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Surprising Science

Is Every Space Tourist Fit To Travel?

More should be done towards creating a resource file to help medical professionals evaluate whether the average person can handle space travel, say the authors of a new paper.

What’s the Latest Development?

A recently-published British Medical Journal paper suggests that efforts should be made towards creating a resource that will help doctors and others evaluate whether the average citizen can physically and mentally handle a trip into space. While the paper doesn’t recommend specific binding regulations, it does encourage further research along the lines of that performed by the Federal Aviation Administration earlier this year, which resulted in a 23-page document containing possible pre-flight measurement guidelines.

What’s the Big Idea?

Space tourism is expected to grow significantly in the coming years, yet currently there is no protocol for determining whether individuals who aren’t astronauts, military personnel, or scientists are healthy enough to travel. Plenty of data exists about the effects of space flight on the human body, thanks to the relatively small number of people who have gone into space, but the average medical professional doesn’t have that information readily available for a private citizen looking for a checkup. Plus, simply applying the same stringent requirements used by the government may hobble industry growth, says lead author Marlene Grenon. She and her co-authors are affiliated with medical schools in the US and Canada as well as the Canadian Space Agency and Virgin Galactic.

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