January 20th, 2012

Francis Bacon’s “The Portrait of Henrietta Moraes” (1963) is estimated to sell for £18m at Christie’s Postwar and Contemporary Art in London in February [AO Newslink]

Read the Press Release via Christie’s

Astronauts Prepare With Weightlifting

AP Online September 11, 2006 CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – Before doing their heavy lifting in space, the astronauts on the shuttle Atlantis did lots of heavy lifting back on Earth. go to website lower back exercises

Weight training is essential to help them counter the effects of zero gravity while taking on a herculean construction job – expanding the international space station.

“Most of us have spent a lot of time in the gym, doing weights, to build up the forearm strength, to build up upper body strength,” said astronaut Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper.

She’s one of four astronauts who will take a six-hour spacewalk over the next few days. She and Joe Tanner go on their outing Tuesday when they try to connect a 17 1/2-ton addition to the orbiting outpost.

Training an astronaut for a spacewalk in zero gravity is not all that different from preparing an athlete for competition, said Jamie Chauvin, a trainer at Johnson Space Center who helped the Atlantis crew prepare for the 11-day mission.

But look at it this way: “Just imagine lying in bed for 11 days,” said Chauvin. That’s the best way to describe the effect weightlessness has on the body. Astronauts can experience muscle loss and loss of coordination.

Of course, the effects are much worse for the full-time inhabitants of the space station, who live there for six months. Once back home, it can take 45 days of physical rehabilitation for the astronauts and cosmonauts to regain their bone and muscle mass and balance skills. After their mission, the space station crew usually works on rebuilding strength in the spine, pelvis and hips.

To train for the Atlantis mission, the spacewalking astronauts concentrated on building muscle and cardiovascular endurance. Spacewalks can last more than six hours, involve repetitive motions and require astronauts to be attached by foot tethers for long periods of time.

Typically, the astronauts do some cardiovascular work at least four times a week and hit the weight room two or three times a week before their going into space.

The workout routine often starts with stretching and then moves on to at least two leg exercises that emphasize large muscle groups and body stabilization. Astronauts usually do chest, back, shoulder, abdominal and lower back exercises before working on certain muscle groups specific to mission tasks. For spacewalkers, that means hand and shoulder muscles. here lower back exercises

“In the spacesuit, it’s hard to open and close your hands due to the pressurization of the suit,” Chauvin said. “Also, good shoulder strength is necessary to do tasks.” Like all Earth-bound mortals, the astronauts have likes and dislikes.

Astronaut Dan Burbank, who will participate in the mission’s second spacewalk on Thursday, loves running – usually logging 40 miles a week – and hates weights.

“I have a weightlifting routine I go through where my goal is to get in and out and finish that just as soon as I can.”