Zero-G parabolic flight reproduces the weightlessness of space for short periods of time. However motion sickness may affect some fliers. The aim was to assess the extent of this problem and to find possible predictors and modifying factors.
Airbus Zero-G flights consist of 31 parabolas performed in blocks. Each parabola consisted of 20s 0g sandwiched by 20s hypergravity of 1.5-1.8g. The survey covered n=246 person-flights (193 Males 53 Females), aged (M+/-SD) 36.0+/-11.3 years. An anonymous questionnaire included motion sickness rating (1=OK to 6=Vomiting), Motion Sickness Susceptibility Questionnaire (MSSQ), anti-motion sickness medication, prior Zero-G experience, anxiety level, and other characteristics.
Participants had lower MSSQ percentile scores 27.4+/-28.0 than the population norm of 50. Motion sickness was experienced by 33% and 12% vomited. Less motion sickness was predicted by older age, greater prior Zero-G flight experience, medication with scopolamine, lower MSSQ scores, but not gender nor anxiety. Sickness ratings in fliers pre-treated with scopolamine (1.81+/-1.58) were lower than for non-medicated fliers (2.93+/-2.16), and incidence of vomiting in fliers using scopolamine treatment was reduced by half to a third. Possible confounding factors including age, sex, flight experience, MSSQ, could not account for this.
Motion sickness affected one third of Zero-G fliers, despite being intrinsically less motion sickness susceptible compared to the general population. Susceptible individuals probably try to avoid such a provocative environment. Risk factors for motion sickness included younger age and higher MSSQ scores. Protective factors included prior Zero-G flight experience (habituation) and anti-motion sickness medication.