tions has long been recognized as a potentially informative component of such exploratory or expeditionary endeavors, but the methods and procedures for such oversight have seldom been adequate for the task. Certainly, the behavioral health contribution to the planning and implementation of such support and intervention systems will need to be increased. As the time-distance dimension separating astronauts from their ground base increases, enhancement of behavioral health support systems will be required. Under such conditions, there will be a need for the development and the refinement not only of individual and group performance monitoring and assessment technologies but also of evidence-based behavioral interventions and effective countermeasures. Of at least equal importance is the role of behavioral health professionals in planning and implementing the reentry, recovery, and follow-up evaluation of astronauts returning from long-duration missions in space.

The present state of knowledge about support and recovery functions has mainly been derived from agencies responsible for the provisioning of various kinds of expeditionary forces (e.g., space crews, military teams, and labor groups such as those in Antarctica). Because of serious environmental hazards, uncertainties, and the need for minimal provisioning, expeditionary efforts have always been characterized initially by an authoritarian structure. Although it seems likely that space exploration will continue to be so characterized for some time, the frequent sequel to such expeditionary initiatives is envisioned to be the establishment of extended or even permanent settlements with increasing autonomy and increasing needs for new approaches to behavioral support.

Current Practice and Knowledge Base

The key element of NASA’s space mission support systems is mission control. No other area of spaceflight operations has served as well or as long as mission control, which serves as NASA’s institutional memory. Over the past four or more decades, mission control functions, which have been concerned with the monitoring of every aspect of every mission from the ballistic flights of monkeys Able and Baker to the current International Space Station (ISS) endeavor, have dominated virtually all spaceflight activities. It must be recognized that the record of safety and success that has characterized spaceflight is due to the support of mission control. The magnitude of this investment in support functions can be gauged by even casual observa-

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement