Historically, spaceflight has been reserved for the very healthy. Astronauts are selected for their ability to meet the highest physical and psychological standards to prepare them for any unknown challenges. However, with the advent of commercial spaceflight, average people can now fly for enjoyment. The aerospace medicine community has had very little information about what medical conditions or diseases should be considered particularly risky in the spaceflight environment, as most medical conditions have never been studied for risk in space — until now.
The aerospace medicine group at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston recently studied how average people with common medical problems — high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, lung diseases like asthma or emphysema and back and neck injuries, surgeries or disorders — would be able to tolerate the stresses of commercial spaceflight.
Overall, they found that nearly everyone with well-controlled medical conditions who participated in this project tolerated simulated flight without problems. The study can be found in the journal Aviation, Space and Environmental Medicine.
"Physiological stresses of flight include increased acceleration forces, or 'G-forces,' during launch and re-entry, as well as the microgravity period," said lead author Dr. Rebecca Blue. "Our goal was to see how average people with common medical problems, who aren't necessarily as fit as a career astronaut, would be able to tolerate these stresses of an anticipated commercial spaceflight."
Some medical conditions are of particular interest within the commercial spaceflight industry, either because of the high rate of occurrence or because of the potential to cause sudden, serious medical events. The researchers studied how people with these common conditions performed when put through centrifuge simulations of spaceflight launch and re-entry.
The centrifuge allows researchers to mimic the acceleration of a rocket launch or of a spacecraft re-entering through the atmosphere. Astronauts regularly use centrifuges to train for their own spaceflights. The acceleration forces expected in a commercial spaceflight profile are tolerable, but can be uncomfortable, for healthy individuals.
The researchers wanted to see if they were equally tolerable for individuals with complex medical histories or whether there were certain conditions that would make it more difficult for them to handle the flight.
"This study further supports the belief that, despite significant chronic medical conditions, the dream of spaceflight is one that most people can achieve," said Blue.
Other authors of this paper include James Pattarini, David Reyes, Robert Mulcahy, Charles Mathers, Johnené Vardiman, Tarah Castleberry and James Vanderploeg of UTMB and Alejandro Garbino of Baylor College of Medicine.
This research was supported by the Federal Aviation Administration's Center of Excellence for Commercial Space Transportation, which has designated UTMB's aerospace medicine group as a leader in research for the commercial spaceflight industry. The goal of the UTMB group is to identify the knowledge gaps regarding commercial spaceflight and to address these gaps with research to allow for science-based decision-making within the field. The team also had support from the National Space Biomedical Research Institute to complete this work.
Donna Ramirez | Eurek Alert!
Multi-year study finds 'hotspots' of ammonia over world's major agricultural areas
17.03.2017 | University of Maryland
Diabetes Drug May Improve Bone Fat-induced Defects of Fracture Healing
17.03.2017 | Deutsches Institut für Ernährungsforschung Potsdam-Rehbrücke
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
24.03.2017 | Materials Sciences
24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy