Featured

Call for abstracts – International Humans in Space Summit 2022

IHS 2022

The ‘call for abstracts’ is open for the International Humans in Space Summit 2022.

Speaker proposals are invited for both pre-recorded individual presentations and participation in live panels in either Australian or US time zones.

About the Summit  

The 4th International Humans in Space Summit, previously the Australian Space Biology x Health Summit (ASBX), was established in 2019 with the vision to bring the international research and industry community together to bridge the gap between science, industry, and policy relating to the human exploration of space. Due to the pandemic, the Summit was held online in 2020 and 2021.

This year, the 4th International Humans in Space Summit will run from 7-11 November. It will be hybrid, with the first two days in-person in Sydney, and the remaining three days as online virtual sessions. These sessions will include a mixture of pre-recorded presentations and live panels in both Australian and US time zones. There is a broad range of session topics, and, as a result, the Summit will be a diverse and inclusive event. Session recordings will be available to all registrants via the Summit YouTube channel.

Preliminary Program

  • DAY 1: Monday 7 November – In-person event at UTS, Sydney. Summit launch and Plenary Speakers.
  • DAY 2: Tuesday 8 November – In-person event at UTS, Sydney. Space Research and Space Careers Fair.
  • Global virtual sessions (panels will be time-zone adjusted to allow international participation):
    • DAY 3 – Wednesday 9 November:
      • Space Biology
      • Space Health
      • Lunar Biology
      • Astrobiology & Life Beyond
    • DAY 4 – Thursday 10 November:
      • Human Spaceflight
      • Women in Space
      • Space Technologies
    • DAY 5 – Friday 11 November:
      • Space Economics
      • Space Governance
      • Space STEAM Education
    • Student presentations (scheduling TBA).

Founders of the Summit  

Dr Joshua Chou, University of Technology Sydney  
Dr Christine Mehner, Mayo Clinic (USA)
Dr Rowena Christiansen, the University of Melbourne   

Who else will be there  

In 2021, we welcomed over 1,000 attendees from around the globe, and over 120 speakers and panellists. This year, we expect to hear from a wide range of local and international agencies and experts, including NASA, ESA, JAXA, ASA, Government officials, research institutions and academics, educators, and industry delegates.

How to get involved

Important dates

  • Closing date for proposals for speakers and panellists: Tuesday 11 October 2022
  • Registrations close for speakers/panellists: Monday 31 October 2022
  • Submission of pre-recorded presentations no later than: Tuesday 01 November 2022.

AWEMS ‘Stoke the Fire’ 2022 Conference – EARLYBIRD TICKETS END SOON! (Tues Sept 13th 11:59pm)

Tickets for the Australasian Wilderness and Expedition Medicine Society (AWEMS) ‘STOKE THE FIRE’ Conference, nipaluna/Hobart (and Online), 14-16th October 2022 are on sale!

Click here to buy TICKETS and view schedule . ACRRM and FAWM accreditation pending.

Join us for presentations and workshops from world-leading experts on a wide variety of topics including Antarctic medicine, documentary medicine, multi-trauma bush rescue, human psychology at altitude, expedition dentistry, U/S in austere environments, fracture management, haemorrhage control and haematoma blocks! We also have exciting evening social events for networking and a special guest presentation on how to build a career in wilderness medicine, as well as affiliated events – UTas Extreme Sports Medicine Panel, and a pre-conference POCUS workshop.

ONLINE TICKETS: Our conference is available in-person, or online. Online tickets will have access to the lectures and presentations on Saturday and Sunday, and access to recordings for at least 2 months post-conference (not including conference dinner presentation)

AWEMS aims to be the peak body for Wilderness and Expedition Medicine in Australasia. We are a volunteer-run, not-for-profit society looking to grow and improve the provision of medical care in remote and austere environments.

Be sure to become an AWEMS member for exclusive discounts – Earlybird Member tickets include a free T-shirt (student tickets excepted). 

For further and ongoing benefits (CPD education, future events, further discounts, regular updates) Click here to become a MEMBER

About the location: 

nipaluna/Hobart is a breathtakingly stunning port city in lutruwita/Tasmania, home to incredible art and music events, yacht races, and training bases for the Australian Antarctic Program (and France’s too!). The climate is cool in these parts so we hope you’re stoked to get stoking! 

