Health Care Network

23 April 2004

ESA has more than 12 years experience of safeguarding the health of European astronauts, both male and female. Now it intends to use this experience to increase the wellbeing of people on Earth.

The Heath Care Network is an innovative network created by ESA to develop, promote and commercialise solutions for healthcare and wellbeing derived from space research and development. Its prime target is the service sector and industries working in the growing market of wellness and preventive medicine. The network will collaborate with European institutions, industries and service providers to use science and technology to improve health and the quality of life here on Earth.

The Network’s management office is at ESA’s European Astronaut Centre (EAC), in Cologne, Germany. This ensures that it remains in close contact with new developments relating to space and health.

Space solutions for health

Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity

Astronauts are extremely fit people - they have to be to withstand the stress of the powerful surge at liftoff and the effect on the body of living in the microgravity conditions of space. Scientists, doctors and industry have been working for many years on ways to alleviate this stress on the body and to ensure that it has no long-lasting effects. The result: space medicine designed both to relieve the effects of debilitating conditions and to prevent them arising, can benefit everyone, not just astronauts.

Many of the solutions designed for astronauts are already being used in preventive medicine, as well as the results of innovative medical research carried out by astronauts in the unique weightless environment that is space. A few examples:

  • sensors designed to monitor astronaut’s bodies can monitor babies and the elderly
  • nutritional guidelines and exercise regimes designed for astronauts can improve health and prevent obesity
  • resistance trainers, used in space to prevent muscle loss in microgravity, are now used by professional footballers and can help prevent osteoporosis
  • shock absorption systems designed for space can protect diabetics from foot injuries

Way forward

Using the ESA Space Solutions label, the Health Care Network will position itself as a business-to-business provider of know how and technologies, bringing added value to industries in the wellness and health market.

For more information on the ESA Health Care Network visit the website at http://www.esa.int/SPECIALS/EHCN, or please contact:

Filippo Ongaro, M.D.
Manager of the ESA Health Care Network
European Space Agency/European Astronaut Centre
Phone: +49-2003-6001135
Fax: +49-2203-6001103
Email: filippo.ongaro@esa.int

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