Worker health and wellness

Study reviews health risks of spaceflight

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Washington – The Institute of Medicine has released its second of five reports conducted in an effort to help NASA reduce health risks among astronauts on long-duration and exploration spaceflights.

IOM’s latest review analyzes seven evidence reports that focus on behavioral health and performance, bone metabolism, orthopedics, nutrition and other health issues related to long-term space missions. The review is part of the “Human Research Program” for NASA, which is measuring progress on risk reduction for four potential projects including a 12-month mission on the International Space Station, a lunar outpost mission, a deep space mission and a planetary mission.

IOM authors said several of the evidence reports relied too heavily on NASA staff and contractors and could benefit from including a wider array of scientific experts.

“Because the space industry is changing so rapidly with increased private-sector commercialization, it will be important for future iterations of the evidence reports to consider the implications of these changes in identifying and addressing spaceflight risks,” the authors wrote in their review. “Further, as noted throughout the report, the evidence reports need to be more explicit in considering the risk implications for long duration spaceflights with more tenuous and delayed connections to ground crew.”