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How to Survive in Space

From launch to landing, spaceflight is a horror show of hazards. Discover how to overcome them, with the help of a biomedical/aerospace engineer.
How to Survive in Space is rated 4.5 out of 5 by 15.
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Rated 2 out of 5 by from Dr olabisi spoils the lectures by waving her hands around so much. Please advise her to put her hands in her lap for a good part of the lecture. Very hard to warch.
Date published: 2024-04-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from What Fun!!! I've been a fan of space exploration since the launch of Sputnik in 1957 and as I got older, the experience of being in space in particular. So, when I saw Dr. Ronke Olabisi's course, it went on my watch list immediately. The title in itself was intriguing and the course certainly did deliver. Although every lesson held my attention from start to finish, as surgeon, some stood out. "Microbes in Space" was fascinating. On earth, gravity does its part to keep microbes "in place;" in space, this isn't the case--they're everywhere in the atmosphere of the space craft and spacesuits. And the damage they can and have caused to electronics was something I'd never considered. In "Space Food," I was expecting Tang and mush in a squeeze tube. (Well, okay, that's nothing to do with surgery, but I'm a foodie, so there you go.) It's come a long way since then, even allowing astronauts on extended missions to construct a menu to their liking. Still, the food leaves a lot to be desired. In "Medical Emergency in Space," Dr. Olabisi brought up some things I hadn't considered, such as how the absence of gravity prevents blood from flowing--rather, it just balls up around the wound. What fascinated me was MIRA (Miniaturized In vivo Robotic Assistant). Here was a tiny version of the da Vinci Surgical System which is used for less-invasive surgery around the world. But Dr. Olabisi was definitely the star of the show! Although in "talking heads" position, she was as animated as any "on your feet" lecturer I've seen. And she was an astronaut candidate! (I think NASA lost out big time by not choosing her!) I loved her sense of humor throughout but two incidents got belly laughs out of me. One was "Peas in Space," which, if you're not a Muppets fan, you may not get. But the one that had me rolling in the aisle was her description of surgery on earth. After going through all the hazards and possible complications of surgery in space, she said, "On earth, you just make a hole and go to town." "How to Survive in Space" has something for everyone, from the scientist to the novice and everyone in between. And I sincerely hope that we see Dr. Ronke Olabisi back for more courses!
Date published: 2024-03-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Fascinating Course What an utterly fascinating course. This is an excellent example of what I’ve often referred to as an “I-Never-Knew-I-Wanted-To-Know-That Course”. That is, a course that presents a wide variety of material that reach far beyond what I imagined it would cover when I first decided to give the course a look. And this course has jumped up to near the top of that list. As I’ve learned watching this course, the number of challenges that need to be overcome simply to (as the course title suggests) survive in space is mind boggling. The course presents some of the aspects of biology, chemistry, celestial mechanics, engineering (mechanical, structural, fluid and gaseous control, electrical, etc), etc, etc, that need to be understood and handled just to keep an astronaut alive (setting aside the issues of simply getting a rocket into space). There are far too many specific detailed example to try to go into here, but it is an excellent course, taught by an engaging and obviously highly knowledgeable instructor. Highly recommended.
Date published: 2024-03-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Course, Exceptional Presentation I've been a GC customer for over 20 years and this is one of the most enjoyable programs. I wasn't sure that I'd be interested in this subject, but Ronke Olabisi is so engaging as a presenter, that I was immediately drawn into the subject. She is fantastic! I hope that she is asked to present in other GC courses. It's obvious that Ronke is passionate about this topic. For me, she makes this course a joy to watch. Please bring her back for another science program.
Date published: 2024-03-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Do not watch this course if you want to retain any ideas of the "romance" of space flight. I always knew that being an astronaut was potentially dangerous but until watching this eye-opening series of lectures I didn't realise the plethora of dangers that await even the fittest space travellers. My take away was that the most dangerous threats to health are the most insidious: illness caused by pathogens in the air and on surfaces and cell damage from cosmic rays. The latter could not only cause cancers down the line but also more immediately affect cognitive functions. The lecturer is excellent - enthusiastic and knowledgeable. I particularly liked her sense of humour and the way she modulated her tone of voice. I guess she was reading from a teleprompter but you wouldn't know, her delivery was very natural and relaxed. In summary, this is a well presented, math-lite, astronomy course. There is a lot of illuminating information packed in, including the results of very recent research, so you will definitely get your money's worth.
Date published: 2024-03-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Reality check Excellent lectures with many surprising facts. A refreshing counterbalance to 60 years of NASA hype.
Date published: 2024-03-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Learned a lot As a hard science fiction author, many of the courses I've taken from Wondrium have been part of trying to keep everything as real as possible. I found this course invaluable for that. The instructor was terrific.
Date published: 2024-03-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A major eye-opener! I have to admit I had no idea of many of the realities of space missions. I followed all the space missions from the comfort of Earth. My reaction after viewing the course is that we owe a major debt of gratitude to those who volunteer for the space program. We learn much from their experiences, but, as for me, count me out!
Date published: 2024-03-17
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Taught by veteran biomedical space researcher Dr. Ronke Olabisi of the University of California, Irvine, this 12-lecture course focuses on the many hazards of spaceflight and how astronauts deal with them. From launch to landing, from spacewalks to sponge baths, these lectures provide an in-depth look at living and working in a truly alien environment. Learn how it takes more than the “right stuff” to survive in space.


