With the flight manifested I decided to celebrate the completion and submission of the Test Equipment Data Package with converting the mission art into a patch. There is a long history in aerospace of having patches associated with projects. The projects contain a visual symbolism that helps build the team and provides a visual shortcut to the essentials of the project.
The Orbital Medicine patch shows a black caduceus on a blue background. The caduceus is a commonly recognized symbol of the medical profession. The blue background represents the sky, and the black of the caduceus represents the darkness of space. It is surrounded by the company name and the phrase “Microgravity Operations” in reference to the zero gravity research done by the company.
To the right are icons representing the Earth, Moon, and Mars in a receding arrangement. This symbolizes the current and future targets for human spaceflight, and the areas in which space medicine will provide the support for human exploration.
To the left is a yellow symbol of a human electrocardiogram – the representation of a human heartbeat. It is placed to the left as that is the side of the body where the human heart is located. It represents the importance of medical monitoring, evaluation and treatment performed by the medical profession during medical flight operations. It is surrounded by a stylized constellation Libra, that represents the balance that medical operations have to take between the safety and treatment of humans, and the capabilities and mission requirements. It also represents the balancing act that physicians do when treating patients, and reminds us of the Hippocratic Oath “Above all, do no harm.”
At the bottom right of the caduceus is a stethoscope head, which curls into the exhaust of the stylized space ship launching to the top of the patch. The combining of the stethoscope and exhaust plume represent the ground based medical operations performed in support of flight operations.
The gold star in the center of the patch symbolizes the phrase “sic itur ad astra” translated “thus you shall go to the stars”. This phrase originated with the Latin writer Virgil, and comes from his book the Aeneid, book IX line 641. The phrase is commonly used in the space community to represent the dedication and aspirations of those involved in the space program to ensure humanity’s access to space.
Stay tuned, and “Ad Astra”!
The Orbital Medicine research flight has been manifested and scheduled by NASA. The flight is currently set for May 14-18th 2012 out of Ellington Field in Houston, Texas. This is the inital flight sponsored by the Flight Opportunities Program. The testing will be done in conjunction with the NASA Reduced Gravity Office.
Orbital Medicine will be evaluating a chest tube drainage device to determine its effectiveness in the microgravity environment. An educational demonstration will be filmed during the flight.
Additional experiments will be done in conjunction with Dr. Greg Kovacs of Stanford University. The inital Test Equipment Data Package has been completed and the experimental hardware is being finalized for the flight.
Dr. Cuttino gave a presentation on medical clearance for suborbital spaceflight today at the Next Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference 2012 in Palo Alto, California. The talk covered the aspects of medical clearance, what types of problems could be expected in suborbital spaceflight, and the regulating mechanisms in place by the FAA. The talk was well attended and well received.
The keynote talk at the conference was given by Neal Armstrong who discussed the development and flight testing of the X-15
A link to the talk abstract can be found here:
Technology Readiness Level (TRL) is a measure used by NASA, some United States government agencies and many of the world’s major companies (and agencies) to assess the maturity of evolving technologies (materials, components, devices, etc.) prior to incorporating that technology into a system or subsystem. Generally speaking, when a new technology is first invented or conceptualized, it is not suitable for immediate application. Instead, new technologies are usually subjected to experimentation, refinement, and increasingly realistic testing. Once the technology is sufficiently proven, it can be incorporated into a system or subsystem.
For NASA, TRL 6 involves system/subsystem model or prototype demonstration in a relevant environment (Ground analog, microgravity flight)
TRL 7 is a system prototype in a space environment, and TRL 8 is an actual system completed, and “flight qualified” and evaluated for the space environment.
Usability and feasibility in microgravity
In space the lack of gravity has an often-unexpected influence on devices and their operation. Many devices that were developed for the terrestrial environment will simply not work in zero gravity. By having experienced researchers to assist with the development of your product, we can help insure a smoother testing and development phase.
Usability and feasibility in hypergravity (2 to 6 g’s)
Just as the factors of microgravity significantly change the operation of the device, when the device changes the effective weight during acceleration, unforeseen consequence can occur. An example from my own research demonstrates that the safety devices on IV needles will spontaneously fire during a hypergravity load of as little as 1.5 g, rendering them useless for gaining IV access.
2/26/2012 – Dr. Cuttino will be speaking at the Next Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference on Medical Clearance for Suborbital Spaceflight
The members of Orbital Medicine have direct experience as providers and researchers in the aerospace environment. In the past they have provided launch and landing support for the NASA Space Shuttle at Kennedy Space Center and participated in research in the microgravity environment on parabolic aircraft. All members of Orbital Medicine are Board Certified in Emergency Medicine and are current practitioners in Emergency Departments around the country.
We provide highly skilled and experienced health professionals for your aerospace needs. We have extensive resources to assist an employer with consultative expertise, medical examinations, emergency medical planning and medical monitoring.
Our mission at Orbital Medicine is to provide specialized medical capabilities for microgravity research and spacecraft flight operations.
Our areas of research include those of emergency response capabilities and research and development of medical devices, techniques, and medical response capabilities for the aerospace medicine community.
The Exploration Medical Capability Element of the NASA Human Research Program is charged with reducing the risk of the “inability to adequately recognize or treat an ill or injured crew member.”
Orbital Medicine helps NASA and the commercial spaceflight industry create, develop and test medical devices and procedures to ensure a safer space exploration capability.
Dr. Cuttino previously worked in support of Space Shuttle Operations at the Kennedy Space Center. As an Emergency Physician, he continues to provide health care and medical support at community gatherings and special events.
We can also provide medical support services before, during and after flight operations for the commercial spaceflight industry.
We are also able to provide payload or mission specialists for the commercial spaceflight industry with extensive medical, science, and engineering backgrounds. If you are in need of someone to assist with microgravity research we can supply personnel.
9/21/2011 – Orbital Medicine Founder Dr. Marsh Cuttino will test an experimental design for a chest tube drainage device functional in the microgravity environment.
NASA has selected nine proposals to demonstrate new technologies for the second set of payloads to fly on commercial suborbital reusable launch vehicles and the Zero-G commercial parabolic aircraft. NASA is using commercially available vehicles to carry these technology demonstration payloads to help develop the U.S. commercial reusable suborbital transportation industry.
NASA’s Flight Opportunities Program provides test flights to demonstrate and validate space technologies on airborne platforms flying above 65,000 feet, the area known as “near space.” The program also supports parabolic flights that simulate brief periods of microgravity or weightlessness.
Read more below at the link to the NASA announcement: