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Fit for the future: Space medicine and human longevity in space

Weightlessness, as experienced by astronauts in zero gravity, influences  muscle  loss,  bone  loss, and a host of other health related conditions.

Astronauts install new rollout solar panels on International Space Station
European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet(R) checks cables in order to install new solar arrays on June 16, 2021 - Copyright AFP Tanbir MIRAJ
European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet(R) checks cables in order to install new solar arrays on June 16, 2021 - Copyright AFP Tanbir MIRAJ

In cooperation with the company SpaceTech Analytics and FemTech Analytics, the Aging Analytics Agency has released a new assessment titled ‘Space Medicine and Human Longevity in Space’.

The Aging Analytics Agency is the longevity-focused analytical subsidiary of the Deep Knowledge Group and SpaceTech Analytics is a strategic analytics agency focused on markets in the Space Exploration, Spaceflight, Space Medicine, and Satellite Tech industries.

The field of space medicine can be defined as: “The practice of all aspects of preventative medicine including screening, health care delivery, and maintaining human performance in the extreme environment of space and preserving the long-term health of space travellers”.

The analytical case study was put together to summarise key observations in the SpaceTech ecosystem (this itself is a rapidly evolving industry). The report assembles information about key industry trends. The issues covered are important if humanity is to engage in long-term space missions, such as sending people to Mars.

As astronauts begin to explore the deep space environment, the health risks for astronauts during, both long-term and short-term space flights need to be addressed. Such inquires have been ongoing since NASA designed the ‘Longitudinal Study of Astronaut Health’ in 1992, to investigate health risks  associated with space flights.

Medical problems associated with short-term space flights are better investigated upfront and countermeasures are successfully established. The report provides the latest research into this area.

It is of particular concern that weightlessness, as experienced by astronauts in zero gravity, influences  muscle  loss,  bone  loss,  renal  dysfunction,  cardiovascular  system,  immune  system,  as  well  different  neurological disorders and, behavioural health

The report builds on these research areas and the assessment also contains information about the topical directions in Space Medicine. These include overall astronaut health risks as well as specific issues relating to women’s health in space.

Further areas of inquiry include age-related biomarkers (what happens to the human body as it ages in space?). There are also some approaches of risk mitigation and an assessment as to the main trends in this area that help to improve astronauts’ health and make their rehabilitation after a space flight more effective.

The report also contains a comprehensive database of more than 70 space medicine-related private companies. Many companies are using space to explore medicine development, including regenerative medicine and 3D organ printing.

Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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