Estimating medical risk in human spaceflight.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

NASA and commercial spaceflight companies will soon be retuning humans to the Moon and then eventually sending them on to Mars. These distant planetary destinations will pose new risks-in particular for the health of the astronaut crews. The bulk of the evidence characterizing human health and performance in spaceflight has come from missions in Low Earth Orbit. As missions last longer and travel farther from Earth, medical risk is expected to contribute an increasing proportion of total mission risk. To date, there have been no reliable estimates of how much. The Integrated Medical Model (IMM) is a Probabilistic Risk Assessment (PRA) Monte-Carlo simulation tool developed by NASA for medical risk assessment. This paper uses the IMM to provide an evidence-based, quantified medical risk estimate comparison across different spaceflight mission durations. We discuss model limitations and unimplemented capabilities providing insight into the complexity of medical risk estimation for human spaceflight. The results enable prioritization of medical needs in the context of other mission risks. These findings provide a reasonable bounding estimate for medical risk in missions to the Moon and Mars and hold value for risk managers and mission planners in performing cost-benefit trades for mission capability and research investments.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Antonsen, EL; Myers, JG; Boley, L; Arellano, J; Kerstman, E; Kadwa, B; Buckland, DM; Van Baalen, M

Published Date

  • March 31, 2022

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 8 / 1

Start / End Page

  • 8 -

PubMed ID

  • 35361776

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC8971481

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 2373-8065

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1038/s41526-022-00193-9


  • eng

Conference Location

  • United States