Astronaut collapses at “Welcome Home” celebration

Heidemarie Piper

Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper, an astronaut on the STS-115 mission, collapsed twice Friday, a day after she returned to Earth in the shuttle Atlantis, and officials attributed her wobbles to the adjustment from 12 days at zero gravity. Wobbly and light-headed, Stefanyshyn-Piper collapsed while speaking publicly at a welcome-home ceremony.

Fellow crew members caught her as her legs buckled under her, lowering her to the ground. She rested there for a few moments before rising back to her feet and attempted to centime.

Speaking again for less than a minute, gripping the podium tightly for support, she once again became dizzy and stopped speaking. Stefanyshyn-Piper was lowered to the floor. After resting a few moments again, she was helped to her feet and escorted out through a side door.

“She’s doing 100 percent well,” husband Glenn Piper said by phone from home later in the day. “Basically, she’s embarrassed.”

Smith Johnston, the crew’s flight surgeon, who was at Piper’s side when she fell, said astronauts typically lose 10 percent to 14 percent of their blood volume while in space, usually regaining it in a day or two. Hospitalization was not required and Stefanyshyn-Piper was allowed to go home a few hours later.

Piper, 43, of St. Paul, Minn., is a commander in the Navy and was a mission specialist and cosmic electrician aboard the shuttle. She carried out two of the spacewalks, joining an elite club of only six other U.S. women and a single Russian woman who have made spacewalks.

We wish her the best and a speedy recovery as she regains her “Land Legs”.

One thought on “Astronaut collapses at “Welcome Home” celebration

  1. They lost that much blood while in space! Sheesh!

    We are going to have to develop some drugs or aerobic fitness exercise (or perhaps find some blood thickening foods) in order to counter this.

    If not, going to Mars is not going to be fun! :-(

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