The primary concerns of space medicine are the health and safety of the astronauts, the subtle changes to the human body that occur in weightless conditions, and the hazards of irradiation by solar protons and cosmic rays.
The Medical Operations team at the European Astronauts Centre is responsible for the wellbeing of astronauts before, during and after spaceflight. But there is growing interest in the contribution that space can make to medicine on the ground. For example, a Swiss-led research team will culture cartilage cells in weightless conditions on the International Space Station, with a view to re-implanting them to repair knee injuries.
Last update: 14 October 2004