Inspiration4 orbital civilian mission will include new health research with SpaceX and team

inspiration4 zero-g training

The upcoming Inspiration4 mission to space won’t just make history as the “world’s first all-civilian human spaceflight mission to orbit” as it’s frequently described. The four crew members aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft will participate in a new health research study during the three-day journey in space.

The crew of Inspiration4 will work with SpaceX, the Translational Research Institute for Space Health (TRISH) at Baylor College of Medicine, and investigators at Weill Cornell Medicine to conduct health research during the mission.

The study will include environmental and biomedical data and biological samples from the Inspiration4 crew members leading up to the mission, while in orbit, and after returning to Earth.

Here’s what to expect from the Inspiration4 research study:

SpaceX, TRISH, and investigators at Weill Cornell Medicine aim to continue broadening access to space medicine research by making all biomedical data collected for the Inspiration4 mission accessible through an open data repository funded and overseen by TRISH that can be easily accessed for research purposes. Empowered by NASA’s Human Research Program, TRISH is a virtual institute that finds and funds disruptive science and medical technology in order to reduce health and performance risks in space explorers.

What to expect

And here’s a detailed description of what will happen:

  • Collect research-grade ECG activity, movement, sleep, heart rate and rhythm, blood oxygen saturation, cabin noise and light intensity.
  • Perform a series of tests in the Cognition app designed to assess changes in behavioral and cognitive performance. This is the same app that is currently used by astronauts in NASA-funded research studies.
  • Scan organ systems via a Butterfly IQ+ Ultrasound device, which is designed with artificial intelligence guidance for non-medical experts. Data collected will determine if non-medical experts can self-acquire clinical grade images without guidance from ground support and will provide a timeline of biological changes before and during spaceflight. This device is also currently being tested by astronauts on the International Space Station.
  • Collect and test drops of blood during spaceflight for markers of immune function and inflammation using a state-of-the-art miniaturized device called the Vertical Flow Immunoassay (VFI). 
  • Use balance and perception tests pre-flight and immediately post-flight to measure sensorimotor adaptation during changes of gravity. These tests are currently performed by astronauts upon return from spaceflight.
  • Archive, fully analyze, and share resulting biomedical samples and data in collaboration with investigators at Weill Cornell Medicine and research data in an open format database to enable greater collaborative research.

The effort is a collaborative one that has roots in NASA work and closely involves SpaceX’s medical team. Inspiration4 is currently targeting September 15 for liftoff from Launch Complex 39A at Kenny Space Center.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will send the Crew Dragon capsule to orbit for the three-day mission. Stay tuned to Space Explored for the latest Inspiration4 coverage!

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