Deep Space Missions
Mission to Mars
The microbiology of the Space Station can be directly applied to manned missions in deep space. The first of these is likely to be a mission to Mars. NASA and other space agencies around the world are already thinking about such missions, that may take place in the decades ahead.
Crews are likely to be away from Earth for several years. Unlike life on a space station, they will be isolated from any possible physical contact with Earth. It will not be possible for injured or ill crew members to be put in an escape pod and returned to Earth within a few hours of an emergency. The question about on-board or back-on-Earth treatment is no longer one of cost alone. Returning personnel to Earth, even in an emergency escape module would take months, once a Mars mission were underway.
Interplanetary missions are likely to have eight to twelve crew, and these people will need to have all the skills that are normally found in a community - in your town here, on Earth.
Crews will need to treated on board the interplanetary spacecraft, so what amounts to a miniature hospital will have to be considered in any design, from the beginning. By contrast, the medical facilities aboard the Space Station amount to just an Emergency Room. It will also be necessary to have a suitably trained medical team aboard the spacecraft.
Operating in deep space, a manned spacecraft will have to be completely self-sufficient including in its medical facilities. The medical facilities will need to be equipped for any medical emergency, from accident to illness. Crew will have to include people qualified in dentistry as well as surgery, disease treatment and control, pharmacology, psychiatry and nursing. The mission will also need have more than one doctor. What happens if a doctor is sick or worse, dies, and he or she is the only medically qualified person aboard?
It would be desirable to have all crew medically proficient as paramedics, and to have at least two doctors on the mission, though they could specialize in different fields of study and be tasked to undertake mission research in addition to their medical role.
emergencies, even what would be quite minor occurrences on Earth, could
be serious enough to cause the end of a mission if it occurred in space.
All the measures outlined for the Space
Station should be implemented for deep space missions, to minimize medical
risks. Microbiological risks are likely to increase with increased
mission length, and means to counter these will need to be developed.
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