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Free Content Tolerance of Centrifuge-Simulated Suborbital Spaceflight by Medical Condition

Blue RS, Pattarini JM, Reyes DP, Mulcahy RA, Garbino A, Mathers CH, Vardiman JL, Castleberry TL, Vanderploeg JM. Tolerance of centrifuge-simulated suborbital spaceflight by medical condition. Aviat Space Environ Med 2014; 85:721–9.

Introduction: We examined responses of volunteers with known medical disease to G forces in a centrifuge to evaluate how potential commercial spaceflight participants (SFPs) might tolerate the forces of spaceflight despite significant medical history. Methods: Volunteers were recruited based upon suitability for each of five disease categories (hypertension, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, lung disease, back or neck problems) or a control group. Subjects underwent seven centrifuge runs over 2 d. Day 1 consisted of two +Gz runs (peak = +3.5 Gz, Run 2) and two +Gx runs (peak = +6.0 Gx, Run 4). Day 2 consisted of three runs approximating suborbital spaceflight profiles (combined +Gx and +Gz, peak = +6.0 Gx/+4.0 Gz). Data collected included blood pressure, electrocardiogram, pulse oximetry, neurovestibular exams, and post-run questionnaires regarding motion sickness, disorientation, grayout, and other symptoms. Results: A total of 335 subjects registered for participation, of which 86 (63 men, 23 women, age 20-78 yr) participated in centrifuge trials. The most common causes for disqualification were weight and severe and uncontrolled medical or psychiatric disease. Five subjects voluntarily withdrew from the second day of testing: three for anxiety reasons, one for back strain, and one for time constraints. Maximum hemodynamic values recorded included HR of 192 bpm, systolic BP of 217 mmHg, and diastolic BP of 144 mmHg. Common subjective complaints included grayout (69%), nausea (20%), and chest discomfort (6%). Despite their medical history, no subject experienced significant adverse physiological responses to centrifuge profiles. Discussion: These results suggest that most individuals with well-controlled medical conditions can withstand acceleration forces of launch and re-entry profiles of current commercial spaceflight vehicles.

Keywords: G force; commercial spaceflight; hemodynamic; hypergravity; neurovestibular imbalance; suborbital

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, TX, USA

Publication date: July 1, 2014

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