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IS SPACE TRAVEL SAFE?

On this day, 57 years ago, astronaut John Glenn became the first American to orbit Earth, officially entering the U.S. in the space race.

Today, as NASA plans travel to the moon & beyond, we’re learning more about what happens to our bodies when we are
“out of this world.”

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First Of Its Kind Study

Identical twins & now-retired NASA astronauts Mark & Scott Kelly (54) have virtually the same genes.

Scott Kelly spent 340 days in space, the longest period by any American.

By comparing their biology, NASA studied the impact of long-duration space travel on the body; some results released this past Friday.

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What We Learned

  • Space put Scott’s immune system on “high alert”, with genes becoming “hyperactive” – even after 6 mos back on Earth.
  • Scientists say those changes, while a surprise, may or may not be significant.
  • Overall, NASA says the results are good news with “no major new warnings signs” about health effects of long-term space travel.

 

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Why It Matters

  • NASA, on orders from Pres. Trump, has manned missions planned to the moon “as fast as possible” & to Mars by the 2030s.
  • Health effects of these longer-term missions are unknown.
  • New findings help show: long periods in space impact the body, but so far there’s no reason humans couldn’t survive the 2 1/2 year roundtrip to Mars.
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A manned mission to Mars does come with one major health concern: radiation. The levels, which are "a little bit over" NASA's safety standards, would be difficult to avoid on the way to/from the Red Planet. Despite that, retired astronaut Scott Kelly says he'd still like to go.

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