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Space

NASA Wants "People People" for Astronaut Core 86

Hugh Pickens writes "Astronauts are the ultimate Type A personalities but that can backfire during a long stay in space so NASA is taking applications for a new crop of astronauts whose main duties are to conduct experiments, keep the station running and stay in their crewmates' good graces. For that, NASA needs an affable, tolerant guy or gal who is more researcher than jet jockey. 'You need to be more of a people person' to serve on the station, says astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegria, who has flown on the space shuttle and commanded the station. 'You can't just be steely-eyed, no matter how competent.' Coping skills are crucial on a station mission, which lasts three to six months, compared with 11 to 15 days for a shuttle mission. 'Anybody can get along with anybody for a couple of weeks,' says psychiatry professor Nick Kanas who studies astronaut behavior. After a month or two, 'being with somebody for that long starts to wear on you. The jokes get stale. You have to learn new ways of interacting.'"

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