BIO 101: Space Flight Physiology


BIO 101 covers the unique aspects of health maintenance of individuals exposed to the rigors of spaceflight. An overview of the physiological changes resulting from prolonged exposures to weightlessness and the establishment of countermeasures are presented in this course as with an understanding of the methods currently in use to mitigate these changes.



The course provides an overview of the physiological changes and adaptations that occur during each phase of spaceflight: ascent, early orbit, long-term flight, extra vehicular activities, and reentry. It also describes the counter measures in current use. Data from previous and current U.S. and Russian programs are discussed, in addition to current commercial spaceflight ventures. The physiological/life support requirements for spacecraft design are considered, as well as the techniques and potential impacts of crew selection, training, in-flight medical care, and contingencies. Aspects of human participation during exploration class missions/colonization are reviewed. A medical/life sciences background is not required.

Course Objectives:

Provide each student with the basis of knowledge and complement of skills necessary for awareness and application of human spaceflight physiology to the exploration of space. To further the understanding between space physiology and all the other fields of endeavor within space systems.


Fundamentals of Space Medicine, Third Edition, Clement.

Lectures and Assignments:

The course will consist of ten one-hour webinars and four assignments. Students will receive either a Pass or Fail grade.

Webinar 1: Course Overview Handout Historical Perspectives from John Paul Stapp to present day. Assignment: Describe the development of biophysics and its impact upon early astronaut medical selection criteria

Webinar 2: Environmental Control / Life Support System: subsystems Extra Vehicular Activities. Prebreathe and decompression sickness Toxic Hazards. Trace contaminants, VOCs and the SMAC list.

Webinar 3: Human Capabilities in Space, Human systems adaptation: Cardiovascular and Fluid and Electrolyte Assignment: Describe the mechanisms that cause visual impairments in astronauts and the rationale behind the countermeasures applied to mitigating this problem.

Webinar 4: Human Capabilities in Space, Human systems adaptation: Skeletal

Webinar 5: Human Capabilities in Space, Human systems adaptation: Neurovestibular Assignment: Explain the rationale for the pre-breathe procedure and how risks may be mitigated.

Webinar 6: Human Capabilities in Space, Human systems adaptation: Muscular

Webinar 7: Human Capabilities in Space, Human systems adaptation: Radiation Assignment: Describe the short and long term effects to high doses of ionizing radiation and explain how astronauts may be protected by GCRs in deep space.

Webinar 8: Psychological Considerations, Astronaut select-in and select-out medical criteria.

Webinar 9: Operational Space Medicine Emergency Rescue Support Space Life Sciences Research.

Webinar 10: Exploration Class Missions and Human Adaptation. Pantropy. Genetic selection and genetic manipulation.

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