We’ll see you there! 

Cheers,

Tha AWEMS Conference Team
conference@awems.org.au

‘Stoke the fire’ – 2022 AWEMS Wilderness and Expedition Medicine Conference

Don’t miss out on tickets for the 2022 AWEMS conference, coming soon from 14-16 October in Hobart, Tasmania at the UTAS Medical Science Precinct (online participation also available).

BUY TICKETS

After the great success of our inaugural conference last year, we will be back again this year with another thrilling AWEMS conference. With the goal to push you out of your comfort zones and explore medicine at its most extreme, our 2022 conference will be taking place in beautiful Hobart, Tasmania from the 14th-16th October. Get ready to hear from researchers, expeditioners and other medical professionals who are renowned in their respective fields, and learn practical skills to keep you thriving in the outdoors.

Fundraising for the UNICEF Ukraine Emergency Appeal

The ad astra vita project in conjunction with the International Humans in Space Summit 2022 is proud to be supporting fundraising for the UNICEF Ukraine Emergency Appeal.

Donations of A$2 or more are tax-deductible for Australian tax purposes. To donate, please visit: https://ukraine.unicef.org.au/t/ihs2022.

Why are we fundraising for UNICEF and Ukraine? Part of our mutual vision is to support STEAM education and children and young people who are seeking a better future and dare to dream. Although there are many humanitarian emergencies going on all over the world, all very worthy of support, over the past six months in Ukraine we have seen unimaginable horrors which have destroyed the lives of many adults, families, and children, and taken away their dreams. If we can do even just a little to help them through this difficult time until the war is over and they can dare to dream again, then it is worthwhile.

Read here about children recently returning to school in Ukraine, and how UNICEF has helped: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-09-04/ukranian-schools-reopen-in-parts-amid-russian-invasion/101401792.

From UNICEF:

Life for 7.5 million children caught up in the crisis in Ukraine is deteriorating by the minute. Children have been killed. Children have been wounded.

The fighting has impacted schools, hospitals and orphanages. Homes have been damaged or destroyed. Medical supplies are running low and millions of people are without access to safe water.

More than 4.3 million children have been forced to flee their homes. 1.8 million have become refugees, searching for safety in neighbouring countries.

UNICEF is trucking safe water and prepositioning health, hygiene and emergency education supplies to the most vulnerable children and families.

UNICEF has been in Ukraine for 25 years. Its teams are working day and night to scale up support.

War in Ukraine: Support for children and families

Six months of war have been devastating for Ukraine’s families. UNICEF and partners are on the ground providing support for those in need.

Six months into the war, humanitarian needs are continuing to multiply as the fighting continues. Children continue to be killed, wounded and deeply traumatized by the violence all around them. Many have seen things no child should ever see. Their homes have been hit. Their schools have been attacked, along with all the systems that could help them survive. Families are terrified, in shock, and desperate for safety.

By early August, almost 6.4 million individual refugees from Ukraine had been recorded across Europe. By late July, the International Organization for Migration estimated there were around 6.6 million people internally displaced in Ukraine. The large-scale displacement of people since the war started could have lasting consequences for generations to come. Children fleeing war in Ukraine are also at heightened risk of human trafficking and exploitation

Meanwhile, attacks using explosive weapons in populated urban areas continue to inflict civilian casualties including among children, and considerable damage to essential infrastructure and services. As a result, children’s homes, schools, hospitals, water systems, power plants, and places where civilians are seeking shelter have been damaged or destroyed.

UNICEF is working with partners to reach vulnerable children and families with essential services – including health, education, protection, water and sanitation – as well as life-saving supplies.

How is UNICEF helping children and families?

UNICEF is working around the clock with partners to scale up life-saving programmes for children.

Inside Ukraine, UNICEF and partners have:

  • Distributed life-saving health and medical supplies to reach around 3.9 million children and families.
  • Reached around 420,000 individuals with multi-purpose cash assistance.
  • Helped more than 3.4 million people access safe water in areas where networks have been damaged or destroyed.
  • Helped more than 270,000 children through the provision of learning supplies.
  • Reached over 1.4 million children and caregivers with mental health and psychosocial support.
  • Assisted around 63,000 children through case management and referral services.

