The Crying Mission



The Crying Mission

#space #research #psychology #sculptural

The Crying Mission is a crying-aid in an absorptive material aimed for astronauts on long-duration flights in space. It is meant to encourage crying and emotions. 

Crying eases the psychological pressure and gives several positive side effects such as the release of hormones and toxins from the body

Crying in space is crying without tears falling down, due to lack of gravity. Therefore the action creates a more uncomfortable experience with the tears clinging to the eyes in a big mass.

Made in collaboration with NASA, 2013


This project began with a two-week long stay in Houston, Texas, US with research trips to Johnson Space Center and inspiring  lectures. The trip was concluded with an exhibition on Johnson Space Center with open feedback possibilities for all NASA personnel. The United States federal government shutdown occurred at the same time which greatly influenced my take on the project. I thought a lot about how similar or worse situations would affect astronauts going on a 30 month mission to Mars. Imagine how global catastrophes would affect those astronauts, on a mission that would perhaps even be rendered insignificant in the light of such major events on earth. 

Many of the crew of ISS describe a profound experience when they look at Earth from space and psychological studies show that long term residence in space get somewhat easier with this connection to Earth. A mission to Mars would be longer than any space mission in history, going far into space with delayed communication and eventually no visual contact with Earth. 



Even a healthy person with no history of behavioural problems can get negative psychological effects in space. Disorders such as anxiety, post-traumatic stress, insomnia, adjustment disorder, and depression can also develop unexpectedly in otherwise healthy people. And behavioural problems that occur during space-flight have the tendency to not disappear when the mission ends, but tend to linger with notable aftereffects when the astronaut comes back to Earth. The return to Earth can itself be problematic since the astronaut have to reintegrate into a world that has has changed without them. 

The pressure that astronauts deal with is astronomic. Both astronauts and their family have a pressure to behave in a certain way, living their lives that a public opinion can approve of. Not only this, but they have to manage their work flawlessly. In some crew constellations a “macho“ atmosphere have been known to occur. Visiting NASA I also got the impression that some astronauts thinks that that it is not a problem to adapt to life in space and some astronauts actively also try to hide the pure physical reaction of “space sickness“ and tease those who don’t. 

We’re slowly coming to suspect that the space
we’re traveling through is of a different kind
from what we thought whenever the word “space”
was decked out by our fantasies on Earth.
We’re coming to suspect now that our drift
is even deeper than we first believed,
that knowledge is a blue naivete
which with the insight needed to the propose
assumed by the Mystery to have a structure.
We now suspect that what we say is space
and glassy-clear around Aniara’s hull
is spirit, everlasting and impalpable,
that we are lost in spiritual seas.

Aniara, Harry Martinson