Saturday, November 05, 2011

Prelude: the Mother of All Fireworks

There are juicey stories behind some recent, ho-hum scientific news. Gender has been officially ignored by NASA and the US Navy. The Obama administration is setting up commercial space launch systems corporations to be subject to lawsuits when (not if) inevitable gender-based medical and psychological problems result from challenging space voyages.

Ensign Brandon Zoss, 27, a graduate from Lufkin, Texas, who previously served as an enlisted sailor, said some worry that women will not be able to perform the hands-on, physical tasks required of enlisted members. But, Zoss said, "There's no reason to think there's any doubt" that a woman can perform the same job as a male submarine officer. - 11/05/2011, the Day,com

In lieu of a politically inconvenient recommendation issued by NASA's Behavior and Performance Working Group (BPWG) Final Report May 1997 (from page F-10 here):

8. Research on gender with respect to behavior and performance on space missions needs to be assessed with respect to space crews, ground crews, families. [note: the adder "with respect to ground crews, families" seems very out of place; perhaps it was added in deference to female lobbying groups to make the main recommendation at minimally palatable. ]

Instead of such gender research, and while totally ignoring the gender problem of Russian (Note 1) and European Space Agency's (Note 2) tests, the Obama administration is placing women in submarine service for later extrapolation to space voyage behavior. Such political slight-of-hand is transparent, because there is no comparison. But don't take my word for this... these quotes should paint the missing picture for you:
There are no reports of unwanted sexual advances, nor of actual physical violence, both of which marred an earlier experiment.
- Guardian UK

The six crew members of the Mars500 experiment - a 520-day simulation of space travel to the red planet - ended their voluntary isolation on Friday, greeting eager family members and the press in Moscow
- Reuters

A 420-day experiment in 2000 ended in drunken disaster when two participants got into a fistfight and a third tried to forcibly kiss a female crew member.

Having a woman on board would have certainly been good. You miss that, to be honest, said Italian electrical engineer Diego Urbina, one of the 6, all-male simulation participants. ... there were no scuffles as in previous experiments. It was like a normal life on board.

Why was no woman on board the toughest simulated MARs space experiment to date? One reason is this: A Bloody Nose, Sexual Harassment and a Deserter (after only 110 days) - Part 1

1 - Does Mars need women? Russians say no - 2/11/2005 , MSNBC. com
This week, the director of Russia’s top space medical institute told students that only men should be allowed on the first mission to the Red Planet, because women are too weak to endure the flight's rigors. His comments once again exposed the internal contradictions of a country that put the first woman into space while having the reputation of being the last European bastion of male chauvinism.

2 - Monkeys in a Can? - 2/ 21/2007, Accelerating Future Benny Elmann-Larsen, coordinator of physiology in human space flight at the European Space Agency (ESA), says psychological stress could be the biggest problem of all.
The human factor is the most uncertain factor, Elmann-Larsen said in an interview with AFP.

Submarines are always silent and strange.



Post a Comment

<< Home