Aviation medicine

The study find that In a new paper; a trio of space medicine experts kickstart that process by reviewing some critical aspects of the field for general practitioners who may find themselves caring for patients planning flights. Therefore “Historically; space medicine is the purview of doctors that took care of highly selected populations of astronauts individuals that are exceptionally healthy; exceptionally fit; Because exceptionally stress-tolerant, have no medical conditions of any sort;” lead author Jan Stepanek, a physician specializing in space medicine at the Mayo Clinic, told Space.com.

Patients planning flights

That’s the entire point of space tourism, after all: Simple wealth will allow someone to become an astronaut without needing to deal with all the pesky screening and training and limited seating built into governmental spaceflight programs. NASA’s approach to spaceflight has always been to ground anyone the agency’s experts believe may not be able to physically or psychologically handle spaceflight.

“The trouble that [Stepanek and his co-authors] identify; and I think they’re absolutely right; is at NASA we can screen out pathology,” Richard Scheuring, a flight surgeon at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Texas; told Space.com. “That makes the practice of space medicine an order of magnitude more straightforward and less complicated.”

Point of space tourism

Not so for space tourists. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing; space medicine could use a perspective change and papers like this one may push the field that direction; Ashley Shew, an expert in disability studies and the intersection of science, technology and society at Virginia Tech, told Space.com.

She noted that the new paper, like most research in medicine and particularly space medicine; starts from the premise that bodies that don’t conform to certain ideals are problematic; rather than different. Space medicine has never confronted the possibility that different could be beneficial, she said, despite occasional glimmers that suggest just that.

Particularly space medicine

“The bodies that we’ve always chosen have been what They consider the best bodies, but those aren’t the best bodies for space usually;” Shew said. “We have these ideas of what a perfect specimen is supposed to be; we recruit on these categories that you have to satisfy in a certain way.”

Scientists and doctors still have plenty of questions about how long-term spaceflight in microgravity and beyond affects even the most traditionally “ideal” of astronaut bodies. No NASA astronaut has ever spent a full year in space; and just three have exceeded 200 straight days in orbit, although the would-be fourth, Christina Koch, is living on the space station now.