Dokter, mag ik de ruimte in?

Vliegmedische overwegingen bij de commerciële ruimtevaart
Stand van zaken
Marck H.T.M. Haerkens, Ries Simons en André Kuipers

Doctor, may I travel in space? Aeromedical considerations regarding commercial suborbital space flights

Conflict of interest: none declared. Financial support: none declared.

  • Within a few years, the first commercial operators will start flying passengers on suborbital flights to the verge of space.

  • Medical data on the effects of space journeys on humans have mainly been provided by professional astronauts. There is very little research into the aeromedical consequences of suborbital flights for the health of untrained passengers.

  • Low air pressure and oxygen tension can be compensated for by pressurising the spacecraft or pressure suit.

  • Rapid changes in gravitational (G-)force pose ultimate challenges to cardiovascular adaptation mechanisms. Zero-gravity and G-force may cause motion sickness.

  • Vibrations and noise during the flight may disturb communication between passengers and crew. In addition, the psychological impact of a suborbital flight should not be underestimated.

  • There are currently no legal requirements available for medical examinations for commercial suborbital flights, but it seems justifiable to establish conditions for potential passengers’ states of health.