Perhaps the most important support system exists at the interface between ground crews and those in space. Disagreements between the “sent” and the “senders” have a long history. During World War II, submariners on 60- to 90-day patrols often complained of the unrealistic orders that were sent from rear-echelon officers thousands of miles away (O’Kane, 1977). More recently, anecdotal reports suggest friction between astronauts and ground crews, particularly during missions of relatively long duration (i.e., to the ISS). The impact of friction between the sent and the sender in both space and analog environments has been described by Nicholas (1987).
Friction develops because, originally, the senders were and have been exclusively responsible for the consequences of the activity, pay explicit fees, and demand absolute control over the performances of the sent. As groups are involved in longer stays in space and particularly beyond Earth orbit (or are transported to established settlements), however, the needs and aspirations of the sent become progressively more influential relative to the goals and objectives of the senders. Certainly, the increased time delay in the communication between space crews and ground personnel will require that astronauts themselves make some acute clinical judgments. Even a physician on board will not guarantee the availability of the expertise and capability needed to deal with some of the medical or behavioral issues that may arise.
This changing relationship between the senders and the sent is the fountainhead for the development of social structure and governmental policy as manifest in empire, colony, and emergent independent states. An enhanced knowledge base on how effective human support systems can be established and maintained as well as how internal and external factors influence their operational effectiveness needs to be developed.
Among the most important core functions of the ground-based support system is the maintenance of communication exchange capabilities between the astronauts and Earth-bound family, friends, and coworkers. Although these supportive interactions are both essential and heartily endorsed by all concerned, a host of unanswered questions regarding the nature of such exchanges remain (Palinkas, 1992; Kelley and Kanas, 1994). For example, family illness or death may develop during a long-duration space mission and information or the lack of such could significantly affect astronaut attitudes and behavior. The extent to which such activities must be enhanced or modified to provide behavioral health support for long-duration space mis-