One Downside to Space Travel: Back Pain | Health News


By Robert Preidt, HealthDay Reporter

(HealthDay)

MONDAY, Oct 25, 2021 (HealthDay News) — You can ride a rocket into space to escape Earth, but one thing you might not escape is back pain.

Back pain could turn out to be a major problem for the growing number of space travelers, and learning more about it could also benefit Earth-bound back patients, researchers say.

“Insight into back pain in space travelers may provide usable information to treat back pain in other populations,” said study co-author Dr. Steven Cohen, a professor of anesthesiology and critical care medicine at Johns Hopkins and a retired Army colonel.

One study, which analyzed 722 space flights, found that 52% of astronauts had some form of back pain in the first two to five days of space travel. While 86% of those cases were mild, the pain was sufficient to interfere with the ability to complete tasks.

Another study of military helicopter pilots and crew found that nearly half of those who experienced fluctuating gravitational forces reported low back pain. And the pilots were nearly three times more likely to develop an injury to the soft connective cushioning in their lower spine (lumbar disc herniation) than the general population.

Meanwhile, a 2010 study from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration found that astronauts have four times the odds for disc herniation. And the risk is even higher in the first year after they return to Earth.

The S-shaped bend in the human spine enables it to resist gravity, remain flexible and absorb weight and impact, explained lead author Dr. Radostin Penchev, a resident physician at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore.

“If reduced gravity allows this curvature to straighten, this not only could be a cause of acute pain in astronauts, but also could affect the stability of their spine when they return to Earth,” he added in a Hopkins news release.

His team also examined past studies on preventing, diagnosing and treating back pain in astronauts.

Further study of these methods — including specific exercises and the use of specialized suits — could provide clues for treating back pain in the estimated 80% of people who experience back pain in their lifetime, according to authors of the study published recently in the journal Anesthesiology.

Resistance exercise such as isometrics, squats, lunges and bench pressing have been central to back pain prevention among astronauts, and space stations are equipped with exercise machines and other resistance training tools.

Along with resistance exercise, other methods used to prevent back pain in astronauts include massage, nutritional supplementation to increase vitamin D and caloric intake, neuromuscular electrical stimulation, and negative pressure devices.

Penchev noted that science fiction “has popularized the spinning space station that uses centrifugal force to mimic gravity,” but said specialized suits that provide spinal resistance similar to that experienced under Earth’s gravity may be more realistic and effective.

The U.S. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases has more on back pain.

SOURCE: Johns Hopkins Medicine, news release, Oct. 21, 2021

Copyright © 2021 HealthDay. All rights reserved.



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First space hotel for travelers to begin construction by 2026


Roman & Erica, a travel company for ultrawealthy clients, started working with Axiom Space in 2018 to find people interested in paying the gargantuan fare for space tourism. Before the pandemic, the travel company’s co-founder, Roman Chiporukha, said his clients laughed off the opportunity. But once 2020 showed them how unpredictable life can be, the offer didn’t seem so crazy anymore.



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NASA’s Lucy mission struggles with solar array issue after launching to space


By Ashley Strickland, CNN

The first NASA mission that will fly by eight ancient asteroids launched early Saturday morning, but not everything went according to plan once the Lucy spacecraft reached space.

After Lucy successfully separated from the rocket, it deployed both solar arrays. However, NASA only received confirmation that one of the solar arrays fully unfurled and latched. The second array partially opened and did not latch to the spacecraft.

The Lucy spacecraft is more than 46 feet (14 meters) from tip to tip, largely due to its giant solar panels — each about the width of a school bus. They are designed to keep up a power supply to the spacecraft’s instruments. But Lucy also has fuel to help it execute some skilled maneuvers on the way to the asteroids within the orbit of Jupiter.

“Lucy will be NASA’s first mission to travel this far away from the sun without nuclear power,” said Joan Salute, associate director for flight programs at NASA’s Planetary Science Division, during a press conference last week.”In order to generate enough energy, Lucy has two very large circular solar arrays that open up like Chinese fans. These open up autonomously and simultaneously.”

Currently, the team says the Lucy spacecraft is healthy.

“The team continues to look at all available engineering data to establish how far it is deployed,” according to an update from NASA. “That solar array is generating nearly the expected power when compared to the fully deployed wing. This power level is enough to keep the spacecraft healthy and functioning.”

Since the partial solar array deployment, Lucy has been in safe mode and only running essential functions, but it transitioned to cruise mode on Tuesday.

