Eryn Beisner

Date of Award

January 2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Space Studies

First Advisor

Pablo De Leon


Modern EVAs (spacewalks) performed onboard the International Space Station require astronauts to endure up to twelve hours of intense mental and physical exertion without food, as they do not stop to eat nor do they currently have the capabilities to consume sustenance in their spacesuits. With the future of space exploration taking aim at the Moon, Mars, and beyond, EVAs are expected to become more demanding than ever. This is a pilot study to attempt to quantify astronaut performance during an EVA to determine if there is significant performance degradation because of acute starvation. Astronauts conducting EVA training at NASA’s Neutral Buoyancy lab were measured in cognitive and physiological domains during EVA training to gauge how their performance was affected. Additionally a basic feeding system with a protein supplement was tested to determine if performance could be improved. Result revealed there was not a significant degradation in test scores due to acute starvation, and while there was some improvement with the protein supplement, it was not statistically significant for all but one test domain. The Working Memory domain did show a statistically significant score improvement. Test subject feedback indicated a strong preference for the protein supplement as well as enthusiastic support for future spacesuit designs and/or EVA protocols to include food throughout the duration of a spacewalk as a human factors consideration.