Space Travel Changes Tourists' Bodies
FILE - Jared Isaacman, left, and Hayley Arceneaux prepare to head to launchpad 39A for a launch on a SpaceX Falcon 9 at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., Wednesday Sept. 15, 2021. New research presents the largest set of information yet regarding how the human body reacts to spaceflight. (AP Photo/John Raoux, File)

Space Travel Changes Tourists' Bodies

June 11th, 2024

People who go to space for a short time see changes in their bodies. Scientists found this out by looking at four people who flew in a space rocket. These people were not astronauts who train for many years. They were like tourists in space. On their trip, the space tourists took some of their blood, spit, and skin for the scientists to look at. When the tourists came back to Earth, the scientists checked these things. They wanted to know how space travel changed their bodies. The scientists saw changes, but most things went back to normal after the space tourists came home. The scientists say that going to space for a little time is not too bad for your health. The scientists hope to learn how to help people feel better when they travel in space. This is important because more people might go to space in the future.
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💭 Discussion Questions

. What did the people who went to space do with their blood, spit, and skin?
. Did the space tourists train for many years like astronauts?
. What do scientists want to learn about space travel?

📖 Vocabulary

🌐 Cultural context

This article is from a country with advanced space travel technology where civilians (non-professional astronauts) can go to space, like the United States. Science and space exploration are significant interests there.

🧠 Further reading

Space tourism
People go to space for fun now. You can go around Earth, go high but not around, or go to the moon. People like to see Earth from space, feel like they are not heavy, move very fast, and do different things. They also help with science. The first person who went to space for fun was Dennis Tito. He is from America. He went in April 2001. From 2001 to 2009, seven people went to space to have fun. They used a Russian space ship. Anousheh Ansari was the first woman to do this. She went in September 2006. It cost a lot of money to go. People who go to space have to be strong and healthy. They have to learn how to handle big forces and float without weight. They learn by flying in a special plane and practicing on machines. Russia stopped letting people go to space for fun in 2010 because there were more workers going to space. They started letting people go again in 2021. NASA, a space group from America, said in 2019 that they will let people go to space for fun starting in 2020.

Effect of spaceflight on the human body
When we go to space, our bodies have many problems because there is no gravity like on Earth. Our muscles can get weak, and our bones can get soft. Our hearts can work slower, and we might make fewer blood cells. We can have trouble with balance, our eyes, and not feeling well. In space, people can look puffy, lose weight, have stuffy noses, not sleep well, and have more gas. NASA has a special name, RIDGE, for these space problems. People have been trying to learn how to go to space and stay there for a long time. They want to know how people can live and work in space for many days. This is hard to do, and it costs a lot of money. NASA wants to keep people healthy in space. They looked at two brothers. One brother stayed in space for one year, and the other brother stayed on Earth. They found out that the brother in space had some changes in his body even after he came back to Earth.

Translational Research Institute for Space Health
There is a special group that helps keep astronauts healthy in space. It is called TRISH. TRISH works with doctors and scientists to find ways to help people stay safe when they go very far in space, like to the Moon or to Mars. TRISH is like a team. Doctors from Baylor College of Medicine lead the team. They work with experts from two other big schools. They all try to solve health problems that astronauts might have in space. They also look at how space travel can change people's bodies. The group started in 2016. It took the place of an older space health team. TRISH got a lot of money to do their work. NASA, the space company, likes what TRISH does. So, they gave them more money to keep going until 2028. NASA has a program that looks at how space affects people's health. TRISH helps with this program too. They want astronauts to be able to go far into space and be okay. They also want to learn new things that can help people on Earth. The group has already helped NASA a lot. They found new ways to keep astronauts safe, and they got many new scientists to help with their space health projects.