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Course Details

Course Details

Course Code: SPST619 Course ID: 3715 Credit Hours: 3 Level: Graduate

CORE COURSE: A review of the major stresses, tensions, and other physical and mental issues experienced by humans on entering in and living in space. Case studies from manned flights and other research will be provided. Students will study how the mental and physical issues may be addressed for future increased human activity in space. (Prerequisites: SPST500 and SPST501)

Course Schedule

Registration Dates Course Dates Session Weeks
03/29/21 - 09/03/21 09/06/21 - 10/31/21 Summer 2021 Session D 8 Week session

Current Syllabi

Space presents humans with the harshest of environments within which to both live and explore. The impact of the myriad of physical and mental challenges associated with human space travel will be introduced. After successfully completing this course, you will be able to:

CO-1 Discuss the hazards of ionizing radiation to human DNA molecules and the potential long-term consequences.

CO-2 Describe the impact of the space environment on human physiology, including the neurovestibular, musculo-skeletal and cardiovascular systems.

CO-3 Describe the psychosocial issues associated with human spaceflight and the methods of providing psychological support to crewmembers.

CO-4 Discuss the current countermeasures employed to minimize the impacts of the space environment, especially during long-duration spaceflight.

CO-5 Describe the medical risks of performing an extravehicular activity (EVA), especially decompression sickness (DCS), and the necessary countermeasures.

CO-6 Discuss the challenges of providing an adequate diet during long-duration spaceflight and the important role of nutrition in available countermeasures.

CO-7 Discuss the strategies and facilities for providing health care and medical treatment during spaceflight.

Forums Assignments

There will be seven forums throughout the course. Your knowledge of the assigned readings will be reflected in your ability to actively participate and discuss key course concepts. Your initial posting should be between 400-500 words in length (not including citations), well written in your own words (unless otherwise noted) and grammatically correct. As a graduate student, the expectations are that you can incorporate primary literature journal articles along with your textbooks and other resources into a well-written post.. Your responses to your fellow students should be at least 250 words in length and include direct questions along with attempts to continue the discussion by incorporation additional resources from the literature. Additionally, your responses need to have substance; simply saying “good point” and/or “I agree” isn’t adequate.

In the forums, you will be required to post your response to the topic being discussed. And you will also be required to reply to at least two of your fellow students and incorporate into the comment meaningful material that adds to the discussion to include asking questions, providing additional research conducted on the topic and published in journals and other resources, and if practical providing examples and personal experiences. Note that you will not receive full credit for the forum assignments unless you fully follow these instructions. In other words, you will not receive full credit unless you complete your initial post, provide comments with meaningful content to include additional research from literature and asking questions.

  • Initial posting: (50 points)
  • Responses/replies to your fellow students: (40 points maximum)
  • Grammar, APA formatting, Spelling, Misc Items(10 points)

Concept Exams

The five (open book) concept exams are worth a total of 50 percent of your course grade and will test your knowledge of the terms and concepts covered in the assigned reading. With the exception of my notes and the experiment descriptions on the NASA Website, there will be questions on the exams covering the information in the weekly lessons. The exams are not comprehensive and will only cover the assigned reading and lesson of that week. Each concept exam will consist of a combination of multiple choice, true/false, matching, fill-in-the-blank and short answer/essay questions. For each short answer/essay question, 75% of your grade will be based on your answer’s content and 25% on writing standards (correct grammar, spelling, punctuation, etc.). No proctor is required for the exams. You will have 90 minutes to complete each exam. Although open book, it is literally impossible to pass the exams without having completed all assigned reading.

Book Review

Select a non-fiction book related to the psychology and/or physiology of human spaceflight. Possible selections include, but are not limited to, astronaut or flight controller biographies, the psychology of extreme environments, or ground analogues to spaceflight. You will select a book in week 1 (in Forums), write an essay on the book (in Assignments), and post a summary for your classmates (in Forums) in week 6 and comment to those posts. This should be a fun activity allowing you to see in popular media and culture along with memoirs some of the challenges and personal stories that go with space and high altitude physiological challenges, small group dynamics, and small enclosed spaces and psychology.

Research Paper

You will be required to write one research paper for this course, which must address the following scenario unless you arrange by Week 2 an alterante assignment that is approved by your instructor,

The President of the United States must make a critical decision – whether or not to start the mission planning process to send astronauts on a 2.5-year round-trip journey to explore the planet Mars. You have been tasked to write a well research paper for the President, introducing him/her to the physical and mental challenges of human space travel and exploration. (you may option to make this about going to the Moon or another planet or asteriod). This paper needs to be in APA format, third person, and show graduate level writing skills that incorporate research to support your opinions and thoughts on this mission.

Your paper is due by 11:55 pm (Eastern time zone) on Sunday of Week 8.

NameGrade %
Forums 15.00 %
Introductory Forum 2.14 %
Forum 2 2.14 %
Forum 3 2.14 %
Forum 4 2.14 %
Book Summary 2.14 %
Forum 6 2.14 %
Forum 7 2.14 %
Concept Exams 35.00 %
Concept Exam #1 7.00 %
Concept Exam #2 7.00 %
Concept Exam #3 7.00 %
Concept Exam #4 7.00 %
Concept Exam #5 7.00 %
Research Paper 35.00 %
Research Paper 35.00 %
Book Review 15.00 %
Book Review 15.00 %

Additional Resources and Websites

I also encourage you to use the APUS Online Library Research Center, as well as the APUS Space Studies Program Portal in the APUS Online Library (found at the following Web address: in support of your research efforts.

Book Title:Space Physiology and Medicine : From Evidence to Practice, 4th ed. (Ebook available through the APUS Online Library)
Publication Info:Springer New York
Author:Nicogossian, A., Richard S. Williams, Carolyn L. Huntoon, Charles R. Doarn, James D. Polk, and Victor S. Schneider

Previous Syllabi

Not current for future courses.