Rowing on the International Space Station
Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques, is joining the crew of the International Spaces Station in 2018. Saint-Jacques says rowing is a smart choice for keeping fit on missions to the Moon and even Mars. “The fitter you are to start, the better you are able to meet the physical stresses,” says Saint-Jacques. “It is just part of our daily routine. It is not a luxury, it is a fundamental. You must be fit. You must be strong.” Saint-Jacques told World Rowing in a recent interview.
“Space rowing machines are very, very simple,” explains Saint-Jacques. “If you remove gravity, you don’t have to be sitting, you could be standing. There is no seat, no track, you have a footplate, a cable and a bar and you pull on it. There is an art to standing up always in the same direction.” The action of standing up while holding a load is precisely why rowing is a good choice for astronauts, who need to stand up when they return to a gravity environment like Earth.
The Miniature Exercise Device (MED-2)
“Compactness and lightness also make indoor rowing ideal for long missions with limited space and fuel. NASA engineers are developing a variation of a rowing machine called the Miniature Exercise Device (MED-2). “A prototype is currently on the space station,” says Saint-Jacques. “So far it is successful, but there is a technique to it or your body will unfold in the wrong direction. Just as any rower knows, it is like threading a needle with a jackhammer”.
You can read the full interview on the World Rowing website.