Space Medicine Office

The Space Medicine Office develops programmes for preventive health as well as human behaviour and performance, and provides medical training and support to astronauts.

Keeping fit in space

The office is responsible for astronaut selection, certification and recertification, and consists of medical personnel, biomedical engineers, fitness specialists, psychologists, IT specialists, administrators and project managers.

Our medical personnel is composed of flight surgeons, psychologists, exercise specialists and a flight nurse. They are responsible for astronaut’s medical and psychological wellbeing during all mission phases. They monitor health risks and the impacts caused by living in space. They coordinate the physical exercise and the work schedule for ESA astronauts on missions.

Before flight, the surgeon and the psychologist implement and coordinate detailed medical examinations to ensure an astronaut is healthy enough to fly in space. During a space mission medical personnel permanently monitor and protect crew health. The surgeon is in constant communication with the crew. The flight surgeon assists the crew at landing and, helped by all medical personnel, oversees the entire post-flight process, including assessment of physical and mental wellbeing, science testing and comprehensive rehabilitation to return the astronaut to the same level of health he or she had before spaceflight.

Biomedical engineers

Biomedical engineers coordinate the operations needed for efficient and high-quality medical support during an ESA astronaut mission. From the dedicated medical control room in Cologne, they communicate with the Columbus control team in Oberpfaffenhofen and Space Station medical teams all over the world. They are the eyes and ears of the ESA surgeons.

For other activities and support related to human health in space, the Medical Projects and Technology Unit has specialists in exercise science, information technology, medical education and project management. These specialists prepare operations and help develop the next generation of space-medicine experts.

Last update: 19 December 2013

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