Pre-flight sensorimotor adaptation protocols for suborbital flight

Mark Shelhamer, Kara Beaton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Commercial suborbital flights, which include 3-5 minutes of 0 g between hyper-g launch and landing phases, will present suborbital passengers with a challenging sensorimotor experience. Based on the results of neurovestibular research in parabolic and orbital flight, and the anticipated wide range of fitness and experience levels of suborbital passengers, neurovestibular disturbances are likely to be problematic in this environment. Pre-flight adaptation protocols might alleviate some of these issues. Therefore, we describe a set of sensorimotor tests to evaluate passengers before suborbital flight, including assessment of the angular vestibulo-ocular reflex (VOR), ocular skew and disconjugate torsion, subjective visual vertical, and roll vection. Performance on these tests can be examined for correlations with in-flight experience, such as motion sickness, disorientation, and visual disturbances, based on questionnaires and cabin video recordings. Through an understanding of sensorimotor adaptation to parabolic and orbital flight, obtained from many previous studies, we can then suggest appropriate pre-flight adaptation procedures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)139-144
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Vestibular Research: Equilibrium and Orientation
Issue number2-3
StatePublished - Oct 11 2012


  • Space flight
  • adaptation
  • motion sickness
  • suborbital flight
  • weightlessness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Otorhinolaryngology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Clinical Neurology


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