A recurring NASA exercise research program is taking applications for a study that requires subjects to lay in bed for 70 days straight and it pays $15,000.
The study titled, “CFT 70 Countermeasure and Functional Testing in Head-Down Tilt Bed Rest,” is completed out of the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. Designed “to test the effectiveness of exercise on loss of muscle, bone and cardiovascular function,” the study claims that bed rest with the head down—the subject’s feet will be elevated higher than the head 24 hours a day—is a great way to simulate space travel without gravity.
Application and Evaluation
Applicants must be within 300 miles of Houston, willing to undertake a modified Air Force Class III physical, and meet various health minimum qualifications. If selected for the study, individuals will go through a baseline physical fitness evaluation. Cardiovascular health, muscle mass, bone density, and lung volume are all tested. The pre-bed-rest period differs based on individual activity levels and lasts anywhere from 14 to 21 days after which strict confinement to a bed is observed.
70 Days in Bed and Recovery
After the 70 day test cycle begins, a regimented daily exercise routine will be implemented, but all exercising takes place on special equipment that can be used lying down. Aerobic exercises use a horizontal treadmill and cardio-cycle while weight lifting uses machines designed for the head-down-feet-up position.
Following the 70 days of non-ambulatory living, the subject is evaluated to determine the amount of physical degeneration that has taken place. A final 14 days is added to the end to allow the study’s scientists to bring the volunteer back to their initial baseline health.
Passing the time day by day is potentially tedious. Subjects are provided with television, computer, internet access, and video games. To prepare for the sudden change to daily routine, researchers suggest coming into the study with goals. Whether applicants wish to pursue an education, learn a language, or start an online business, the time will be available. The study is most interested in monitoring physical changes over time, so stretches of free time are frequent.
Visitors are allowed on a regular basis and space is provided to store personal belongings. Meals are also provided, obviously, and the diet is tailored to maintain the volunteer’s original body weight with reduced daily activity.
NASA is very invested in the study of perfecting muscle mass maintenance. With much of current research going toward human colonization of other planets, the very real consequences of prolonged low-gravity environmental exposure loom large. The Mars One Foundation, the group that is currently preparing to send human colonists to mars by 2023, has their trainees exercising for three hours daily to prepare for what they believe to be the necessary level of activity to maintain muscle mass in Mars’ gravity that is 62 percent lower than Earth’s. NASA hopes to further the body of research in this area with their continuing study of supine human guinea-pigs attracted by the $15,000 for laying bedridden for more than two months.
NASA has its eye on the moon as well. In a recent announcement that they would be sending an enclosed garden to Earth’s satellite in 2015 NASA scientists stated that they intended to prove to the world that life from Earth—plant life initially—would not only survive off-planet but would thrive. Deep space exploration is not a pipe-dream as far as NASA is concerned, it’s a near-future reality.
At a length of 98 to 106 days, the compensation that the CFT 70 study is offering works out to a daily wage of about $150.00. When added to room, board and the convenience of not having to drive into work every day, this might just be one of the most attractive job offers ever made in the interest of science that doesn’t include experimental drugs or robotic limb transplants. There are worse ways to earn $15,000 dollars than playing video games while lying in bed.
By Matt Darjany
CFT 70 Application