Spaceflight can impact just about every organ of the human body. The launch into space increases gravitational forces, which may decrease consciousness. Once subjected to the microgravity of outer space, the constant mechanical stress exerted on the body from Earth’s gravity decreases enormously, causing bone degeneration to occur. Calcium, a major component of bone is excreted in very high amounts, often leading to the formation of calcium kidney stones. Astronauts perform weight bearing exercise, take osteoporosis drugs and calcium and vitamin D supplements in order to combat bone loss. The vertebrae of the spine are also impacted by the lack of gravity. The spine actually expands up to two inches. On Earth, gravity pulls all the liquid of the body to the lower extremities. Without gravity, the liquids are equally dispersed throughout the body causing faces to appear puffy and increasing pressure on the brain due to excessive cerebrospinal fluid. The body responds to this liquid buildup by eliminating plasma and red blood cells, causing anemia. The increased fluids flatten astronaut’s eyeballs, and they often experience farsightedness. The immune system is also impacted during spaceflight as T-cells are not activated properly. Astronauts are also impacted by an excess radiation, which can increase the chances of future occurrences of cancer or cataracts. Muscle atrophy takes place as a result of microgravity as well as other factors. Exercise along with growth hormone, are recommended in order to combat the muscle degeneration. In space, the vestibular system of the ear does not function properly and impairs proper balance which can result in space motion sickness. Although many may not be aware, the benefits of the space program have impacted most everyone on Earth; as there have been dozens, if not hundreds of inventions and discoveries which were only developed because of the space program. Although the space program has benefitted humankind, the risks to the fragile human body are gargantuan. It would be preferable to continue the space exploration program remotely via robotics.
Feinzeig, S. D. (2014). How Does Spaceflight Affect the Human Body?. The Science Journal of the Lander College of Arts and Sciences, 8 (1). Retrieved from http://touroscholar.touro.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1077&context=sjlcas