NASA Medical Capabilities for Space Missions
- Wednesday, 01 February 2012
Ensuring the health, safety, and effective performance of astronauts is critical to the human exploration of space. During missions to the Moon, Mars, or asteroids, crewmembers must have access to advanced medical technologies and protocols to prevent health problems, diagnose disease, treat injuries, and minimize illnesses that may occur in the course of a mission. The Human Research Program (HRP) at Glenn Research Center (Glenn) is seeking government, university, or industry partners to develop medical capabilities that can help to secure the health and safety of astronauts during space missions.
NASA has identified several medical capabilities that are needed to help ensure crew safety in future human exploration missions. Glenn seeks partners who can help address medical challenges during missions, including advanced screening for clinical and subclinical pathology, biomedical monitoring, diagnosis of disease, treatment when health issues arise, tracking of medical supplies and medication, and preventive healthcare.
New technologies and protocols are needed in each of the categories listed above. Specifically, NASA wants to learn more about screening technologies for medical conditions experienced in spaceflight environments; current state-of-the-art in telementoring/telemedicine; clinical medical hardware usable by a non-expert crew; diagnostic imaging capabilities; and minimally invasive in-flight laboratory capabilities.
In addition, NASA needs to develop the capability to treat numerous injuries sustained in the spaceflight environment, including back and neck pain and injuries; bone fractures; wound healing; muscle, ligament, and tendon injuries; and renal stones. New technologies and protocols are also desired to enhance inventory tracking of medical supplies and medications. Any technology developed that addresses these needs must be compatible with standard spaceflight restrictions related to mass, volume, ionizing radiation emission, and electromagnetic interference.
NASA’s astronauts must be able to perform at peak productivity during extended stays in space. Glenn’s Human Research Program is working to develop medical capabilities that can improve every astronaut’s ability to monitor health risks, respond to emergencies, and remain healthy during and after extended space travel.