Is space tourism safe or do civilians risk health effects?
Several companies are developing spacecraft designed to take ordinary citizens, not astronauts, on short trips into space. "Space tourism" and short periods of weightlessness appear to be safe for most individuals according to a series of articles on space biomedicine published in New Space.
James Vanderploeg, MD, MPH and colleagues, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, coauthored an article outlining the research that has been done to identify the risks and challenges involved in human commercial spaceflight. The authors describe the development of wearable biomedical monitoring equipment for spaceflight participants and of a medical and physiological database. In addition, the suthors also discuss topics such as the risk of electromagnetic interference and ionizing radiation to implanted medical devices in the article "The Human Challenges of Commercial Spaceflight: An Overview of Medical Research Conducted by the University of Texas Medical Branch Through the Federal Aviation Administration Center of Excellence."
"One of the most important areas of New Space research is to determine whether there are biomedical conditions that would disqualify ordinary citizens from a short ride to the edge of space. This first rigorous, peer-reviewed work on a broad range of volunteers indicates most people can take that brief trip," concludes Editor-in-Chief of New Space Prof. Scott Hubbard, Stanford University, in the Editorial "Space Biomedicine—Who Can Travel to the Final Frontier?"