Permanent Human Settlement of the Earth, Space and Ocean Frontiers

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Getting Bent is No Fun

Getting the bends is no fun. I know. I have been bent twice in my diving career. And just in case you did not know, the bends is also a problem with astronauts.

When astronauts fly in space, they can change their atmosphere to whatever they wish – and change the pressure as well. When they do that, they risk getting the bends just like any diver. So NASA has developed with a series of procedures to keep their astronauts safe from the bends, even though one day, some astronaut will get hit – it’s only a matter of time and probability.

For us terrestrial explorers, we always have to worry about getting the bends while diving. As I found out, it is a risk on every dive – but generally speaking the deeper you dive or the longer you stay, the higher the risk. The Diver’s Alert Network has just published a series of papers on the wisdom of decompression stops for all divers, regardless of whether it is mandated by the sport dive tables or not. It can be found here. There is great wisdom to this – indeed, it follows NASA’s philosophy to be cautions and pay as much attention to the probability tables as much as the dive tables. Check it out, even if you’re not a diver because this information will be just as applicable to space travelers as divers in the earth’s oceans.