Physiological, Environmental and Operational Risk Factors for Crews and Passengers of Future Commercial Space Vehicles


Physiological, Environmental and Operational Risk Factors for Crews and Passengers of Future Commercial Space Vehicles

About the Speaker

Melchor J. Antuñano, M.D., M.S. has been the Director of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Civil Aerospace Medical Institute (CAMI) since January 14, 2001. CAMI is located at the Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center (MMAC) in Oklahoma City. Dr. Antuñano provides executive direction and is responsible for the administrative oversight of FAA Office of Aerospace Medicine's programs in Medical Certification, Medical Education, Medical Research, Human Factors Research, and Occupational Health Services, that are critical and integral elements of the Office of Aviation Safety (AVS).

He is the focal point in leading the activities of a professional, technical, and clerical team engaged in the policy development, planning, evaluating, and administering of: 1) a program to fulfill the medical certification needs of approximately 620,000 holders of U.S. pilot certificates, 2) a program for the selection, designation, training, and management of about 5,000 Aviation Medical Examiners (AMEs) appointed to conduct physical examinations and issue FAA medical certificates to pilot certificate holders throughout the U.S. and in 93 countries worldwide, 3) medical education programs in aviation physiology, global survival, and aviation human factors for FAA flight crews and civil aviation pilots, 4) medical publications and other didactic materials used to disseminate medical information to promote aerospace safety, 5) a highly specialized library system in support of a broad range of aerospace medical and safety reference/research programs, 6) an integrated program of field and laboratory performance research in organizational and human factors aspects of aerospace work environments, 7) an applied research program to identify human tolerances, capabilities and failure modes (physiological, psychological, and performance) both in uneventful flights, and during civilian in-flight incidents and accidents, 8) an occupational medicine program to improve the safety of FAA employees, and 9) a medical clinic that provides health services to employees and students at the MMAC.



This presentation will discuss a number of physiological,operational, and environmental risk factors (actual and potential) for the occupants of commercial space vehicles. Actual risks include exposure to: 1) High acceleration of flight profiles, 2) Decreased barometric pressure, 3) Microgravity, 4) Solar and galactic cosmic radiation, 4) Noise and vibration. Of particular concern are the effects of exposure (short-term and long-term) to microgravity on the cardiovascular, neurological, endocrinological, muscleskeletal, and gastro-intestinal systems, among healthy and diseased passengers.

Furthermore, U.S. and Russian experience regarding space physiology and medicine involve short-term and long-term space flights but does not address the effects of: 1) Frequent repetitive exposure (several times a week) to flight profiles involving: normal gravity (pre-flight) - acceleration (launch/take off) - microgravity (space) - deceleration (return) - normal gravity (post-flight), 2) Frequent repetitive exposure to solar and cosmic radiation, and 3) Exposure to microgravity among individuals who have medical pathology. Other potential risk factors include unexpected exposure to: temperature extremes, in-flight cabin fire, cabin air contaminates, electricity, non-ionizing radiation, mechanical hazards, impact forces during crash landings, post-crash fire, emergency evacuation, and post-evacuation survival.


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Publication Date



Grand Forks, ND

Physiological, Environmental and Operational Risk Factors for Crews and Passengers of Future Commercial Space Vehicles