually known in the industry as microgravity, and the body reacts in ways that are now quite well understood. When Apollo began to fly, however, no one had been in space for more than two weeks, and that had been in a claustrophobic Gemini cabin. After their Apollo 16 flight, veteran astronaut John Young and rookie Charlie Duke described their reactions to it. "It's really neat; beats work," was Young's opinion. Duke noticed how, with the cardiovascular system no longer having to work against gravity, the body's fluids tended to go towards the head. "For the first rest period, I had that fullness in the head that a lot of people have experienced. More of a pulsing in the temples, really than a fullness in the head.'' Young attempted to anticipate this. "I tried to outguess it by standing on my head for five minutes a night a couple of weeks before launch. Standing on your head is a heck of a lot harder.''

Like a lot of crewmen, and in view of the nausea experienced during earlier flights, Alan Bean took his time moving around the cabin at first. "I think we were all pretty careful and I had the feeling that if I had moved around a lot, I could have gotten dizzy. But I never did. Everyone was pretty careful and after about a day, it didn't make any difference. We were doing anything we wanted.'' Bean also noted the way fluids gather in the head: "Your head shape changes. I looked over at Dick [Gordon] and Pete [Conrad] about 2 hours after insertion [into Earth orbit] and their heads looked as if they had gained about 20 pounds.''

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