Considerations For the Future of Space Health Data

Dylan Taylor
5 min readFeb 23, 2024

Despite considerable advancements in space exploration and technology, astronaut health remains a crucial and ever-changing variable in the equally dynamic space industry. Namely, high-level health data analysis sits at the center of emergent space research and protocol, allowing industry professionals to create a safer, more seamless experience for those venturing beyond Earth’s confines and driving the sector forward. Along the way, we have gained valuable insight into the mitigation of space-related afflictions and responses, sensorimotor adaptations, and other key factors illustrating space’s impact on the human body.

Now, thanks to ongoing technological and methodological breakthroughs, such findings stand to propel space health infrastructure to new heights.

Fundamentally, perhaps the most significant change on this front is the expansion of space-related private sector access. This shift has underscored the urgency of dependable, diverse biomedical data for astronauts, which allows for a more nuanced view of space health intricacies and a stronger emphasis on human well-being. Entities like Baylor’s Translational Research Institute for Space Health (TRISH) have worked to broaden these initiatives, leveraging data from commercial, private-sector astronauts to better inform space health research.

With such efforts as a backdrop, focus divides into a variety of rising tech-driven solutions — all of which yield helpful data for further innovation. For instance, advanced biomedical devices are revolutionizing on-site medical care for those in orbit — particularly those related to wound care, space-based surgery, and chemical analysis. Technologies like the University of Louisville’s Surgical Fluid Management System (SFMS) help control bleeding and facilitate safer surgical procedures in microgravity environments, utilizing a multifunctional device consolidating suction, irrigation, illumination, vision, and cautery tasks.

Prevailing molecular research holds similar potential for our understanding of astronauts at a deeper physiological level. A 2023 study, for instance, observed various molecular measurements to gauge astronaut health during spaceflight, revealing several adverse changes spurred by microgravity adaptation; these included bone resorption, kidney function, and immune system dysregulation — all of which presented subsequent health risks like osteoporosis, renal illness, and viral reactivation. In turn, researchers pinpointed preventative countermeasures such as enhanced food provisions, nutritional supplementation, and increased provision of immune disorder medications.

Data collection also expands to astronaut mental health, with deep space missions posing a high risk for emotional hardship due to their isolated, often harrowing nature. NASA has already confirmed that future deep space missions will require teams to “live and work in a confined environment the size of a studio apartment for up to two and a half years” — a considerable test of astronauts’ mental fortitude. To address this challenge, NASA notes the importance of behavioral health data, which stands to inform preemptive training and the development of resources — some AI-driven — capable of augmenting and maintaining astronaut mental well-being.

One 2023 study notes that, broadly speaking, aerospace health insights may even benefit health operations on Earth. Specifically, this study discusses how the space industry exemplifies wearable, noninvasive means of monitoring human diagnostics and early medical intervention. The study concludes: “Disruptive medical technologies, like those required to support extraplanetary human existence, have ​​an extensive array of potential applications across all terrestrial care delivery settings, for both patients and practitioners. Rapid and efficient clinical validation of these technologies and their integration into standard clinical workflow must be a priority and requires the involvement of clinicians to spearhead the charge.”

These findings and suggestions hold promising potential for the space industry’s ongoing expansion and innovation. By prioritizing the health and well-being of astronauts, the sector can become fully prepared to safely push exploratory boundaries both at home and beyond, bolstering an already vast and possibly life-changing body of research.

Newsweek is committed to challenging conventional wisdom and finding connections in the search for common ground.

Originally published at https://www.newsweek.com on February 23, 2024.

Dylan Taylor at the Financial Times Conference in London

Dylan Taylor is a global business leader, commercial astronaut, thought leader and philanthropist. Currently, Mr. Taylor serves as Chairman & CEO of Voyager Space, a multi-national space exploration company focused on building the next generation of space infrastructure for NASA, global space agencies, and commercial users. As an early-stage investor in more than 50 emerging space ventures, Dylan is widely considered the most active private space investor in the world.

Dylan is a leading advocate of space manufacturing and the utilization of in-space resources to further space exploration. In 2017, he became the first private citizen to manufacture an item in space when the gravity meter he co-designed and commissioned was 3D printed on the International Space Station.

Dylan maintains an extensive philanthropic impact on the space industry. In 2017, Dylan founded the nonprofit and social movement, Space for Humanity, which seeks to democratize space exploration and develop solutions to global issues through the scope of human awareness to help solve the world’s most intractable problems.

Building upon his passion and support for the space industry, Dylan serves as a strategic advisor for both the Archmission and the Human Spaceflight Program and is a co-founding patron of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation, which promotes the growth of commercial space activity. Additionally, he is also a leading benefactor to the Brooke Owens Fellowship, Patti Grace Smith Fellowship and Mission: Astro Access.

Dylan is a full member of the World Economic Forum and a Henry Crown Fellow of the Aspen Institute. In 2020, Dylan was recognized by the Commercial Spaceflight Federation with their top honor for business and finance, following in the footsteps of 2019’s inaugural winner, the late Paul Allen and subsequent winners Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk.
Dylan earned an MBA in Finance and Strategy from the Booth School of Business at University of Chicago and holds a BS in Engineering from the honors college at the University of Arizona, where he graduated Tau Beta Pi and in 2018 was named Alumnus of the year. He is also a graduate of the Global Leadership and Public Policy for the 21st Century program at Harvard University.

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Dylan Taylor

Dylan Taylor is a global business leader and philanthropist. He is an active pioneer in the space exploration industry