Thesis Info

Thesis Title
SPACE HABITABILITY. Integrating Human Factors into the Design Process to Enhance Habitability in Long Duration Missions
Irene Lia Schlacht
2nd Author
3rd Author
PhD (Dr.-Ing)
Number of Pages
Technische Universität Berlin
Thesis Supervisor
Matthias Roetting
Supervisor e-mail
roetting AT
Other Supervisor(s)
Bernard Foing, Melchiorre Masali
Language(s) of Thesis
Department / Discipline
Psychology & Ergonomics
Languages Familiar to Author
English, Italian, German, Spanish
URL where full thesis can be found
Human Space Mission, Human Factors, holistic methodology, isolation, stimuli deprivations
Abstract: 200-500 words
Astronauts work in the most extreme environments and under life-threatening conditions in order to expand human knowledge in outer space. Radiation, adaptation to microgravity, isolation, and user-system interaction are some of the many challenges that strongly affect the level of habitability in space and, as a consequence, human performance, safety, and well-being. Knowing how these elements impact on humans is of paramount importance when it comes to ensuring user performance, safety, and mission success. Until now, human factors – the discipline that is concerned with the interactions between humans and other elements of a system – have not been taken into account appropriately, which is why the level of habitability on space stations, from the Mir to the current International Space Station, is reportedly low. As underlined by the European Cooperation for Space Standardization, the integration of sound human factors into all project phases, starting from the very beginning, has become a primary necessity, in particular considering the approaching scenario of long duration/range missions. As a means for dealing with this need, this thesis proposes a new conceptual model, which focuses on incorporating human factors principles right from the preliminary design phase into all aspects of long-duration/range human mission projects in order to improve habitability. The new conceptual model, referred to herein as the ‘Integrated Design Process (IDP)’, incorporates three key design principles: habitability factors, a user-centered approach, and a holistic methodology. The conceptual model was tested against existing models in four separate studies. Specifically, study one involved students from various disciplines employing the model to assist in the design of a Moon Base. Study two involved the Extreme-Design research group employing the model to investigate habitability debriefing procedures and sensor stimuli during a simulation mission at the Mars Desert Research Station. Study three involved students from the Human-Machine System Chair at TU-Berlin designing space equipment for human-machine-environment system operations. The fourth study involved a multidisciplinary team at the German Space Agency (DLR) employing the model to design a closed-loop habitat facility for long duration space missions. The results of these studies revealed that employing the IDP model during the design phase improved self-rated habitability when compared to the current methods. These results suggest that employing such a model during the design phase of a space mission will improve habitability of the item under development, thus improving user performance, safety, and ultimately mission success. The implications of such a model extend beyond application in space and include other environments where individuals are expected to live and work in confined areas for extended periods of time, such as in research laboratories in Antartica. It can also be applied in megacities as well as in retirement homes.