As space tourism is becoming a reality for civilians, can people with existing medical conditions also travel to space?
The University of Texas Medical Branch, in conjunction with the National Aerospace Training and Research (NASTAR) Center in Southampton, Pa., is conducting research into the safety of spaceflight passengers who have existing medical conditions. Volunteers are invited to participate in the experiment and experience a simulated spaceflight.
With more commercial suborbital space travel opportunities in recent years, going into space is no longer just a dream for everyday citizens. Now, researchers are hoping to expand that possibility for people with medical conditions as well.
“The valuable research and knowledge from the study will help us improve future suborbital spaceflight training and simulation protocols,” says Dr. Rebecca Blue, flight surgeon at the University of Texas Medical Branch and the study investigator. “This will help us better understand how individuals with certain medical conditions may tolerate spaceflight and how to best prepare them for the experience.”
In this joint study, researchers are currently seeking volunteers with diagnosed diabetes mellitus and/or cardiac arrhythmias, as well as volunteers without history of these medical conditions. Participants will be trained on various aspects of spaceflight and then evaluated via
questionnaires, physiological parameters, and basic cognitive tasks during one or more acceleration profiles that simulate spaceflight.
Study participants will train at the NASTAR Center near Philadelphia. In addition to the centrifuge-based simulator, training will also be provided on certain techniques that are commonly used to combat the physiological effects of G-forces.
During this study, participants will fly in a Federal Aviation Administration-approved High Performance Human Centrifuge. The STS-400 Centrifuge replicates the G forces encountered during various phases of a space launch, flight, and re-entry/splashdown.
With all the current spaceflight activity, participants may or may not get to space, but they’ll experience the same training and centrifuge flights as those who have flown to space.
Note: There is no compensation for time and no reimbursement for expenses, such as travel or lodging, associated with participation in this study, though the centrifuge experience itself is free to participants.
*See attached recruitment flyer for details.
Anyone interested in volunteering to be a research participant can visit www.utmbamc.com/research.cfm for more information.