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Amputees Make Better Astronauts

NASA and other space agencies should actively recruit smart, healthy people with missing or atrophied legs.
  (+50, -5)(+50, -5)(+50, -5)
(+50, -5)
  [vote for,

It is well known that astronauts must consciously exercise their legs while in space or they will become weak from disuse. An astronaut's legs are not terribly useful in zero-g, where there is no need for them to support the body's weight. It is much easier to maneuver by pushing and pulling with their hands, and when the walls are covered in expensive instruments, it is much safer to use their hands instead of their feet. An astronaut who does not have these extra limbs should therefore be more desirable.

There are other benefits, too. All other things being equal, an astronaut with no legs will: - weigh less - take up less room - eat & drink less - maneuver more easily in zero-g

The advantages are obvious. Let's take the next ...um... step in space exploration.

Brain Dekork, Jul 18 2007

Mike Rogers, the would-be amputee astronaut http://www.newscien...hind-on-earth-.html
[ldischler, Jul 18 2007]

Going to the Bathroom in Space http://www.doctorze...room.html#urination
A perennial favorite. [jutta, Jul 19 2007]

Mars: pioneering the planet http://imdb.com/tit...39/fullcredits#cast
Talk of the advantage of amputees for space exploration [django, Jul 21 2007]

Cat fatality rates from being dropped from buildings http://www.straight...lassics/a5_190.html
[hippo, Jul 25 2007]


       No no no, when I pay my taxes, my tax dollars are paying for the whole astronaut to go up into space, not just the necessary parts! I'd also like to see the astronaut's cat or dog go up as well, the more the merrier!   

       ....hmmm, on an unrelated note, do cat's really always land of their feet!? We must do the experiment to find out!
quantum_flux, Jul 18 2007

       quantum, I'm hoping you mean we have to do the cat drop in space, at 0 g. If not, doing it on earth is kinda cruel.   

       [+] good idea. Imagine it would make spacesuits simplier to design and fabricate. There would be less articulation in the suit (no hips, knee joints) and the astronaunt would be more productive, not having exercise his legs at all.
evilpenguin, Jul 18 2007

       What about dwarves? or a selection from the vertically challenged of the far east?
marklar, Jul 18 2007

       I proposed this exact idea once, on this exact site. It was well received, it is a good idea. I believe it was lost in the crash. Here's one of those phantom croissants...
GutPunchLullabies, Jul 18 2007

       I read a short story like this once in a science fiction mag (yep... geek.) where a whole group of people were going to go colonize space, but the cost of admission was you had to have your legs amputated, since they were at least 50 lbs. of dead weight. This inspired a discussion with a friend of mine that I will post when I have more time to write (and can figure out which category it should go in... I'm new around here), but I like it.
gus_webb, Jul 18 2007

       This advantage was mentioned in 'Footfall' by Niven and Pournelle.
I wonder what [OneOffDave] has to say on the matter?.
gnomethang, Jul 18 2007

       There's something that makes me want to bone this idea. I think I've been brainwashed or something. But anyway, the practical side of me says "rock on amputee space dude!"   

       Oh, I know, it's probably discriminatory somehow against able-bodied people. Or something. The whole world is so screwed up. Bun anyway. Good idea.
Noexit, Jul 18 2007

       Taking the idea further, it might be worthwhile to have artificial arms installed where the amputated legs were. Of course, that's a little ways in the future. Would be fun, though...
Brain Dekork, Jul 18 2007

       Where do I sign up? Though would I have to become TwoOffDave?
oneoffdave, Jul 18 2007

       WTAGIPBAN, or whaatever krelnik's favorite phraseology is.
RayfordSteele, Jul 18 2007

       It would certainly make the training program more interesting. [+]
nuclear hobo, Jul 19 2007

       Taliban Court Reporter. Latest Verdict: "The bad news is that you have been found guilty under Sharia law of playing music using one of the devil's instruments (ie a harmonica) The penalty for this is the chopping off of both hands. The good news is that you now qualify for our astronaut training program." (+)   

