Astronaut Drew Feustel is no strange to space, and while he wasn’t part of the crew that returned to Earth last week he knows all about the struggles facing anyone who endures an extended stay in space. In a tweet welcoming home the crew, Feustel offers us an eye-opening look at what space explorers have to deal with after they come home.
The video, which was shot by Drew’s wife Indira, is almost hard to watch. Feustel, who spent nearly 200 days in space, appears to struggle with the simple act of walking. Fighting against gravity to stay upright, the astronaut holds his arms across his chest and keeps his eyes closed as he concentrates on maintaining his balance. Feustel returned to Earth in early October of this year after performing his duties first as a flight engineer and then as commander of the ISS during expeditions 55 and 56.
Without gravity to hold them down, the ISS crew does a lot of floating while aboard the space station. They do their best to keep their muscles in shape by performing various exercises and working out on a regular basis, but nothing can prepare them for the eventuality of experiencing gravity once again.
It’s videos like this that show us how much the men and women of the astronaut corps sacrifice in the name of science, while also making us question the future. Crewed missions to Mars will require that explorers endure zero gravity for far longer than 200 days, and we simply don’t know what kind of affects such a trip might have on the human body once the travelers land, either on Earth or on the Red Planet itself.