Inspiration4 Crew will collect biometrics to improve health outcomes of future astronauts

Image of Spacex Falcon 9 Rocket with Crew Dragon capsule

An upcoming all-civilian space flight will involve tracking of health data, according to the mission’s website press release. Spacex will provide the training as well as the rocket and attached capsule; a Falcon 9 rocket with a Dragon 2 capsule. The medical research will be led by Texas’ Baylor College of Medicine and a NASA-affiliated institute at Baylor called TRISH (Translational Research Institute for Space Health). Cornell’s Weill School of Medicine will also be conducting research studies on the data.

Multiple Firsts…

There are a lot of firsts involved with this mission including: the first time NASA is in space since 2009, the first all-civilian mission (?), and the first time this health data will be collected in space. Key concentrations of the data will be from a novel, miniature vertical flow immunoassay and an ultrasound device called Butterfly IQ+, which will scan the astronaut’s organs.

New Data

The purpose of collecting medical and biometric data is to gain a better understanding of the impact of space travel on human physiology. Specifically, researchers will be testing the astronaut’s blood for markers of inflammation and immune function. Cornell will be looking for longitudinal multi-omic data sets include genome test, transcriptome, proteome, microbiome, telomere test, and single-cell immunophenotyping. These studies will be funded all or in part by an entity known as WorldQuant.

Image of butterfly iq+ ultrasound transponder and associated software suite

In terms of medical data to be collected, clinical professionals will be arming the astronauts to collect research-grade ECG data, blood oxygenation, sleep & cognition data, as well as the aforementioned organ ultrasound. In this way, scientists will be able to determine if astronauts and non-medical experts can acquire this data without the supervision of a doctor. The cognition data will be collected using an app currently used by NASA to assess astronaut behavioral changes.

Depiction of typical lateral flow assay setup for comparison to vertical immunoassay

Possible Motives for Announcement

Previously, this mission was announced by the billionaire pilot Jared Isaacman with the motive of auctioning “space hops”; beer hops that will travel with him to space during the flight. Since then, multiple changes have occurred in the planning of the flight, including the addition of Make-a-Wish recipients to the flight crew and aims of furthering astronaut medical research. Perhaps these new developments are providing a better motive for the use of resources demanded by such flights.

References:

Mission’s website — https://inspiration4.com/press/inspiration4-crew-will-conduct-health-research-to-further

Baylor TRISH (below)

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