In countries hosting Ukrainian refugees, UNICEF has:

  • Supported national, municipal and local systems that deliver essential services and protection, particularly for the most vulnerable children, including through: anti-trafficking training for border guards; expanding learning opportunities and integrating refugee children into schools; procuring vaccines and medical supplies; and establishing play and learning hubs that provide young children with a much-needed sense of normalcy and respite.
  • Been working with local governments to conduct summer programmes in preparation for the start of the new school year in September.
  • Worked with UNHCR and partners to activate Blue Dot hubs – one-stop safe spaces for children and women. Blue Dots provide key information to traveling families, help to identify unaccompanied and separated children and ensure their protection.

UNICEF Ukraine response: https://www.unicef.org/emergencies/war-ukraine-pose-immediate-threat-children. For more on the situation visit UNICEF Ukraine and UNICEF in Europe and Central Asia.

Thank you in advance for your support. 

SANS – Space Associated Neuro-ocular Syndrome

We are pleased to bring you a further blog post from our special guest editor, Philip Vukovic – BSc (Melb). Many thanks to Philip for this very informative article.

With prospects of a long-duration spaceflight mission to Mars, it is of vital importance that appropriate countermeasures are developed to prevent Space Associated Neuro-ocular Syndrome (SANS) during spaceflight, and establish if astronauts may develop any long-term health effects.

Photo by Amanda Dalbjörn on Unsplash
What is Space Associated Neuro-ocular Syndrome (SANS)?

Space Associated Neuro-ocular Syndrome refers to the changes that occur to the eye and brain during spaceflight. Having first been discovered in 2005, SANS showed similar signs to idiopathic intracranial hypertension (IIH). However, despite some of the similarities between the two, interesting differences were noted, ultimately leading to the distinction.

What is causing SANS?

Current scientific findings suggest that SANS occurs due to the shifting of fluid towards the head as astronauts are exposed to environments of microgravity. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) states that exposure to weightlessness results in an upward redistribution of fluid around the brain and a shift of blood from veins toward the head. These physiological changes are currently believed to be the underlying cause surrounding the structural changes seen in the eye and brain. It is important to note however, that SANS is still being intensely studied by NASA (and others), and a single unifying predominant mechanism has yet to be proven.

Changes to the brain and eye

Various physiological and pathological neuro-ophthalmic (brain-eye) changes have been found in astronauts during and following long-duration spaceflight. Some of the structural changes to the brain include ventricular volume enlargement, an upward shift of the brain and pituitary gland shape changes. It has also been documented that astronauts may experience swelling of the nerve as it enters the eye, the development of folds in the retina, flattening of the back of the eye and blurry vision.

The problems associated with SANS and how we can prevent it

NASA has identified a SANS incidence rate of approximately 70% for astronauts travelling to the International Space Station. Due to this high incidence rate, researchers are currently studying ways to prevent and treat SANS during spaceflight, and establish if astronauts may develop any long-term health effects.

SANS poses major problems for long-duration missions. The structural changes that occur to the brain and eye during spaceflight may lead to short-term or long-term alterations in vision, cognitive effects, or other deleterious health effects. As crew will undoubtedly be tasked with carrying out their own cognitively demanding scientific research, vehicle operation and maintenance, and other activities, it is imperative that we develop effective means by which we can mitigate the operational and long-term risks of SANS.

Mader et al. (2011) described the historical, clinical, and imaging findings in seven astronauts after six months of long-duration space flight, and recorded the changes in vision of approximately 300 additional astronauts. The ophthalmic findings included optic disc oedema (n=5), global flattening (n=5), choroidal folds (n=5), nerve fibre layer infarcts (n=3), thickening within the nerve fibre layer on optical coherence tomography (n=6), and decreased near vision (n=6).

With the underlying predominant mechanism yet to be determined, effective treatments for the known problems associated with SANS have not been established. With future manned missions to the International Space Station, Moon, and Mars, specific countermeasures will need to be developed in order to ensure operational success and crew safety.

