Revisiting the Needs for Artificial Gravity during Deep Space Missions

REACH – Reviews in Human Space Exploration, 1, 2016, Pages 1-10, Gilles R. Clément

Summary of the paper

Mission designers are presently reviewing the technologies and habitats necessary to maintain optimal health, safety, and performance of the crewmembers for missions to destinations beyond the Earth–Moon system. Altered gravity during these missions impacts most of the physiological systems, as shown by orthostatic intolerance, muscle atrophy, sensorimotor performance impairment, bone demineralization, immune deficiency, back pain, and renal stone formation. New health concerns during space flight have now emerged, such as the Vision Impairment and Intracranial Pressure ("VIIP") syndrome, which appears to be caused by prolonged fluid shifts towards the head that persist in the presence of currently available countermeasures. The use of artificial gravity as countermeasure to physiological deconditioning during long duration space missions therefore needed to be revisited to consider what role, if any, artificial gravity should play in these missions. This review article describes the engineering aspects of human spacecraft providing artificial gravity, what is known of the effects of artificial gravity on humans, and the research needed to answer the questions raised by mission designers.

Gilles R. Clément