NASA will pay you $19,000 to stay in bed -- and be spun in a centrifuge

NASA wants Earth-bound volunteers to test how artificial gravity might help keep astronauts healthy in space.

Leslie Katz Former Culture Editor
Leslie Katz led a team that explored the intersection of tech and culture, plus all manner of awe-inspiring science, from space to AI and archaeology. When she's not smithing words, she's probably playing online word games, tending to her garden or referring to herself in the third person.
  • Third place film critic, 2021 LA Press Club National Arts & Entertainment Journalism Awards
Leslie Katz
2 min read

Some study participants will be spun in a short-arm human centrifuge that generates artificial gravity.  


Like to lounge in bed? We might have your dream job.

NASA and the European Space Agency will pay you $19,000 to lie in bed for two months. Two months! That's a lot of Netflix.

The prolonged bed rest is part of a study that launched this week into the effects of weightlessness on the human body. Phase 2 will be conducted by the German Aerospace Center (DLR) from September through December in Cologne, Germany.

"We are interested in how to maintain the health and performance of man -- in space and on Earth," reads a translated DLR website for the project. "Especially in extreme conditions, such as in weightlessness in space, this is a challenge." If astronauts are to live for long periods in space, or on the moon and Mars, science needs effective measures to counteract bone and muscle atrophy. 

For the next phase of the Agbresa (Artificial Gravity Bed Rest Study), the DLR seeks 12 men and 12 women who will spend their days and nights in beds angled downward by 6 degrees, propped up with their feet at an incline above their heads, with one shoulder touching the mattress at all times. This position reduces blood flow to the extremities, like astronauts in space experience.


A volunteer in a bed rest study in a bed angled 6 degrees below the horizontal. He may not stand up unless an experiment demands it.


While astronauts currently stick to an intense exercise regimen to stay strong, the bed rest study will for the first time investigate the use of a so-called short-arm human centrifuge to generate artificial gravity and force blood back in the extremities.

One group of study volunteers will be spun around in the centrifuge, while the other group won't. The centrifugal force can be adjusted according to the subject's size.


Yes, you get screens.


The study will take place in a DLR medical research facility called the envihab (from the words environment and habitat). In addition to the centrifuge, the facility houses labs for studying the effects of oxygen reduction and pressure decrease, MRI/PET analysis facilities, rooms for psychological stress simulations and rehab, and microbiological and molecular biological research tools.

The $19,000 stipend aside, the DLR points out other benefits to participating in the study. You can impress friends and employers with your discipline and perseverance, it notes. And you'll have plenty of time to relax and tackle all those books and streaming shows you've had to toss aside due to the annoying demands of everyday life.

Not everyone qualifies though. Participants are required to speak German and be between 24 and 55 and healthy. In addition to the 60 days required for bed rest, participants will stay an additional 29 days for acclimation and supervised recovery involving stretching, massage and physiotherapy.

NASA's wildest rides: Extreme vehicles for Earth and beyond

See all photos