Ronke Olabisi

Space exploration is a challenging and ambitious endeavor that requires great dedication and effort. But it is also one that has the potential to reap great rewards.


University of California, Irvine

Ronke Olabisi is an Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering at the University of California, Irvine. She received her PhD in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Wisconsin–Madison. She has been teaching about the effects of spaceflight on the human body for about a decade, and the research in her lab involves tissue engineering and regenerative medicine for tissues damaged by injury, disease, aging, or spaceflight. She is a member of 100 Year Starship, an initiative that aims to make the capability of human interstellar travel a reality within the next 100 years.

By This Professor

How to Survive in Space
How to Survive in Space


How to Survive Launch

01: How to Survive Launch

Learn just how dangerous space is. Then, consider the stresses on the human body during launch, principally the high g-forces that astronauts endure as their rocket accelerates toward space. Also, review pre-launch preparations, including a precautionary quarantine to avoid falling ill during a mission, the readjustment of the body’s biological clock, and a recommended bowel cleanse.

30 min
How to Survive Short-Term Weightlessness

02: How to Survive Short-Term Weightlessness

Once in orbit, space travelers must deal with weightlessness, which can induce temporary or long-lasting motion sickness, termed “space sickness.” It’s hard to predict who will be affected, since even experienced fighter pilots can fall violently ill. However, some other species such as tree frogs seem to have it all figured out. Analyze research on this problem, its apparent causes, and measures to combat it.

30 min
How to Survive Long-Term Weightlessness

03: How to Survive Long-Term Weightlessness

Humans didn’t evolve to live in space. Not surprisingly, long missions can lead to an array of health issues. Learn how weightlessness affects every system in the body, leaving astronauts much weaker, anemic, myopic, osteoporotic, and prone to illness and back problems. Explore countermeasures that can keep them relatively healthy while in space and speed their recovery upon return to Earth.

24 min
How to Survive Microbes in Space

04: How to Survive Microbes in Space

Space may evoke a sterile environment, but in reality it promotes a zoo of microbes. Discover the challenges of staying clean in the International Space Station, where an astronaut’s water ration for personal hygiene is 0.5 liters per day, and a change of clothes must last months. Restricted diet, microgravity, and other factors also affect the microbiome in ways that can have a negative impact on health.

29 min
How to Survive in a Space Suit

05: How to Survive in a Space Suit

A spacesuit is a miniature spaceship, in which an astronaut must live, work, eat, and excrete without the prospect of escape for many hours. Consider the challenges of scratching your nose or getting a snack without the ability to use your hands. Also, look at the perils both inside the suit and outside, including weightlessness, temperature extremes, radiation, and micrometeorites.

26 min
How to Survive in a Vacuum

06: How to Survive in a Vacuum

Hollywood portrays the vacuum of space as able to boil, explode, flash freeze, or otherwise violently end the life of an unprotected astronaut. In fact, exposure to a vacuum is less dramatic, although lethal unless prompt action is taken. Analyze the physics of a vacuum and how the body responds to the near-total lack of air. Study real-life cases, including an eerie survivor’s report.

24 min
How to Survive Extreme Temperatures

07: How to Survive Extreme Temperatures

The lack of air in space causes extreme temperature differences—from broiling heat in full sun to bitter cold inches away in shadow. Weightlessness also means there are no convection currents to dissipate heat. Review some uncomfortable astronaut experiences with temperature and consider the engineering challenge of keeping the International Space Station reasonably pleasant for the crew.

29 min
How to Survive Space Food

08: How to Survive Space Food

Do you like fresh or crunchy food? If so, you’re mostly out of luck in space, where meals must have a long shelf life and must have a mushy, crumble-proof texture to avoid particles floating in the cabin. Explore the culinary compromises of spaceflight, where food longevity and consistency are not the only issues with palatability, since taste and digestion are also markedly affected by the space environment.

29 min
How to Survive Extreme Confinement

09: How to Survive Extreme Confinement

Long-duration spaceflight can be a grueling test of astronaut morale—and even sanity. Probe some of the disagreements that inevitably arise when highly motivated people are confined for months at a time. Discover that one mission reportedly erupted in a fistfight. Also, consider the suitability of men versus women for the challenges of life in space and evaluate the advantages of a mixed-sex crew.

34 min
How to Survive Space Radiation

10: How to Survive Space Radiation

One of the riskiest aspects of spaceflight is radiation due to ejections from the Sun, charged particles trapped in Earth’s magnetic field, and galactic cosmic rays produced by supernova explosions and other violent events. On Earth, we are mostly protected from this rain of ionizing particles that can lead to cancers and other disorders. Learn the limited measures astronauts can take.

34 min
How to Survive a Medical Emergency in Space

11: How to Survive a Medical Emergency in Space

Astronauts are typically super healthy, but they can still suffer medical emergencies in space, where it is extremely difficult to treat them. During the Apollo program, one Moon walker had a heart attack and had to wait days before he could see doctors back on Earth. Ponder the problem of performing even minor surgery in space, where weightlessness presents unique challenges.

31 min
How to Survive Touchdown

12: How to Survive Touchdown

A highlight of every space mission is landing—either on Earth or another planet. Potentially more dangerous than launch, this maneuver involves deceleration from great speed, using atmospheric friction, retrorockets, or both. Astronauts have been injured or died during this step. As with other perils of spaceflight, women have physiological advantages over men, showing that they truly have the right stuff.

30 min