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A Second Space Age Spanning Omics, Platforms, and Medicine Across Orbits

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Abstract

The recent acceleration of commercial, private, and multi-national spaceflight has created an unprecedented level of activity in low Earth orbit (LEO), concomitant with the highest-ever number of crewed missions entering space and preparations for exploration-class (>1 year) missions. Such rapid advancement into space from many new companies, countries, and space-related entities has enabled a“Second Space Age.” This new era is also poised to leverage, for the first time, modern tools and methods of molecular biology and precision medicine, thus enabling precision aerospace medicine for the crews. The applications of these biomedical technologies and algorithms are diverse, encompassing multi-omic, single-cell, and spatial biology tools to investigate human and microbial responses to spaceflight. Additionally, they extend to the development of new imaging techniques, real-time cognitive assessments, physiological monitoring, and personalized risk profiles tailored for astronauts. Furthermore, these technologies enable advancements in pharmacogenomics (PGx), as well as the identification of novel spaceflight biomarkers and the development of corresponding countermeasures. In this review, we highlight some of the recent biomedical research from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), European Space Agency (ESA), and other space agencies, and also detail the commercial spaceflight sector’s (e.g. SpaceX, Blue Origin, Axiom, Sierra Space) entrance into aerospace medicine and space biology, the first aerospace medicine biobank, and the myriad upcoming missions that will utilize these tools to ensure a permanent human presence beyond LEO, venturing out to other planets and moons.

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Correspondence to Christopher E. Mason or Afshin Beheshti.

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Mason, C.E., Green, J., Adamopoulos, K.I. et al. A Second Space Age Spanning Omics, Platforms, and Medicine Across Orbits. Nature (2024). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-024-07586-8

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