Return to Earth: The Ultimate Culture Shock?

According to MSNBC three astronauts returned to Earth on Tuesday after almost six months in orbit aboard the International Space Station.  Even more fascinating is the fact that they were from different countries: one Russian (cosmonaut), one Japanese (spaceflier), one American (astronaut).  I couldn’t help but wonder about any intercultural issues they’d faced while working together up in space.  But on top of that I wonder what they’re feeling upon returning to Earth.  This must be the ultimate experience of culture shock.  Not only are there physical changes to take into account, but I’m sure there must be some very complex emotions involved.  How do astronauts adjust to being back on Earth after extended stays in Space?  Also, what kind of support is provided for them during this transition?  While it can be incredibly difficult to adapt when moving from one country to another, at least we’re all on the same planet while doing that.  What about moving from Space to Earth.  In the future will there be planet to planet transitions?  Or moon to planet transitions?  Food for thought…

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