“This mode has increased autonomy and spacecraft configuration changes, which is necessary as Lucy moves away from Earth,” according to the agency. “The team continues its assessment and an attempt to fully deploy the solar array is planned no earlier than the end of next week.”

The team confirmed that Lucy was able to fire its thrusters to turn the spacecraft using the current configuration of the solar arrays. It will continue making small thruster firings to help manage the spacecraft’s momentum, which was already planned, according to NASA.

The solar array issue has led to a temporary postponement of deploying the instrument pointing platform on the spacecraft, but all other post-launch activities are going according to plan. This platform holds the mission’s scientific instruments, including color and black-and-white cameras, a thermometer, and an infrared imaging spectrometer.

The team will assess if there are any other long-term implications as they look at the other scheduled activities for Lucy. Currently, no adjustments to the spacecraft’s trajectory will be needed until December.

Lucy is on a 12-year mission to explore Jupiter’s Trojan asteroid swarms, which have never been observed. The Trojan asteroids, which borrow their name from Greek mythology, orbit the sun in two swarms — one that’s ahead of Jupiter, the largest planet in our solar system, and a second one that lags behind it.

So far, our only glimpses of the Trojans have been artist renderings or animations created from previous research about the asteroids. Lucy will provide the first high-resolution images of what these asteroids look like.

Lucy is the first spacecraft designed to visit and observe these asteroids, which are remnants from the early days of our solar system. The mission will help researchers effectively peer back in time to learn how the solar system formed 4.5 billion years ago. Lucy’s 12-year mission could also help scientists learn how our planets ended up in their current spots.

The spacecraft is set to fly by an asteroid in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, and then it will explore seven of the Trojans. Over the course of its mission, Lucy will end up swinging back to Earth’s orbit three separate times for gravity assists that can slingshot it on the right path. That will make Lucy the first spacecraft to travel to Jupiter and return to Earth.

The mission borrows its name from the Lucy fossil, the remains of an ancient human ancestor discovered in Ethiopia in 1974. The skeleton has helped researchers piece together aspects of human evolution, and the NASA Lucy team members hope their mission will achieve a similar feat regarding the history of our solar system.

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NASA’s Lucy mission struggles with solar array issue after launching to space


After Lucy successfully separated from the rocket, it deployed both solar arrays. However, NASA only received confirmation that one of the solar arrays fully unfurled and latched. The second array partially opened and did not latch to the spacecraft.

The Lucy spacecraft is more than 46 feet (14 meters) from tip to tip, largely due to its giant solar panels — each about the width of a school bus. They are designed to keep up a power supply to the spacecraft’s instruments. But Lucy also has fuel to help it execute some skilled maneuvers on the way to the asteroids within the orbit of Jupiter.

“Lucy will be NASA’s first mission to travel this far away from the sun without nuclear power,” said Joan Salute, associate director for flight programs at NASA’s Planetary Science Division, during a press conference last week.”In order to generate enough energy, Lucy has two very large circular solar arrays that open up like Chinese fans. These open up autonomously and simultaneously.”

Currently, the team says the Lucy spacecraft is healthy.

“The team continues to look at all available engineering data to establish how far it is deployed,” according to an update from NASA. “That solar array is generating nearly the expected power when compared to the fully deployed wing. This power level is enough to keep the spacecraft healthy and functioning.”

Since the partial solar array deployment, Lucy has been in safe mode and only running essential functions, but it transitioned to cruise mode on Tuesday.

“This mode has increased autonomy and spacecraft configuration changes, which is necessary as Lucy moves away from Earth,” according to the agency. “The team continues its assessment and an attempt to fully deploy the solar array is planned no earlier than the end of next week.”

The team confirmed that Lucy was able to fire its thrusters to turn the spacecraft using the current configuration of the solar arrays. It will continue making small thruster firings to help manage the spacecraft’s momentum, which was already planned, according to NASA.

The solar array issue has led to a temporary postponement of deploying the instrument pointing platform on the spacecraft, but all other post-launch activities are going according to plan. This platform holds the mission’s scientific instruments, including color and black-and-white cameras, a thermometer, and an infrared imaging spectrometer.

NASA's Lucy mission carries Amanda Gorman poem, Beatles lyrics to space

The team will assess if there are any other long-term implications as they look at the other scheduled activities for Lucy. Currently, no adjustments to the spacecraft’s trajectory will be needed until December.

