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NASA News: Space Tourism Faces New Challenges

First Posted: May 03, 2016 04:10 AM EDT
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The revolutionary push for space tourism now confronts new challenges, most especially for those who are responsible for keeping people secure once they break free of Earth's gravity.

According to an article on Scientific American, at least 680 reservations had already been booked by Virgin Galactic for a two-and-a-half-hour-long trip with about four minutes spent in what is technically space, which is more than a hundred kilometers above Earth's surface.  However, the industry faces many questions that go beyond the clear perils of hurtling into space at nearly three-and-a-half times the speed of sound.

As more tourists start crossing a border formerly reserved for professionals with extensive training, some of the major problems researchers will have to deal with are nausea and radiation exposure.

In recognition of more than a decade in the field, academic Professor Peter Leggat of James Cook University was lately chosen to the prestigious International Academy of Aviation and Space Medicine. At that time, the academy has only 250 full members.

Professor Leggat said in a statement that both researchers and public health physicians need to keep pace with the flourishing burgeoning space tourism market. "I mean obviously there's been a lot of tickets already sold for Virgin Galactic and things like that but I think the average health professional probably hasn't given much thought to what that means," he said as cited in an article on Brisbane Times.

He further added that the academy has indeed come a long way just in the aviation medicine area. He believes that looking at the health and wellbeing of people who will be travelling by aircraft will definitely need more education and understanding.

"Some people obviously have difficulty travelling on planes, particularly those that might have some respiratory or other conditions but when you're going to space it's a totally different ball game," Professor Leggat said.

Leggat and other researchers confronted quite a few key challenges in preparing average consumers for space flight. "Even your average astronaut that goes into space has problems like vomiting, people get a bit of motion sickness, a bit like going on a boat or something like that," he said.

In 2017 at a ceremony in Rome, the 25-year public health expert, who has been working in aerospace for more than ten years, will now become an academician of the AASM.

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