       Welcome to the Bakery, by the way [B D]
xenzag, Jul 19 2007

       I wonder if NASA actually considers the weight of applicants when assessing them. Jockeys would make good candidates and women are usually lighter than men. The difference between a 60kg and an 80kg astronaut would mean an extra 20kg payload could be taken. Also, I imagine that bigger people require more food and oxygen.
marklar, Jul 19 2007

       Well, you'd save a bundle on shoes.
shapu, Jul 19 2007

       //I wonder if NASA actually considers the weight of applicants when assessing them. Jockeys would make good candidates and women are usually lighter than men.//   

       From what I understand, spacesuit plumbing requirements are a bit more complex for women.
nuclear hobo, Jul 19 2007

       Not a "one catheter fits all" situation?
normzone, Jul 19 2007

       Wow, [gnomethang] and [oneoffdave]. Have you both been away or have I just not been paying attention?
Texticle, Jul 20 2007

       What, so just any idea is good enough to get 3 buns now!? We need to be sending more stuff into space, not less stuff, more stuff!!!!
quantum_flux, Jul 20 2007

       I nominate bigsleep's male head.
jutta, Jul 20 2007

       [bigsleep], sounds like a plot for an amputee porn flick.   

       So I googled amputee porn, prepared to post a link, and - talked myself out of it.   

       But I want credit for considering it.
normzone, Jul 20 2007

       Or eels?
zen_tom, Jul 20 2007

       //Wow, [gnomethang] and [oneoffdave]. Have you both been away or have I just not been paying attention?//
I've been floating around from time to time.
gnomethang, Jul 20 2007

       //The logical extension of this idea is to send dolphins up as astronauts//

Only if you agree with the original basis of the argument (i.e. that legs, being useless, should be left behind). I would take the opposite tack and find something to do with all those useless legs such as making a pedal-operated spacecraft. Bugsy Malone in Space.
DrBob, Jul 20 2007

       There is an old German Sci-Fi/Popular Mechanics-style book from the 50s on my shelves, that proposes to just send a head/spine in a spidery life-support capsule. We're 50 years away from developing better-than-hand cybernetic handgrafts (just as we were 50 years ago) so i like your realism in leaving the astronauts with their hands on. Bun.
loonquawl, Jul 20 2007

       There's always that (now rescinded) patent for keeping a severed head alive.
shapu, Jul 20 2007

       Bun for pun!   

       Those healthy young kids who want to grow up and go to space now have to be REALLY committed too. What a great filter.
victor, Jul 20 2007

       [evilpenguin] Surely the cat-dropping experiment in zero-g would be rather predictable? '0:01: Cat dropped' '0:02: drop appears to be unsuccessful, cat appears to be immobile' '0:59: still no discernable momentum' '12:38: experiment discontinued...'
Mister Sketchly, Jul 20 2007

       "15:02: Major Thomas's face successfully reattached."
shapu, Jul 21 2007

       Didn't you take this from a documentary about space exploration and terraforming (featuring amongst others Richard Zubrin), in which the topic of body modification for easy exploration is discussed?   

       In that film they say that amputees would be very handy in space, and that for very long trips artificial amputation could be considered?   

       Anyways, it's new here on the HB so have a bun.   

       A whole bun.
django, Jul 21 2007

       If that were the case I would simply consider it preheated.
normzone, Jul 21 2007

       //that would be very useful for on-board power generation purposes//

Indeed. What a novel idea. It would also enable the astronauts to keep fit.
DrBob, Jul 21 2007

       //This idea implies (probably quite accurately) that the crew that is sent to colonise another planet will be predominantly female amputees and one male head that can explain how to use the inflight VCR.//   

       Since this predominantly female crew is supposed to colonice another planet, won't they need at least one other portion of a male crew member? I guess they lock him away in a Mason jar under the sink, and never discuss it...
ye_river_xiv, Jul 22 2007

       //Wow, [gnomethang] and [oneoffdave]. Have you both been away or have I just not been paying attention?//   

       I've popped in occasionally but not for a wee while.
oneoffdave, Jul 23 2007

       So if NASA adopted this reasoning, and i chopped off my legs, would that give me a better chance than all of you with those meddlesome legs?   

