As the spaceflight industry continues to develop, many civilians are wondering how we can secure the safety and health of space passengers who will witness both physiological and environmental challenges that we do not see here on Earth. Because this is an ever-growing field, medical care standards need to be considered for various types of spaceflight.
According to an article recently published by Medical News Today, Professor in Aeronautics and Astronautics at Stanford University, Scott Hubbard, says “‘Medical constraints are the most important discriminators in determining who in the general population can be a spaceflight participant,” (Experts Consider Medical Care Standards for Civilians in Space). In addition, the article comments on how various types of space flight requires different medical standards. Thus, it is difficult to allocate a general standard of medical care for a wide variety of space vehicles.
Both suborbital and orbital flights should be considered as offering a wide variety of risks and challenges to humans who travel in space. According to the Medical News Today article, “Among the factors to be considered in developing medical care standards for civilian space flights are that suborbital and orbital flights pose different risks and challenges to the human body and will likely require different codes of medical practice, skills, equipment and materials,” (Experts Consider Medical Care Standards for Civilians in Space). This means that motion sickness, pressure suits, and oxygen masks must all be considered in terms of equipment needed for these flights.
Furthermore, professional, medically-trained staff will likely be a factor in determining health precautions when it comes to orbital tourists flights, especially since a majority of the passengers will not be trained in emergency equipment and treatment. Medical News Today states that, “The authors point to the factors that the NASA medical standards address in order to provide the proper level of care for different space missions. They suggest that these should also be considered when establishing medical standards for commercial spaceflight,” (Experts Consider Medical Care Standards for Civilians in Space).
These factors include the type and duration of the mission, the objectives of the mission, providers of health and medical care and what level of training they have received, the pre-flight health status of those on board, medical risk of illness or injury, time required to return back to Earth to receive medical treatment, and the level of accepted medical risk. For more information on the anticipated medical care standards for space travel, please read Medical News Today’s article here.