The Latin term “ad astra, vita” translates into “taking life to the stars”.
Just like the five-year mission of the original Star Trek starship Enterprise NCC-1701, our initial five-year mission was to showcase to the world the ways in which Australians are presently contributing, or have the capacity to contribute to advancement of space health and space medicine and life sciences (“SMLS”), and thus provide an opportunity for the skills, talents and experience of Australian doctors, scientists, researchers and educators to be taken up into space health/SMLS projects and linkages, both locally and internationally.
After the success of our first free virtual Space Health Symposium (co-sponsored by Mars Society Australia), we have entered a small course correction, and have now decided to open our Showcase initiative to our international colleagues and university and college students.
Our new Australian Space Agency has called upon the space community to be entrepreneurial, and this new innovative initiative is designed to answer this call in a manner which directly addresses Australia’s existing strengths in space health/SMLS.
What are the “space life sciences“?
NASA’s definition: “The space life sciences study interactions between living organisms and characteristics of the space environment. These studies specifically address the structure and function of living organisms in space and interdependent relationships of organisms with each other and/or the space environment while also touching on the origin, evolution and potential for extraterrestrial life.”
The ad astra vita project website has been designed to reflect a tri-fold purpose.
1. The ad astra vita australis Showcase – a compendium of people and organisations tied to space health/SMLS
This compendium is intended as a public service to showcase individual and organisational ties with space health/SMLS (“ad astra vita australis”) in order to raise awareness on both a local and international level. It is also hoped that this will assist in fostering linkages and partnerships around space health/SMLS projects. The Showcase will provide an opportunity for individuals passionate about space health/SMLS to be represented alongside larger organisations and businesses. Our international colleagues (“The Global Village“) and tertiary students (“The Next Generation“) are also most welcome to participate.
This initiative has been designed as an open collaborative compendium to which anyone can contribute. It is intended as a resource database available to be consulted by industry, Government, academia, media outlets, and individuals (such as tertiary students) seeking expertise and/or networking opportunities in space health/SMLS. A key aim over time will be to make the database as comprehensive as possible.
2. Information portal and “CAPCOM” for news, links, and resources
The ad astra vita project has an aspirational goal to be a “CAPCOM” for Australian space health/SMLS news, information and opportunities.
The Resources section will be divided into a number of components, including active pages populated with blog posts and new items/web links from online feeds, and a more static resources pages providing links to relevant organisations, conferences, courses, books, journals, etc.
Special consideration will be given to information which is useful for tertiary students, such as scholarship opportunities and post-graduate training pathways.
The information portal is intended to encompass the broader scope of humans in extreme environments, and as such will include any relevant areas of medicine, for instance aerospace medicine, wilderness and expedition medicine, mountain medicine, disaster health, etc.
We will be happy to receive contributions from readers, and from time to time will seek additional contributions through social media channels.
3. The ad astra vita space medicine and life sciences consultancy
This consultancy will encompass services such as space health/SMLS education and outreach, policy and guideline development, research, writing and editing, science audit, project design and management, human resourcing, etc.
Membership of the Consultancy Team is entirely voluntary. Team members will normally be listed under both the Showcase compendium and the Consultancy Team, but it is expected that some individuals working in the sector will only wish to be listed in the compendium, and this choice will be entirely respected.
The ad astra vita project will initially act as a not-for-profit “clearing house” to match consultancy opportunities with individuals (or their small businesses). There will be complete flexibility with regard to the “rules of engagement” for any consultancy work opportunities, and individuals participating in the consultancy will have the freedom to accept engagements on a freelance, contract, permanent, or other basis.
As this will be a ‘virtual consultancy’ to begin with, there will not be any cost, obligation or liability accruing to people who are interested in participating. It will only involve provision of an “expression of interest” consisting of a short biography/description of interests/experience and a photograph.
An individually tailored business/remuneration model will be developed for any consultancy opportunities which arise. Any consultancy team members with an ABN will normally be able to contract directly.
Establishing a profile
We intend “spreading the word” about the project as widely as possible within the Australian space sector. Information will also be posted on social media outlets. “The ad astra vita project” is intended to be an independent voice to represent those interested in being involved with space health/SMLS projects. It is hoped that its ongoing online presence will illuminate the many capable and interested people who have the capacity to make a contribution to advancing the cause of space health/SMLS, and provide a valuable source of information for the space industry, both locally and internationally.
~ Starship USS Enterprise NCC-1701 from StarTrek: The Original Series:
Shisma – own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=79091970. A schematic of the fictional starship USS Enterprise NCC-1701. Top and starboard view. Based off the Starship Enterprise (Q63762231) Model located at the National Air and Space Museum (Q752669). official images used for reference.
~ IDIC symbol from Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek: https://www.pinterest.com.au/pin/476044623098702655/. Saved from shop.roddenberry.com.