Lucy is on a 12-year mission to explore Jupiter’s Trojan asteroid swarms, which have never been observed. The Trojan asteroids, which borrow their name from Greek mythology, orbit the sun in two swarms — one that’s ahead of Jupiter, the largest planet in our solar system, and a second one that lags behind it.

So far, our only glimpses of the Trojans have been artist renderings or animations created from previous research about the asteroids. Lucy will provide the first high-resolution images of what these asteroids look like.

Lucy is the first spacecraft designed to visit and observe these asteroids, which are remnants from the early days of our solar system. The mission will help researchers effectively peer back in time to learn how the solar system formed 4.5 billion years ago. Lucy’s 12-year mission could also help scientists learn how our planets ended up in their current spots.

The spacecraft is set to fly by an asteroid in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, and then it will explore seven of the Trojans. Over the course of its mission, Lucy will end up swinging back to Earth’s orbit three separate times for gravity assists that can slingshot it on the right path. That will make Lucy the first spacecraft to travel to Jupiter and return to Earth.

The mission borrows its name from the Lucy fossil, the remains of an ancient human ancestor discovered in Ethiopia in 1974. The skeleton has helped researchers piece together aspects of human evolution, and the NASA Lucy team members hope their mission will achieve a similar feat regarding the history of our solar system.



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Nearly half of Americans want space travel but few would pay $100K for it: survey


Apparently, space travel is a popular desire among nearly half of American adults.

A new ValuePenguin survey conducted by Qualtrics interviewed 2,000 U.S. consumers on space tourism and found that 49% of Americans would like to space travel if money wasn’t an issue.

For most people though, the cost of commercial space travel is too high. Only one in five – 19% – of the survey’s respondents said they’d be willing to spend $100,000 or more to travel the galaxy.

Meanwhile, 21% of consumers said they’d be willing to take on debt to participate in the exclusive activity.

Twenty-three percent of the survey’s respondents said they’d choose a free space trip over being debt-free. Men and Gen Z (age 18 to 24) tied and led the charge with the highest number of respondents wanting space travel over debt wiping at 28%.

“I’m not surprised in the least that so many Americans want to travel to space. It’s been a fantasy for decades for millions of Americans, myself included,” LendingTree’s Chief Industry Analyst Matt Schulz told FOX Business, regarding the survey’s findings. “The truth, however, is that the crazy-high cost means that it will remain little more than a fantasy for all but the wealthiest Americans for years to come.”

He went on, “I am surprised that so many high-income Americans say they’d be willing to drop $100,000 or more on space travel. Perhaps I shouldn’t be, though. When it comes to spending, more and more people are prioritizing experiences over things, and traveling to space would just be the ultimate experience for those who can afford it.”

Three in five survey respondents said they think space travel should be accessible for everyone and roughly two in five (41%) said they think billionaires shouldn’t be spending as much money as they are on space travel.

In May, Jeff Bezos’ space company Blue Origin auctioned off seats on its suborbital rocket New Shepard, which received a winning bid that was as high as $2.6 million. 

Three months later, Richard Branson’s space company Virgin Galactic began selling rocket plane seats starting at $450,000 per person, according to Reuters.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has also made significant strides in pushing commercial space travel forward. In September, Musk joined three space tourists on a world-circling rocket, which didn’t have a professional astronaut onboard, the Associated Press reported at the time.

Musk reportedly spent millions of dollars to make the space mission happen, but the exact amount was undisclosed.

Going back to ValuePenguin’s survey, roughly one in four (24%) respondents believe space tourism isn’t ethical and could contribute to climate change.

Fifty-one percent of the survey’s respondents said they don’t want to travel in space. Of those who said no, 54% claimed they’re just not interested, 39% claimed they think space tourism is dangerous and 29% claimed that they’re scared of space travel.

Get updates on this story at FOXBusiness.com.



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Long Bouts of Space Travel May Harm Astronauts’ Brains | Health News


By Robert Preidt, HealthDay Reporter

(HealthDay)

MONDAY, Oct. 18, 2021 (HealthDay News) — Prolonged stays in space appear to damage astronauts’ brains, a small, new study suggests.

The researchers studied five Russian cosmonauts, mean age 49, who stayed on the International Space Station (ISS) for an average of 5.5 months.

Blood samples were taken from the cosmonauts 20 days before their departure to the ISS, and one day, one week, and about three weeks after they returned to Earth.

The blood samples were analyzed for five biomarkers of brain damage: neurofilament light (NFL), glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP), total tau (T-tau), and two amyloid beta proteins.

