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NASA will use the U.S. Navy’s Kraken to help astronauts prepare for space travel

Published May 18th, 2023 8:08PM EDT
NASA will use U.S. Navy's Kraken to prepare astronauts for spaceflight
Image: United States Navy

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NASA is harnessing the power of the U.S. Navy’s Kraken, a device designed to help simulate flight and help pilots overcome motion sickness. The Kraken initially debuted in 2017 and was created by the Navy to help pilots get more accustomed to the motions and movements they will experience in the air. Now, NASA plans to use the Kraken to prepare astronauts for space travel.

The Kraken will allow astronauts to enter the machine and then experience similar movements to what they would in a real spaceflight launch. The goal here is to help ease the disorientation that spaceflight can cause and also prepare astronauts to deal with motion sickness better. This is vital, as motion sickness can cause pilots to feel as if the ship is doing something it shouldn’t, causing them to make a mistake that could end in injury or death.

Space flight has never been the safest endeavor, and humanity has certainly seen some tragedies striking throughout the history of our planet’s space programs. However, the use of the Kraken by NASA teams will hopefully help cut down on the possibility of any issues being caused by the astronauts themselves, minimizing the chance for human error as much as possible.

A big part of the goal here is to prepare astronauts for that initial confusion following a launch. Douglas Wheelock, a NASA astronaut, says that the first few moments after launch were full of confusion as his body tried to figure out which way was up, down, left, and right. With the Kraken, NASA can hopefully help mitigate that confusion by training astronauts’ bodies to be ready for it.

The Kraken is a 50-foot-long, 100-ton platform at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton, Ohio. The system is exceptionally customizable, allowing it to be configured to replicate different types of flights. A spaceflight setting on the Kraken will be used by NASA astronauts to test their capabilities and prepare them for actual spaceflight.

A video on the Kraken can be seen above, which helps explain why the U.S. Navy built the machine in the first place. It’s a monster of a machine, and its use in space programs going forward will hopefully be a great step towards making space travel safer for the astronauts undertaking those missions, like the Artemis III mission expected to put humans back on the Moon.

Josh Hawkins has been writing for over a decade, covering science, gaming, and tech culture. He also is a top-rated product reviewer with experience in extensively researched product comparisons, headphones, and gaming devices.

Whenever he isn’t busy writing about tech or gadgets, he can usually be found enjoying a new world in a video game, or tinkering with something on his computer.