Psychological Issues Relevant to Astronaut Selection for Long-Duration Space Flight: A Review of the Literature

Hum Perf Extrem Environ. Spring 2003;7(1):43-67. doi: 10.7771/2327-2937.1021.


This technical paper reviews the current literature on psychological issues relevant to astronaut selection for long-duration space flights. Interpersonal problems have been and remain a recurring problem for both short and long-duration space flights. Even after completion of the space mission, intense psychological aftereffects are reported. The specific behavioral problems experienced during United States and Soviet Union space flights are reviewed, specifically addressing contentious episodes and impaired judgments that occurred during the Mercury, Apollo, and Skylab missions. Psychological tests used in the selection process for the space program have focused primarily on the detection of gross psychopathologies in potential candidates. Although these psychological instruments excluded some people from becoming astronauts, the battery of tests failed to predict which individuals would manifest behavioral aberrations in judgment, cooperative functioning, overt irritability, or destructive interpersonal actions.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aerospace Medicine
  • Astronauts / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Personnel Selection*
  • Psychological Tests
  • Social Isolation / psychology*
  • Space Flight*
  • Stress, Psychological
  • USSR
  • United States
  • United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration
  • Weightlessness