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A Year on the International Space Station: Implementing a Long-Duration Biomedical Research Mission

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INTRODUCTION: The year-long mission of American astronaut Scott Kelly and Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko included the most complex biomedical experiments ever conducted on the International Space Station—and arguably in human spaceflight—to establish insight into human health risks of interplanetary exploration. Focusing on risk mitigation, NASA conducted investigations that addressed spaceflight health hazards to varying degrees. This pilot mission was initiated to gain further knowledge and monitor the physiological, psychological, and medical effects of long-duration exposure to spaceflight.

METHODS: NASA’s Human Research Program and the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Biomedical Problems identified more than 20 biomedical risk-reduction research investigations to be conducted on the two crewmembers before, during, and after their yearlong expedition. A database of results, as well as observations on programmatic resources, was collected to understand essential elements for future spaceflight health studies.

RESULTS: Statistical rigor requires additional testing at a length of 1 yr to demonstrate the presence or absence of unacceptable deleterious effects, and to permit extrapolation to longer durations in space. Review of experimental procedures from this mission suggests potential efficiencies for future investigations.

DISCUSSION: The Kelly-Kornienko 1-yr mission demonstrated the importance of continuing joint investigations with the adoption of standard measures for rigorous comparisons across disparate populations. It identified improvements to collaborative processes across national and international scientific research programs. Additional studies will inform the development of an integrated applied research methodology for the space station and future interplanetary expeditions.

Charles JB, Pietrzyk RA. A year on the International Space Station: implementing a long-duration biomedical research mission. Aerosp Med Hum Perform. 2019; 90(1):4–11.
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Keywords: 1YM; Kelly; Kornienko; NASA Human Research Program (HRP); one-year mission

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2019

More about this publication?
  • This journal (formerly Aviation, Space, and Environmental Medicine), representing the members of the Aerospace Medical Association, is published monthly for those interested in aerospace medicine and human performance. It is devoted to serving and supporting all who explore, travel, work, or live in hazardous environments ranging from beneath the sea to the outermost reaches of space. The original scientific articles in this journal provide the latest available information on investigations into such areas as changes in ambient pressure, motion sickness, increased or decreased gravitational forces, thermal stresses, vision, fatigue, circadian rhythms, psychological stress, artificial environments, predictors of success, health maintenance, human factors engineering, clinical care, and others. This journal also publishes notes on scientific news and technical items of interest to the general reader, and provides teaching material and reviews for health care professionals.

    To access volumes 74 through 85, please click here.
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