Commercial investment is bringing space tourism closer to reality. Marlene Grenon and colleagues outline what doctors will need to know Although perhaps unfamiliar with the specific physiological changes associated with commercial air travel, most physicians will have travelled by plane and many will have attended a passenger in need of medical assistance while on a commercial flight. They are, however, unlikely to have experience of space travel. Numerous commercial enterprises exist that will eventually provide competitively priced access to spaceflight experiences for paying customers. With spaceports construction under way, bookings are already taking place. Physicians can in future expect patients to ask questions and request clearance processes (such as fitness to fly certificates) for space travel as they do for commercial airplane flights today. Here, we provide some background to the field of space medicine for non-experts and point to resources for clinicians when a patient presents with requests related to space travel.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Objective:
To review the current state of knowledge with regards to clinical challenges related to women's health during spaceflight.
Articles were reviewed relevant to "women", "sex," and "gender" in "microgravity," "weightlessness," and "spaceflight" in the English and Russian languages.
There were 50 papers identified. Studies have shown that crewmembers suffer from space motion sickness, but gender discrepancies have not been explored. Nearly all women experience orthostatic intolerance in space, which may be due to differences in female cardiovascular response. Immunosuppression in spaceflight results in susceptibility to opportunistic infections, but no studies have investigated gender differences. Finally, radiation exposure and germ cell viability influence the reproductive health of astronauts.
With changes in space access offered by commercial space activities, research areas devoted to women's health in microgravity should become one of the priorities for safe space exploratory efforts.
Aviation Space and Environmental Medicine 06/2014; 85(6). DOI:10.3357/ASEM.3889.2014 · 0.88 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Commercial suborbital space flights will reach altitudes above 100 km, with 3-5 min of weightlessness bracketed by high-g launch and landing phases. The proposed frequency of these flights, and the large passenger population, present interesting opportunities for researchers in the life sciences. The characteristics of suborbital flight are between those of parabolic and orbital flights, opening up new scientific possibilities and easing the burden for obtaining access to 0g. There are several areas where these flights might be used for research in the life sciences: (1) operational research: preparation for "real" space flight, such as rehearsal of medical procedures, (2) applied research - to answer questions relevant to long-term space flight; (3) passenger health and safety - effects on passengers, relevant to screening and training; (4) basic research in physiological mechanisms - to address issues of fundamental science. We describe possible projects in each of these categories. One in particular spans several areas. Based on the anticipated suborbital flight profiles, observations from parabolic flight, and the wide range of fitness and experience levels of suborbital passengers, sensorimotor disturbances such as motion sickness and disorientation are major concerns. Protocols for pre-flight adaptation of sensorimotor responses might help to alleviate some of these problems, based on results from research in the initial flights. This would improve the passenger experience and add to the knowledge base relevant to space flight more generally.
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