Painting 32 presents a "double exposure" of a pilot using a resistance trainer that simulated weight lifting in weightlessnes. This technique was perfected 40 years later on the International Space Station using a machine many times larger and more capable than shown here.

The painting was not revised as directed in the company reviewer's handwritten notes on the cover sheet (at left), because the standing figure was not removed and the pilot is still shown in long pants instead of shorts. Jacobe's recurring flexibility with perspective may have prompted the request to revise the green wall behind the man so that it slants to the right, to be in line with the painting's vertical orientation.

Perhaps it was left unrevised because of partially contradictory directions written on the onion skin sheet by another reviewer, who signed off as "RAC.". They said: "leave suits as is" instead of add shorts, and "fix sox" presumably as discussed verbally with Jacobe. "RAC" also reiterated "remove wall" as a consistent complaint about the perspective issue.

Exercise has long been recognized as an important if imperfect substitute for the absence of continuous body loading by gravity while in weightlessness. The MOL program spawned several exercise capabilities, not all of which could have been accommodated on-board, but accelerating the development of exercise hardware for spaceflight that had begun with the earliest missions.

Bungee exercise device used in Gemini missions in 1965. (Photo credit: NASA)

For example, as early as the final Mercury mission in 1963, the pilot was provided with a bungee-based exercise device to offset the debilitating effects of confinement and weightlessness. A similar device, with foot loops and a handle, was used on the longer Gemini missions in 1965 to provide a calibrated, repeatable cardiovascular stress to allow flight surgeons on Earth to estimate the degree of cardiovascular deconditioning as weightlessness continued.

The Apollo spacecraft were roomy enough to allow the astronauts to exercise with the Exer-Genie (below), a device that was small and inexpensive enough to be found in many 1960s-era homes, including my family's. The Exer-Genie was developed in 1966 by Dean D. Miller, a consultant to Lockheed Missiles and Space Co, of Sunnyvale, California, as the "complete exercise program" for MOL .

NASA engineer Ed Hoskins demonstrating the Exer-Genie device to be used on Apollo 7 in October 1968. (Photo credit: Ralph Morse, LIFE, September 27, 1968.)

The device in Jacobe's painting bears a striking resemblance to a total body exerciser (below, right) developed at at the U.S. Air Force's School of Aerospace Medicine (SAM) at Brooks AFB, San Antonio, Texas. It was intended to help astronauts maintain muscle tone and circulatory capacity during long missions, but apparently did not target the bone density, as the ARED does. It had a sliding cushion, so the pilot could "achieve some simulation of gravity by pushing with his legs and pulling on the overhead bar." It is not clear how this would simulate gravity, but could perhaps substitute the musculoskeletal loading by exercise for that produced by exposure to gravity.

Thornton ergometer developed at SAM and NASA. (Photo credit: William Thornton, 2012.)

School of Aerospace Medicine whole-body exercise device in evaluation in 1966. (Photo credit: USAF)

Simultaneously, Dr. William Thornton was also working at the U.S. Air Force's School of Aerospace Medicine (SAM) at Brooks AFB, San Antonio, Texas, where he started development of simplified bicycle ergo-meter for aerobic exercise, initially for possible MOL use, but later considered for Apollo flights.


Another device, the CMC Shuttle 2000 cardiomuscular conditioner, developed by Gary Graham, founder and president of Contemporary Design Co., Glacier, Washington, appears to have originated with the SAM design. It used arm contractions to press the legs and lower body "downward" against a stationary platform, providing both upper and lower body resistive loading. An updated version, the 2000-1, was also developed.

The CMC Shuttle 2000 CardioMuscular Conditioner. (Photo credit: Contemporary Design Co., Glacier, Washington, 2012).

NASA's Advanced Resistive Exercise Device (Photo credit: NASA.)

The Shuttle 2000-1. (Photo credit: Contemporary Design Co., Glacier, Washington, 1995).

NASA's Advanced Resistive Exercise Device (ARED, left) has been in use on the International Space Station since late 2008. The ARED displays the structure and complexity required to do what the minimal device in Jacobe's painting could not do: provide an effective load adequate to protect bone and muscle health in extended weightlessness.