From: NASA/Johnson Space Center
Published July 19, 2017 02:26 PM

Goodbye HERA, Hello Sleep: NASA's HERA XIII Crew Returns Home to Slumber

After 45 days in NASA’s Human Exploration Research Analog (HERA), the four-man crew can hardly hold their eyes open. This mission was the first of its kind to last 45 days, as well as incorporate sleep reduction for research purposes.

“The sleep deprivation was really difficult,” said, James Titus, HERA crew member. “It really hindered our normalcy. We are used to working and living our lives at a higher level. During this mission the sleep reduction, the no-nap rule and limited caffeine – went hand in hand to really slow us down,” he said.

HERA is one of several ground-based analogs used by NASA’s Human Research Program (HRP) to research ways to help astronauts move from lower-Earth orbit to deep space explorations. A spaceflight analog is a situation on Earth that produces physical and mental effects on the body similar to those experienced in space. Participants are volunteers that must pass a physical and psychological assessment to qualify.

During this thirteenth HERA mission, crew members went through many of the motions of a real deep space mission without ever actually leaving the Johnson Space Center. This was the fourth in a series of studies, called campaigns, with progressively longer simulated mission lengths. In this campaign, this was the first of four 45-day simulated missions. Previous campaigns studied seven-day, 14-day, and 30-day missions. Longer mission lengths allow for more research studies and more data points relevant to longer duration spaceflight missions.

Read more at NASA / Johnson Space Center

Image: Moments after turning the vessel over to NASA after 45-days inside, the HERA XIII crew is given their mission patch to place on the door. (Credit: NASA)

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