Completion of the NASA Flight Opportunities Grant

Orbital Medicine successfully completed a second flight campaign under the auspices of the NASA Flight Opportunities Grant. This flight campaign was undertaken in conjunction with the Reduced Gravity Flight Education Program.

It was exciting to see the pioneering work done by students at some of the United States top universities.

Orbital Medicine wishes to thank both the Flight Opportunities Program, Zero-G Corporation and the Reduced Gravity Office for the assistance in completing the successful research campaign.

The experimental results are being used to create the next generation research designs.

First microgravity flight day

Orbital Medicine had a successful field test of the prototype structure for a medical chest drainage device today. The flight test took place from Ellington Field, TX with the NASA Reduced Gravity Office. Flown on the Zero G 727-200 parabolic aircraft, the device was tested under lunar and zero gravity conditions.  The first tested configurations successfully separated the simulated blood from the air under both gravity conditions and would provide an effective treatment of a pneumothorax in an emergency.

Further flight testing on additional configurations will continue through the end of the week. Two flight are planned for Thursday, weather permitting.

Flight week update

The Orbital Medicine research project has passed the NASA flight readiness review and has been loaded on the Zero G corporation 727-200 in the flight configuration. Should the weather hold out with a visible horizon tomorrow the chest tube drainage system will have it’s maiden microgravity flight thanks to NASA Flight Opportunities and the NASA Reduced Gravity Office.

Dr. Cuttino will be joined by Dr. Shawn Borich, and Dr. Greg Kovacs on the flight tomorrow. Ground support will be by Richard Wiard.

Orbital Medicine’s NASA Parabolic Flight scheduled

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.

Increasing the Technology Readiness Level

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.

Orbital Medicine

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

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.”

http://humanresearchroadmap.nasa.gov/evidence/reports/ExMC.pdf

Orbital Medicine helps NASA and the commercial spaceflight industry create, develop and test medical devices and procedures to ensure a safer space exploration capability.

Space Medicine Services

  • Emergency medical planning
  • Medical monitoring and support for the ground crew during payload ground processing
  • Medical monitoring and support for flight crew and passengers during flight operations
  • Pre-launch and post-landing activities
  • Biomedical studies and research support
  • Support to flight crew physiological experimentation and human research resources
  • Emergency Medical Services (EMS) oversight
  • Aviation Medical Examinations
  • Medical Consultations
  • Aviation Physiology
  • Accident and Incident response
  • Human factors support
  • Payload and medical specialists available for flight operations