Further Reading and Information

Lee, A. G., Mader, T. H., Gibson, C. R., Tarver, W., Rabiei, P., Riascos, R. F., … & Brunstetter, T. (2020). Spaceflight associated neuro-ocular syndrome (SANS) and the neuro-ophthalmologic effects of microgravity: a review and an update. npj Microgravity, 6(1), 1-10.
https://www.nature.com/articles/s41526-020-0097-9.pdf
Mader, T. H., Gibson, C. R., Pass, A. F., Kramer, L. A., Lee, A. G., Fogarty, J., … & Polk, J. D. (2011). Optic disc edema, globe flattening, choroidal folds, and hyperopic shifts observed in astronauts after long-duration space flight. Ophthalmology, 118(10), 2058-2069.
https://digitalcommons.unl.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1068&context=nasapub
Risk of Spaceflight Associated Neuro-ocular Syndrome (SANS) (https://humanresearchroadmap.nasa.gov/risks/risk.aspx?i=105)
NASA – Space Associated Neuro-ocular Syndrome Infographic (https://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/atoms/files/sans_infographic-062821-508c_01.pdf)

The Jus Ad Astra Project – human rights in space

We are delighted to share the latest newsletter from the Jus Ad Astra Project regarding human rights in space, and a link to a recent article about the Project. As well as the rights to water, a breathable atmosphere, and a habitable environment, the ‘right to health’ is also an important human right, as humans cannot ‘survive and thrive’ in space if they do not have the right conditions for good health and wellbeing.

It was an honour to contribute to the blog post on “Space for all Humankind: Gendered Perspectives in Health” with Jane Andrews.

Jus Ad Astra Newsletter:
June 2022
WELCOME! Welcome to the June edition of the newsletter for Jus Ad Astra! In this newsletter, we will provide updates on the project and ways for members to contribute to its work.

UPDATES
1. Alyson Decker’s article “Working in Space: The Final Frontier of Remote Work” is published in the Northern Illinois University Law Review 

The article discusses the rise of remote work due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and its implications for employment in outer space. The piece explores the complex employment relationships in Earth and their application in outer space. 

Check it out here: Working in Space: The Final Frontier of Remote Work

2. Justin Diamond’s published a blog piece, “New Norms in Outer Space: Washington’s Direct Dissent from Direct Ascent”

The article explores the DA-ASAT moratorium by the United States, and its broader implication for human rights. 

Check it out here: New Norms in Outer Space: Washington’s Direct Dissent from Direct Ascent

3. Dr Rowena Christiansen and Jane Andrews have authored a blog piece on “Space for all Humankind: Gendered Perspectives in Health”

The article analyses the need to incorporate gendered perspectives in health, including the physiological differences between the sexes, to further equality in outer space. 

Check it out here: Space for all Humankind: Gendered Perspectives in Health

GET INVOLVED: JOIN THE PROJECT
Lawyers without Borders – Human Rights in Outer Space: The Jus Ad Astra Project
https://www.lwobkcl.co.uk/post/human-rights-in-outer-space-the-jus-ad-astra-project

Earth Day 2022

Tomorrow, NASA joins the worldwide Earth Day celebration with resources and events to inspire us to be better stewards of our planet.

Next Gen STEM Earth Toolkit

Bring the STEM celebration to the classroom with this toolkit filled with NASA Earth science resources. For even more, check out Earth Day resources from the team at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Earth Day 2022 Poster and Virtual Backgrounds

Decorate your space with this year’s poster illustrating how Earth’s systems are connected. The poster features QR codes linking to NASA’s Earth science mission websites.

Be a #NASAEarthling

Connect with NASA online by sharing photos on social media that show off what makes life on our planet truly special – you!

Earth Day 2022

#StandWithUkraine

The ad astra vita project wishes to express its support for, and solidarity with, the people of Ukraine during this horrendously difficult time, and for all the humanitarian initiatives underway to provide support and aid during the worst humanitarian crisis since the Second World War.

Even though we may be far away, we can still contribute through offering our support and donations, and perhaps even providing tangible support to Ukrainian refugees.

For ways to help and support, visit: https://ukrainians.org.au/.

