Scientists: Medicals Needed For Space Tourists

December 14, 2012

Brett Smith for redOrbit – Your Universe Online

As private companies, like Virgin Galactic, race to send travelers into space, the medical community must begin to address the hazards of both an actual trip into orbit and the ramifications upon return for the average person.

With these unprecedented situations looming just over the horizon for medical professionals, a group of Canadian and U.S. scientists have published a paper on the subject in the Christmas edition of the British Medical Journal.

“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,” the authors wrote.

In the U.S., where Virgin Galactic is constructing its Spaceport America, the Federal Aviation Administration has contributed to legislation designed to regulate commercial spaceflight through its Office of Commercial Space Transportation. However, the legislation makes no reference to any medical requirements for travelers, although the F.A.A. does propose requiring informed medical consent.

While there is currently very little literature on the medical disqualification of potential travelers, professional astronauts have been disqualified for “vision or ophthalmological conditions, cardiovascular conditions, chronic sinusitis, migraine, kidney stones, and asthma,” according to the report.

The authors noted there is currently a proactive effort to understand how the general population may need to receive treatment after taking a trip into space.

Read more: Medicals For Space Travel – Space News – redOrbit.

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