NASA, in the process of planning for exploration class missions beyond low Earth orbit (LEO) and for extended durations, has sponsored an Institute of Medicine study into the ethical and policy issues relevant to crew health, according to the webpage for the study committee.  Jeffrey Kahn, the Levi Professor of Bioethics and Public Policy at the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics, will serve as committee chair.  The committee holds its first meeting in Washington, DC on Thursday, May 30, 2013.


Kahn has previous experience serving on advisory panels and committees at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Institute of Medicine (IOM), including the IOM’s Standing Committee on Aerospace Medicine and the Medicine of Extreme Environments. He was also chair of the IOM’s committee on the Use of Chimpanzees in Biomedical and Behavioral Research (2011).


Other members of the committee on long duration and exploration spaceflights include a former NASA astronaut, physicians, as well as legal, policy, science and occupational health experts. A full roster is available on the committee’s webpage.


The committee’s first public meeting on May 30, 2013, will include a presentation from the Charles F. Bolden, Administrator of NASA, on the importance of risk, along with presentations from other NASA officials on health standards and the ethics of standard-setting as well as the specific health issues of radiation and ocular and intracranial pressure.  For instructions on connecting to the meeting remotely, email SpaceHealth@nas.edu.


According to NASA’s future missions webpage, long-duration spaceflights beyond LEO are not imminent; first, another unmanned Rover mission is planned for 2020, with astronauts entering a Martian orbit “perhaps as early as the 2030s.”

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