NASA's advanced life support technologies are being combined with Arctic science and engineering knowledge in the Advanced Life Systems for Extreme Environments (ALSEE) project. This project addresses treatment and reduction of waste, purification and recycling of water, and production of food in remote communities of Alaska. The project focus is a major issue in the state of Alaska and other areas of the Circumpolar North; the health and welfare of people, their lives and the subsistence lifestyle in remote communities, care for the environment, and economic opportunity through technology transfer. The challenge is to implement the technologies in a manner compatible with the social and economic structures of native communities, the state, and the commercial sector. NASA goals are technology selection, system design and methods development of regenerative life support systems for planetary and Lunar bases and other space exploration missions. The ALSEE project will provide similar advanced technologies to address the multiple problems facing the remote communities of Alaska and provide an extreme environment testbed for future space applications. These technologies have never been assembled for this purpose. They offer an integrated approach to solving pressing problems in remote communities.
Fungal spores can be transported globally in clouds of desert dust. Many species of fungi (commonly known as molds) and bacteria--including some that are human pathogens--have characteristics suited to long-range atmospheric transport. Dust from the African desert can affect air quality in Africa, Europe, the Middle East, and the Americas. Asian desert dust can affect air quality in Asia, the Arctic, North America, and Europe. Atmospheric exposure to mold-carrying desert dust may affect human health directly through allergic induction of respiratory stress. In addition, mold spores within these dust clouds may seed downwind ecosystems in both outdoor and indoor environments.
Exploration Class missions to Mars will require precautions against potential contamination by any native microorganisms that may be incidentally pathogenic to humans. While the results of NASA's Viking biology experiments of the 1970s have been generally interpreted as inconclusive for surface organisms, and attributed to active but nonbiological chemistries, the possibility of native surface life has never been ruled out completely. It is possible that, prior to the first human landing on Mars, robotic craft and sample return missions will provide enough data to know with certainty whether future human landing sites harbor extant life forms. If native life were found to exist, it would be problematic to determine whether any of its species might present a medical danger to astronauts. Therefore, it will become necessary to assess empirically the risk that the planet contains pathogens based on terrestrial examples of pathogenicity and to take a reasonably cautious approach to biohazard protection. A survey of terrestrial pathogens was conducted with special emphasis on those whose evolution has not depended on the presence of animal hosts. The history of the development and implementation of Apollo anti-contamination protocol and recommendations of the National Research Council's Space Studies Board regarding Mars were reviewed. Organisms can emerge in Nature in the absence of indigenous animal hosts and both infectious and non-infectious human pathogens are therefore theoretically possible on Mars. Although remote, the prospect of Martian surface life, together with the existence of a diversity of routes by which pathogenicity has emerged on Earth, suggests that the probability of human pathogens on Mars, while low, is not zero. Still, since the discovery and study of Martian life can have long-term benefits for humanity, the risk that Martian life might include pathogens should not be an obstacle to human exploration. As a precaution, it is recommended that EVA (extravehicular activity) suits be decontaminated when astronauts enter surface habitats upon returning from field activity and that biosafety protocols approximating laboratory BSL 2 be developed for astronauts working in laboratories on the Martian surface. Quarantine of astronauts and Martian materials arriving on Earth should also be part of a human mission to Mars, and this and the surface biosafety program should be integral to human expeditions from the earliest stages of the mission planning.
The top priority in America's manned space flight program is the assurance of crew and vehicle safety. This priority gained greater focus during and after the Space Shuttle return-to-flight mission (STS-26). One of the interesting challenges has been to assure crew safety and adequate protection of the Space Shuttle, as a national resource, from increasingly diverse cargoes and operations. The control of hazards associated with the deployment of complex payloads and cargoes has involved many international participants. These challenges are examined in some detail along with examples of how crew safety has evolved in the manned space program and how the international partners have addressed various scenarios involving control and mitigation of potential hazards to crew and vehicle safety.
The U.S.-based health care system of the International Space Station (ISS) provides the resources to care for an in-flight medical contingency. The current system was designed for use in conjunction with a return vehicle possessing medical capabilities that would allow rapid and safe transport of an ill or injured crew member to a terrestrial medical facility. Because plans for such a vehicle have been indefinitely delayed, a mismatch has been created between the limited onboard medical capabilities and the current mission profile. This has driven the medical concept of operations to one in which as many medical conditions as possible must be treated on orbit, with return to Earth delayed or avoided. This article describes this proposed new plan, the implementation of which will require numerous changes to the medical system, including modifications to training practices, treatment guidelines, diagnostic and therapeutic resources, and informatics.
The American and Russian/Soviet space programs independently uncovered psychosocial risks inherent in long-duration space missions. Now that these two countries are working together on the International Space Station (ISS), American-Russian cultural differences pose an additional set of risk factors. These may echo cultural differences that have been observed in the general population of the two countries and in space analogue settings, but little is known about how relevant these are to the select population of space program personnel. The evidence for the existence of mission-relevant cultural differences is reviewed and includes cultural values, emotional expressivity, personal space norms, and personality characteristics. The review is focused primarily on Russia and the United States, but also includes other ISS partner countries. Cultural differences among space program personnel may have a wide range of effects. Moreover, culture-related strains may increase the probability of distress and impairment. Such factors could affect the individual and interpersonal functioning of both crewmembers and mission control personnel, whose performance is also critical for mission safety and success. Examples from the anecdotal and empirical literature are given to illustrate these points. The use of existing assessment strategies runs the risk of overlooking important early warning signs of behavioral health difficulties. By paying more attention to cultural differences and how they might be manifested, we are more likely to detect problems early while they are still mild and resolvable.
As the Russian Space Agency and the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration began in the mid-1990s to plan a preliminary cooperative flight program in anticipation of the International Space Station, programmatic and philosophical differences became apparent in the technical and medical approaches of the two agencies. This paper briefly describes some of these differences and the process by which the two sides resolved differences in their approaches to the medical selection and certification of NASA-Mir crewmembers. These negotiations formed the basis for developing policies on other aspects of the medical support function for international missions, including crew training, preflight and postflight data collection, and rehabilitation protocols. The experience gained through this cooperative effort has been invaluable for developing medical care capabilities for the International Space Station.
The European Agency (ESA) and the Russian Space Agency (RKA) are jointly developing a new space suit system for improved extravehicular activity (EVA) capabilities in support of the MIR Space Station Programme, the EVA Suit 2000. Recent national policy agreements between the U.S. and Russia on planned cooperations in manned space also include joint extravehicular activity (EVA). With an increased number of space suit systems and a higher operational frequency towards the end of this century an improved interoperability for both routine and emergency operations is of eminent importance. It is thus timely to report the current status of ongoing work on international EVA interoperability being conducted by the Committee on EVA Protocols and Operations of the International Academy of Astronauts initiated in 1991. This paper summarises the current EVA interoperability issues to be harmonised and presents quantified vehicle interface requirements for the current U.S. Shuttle EMU and Russian MIR Orlan DMA and the new European/Russian EVA Suit 2000 extravehicular systems. Major critical/incompatible interfaces for suits/mother-craft of different combinations are discussed, and recommendations for standardisations given.