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GO/NO-GO - When is medical hazard mitigation acceptable for launch?Medical support of spaceflight missions is composed of complex tasks and decisions that dedicated to maintaining the health and performance of the crew and the completion of mission objectives. Spacecraft represent one of the most complex vehicles built by humans, and are built to very rigorous design specifications. In the course of a Flight Readiness Review (FRR) or a mission itself, the flight surgeon must be able to understand the impact of hazards and risks that may not be completely mitigated by design alone. Some hazards are not mitigated because they are never actually identified. When a hazard is identified, it must be reduced or waivered. Hazards that cannot be designed out of the vehicle or mission, are usually mitigated through other means to bring the residual risk to an acceptable level. This is possible in most engineered systems because failure modes are usually predictable and analysis can include taking these systems to failure. Medical support of space missions is complicated by the inability of flight surgeons to provide "exact" hazard and risk numbers to the NASA engineering community. Taking humans to failure is not an option. Furthermore, medical dogma is mostly comprised of "medical prevention" strategies that mitigate risk by examining the behaviour of a cohort of humans similar to astronauts. Unfortunately, this approach does not lend itself well for predicting the effect of a hazard in the unique environment of space. This presentation will discuss how Medical Operations uses an evidence-based approach to decide if hazard mitigation strategies are adequate to reduce mission risk to acceptable levels. Case studies to be discussed will include: 1. Risk of electrocution risk during EVA 2. Risk of cardiac event risk during long and short duration missions 3. Degraded cabin environmental monitoring on the ISS. Learning Objectives 1.) The audience will understand the challenges of mitigating medical risk caused by nominal and off-nominal mission events. 2.) The audience will understand the process by which medical hazards are identified and mitigated before launch. 3.) The audience will understand the roles and responsibilities of all the other flight control positions in participating in the process of reducing hazards and reducing medical risk to an acceptable level.
Document ID
Document Type
Conference Paper
Hamilton, Douglas R. (Wyle Labs., Inc. Houston, TX, United States)
Polk, James D. (NASA Johnson Space Center Houston, TX, United States)
Date Acquired
August 23, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 2005
Subject Category
Space Transportation and Safety
Meeting Information
Aerospace Medicine Association Annual Conference(Kansas City, MO)
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.