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This volume is part of the monograph series of the New Liberal Arts Program (1980-1992), a project of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. The NLA Program had the goal of assisting in the introduction of quantitative reasoning and concepts of modern technology within liberal education. The Program was based on the conviction that college graduates should have been introduced to both areas if they are to live in the social mainstream and participate in the resolution of policy issues. The Center for Mathematics and Quantitative Education is delighted to make these monographs available.


Human Factors
in the Design of Spacecraft

Harvey Wichman
Aerospace Psychology Laboratory
Claremont McKenna Colleges

"Reading is more effective and pleasant when the reader knows what to anticipate. That anticipation is what I want to accomplish in this preface. Let me begin by telling you what this monograph is not. It is not a history of the U.S. space program, nor a human factors textbook nor a science and technology textbook. However, when you have finished reading it you will have had a thumbnail sketch of the history of the space program. You will also have a pretty good idea of what human factors is all about and especially its applications in aviation and space. Finally, if I have been successffil, you will have had your fancy tickled by some of the issues of science and technology that I have shared with you.

The first chapter tells the meaning of the terms human factors and ergonomics, and goes on to tell a bit about the early developments in the fields. Each of the following chapters is an essay dealing with a bit of the history of spaceflight as it was manifested in the design of a specific vehicle or group of vehicles. I have selected an assortment of human factors issues to illustrate both the breadth and depth of the discipline, but this does not come close to being an exhaustive characterization. I hope that some of my enthusiasm for human factors work rubs off because you too are intrigued by the non-intuitive, and delight in finding elegant solutions to unexpected problems."


The mathematics is elementary arithmetic, scale changes, units and measurement. No problems are provided, but it would be easy to think of some. It gives the reader an idea of what is feels like to be an astronaut. The text includes an excellent discussion of vomiting in space. Teachers of younger students could use this as the basis for a lesson even though the reading level is too high.