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Experts explore the medical safety needs of civilian space travel

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Posted January 19, 2015

The commercial aviation industry has medical care standards, as does NASA for traditional space missions, and the emerging commercial space transportation industry will need to define medical care practices as well.

This diagram shows key differences between men and women in cardiovascular, immunologic, sensorimotor, musculoskeletal, and behavioral adaptations to human spaceflight. Image Credit: NASA/NSBRI

This diagram shows key differences between men and women in cardiovascular, immunologic, sensorimotor, musculoskeletal, and behavioral adaptations to human spaceflight. Image Credit: NASA/NSBRI

The unique risks posed by commercial spaceflight warrant the establishment of Medical Levels of Care to account for the different phases of suborbital and orbital missions, as described in an article published in New Space, a peer-reviewed journal from Mary Ann Liebert Inc., publishers. The article is available free on the New Space website until February 14, 2015.

In the article “Considerations toward Defining Medical ‘Levels of Care’ for Commercial Spaceflight” ,” Stefan Neis and David Klaus, University of Colorado, Boulder, review current medical care practices in the civilian aviation industry and traditional space exploration sector and offer suggestions for defining appropriate onboard levels of medical care for the commercial space transportation industry, related to different types and phases of flight. Suborbital tourist flights, for example, might require motion sickness and pain medications, oxygen masks, and possibly pressure suits onboard; whereas longer-term orbital flights would necessitate a higher level of care, including emergency medical equipment and training and perhaps spacesuits.

“Medical constraints are the most important discriminators in determining who in the general population can be a spaceflight participant. This original article adds critical new knowledge to an emerging discipline,” says Editor-in-Chief of New Space Prof. Scott Hubbard, Stanford University.

Source: EurekAlert!

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