Japanese Study Looks at Improving the Quality of Life in Space

My friend Misuzu Onuki was in town over the weekend for the NewSpace 2010 conference. She’s doing some very interesting work in a sometimes overlooked area of space travel that will likely become increasingly important as more people venture out into the cosmos.

The JAXA-funded Quality of Life in Space project is looking at the essential elements that can make all the difference between a good stay in space and a bad one. How comfortable are the accommodations? What amusements exist? How good is the food? What does a traveler smell? Are amenities offered?

For example, color effects both our perception and emotion which are related to our behavior psychologically. Also, color effect sour physical condition and physiology functions such as appetite and blood pressure. It is one of the ways to make improve comfort by the best use of color power both psychological and physiological aspects for living. This will improve work performance, maintain body conditions, control emotion, decrease stress and tiredness and increase overall comfort and enjoyment of space.

The study’s ultimate aim is to produce new products and services that can be used in space and on Earth. Improving the quality of space flight will be extremely important as private space stations are launched and more people spend time in orbit.

Onuki is a good person to lead a study like this one. As an international consultant, she is constantly traveling on planes and staying in hotels around the world. She had a good sense of what frequent travelers need to feel at home even when they’re far from it.

The project is part of JAXA’s Kibo Utilization Forum, which is an effort to bring in experience from a broad segment of society to execute the mission of the Kibo module attached to the International Space Station. The forum, which has study groups and runs symposia, covers the following areas:

1. Perception of distance in ISS
2. Sleeping in space
3. Haisetsu solution in space
4. Kyoto culture in space
5. Functional space food
6. Colloid material – Light designed by small particles
7. Toilet design improvement for astronauts and the physically challenged
8. Space life comfort enhancement – Seeking quality of life between space and Earth
9. Physiology information monitoring – both sleeping and awake
10. Sustainable humanosphere in space
11. Science of acupuncture in space
12. Space cooking
13. New space media utilization

For anyone wanting information on the Quality of Life in Space study, please contact Ms. Onuki at onuki@newspaceconsultant.com