       An absolute + for any idea which encourages self-amputation.
twitch, Jul 24 2007

       I tried to anno this earlier, if only to say it was awesome. I don't know where that anno went.
elhigh, Jul 25 2007

       Actually, changing the subject a little - I've always said that NASA should recruit from the ranks of submariners rather than fly boys. Makes much more sense for getting the right personality types to be cooped up in a small tin can for months on end.
gtoal, Jul 25 2007

       [quantum flux] - I read about this somewhere: The risk of a cat dying because of falling from a building increases with the height of the drop, up to about 7 storeys, and then starts to decrease. The reason is that with a 7-storey drop the cat has more time to orient itself upright in the air and spread its feet out. [see link]
hippo, Jul 25 2007

       I thought it was only 3 stories that the cat's chances improve. Just what I heard... or is it humans falling? That might be it.
twitch, Jul 26 2007

       Actually, a cat's chances of survival decrease dramatically after the eighth time you drop it.
marklar, Jul 26 2007

       My problem with this idea is that most manned missions will be for planetary explorations. It will be as hard for someone to get around on another world as it is on earth. Martian wheelchair? But I think the 0-g effects on amps' health should be studied.
the great unknown, Jul 26 2007

       the value to me in this idea is that it forces me to get over my bias and think of amputees as contributors to science in a real and valuable way.   

       getting around in low gravity would be even easier than on earth for an amputee, using his arms as the idea states.
dentworth, Jul 26 2007

       amputees or anyone who is smaller for that matter - consumes less food, less living space needed which is at a premium up there, possibly dwarfs too
costellogroup, Jul 26 2007

       // possibly dwarfs too //   

       The Apollo 7?
jtp, Jul 26 2007

       rhesus monkeys, like sam, are very small too. But if we start sending smaller people/animals up in space it would be like reverse evolution for the space program as a whole.
quantum_flux, Jul 27 2007

xxobot, Jul 05 2008

       J:mommy how do i become an astronaut?   

       M:well junior you have to be really unlucky
yuridasuks, Jul 31 2008

       Four additional ways to reduce astronaut weight:   

       1. Person with no legs, but three or four arms.   

       2. Robotic legs to be shared as needed among several legless.   

       3. An All terrain legless human adapter for roaming say on Mars.   

       4. Online astronaut/robots combos. That is people stay on earth, and work a robot 9 to 5 over a space telephone to help with cleaning / minor maintenance / simple boring experiments. Space vacuum operator class B. Carry a union card.
popbottle, Apr 06 2015

       Hmm, well, the problem with a trip to Mars is that muscle atrophy incurred on the journey means that those who arrive, won't be able to stand up even in the 38% gravity. So you could argue that the legs are useless anyway. They've shown you can prevent some of the muscle atrophy with testosterone, maybe not all and it may not be suitable for women. What I'm interested in is whether upper body atrophy can be completely prevented, there are lots of springy-stretchy exercise machines... wait, I have an idea
bs0u0155, Apr 08 2015

       //1. Person with no legs, but three or four arms.//   

       Read "Falling Free" by Lois McMaster Bujold.
MechE, Apr 08 2015

       Looking at this again, your legs are quite useful as ways of anchoring you to things so a way of duplicating this would need to be found. Possibly covering the lower half of the astronauts' clothing with velcro might do the trick. However the area covered would have to be limited or you'd never get unstuck.
oneoffdave, Apr 09 2015

       So if an amputee would make a better astronaut than a person with more than the average number of limbs*, it logically follows that a disembodied head in a jar, kept alive by some sort of life-support system, would make an even better astronaut.

[*] Most people have four limbs; some people have fewer. Therefore people with four limbs have more than the average (mean) number of limbs.
hippo, Apr 09 2015

       Isn't floaty space just a bridge to another brand new gravity bearing surface?
wjt, Apr 12 2015


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