Levels of three of the biomarkers — NFL, GFAP and the amyloid beta protein Aβ40 — were significantly higher after the cosmonauts returned from the space station, according to the study published online recently in the journal JAMA Neurology.

“This is the first time that concrete proof of brain-cell damage has been documented in blood tests following space flights. This must be explored further and prevented if space travel is to become more common in the future,” said study co-senior author Henrik Zetterberg, a professor of neuroscience at the University of Gothenburg, in Sweden.

“To get there, we must help one another to find out why the damage arises. Is it being weightless, changes in brain fluid, or stressors associated with launch and landing, or is it caused by something else? Here, loads of exciting experimental studies on humans can be done on Earth,” he explained in a university news release.

The researchers also found brain changes when they conducted MRI scans of the cosmonauts’ brains after their return to Earth, and there were deviations in clinical tests of their brains.

However, the study was too small for a full investigation of the link between those findings and spending a long period of time in space.

The researchers are now discussing follow-up studies.

“If we can sort out what causes the damage, the biomarkers we’ve developed may help us find out how best to remedy the problem,” Zetterberg said.

Previous research has shown that an extended time in space can have harmful physical impacts, including muscle and bone loss, vision problems and changes in gut bacteria.

SOURCE: University of Gothenburg, news release, Oct. 12, 2021

Copyright © 2021 HealthDay. All rights reserved.



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Long Bouts of Space Travel May Harm Astronauts’ Brains – Consumer Health News


MONDAY, Oct. 18, 2021 (HealthDay News) — Prolonged stays in space appear to damage astronauts’ brains, a small, new study suggests.

The researchers studied five Russian cosmonauts, mean age 49, who stayed on the International Space Station (ISS) for an average of 5.5 months.

Blood samples were taken from the cosmonauts 20 days before their departure to the ISS, and one day, one week, and about three weeks after they returned to Earth.

The blood samples were analyzed for five biomarkers of brain damage: neurofilament light (NFL), glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP), total tau (T-tau), and two amyloid beta proteins.

Levels of three of the biomarkers — NFL, GFAP and the amyloid beta protein Aβ40 — were significantly higher after the cosmonauts returned from the space station, according to the study published online recently in the journal JAMA Neurology.

“This is the first time that concrete proof of brain-cell damage has been documented in blood tests following space flights. This must be explored further and prevented if space travel is to become more common in the future,” said study co-senior author Henrik Zetterberg, a professor of neuroscience at the University of Gothenburg, in Sweden.

“To get there, we must help one another to find out why the damage arises. Is it being weightless, changes in brain fluid, or stressors associated with launch and landing, or is it caused by something else? Here, loads of exciting experimental studies on humans can be done on Earth,” he explained in a university news release.

The researchers also found brain changes when they conducted MRI scans of the cosmonauts’ brains after their return to Earth, and there were deviations in clinical tests of their brains.

However, the study was too small for a full investigation of the link between those findings and spending a long period of time in space.

The researchers are now discussing follow-up studies.

“If we can sort out what causes the damage, the biomarkers we’ve developed may help us find out how best to remedy the problem,” Zetterberg said.

Previous research has shown that an extended time in space can have harmful physical impacts, including muscle and bone loss, vision problems and changes in gut bacteria.

More information

NASA has more about the human body in space.

SOURCE: University of Gothenburg, news release, Oct. 12, 2021



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UPDATE 1-Virgin Galactic to delay commercial space travel service


(Adds more comments, stock price)

By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON, Oct 14 (Reuters) – Space exploration company Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc said on Thursday it is delaying its commercial space travel service to the fourth quarter of 2022 and will not conduct another planned test flight this year.

Virgin Galactic said “commercial service is now expected to commence in Q4 2022.” Shares in the company fell 13% in afterhours trading.

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on Sept. 2 had barred Virgin Galactic from flying its SpaceShipTwo pending completion of a report into the flight of the Virgin Galactic rocket plane that carried British billionaire Richard Branson to the edge of space.

Branson was among six Virgin Galactic employees who took part in the July flight, soaring more than 50 miles (80 km) into space.

The FAA on Sept. 29 closed its mishap investigation into the July 11 Virgin Galactic Unity 22 launch, which deviated from assigned airspace on descent, and lifted a grounding order it had imposed earlier.

Virgin Galactic had said in September it was planning another SpaceShipTwo flight from New Mexico, Unity 23, pending technical checks and weather. The company said last month the earliest it expected “to open its flight window for Unity 23 is mid October.”

But Virgin Galactic on Thursday said it will now begin its planned enhancement program first and will conduct the Unity 23 test flight after this work is complete and before starting commercial service.

