Space Physiology

Space Physiology

Space Physiology

Space Physiology

Synopsis

The success of any space flight mission depends not only on advanced technology but also on the health and well-being of crew members. This book, written by an astronaut physician, is the first practical guide to maintaining crew members health in space. It combines research results with practical advice on such problems as bone loss, kidney stones, muscle wasting, motion sickness, loss of balance, orthostatic intolerance, weight loss, and excessive radiation exposure. Additional topicsinclude pre-flight preparation, relevant gender differences, long-duration medical planning, post-flight rehabilitation, and the physiology of extra-vehicular activity. Designed as a handbook for space crews, this text is also an invaluable tool for all the engineers, medical personnel, and scientists who plan and execute space missions.

Excerpt

Human space exploration to destinations beyond the moon was first envisioned during the Apollo era. Over the course of a decade the world followed the transition from suborbital missions to witnessing humans walking on the surface of the moon. The rate of technological advancement to enable the lunar missions exceeded anything previously seen in history and would be difficult to achieve even with today’s resources. While the dream of sending humans to Mars after the Apollo program was not fulfilled, the experience of the Shuttle, Skylab, NASA-MIR, and International Space Station programs was critical in following the roadmap to Mars first proposed so many years ago. The initial steps on the path to Mars have been from robotic explorers. These planetary rovers have played a critical role in exploring the surface of Mars, helping to provide insight into the central question of the origins, complexity, and possible diversity of life within our solar system. Ultimately, though, joint human–robotic missions will be required to answer one of the major scientific questions of this millennium: Does life exist elsewhere in outer space?

As government agencies have acquired more experience and technical capability to support long-duration spaceflight in low earth orbit, there has been the exciting emergence of privately funded spacecraft with the potential to make low earth orbit accessible to members of the public. This capability marks an important transition in human spaceflight. With increased accessibility to low earth orbit, government agencies may now shift their focus to extending the capability for human space exploration. Developing the technical capability to send humans farther into space and support them on longer duration missions will provide numerous challenges that will be the ultimate test of the technical capabilities of the world’s space-faring nations. The recent NASA vision for space exploration has clearly focused attention on the path to the Moon and Mars. It will be exciting to follow the development of the Crew Exploration Vehicle, the next generation planetary spacesuit, and habitats required to support these missions.

Developing the technical capabilities for planetary exploration is only one part of the equation for human missions. Understanding the long-term physiological adaptation of humans living for months in microgravitational and partial gravitational environments will be critical in minimizing the health consequences of these missions and safely returning the exploration crews to Earth. The transition from the force of gravity on Earth to 0 G while traveling to a planetary destination will be followed by a period of living with a different planetary gravitational force (in the case of Mars, approximately one-third of the Earth’s gravity). This process will be reversed when . . .

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