Date of Award

December 2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Space Studies

First Advisor

Pablo de León


Mission Controllers (MCs) are responsible for ensuring astronauts remain safe and healthy, making them vital for successful human spaceflight missions. They are the main point of contact for crews in space and communicate frequently over the course of the day. On a mission to Mars, there will be as long as 22-minute one way communication delays between the ground and the crew, causing major changes to current communication infrastructures. Research has commenced on investigating how these communication delays will impact missions. However, thus far, this research has focused on the crew as their subjects, despite alluding to the potential consequences MCs will face. Therefore, this study will answer whether communication delays have an impact on MCs’ mood, performance, and workload. Two 21-day missions form the basis of the experiment, conducted at the University of North Dakota’s Lunar/Mars Analog Habitat. The missions employed, respectively, ten- and 20-minute one-way time delays. Comparisons of nominal and off-nominal tasks were analyzed under real-time and delayed conditions. Based on the results of both missions, there was no evidence to support negative impacts to mood and workload; performance was impacted in part, with task completion being negatively impacted by the delay as well as diminished performance on task forms (although effectiveness ratings remained stable). Off-nominal, time delayed tasks showed overall more positive affect with contradictory negative affect and stress ratings in both missions. Performance and workload were both worse for off-nominal tasks, as expected.