For accurate and reliable information regarding the conflict and the current state of affairs, these websites can be helpful:

World Health Organisation (WHO): Emergency in Ukraine https://www.who.int/emergencies/situations/ukraine-emergency. This page contains links to further information together with the latest situation report.

Ukraine Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) ‘War in Ukraine’ website: https://war.ukraine.ua/.

For ABC News updates on the war in Ukraine, visit the ABC News website: https://www.abc.net.au/news/world/ (specific articles can be easily located by searching on ‘Ukraine’).

An ‘Understanding Ukraine’ Summary Sheet kindly provided by our Global Humanitarian Advisor Chris Piper from TorqAid – www.torqaid.com/understanding-ukraine.  This gives a useful overview of the humanitarian situation in Ukraine, as well as in surrounding countries (viz-a-viz refugees).

If you would like to make a donation to aid agencies, here are some reputable options:

WHO Health Emergency Appeal for Ukraine: https://www.ukraine.who.foundation/.

UNHCR (UN Refugee Agency): https://www.unrefugees.org.au/.

UNICEF (the United Nations Children’s Fund) Ukraine Emergency Appeal: https://www.unicef.org.au/landing-pages/ukraine-emergency-appeal.

Emergency Action Alliance Ukraine Emergency Appeal (15 charities working together): https://emergencyaction.org.au/. This appeal is also being supported by the ABC: https://www.abc.net.au/radio/abcgives/ukraineappeal/.

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) Ukraine Emergency Appeal: https://msf.org.au/donate/ukraine-crisis. The healthcare system is one of the early casualties of natural disaster and war, and access to basic healthcare and medicines, especially for people with chronic medical conditions, can become difficult to impossible, with potential dire outcomes. MSF is working to help fill this urgent need, as is the WHO.

Award Nominations for the ad astra vita project

This year we were extremely honoured and excited to be nominated as a finalist in the A22 Aviation/Aerospace Australia Airspace Awards in the category of “Outstanding Outreach with a STEAM Program or Project” and in the “Innovator of the Year” category for the Australian Space Awards. It is a wonderful, humbling achievement just to see the work that we are doing so well valued by our peers and colleagues. Thank you very much to everyone who has supported us along the journey, and we aim to keep on working hard in continuing our mission.

Commercial Human Spaceflight – A New Frontier

Introducing our new special guest editor, Philip Vukovic – BSc (Melb). Many thanks to Philip for this wonderful piece for anyone who is curious about ‘commercial spaceflight’, something that has been in the news a lot over the past year.

Are you wondering where you should go for your next big holiday? Well… deliberating on your next holiday destination may no longer be necessary as commercial spaceflight becomes more accessible to the public and places space on the list of future possible getaways!

Photo by NASA on Unsplash

What is commercial spaceflight and space tourism?

Commercial spaceflight involves the development or use of spaceflight technology that is conducted and paid for by an entity other than a government agency. Prior to the birth of commercial spaceflight, space programs were largely held back due to governments experiencing budget constraints. As such, the prosperity of commercial spaceflight is imperative for the continual exploration of space. A thriving commercial space industry will, among other things, make space tourism a possibility for the public, allowing humans to travel through space for recreational purposes.

The types of spaceflights

The two most common spaceflights are known as suborbital and orbital spaceflights. Suborbital spaceflight involves reaching space (typically considered to be an altitude of 100km as defined by the Kármán line), however, returns without orbiting the Earth. Orbital spaceflight on the other hand, does involve travelling around the Earth one or more times.

Recent events in commercial spaceflight

In 2020, SpaceX used its Crew Dragon capsule and Falcon 9 rocket to send humans into Earth orbit, becoming the first commercial company to deliver astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) under contract to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

The company then went on in 2021 to carry out the first all-civilian low earth orbit spaceflight mission. The three-day flight completed by the Inspiration4 crew, consisting of four private individuals, helped raise money and awareness for the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee.

Future all-civilian missions are also in plans by SpaceX such as the #dearMoon project. SpaceX plan to send the first all-civilian crew for a week-long journey to the moon and back in 2023. Yusaku Maezawa, a Japanese entrepreneur and art collector, purchased all seats aboard the rocket and detailed his plans to the world. The project aims to bring aboard 6-8 artists to develop an all-inspiring universal art exhibition that will be showcased on Earth.

