Other Key Considerations for LDSE

Combating failures in team dynamics through focusing on best practices in combating boredom, interpersonal conflicts, and psychological well-being would serve crews on LDSE missions well. However, as with any set of recommendations, there are other key considerations that must be kept in mind when preparing crews for these long and arduous missions. In particular, we briefly discuss important considerations in terms of technology and the relationship between the ground and crew.

Technology. There are personal limitations to an individual being able to detect and monitor their own psychological reactions. We are limited by our memory, ability to self-reflect, and biases. As such, the use of technology as a resource for LDSE teams would be extremely valuable. Wearable sensors, particularly in organizational research, have received much attention for investigating the social aspects of organizations, units, and teams. LDSE missions are no exception to the fact that organizations, or in this case - missions - are “relational arenas” (Matusik et al., 2019). Therefore, we suggest that spaceflight crew be provided with technology that assists them in monitoring and detecting the social, emotional and psychological well-being of the crew, in an effort to provide them with evidence to make data-driven decisions about their needs.

What current spaceflight informs us of is that during LDSE there will be many simultaneous demands on the spaceflight crews, especially in terms of technical and scientific expertise. If resources can be provided to the crew to “offload” or automate other responsibilities, this could benefit the crew and their effectiveness. Therefore, we suggest that technology-based systems to be used in LDSE should be designed to automatically track physiological and other bio-marker data and also provide feedback to the team and individuals that can be used to prompt and structure debriefs and work recovery activities. Particularly during times in which communication will be delayed, feedback that is easily understandable and actionable will be imperative so the crew can easily receive the information and act upon it. Moreover, the crew will need to understand what interventions or actions align with the feedback received, so the crew can autonomously choose the appropriate intervention.

With the use of technology, crewmembers will be relieved of the need to schedule activities and rather they would be reminders embedded within the technology. Similar to the use of reminders, feedback and achievements that are found in activity or break mobile applications or accessories (e.g., apple watch, standapp, move, etc.). As an example, one could imagine the crewmembers wearing devices or even having sensing platforms embedded within the technology (e.g., tablets or other portable computer devices) they interact with that might detect prolonged negative mood, which could indicate symptoms of depression (Zenonos et al., 2016). With the data collected by this technology, a debrief or well-being activity would be automatically added to the crews’ schedule.

Ground-Space Crew Relations. The leadership requirements for LDSE are uncertain and unknown, which highlights the need for additional research in this area. However, the fact that crews on LDSE will have to adjust to having no contact with ground control will require them to expect shifts in their levels of autonomy. Therefore, this will require more flexible leadership structures and thus we recommend that crews (both in space and ground) be trained to be comfortable with and effective at sharing and transferring of leadership functions across crewmembers, especially under conditions of high autonomy (i.e., crewmembers should not be rigid in terms of hierarchy or team roles, as there will be a high likelihood that adaptation will be necessary).

In other words, the crew needs to be trained to step outside of rigid status- based hierarchies when necessary, and to engage in effective sharing of leadership. Moreover, this means all crewmembers need to be adept at not just providing leadership, but also accepting leadership and being a good follower as well. Additionally, the crew may need to think about how to transition leadership between team members without ineffective processes like power struggles or role confusion.

The majority of the best practices (see Table 9.2) highlighted in this chapter have focused on what can be provided to the crew to engage in team self-maintenance.

TABLE 9.2

Summary of Best Practices for Self-Maintenance in LDSE Contexts

Best Practice

Notes

1. Select on psychological competencies that support self-regulation, not just technical competencies.

  • • Consider self-regulation skills
  • • Consider mindfulness

2. Develop realistic expectations of spaceflight that highlight the likelihood of boredom.

  • • Debunk common myths about living in space
  • • Expose crewmembers to simulated monotony and boredom prior to missions

3. Train spaceflight crew to recognize well-being and performance decrements due to boredom.

  • • Make plans for how to address boredom
  • • Ensure discussing boredom is seen as acceptable

4. Train spaceflight crew in boredom management techniques.

  • • Train mindfulness techniques
  • • Train emotion regulation techniques

5. Provide spaceflight crew with technology-based boredom management support systems.

• Utilize wearables to capture physiological signals of boredom

6. Select on interpersonal competencies that support effective conflict management, not just technical.

• Consider the complementarity of crewmember personalities

7. Develop realistic expectations of spaceflight that highlight the likelihood and importance of interpersonal issues.

• Discuss crewmember differences prior to missions

8. Train team members to engage in team member back-up behavior and support, including support directly focused on emotional and psychological well-being.

• Train crewmembers to provide basic mental health support to one another

9. Engage in debrief behaviors that focus on selfmanagement of emotional and psychological well-being.

• Design debriefs to focus on social, emotional, and psychological well-being

10. Train team members on “work recovery” activities and provided opportunities for effective work recovery' activities.

• Enable the four aspects of recovery': psychological detachment, relaxation, mastery experiences, and control

While we mention the ground team in a few of the best practices, we feel it is important to note that the ground crew and the relationship it has with the spaceflight crew is important in the effectiveness of LDSE. As such, we recommend that the ground crew receive complimentary messaging and training to ensure that the two teams can work together effectively to ensure teams with adequate and high levels of wellbeing throughout the mission.

 
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