8-2 | Microgravity Playscapes


Microgravity Playscapes
Play in Long-Term Space Missions

Marianthi Liapi and Edith Ackermann


The authors examine the potential impact of play on astronauts adapting to the extreme conditions of space travel. They cite research showing that well-trained astronauts, though in general physically fit and emotionally stable, can suffer from—among other things—boredom and sensory deprivation in the confines of the microgravity capsules of space flight. Astronauts on duty, the authors argue, are overscheduled, understimulated, isolated, and—importantly—play deprived. Introducing play into space flight routines, they contend, keeps astronauts saner, boosts their morale, and provides leisure-time pleasure. They discuss the importance of play and its uses in Ackermann’s Whole Child Development Guide, which, they argue, is also suitable for adult space travelers. And they provide guidelines for designing a playscape in microgravity that taps the unique, inherently playful qualities of weightlessness itself. Key words: Microgravity Playscape Adaptation approach; play and astronauts; playscapes in microgravity; space travel and play