Photo by NASA on Unsplash

Both Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic and Jeff Bezo’s Blue Origin also endeavoured to push the boundaries of commercial spaceflight by going to space themselves. Both suborbital flights were a success and will ultimately help pave the way for future commercial missions. Such commercial missions also provide inspiration for the next generation of space faring humans.

Floating in the environment of microgravity, an ecstatic Branson proclaimed, “To all you kids down there, I was once a child with a dream. Looking up to the stars. Now, I’m an adult in a spaceship with lots of other wonderful adults looking down to our beautiful, beautiful Earth. To the next generation of dreamers, if we can do this, just imagine what you can do.”

The risks associated with commercial spaceflight

Data from the United States’ Federal Aviation Administration shows that a total of 1160 Americans have undertaken orbital and suborbital spaceflights, with 927 people undertaking orbital flights and 233 undertaking suborbital flights. 17 people have lost their lives carrying out orbital flights, while 3 lives have been lost during suborbital flights.

This translates to a 1.75% chance of death associated with both orbital and suborbital spaceflight. Therefore, before we go off to the travel agency to book our next space holiday, we should be aware of the possible risks associated with commercial spaceflight in order to enhance crew safety and avoid disasters from occurring.

Commercial space companies will need to take many things into consideration to ensure the safety of passengers. Some of which are spacecraft design, the training of crew members and deciding whether highly trained astronauts will accompany civilians to ensure their safety. In an attempt to avoid burdening a nascent industry, commercial imperatives are currently well ahead of government regulation, leaving commercial operators to decide what training is required. for those going to space.

As there are no specific requirements, it is hard to say exactly what such space training may entail. However, it is quite likely that this may involve informed consent, emergency response and physiological familiarisation training. Passengers may be trained to withstand high G-forces by subjecting them to high levels of acceleration (“G”) in a centrifuge. They may also spend some time in an altitude chamber to simulate low atmospheric pressure and low oxygen levels.

Photo by NASA on Unsplash

Regulating commercial spaceflight

At present in the United States, commercial space launch and re-entry, whether carrying humans or just cargo, are regulated and licensed by the Department of Transportation, via the Office of Commercial Space Transportation in the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). These functions are authorized by the Commercial Space Launch Act (P.L. 98-575), as amended (51 U.S.C. Chapter 509).

In order to avoid holding back the development of the commercial space industry, the FAA was initially prohibited from regulating the health and safety requirements of humans aboard commercial spacecraft until 2012. However, this prohibition of regulation has been revised multiple times and has most recently been extended to October 1, 2023.

As such, existing medical guidelines will need to be updated and followed for commercial spaceflight in order to ensure the safety and autonomy of passengers. The challenge will be in issuing medical recommendations for spaceflight that provide an acceptable standard of safety for passengers while also protecting their autonomy, and not overloading a rising industry with over-regulation.

The future of commercial spaceflight

With numerous advancements in the field of aerospace over the last decade, we are witnessing an age of transition. An age in which human spaceflight is becoming more accessible to the public. There is no doubt that further research, innovation, and protocols will be needed to ensure success. However, future missions and aerospace developments will continue to pave the way to a reliable, safe, and cost-effective means to explore space.

Further Reading and Information
Schroeder, G. S., Clark, J. C., Gallagher, M., & Pandya, S. (2021). Medical guidelines for suborbital commercial human spaceflight: A review. Acta Astronautica.
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0094576521001016
The ad astra vita project. (2021, November 18). Commercial Spaceflight: Risk and Reward. [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2sbJHQFrCkA
Inspiration4. (https://inspiration4.com/)
SpaceX (https://www.spacex.com/)
Virgin Galactic. (https://www.virgingalactic.com/)
Blue Origin (https://www.blueorigin.com/)
Data U.S. Human Space Flight Safety Record (https://www.faa.gov/space/licenses/human_spaceflight/media/HSF_Safety_Record_Data.pdf)
Commercial Human Spaceflight (https://crsreports.congress.gov/product/pdf/IF/IF11940)