Besides moving the astronauts around, what are the medical team needed for? I assume they are already wearing some type of monitors for heart/breathing/etc. A call on the radio can confirm if they are conscious. So in landings that we do now, what exactly are they contributing to science? Or is it just routine?

I have heard that they will do a simulated mars landing by flying around the the moon for six months and then landing on the moon. Do we currently have enough medical information to know things like how long after landing the astronauts will be able to exit the craft and start working? What are we missing.

Would it be wise to leave astronauts alone now after an excursion on the ISS? Or do we need to keep checking them until its time for the simulated mars landing, where they will try getting out by themselves with no medical team for the first time?

  • $\begingroup$ This is a duplicate of the deleted question space.stackexchange.com/q/43830/26446 $\endgroup$
    – DrSheldon
    May 14, 2020 at 10:43
  • $\begingroup$ @DrSheldon But what's the point of closing in favor of a deleted question? $\endgroup$ May 14, 2020 at 11:05
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Voting to leave open because the reasons for the requirement of medical assistance is not opinion-based. $\endgroup$ May 14, 2020 at 11:21
  • $\begingroup$ Astronauts are valuable assets, millions of dollars/rubels are invested into their training. Their missions usually do not end immediately on touch down. So spending some money on a medical team to look after them as soon as possible is money well invested. You never know what accidents might be happening. $\endgroup$
    – DarkDust
    May 14, 2020 at 13:58
  • $\begingroup$ The crew of ISS Expedition 6 provided valuable data wrt this issue. They were up there for six months and had to exit the Soyuz themselves after landing - while waiting for rescue to find them. During this time, they performed several critical tasks on their own. $\endgroup$
    – Digger
    May 14, 2020 at 14:47

2 Answers 2


In short: even the crew of Apollo missions required medical assistance after their short time in weightless condition. Even with the exercise equipment aboard ISS, a variety of physical degradations have been observed on returning astronauts. Both for their own long-term health and, as you suggest, for modeling effects of longer-term spaceflight, medical observation and care are essential. See NASA , NIH, Nature for some examples.


Risk management

We could always leave airliners via escape slides too. We don't because a percentage of the people using escape slides break bones and some die. Most people are fine, so it is considered a reasonable risk to try the slides where staying in the aircraft will be even more dangerous.

Most returning astrounauts are fine, and would be able to get out themselves. Some have not been, and sometimes capsules end up in ponds, set everything on fire, leak toxic fumes or are hanging off cliffs.

These risks could be engineered out (say having a bigger hatch, and on the side) but this brings new risks. The wings on the shuttle avoid landing in the wilderness but had their own problems.

So part of the Soyuz design assumption is that where possible a recovery team will help the returning crew, allowing them to fit three people in the capsule and maintain a pretty remarkable safety record.

To not do so would involve rolling the dice after every landing, where rolling too low involves having people die on live TV. To avoid that you cheat as much as you can by reducing the number of times you roll those dice, and minimising the numbers that mean someone dies.

So for a Mars landing you look hard at the capsule design and the ways a crew could get stuck, and do it the minimum number of times you can before you have a Mars based rescue team available.

  • $\begingroup$ This does not address the question. $\endgroup$ May 14, 2020 at 11:05

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