The enhancement program is designed to improve vehicle performance and flight-rate capability.

The company said on Thursday one recent laboratory-based test “flagged a possible reduction in the strength margins of certain materials used to modify specific joints.”

The company added the “new lab test data has had no impact on the vehicles, our test flight protocols have clearly defined strength margins, and further analysis will assess whether any additional work is required to keep them at or above established levels.” (Reporting by David Shepardson in Washington and Chavi Mehta in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel and Sandra Maler)



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Nearly 50% of Americans Want to Space Travel But Only 19% Would Shell Out $100,000 To Do So According to a ValuePenguin.com Survey


NEW YORK, Oct. 14, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — As space travel and space tourism continues to make headlines and more civilians vie for seats on the next launch, many Americans have strong feelings about going to space. 

According to a ValuePenguin survey of over 2,000 consumers, almost half want to go to space and some would even go into debt to do so; however, others think space tourism may not be ethical. 

Key findings:

  • 49% of Americans want to travel to space. Men are more interested in space travel than women (56% versus 44%), while interest in space tourism decreases with age (63% of Gen Zers versus 38% for baby boomers).
  • 28% of both men and Gen Zers would choose a free trip to space over being debt-free. Among all consumers, 23% opted for a trip to space rather than the ability to wipe out their debt.
  • Reality check: Of those consumers who want to travel to space, just 19% would shell out $100,000 or more to make it happen — and even that might not be enough. Seats on Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo are estimated to start at a whopping $250,000 per person.
  • 60% of Americans agree that space travel should be accessible for everyone, not just those who can afford the exorbitant costs. On a similar note, 41% don’t think billionaires should be spending so much money on space travel.
  • About 1 in 4 (24%) don’t think space tourism is ethical. For example, some scientists fear that frequent space travel could give way to climate change, harming the environment through a high rate of emissions-per-passenger, as well as soot released by the rockets.

View full report: https://www.valuepenguin.com/travel/americans-space-travel

About ValuePenguin.com: ValuePenguin.com, part of LendingTree (NASDAQ: TREE), is a personal finance website that conducts in-depth research and provides objective analysis to help guide consumers to the best financial decisions. ValuePenguin focuses on value, assessing whether the return of a particular decision is worth the cost or risk of that option, and how this stacks up with the other possible choices they may have. For more information, please visit www.valuepenguin.com, like our Facebook page, or follow us on Twitter @ValuePenguin.

Media Contact:
Nadia Gonzalez 
[email protected]

SOURCE ValuePenguin.com



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Captain Kirk’s William Shatner at the tip of the blast into space – Reading Eagle


By MARCIADUNN and RICK TABER

Banhorn, Texas (AP) — Hollywood captain Kirk, 90-year-old William Shatner, counted down to his wildest role on Wednesday. With the kindness of “Star Trek” fan Jeff Bezos, he put the rocket into space.

The actor joined the other three passengers for a morning launch from distant western Texas. Bezos’ space travel company, Blue Origin, has invited Shatner to travel to the final frontier, his mission to become the oldest person in space.

The journey is expected to last only 10 minutes, and the fully automated capsule reached an altitude of about 66 miles (106 km) before parachuting back to the desert floor.

Bezos was at a vast launch and landing site, driving the four to the pad and seeing them off.

“This is a pinch-me moment for all of us to see Captain James Tiberius Kirk go into space,” said Jackie Cortese, a launch commentator at Blue Origin, before takeoff. She said she, like many others, was attracted to the space business by shows like “Star Trek.”

This was Blue Origin’s second regular passenger flight, using the same capsules and rockets that Bezos used for his launch three months ago.

Virgin Galactic’s Richard Branson launched a US-based space travel boom in July, boarding his own rocket ship into space. Bezos followed him in his capsule nine days later. Elon Musk was behind when his SpaceX company launched its first sightseeing flight last month.

And last week, the Russians sent actors and film directors to the International Space Station to make the film.

“We’re just getting started, but how miraculous it is, Shatner said in a Blue Origin video posted the night before the flight.

Crew Closing: Blue Origin Vice President and two entrepreneurs. Blue Origin did not reveal their ticket price. Shatner was invited to ride for free.

___

Dan reported from Cape Canaveral, Florida.

___

The Associated Press’s Department of Health Sciences is supported by the Department of Science Education at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. AP is solely responsible for all content.

Captain Kirk’s William Shatner at the tip of the blast into space – Reading Eagle

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