Until recently, with a few exceptions, the only space travelers were professional astronauts. Most stakeholders assume that in the coming decades space will be populated by average citizens who will travel, live and work in space. In the February 2021 issue of the Harvard Business Review. Matt Weinzirl and Mehak Sarang said that we are entering the first stages of a “true space economy.” They noted that the commercial space industry has “the intention and ability to bring individuals into space as passengers, tourists, and eventually settlers, opening the doors for businesses to start meeting the demand these individuals are creating over the next few decades.” . set of space goods and services.
It is planned to establish research laboratories and manufacturing facilities in space to produce new medicines and materials that will bring great benefits to the inhabitants of the earth. There are also plans to mine helium-3 and other rare metals on the Moon and asteroids. Mining will require trained miners to oversee the process of safe mining and efficient delivery to Earth.
Although a small number of civilians have experienced spaceflight on Pocket link or beyond to the International Space Station since 2001, recent Blue Origin space flights in July, October and December 2021 and March and June 2022 (26 civilians), Virgin Galactic in July 2021 ( three civilians) and SpaceX Inspiration4 (four civilians) and the Axiom-1 missions (four civilians) represent the interest, commitment, and intent of the US space industry to commercialize space in a manner and at a pace that can only be achieved by American ingenuity and industry.
Another exciting momentous event took place. in October 2021, when AstroAccess sent a group of people with disabilities who were scientists, veterans, students, athletes and artists on a historic parabolic flight with the Zero Gravity Corporation, the first step towards launching a diverse human population. into the space.
In order to prepare for the expected civilian population of space, in March 2020 I submitted a proposal to the National Space Council to host a workshop to create the first-ever Civilian Space Commercialization Human Research Program (HRP). The proposal was positively received and recommended by the Commercial Space Flight Federation (CSF) for implementation. CSF accepted the request and agreed to hold a scientific workshop on the creation of an HRP. The first step was the formation of a planning committee for the CSF workshop, which included representatives from all stakeholders with an interest in human research in space travel and habitation. The CSF committee included key representatives from Virgin Galactic, Blue Origin, SpaceX, Axiom Space, Sovaris Space, Orbital Medicine, FAA, HHS, NASA, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baylor College of Medicine, Center for Space Medicine and the Space Health Translational Research Institute and MITER Corporation.
The CSF Seminar Planning Committee recognized the difference in health and fitness between professional astronauts and ordinary civilians, many of whom have comorbidities and disabilities. As such, the CSF initiative has focused more on the health needs of ordinary civilians who will be traveling, living and working in commercial space.
The CSF/MITER workshop was held May 11-12, 2021 with the participation of about 100 scientists and specialists in the field of space medicine.
The workshop reviewed the contributions of two committees, one on the impact of suborbital spaceflight on civilians in space (chaired by Dr. Mark Schelhamer of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine), and the other on the impact of orbital and beyond-Earth orbit spaceflight and the deployment of civilians ( chaired by Dr. Michael Schmidt, CEO of Sovaris Space). It was agreed that the space industry, in collaboration with other stakeholders, has a key role to play in developing a robust research program that will bring together a peer, collaborative and collaborative consortium of space researchers to understand, prevent and mitigate the biomedical risks faced by civilians. in a commercial space.
Summary of priority projects recommended by workshop participants
Some of the priority human research topics recommended for civilians involved in suborbital space flight include:
- Determination of the functional ability of civilians to withstand the impact of space flight;
- Identifying effective interventions to prevent or mitigate the effects of space flight (eg, space sickness, fear, anxiety, and stress);
- Studying the impact of suborbital space travel on civilians with pre-existing health problems (such as diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure or atrial fibrillation) and disabilities (such as amputations, cerebral palsy, spina bifida, or spinal cord injury)
- Assessing the impact of suborbital flight on civilians with implanted medical devices and those taking life-sustaining drugs.
Human studies projects recommended for civilians in orbital and beyond Earth orbit space travel and habitation include:
- Long-term study of the impact of microgravity on the physiology and psychology of civilians. NASA has identified some potentially serious consequences of a long space flight;
- Strategies for protecting the civilian population from the effects of space radiation, including solar and galactic space radiation in various regions of space;
- The impact of isolation and confinement on civilians away from their families while in orbit or on the Moon; as well as
- Issues related to special conditions for persons with disabilities in terms of space flight and residence.
The future promises a significant increase in the number of civilians as tourists, residents and workers in space, led by a burgeoning commercial space sector. For all civilians to travel, live and work in space, we need a robust human research program to protect the health, safety and comfort of all travelers. This can only be achieved with the commitment and support of the space industry, which will reap tangible benefits for its mission while at the same time contributing greatly to the lives of the American people. The next steps will include the full implementation of HRP with private sector/federal government support.
The full final report of the workshop, with a detailed human research agenda for civilians in the commercial space, is available on the CSF website at: http://www.commercialspaceflight.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/2021-Summary-Report-of-the-CSF-MITER-Workshop-and-HRP-for-SFPs.pdf
Michael Marge, Ed.D, Research Professor at SUNY Upstate Medical University. He was co-chair of the CSF workshop and editor of the final report of the workshop. He has also worked as a professional consultant for NASA, assisting with the Space Life and Physical Science Research and Applications Division mission, and for the MITER Corporation, advising on manned space exploration and the development of a new database of physiological and psychological issues. the reaction of the civilian population to the commercialization of space.