Are You Fit Enough for Space Tourism?
50years on from the first moon landing we are entering into a new era of space flight – space tourism. Yusaku Maezawa, the Japanese online fashion tycoon, has bought the first civilian ticket to fly to the moon and back on Elon Musk’s rocket SpaceX.
The flight is planned for 2023, so there is still time for would-be space tourists to both find the money required (which is considerable) and get fit enough for the journey. The journey, a figure of eight loops taking you around the earth, the moon and back again over 5 days in SpaceX’s Big Falcon Spaceship. The journey is short so space tourists should not encounter chronic problems of microgravity such as vision changes and bone and muscle mass loss. However, there are some significant health challenges to overcome.
The rocket’s acceleration from earth is expected to be three times the force of gravity or 3G. This will place a significant strain on your heart’s ability to pump blood around your body and specifically to your brain. Lack of blood flow to your head will cause you to faint. So your heart has to be in top condition to cope with the challenge and not suffer a heart attack.
A loop around the moon is estimated to give a radiation dose to passengers of the same amount as they would receive if they had a CT scan back on earth. However, if the Sun produces a solar flare during the trip passengers may receive six months of radiation dose during their short trip which could cause fatigue and nausea – the start of radiation sickness.
Passengers are likely to feel nauseous and may vomit when they start to feel weightless in space. According to astronauts, this tends to disappear after a few days, but this still may affect a significant part of your space holiday. Anti-nausea medication may help but it is hard to predict your body’s response to space motion sickness.
Being stuck in a small metal box with fellow space tourists for 5 days and nights may psychologically stressful. Just sitting next to a fellow passenger on a long-haul flight can be bad enough. Space tourists may have to train together so they learn how to live and travel together in stressful environments.