Preflight screening techniques for centrifuge-simulated suborbital spaceflight

James M. Pattarini, Rebecca S. Blue, Tarah L. Castleberry, James M. Vanderploeg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Introduction: Historically, space has been the venue of the healthy individual. With the advent of commercial spaceflight, we face the novel prospect of routinely exposing spaceflight participants (SPFs) with multiple comorbidities to the space environment. Preflight screening procedures must be developed to identify those individuals at increased risk during flight. We examined the responses of volunteers to centrifuge accelerations mimicking commercial suborbital spaceflight profiles to evaluate how potential SFPs might tolerate such forces. We evaluated our screening process for medical approval of subjects for centrifuge participation for applicability to commercial spaceflight operations. Methods: All registered subjects completed a medical questionnaire, physical examination, and electrocardiogram. Subjects with identified concerns including cardiopulmonary disease, hypertension, and diabetes were required to provide documentation of their conditions. Results: There were 335 subjects who registered for the study, 124 who completed all prescreening, and 86 subjects who participated in centrifuge trials. Due to prior medical history, five subjects were disqualified, most commonly for psychiatric reasons or uncontrolled medical conditions. Of the subjects approved, four individuals experienced abnormal physiological responses to centrifuge profiles, including one back strain and three with anxiety reactions. Discussion: The screening methods used were judged to be sufficient to identify individuals physically capable of tolerating simulated suborbital flight. Improved methods will be needed to identify susceptibility to anxiety reactions. While severe or uncontrolled disease was excluded, many subjects successfully participated in centrifuge trials despite medical histories of disease that are disqualifying under historical spaceflight screening regimes. Such screening techniques are applicable for use in future commercial spaceflight operations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1217-1221
Number of pages5
JournalAviation Space and Environmental Medicine
Issue number12
StatePublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Commercial spaceflight participant
  • Diabetes
  • Hypergravity
  • Hypertension
  • Medical risk
  • Medical screening
  • Pulmonary disease

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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