18:25 PM

Hayes among leading scientists, astronauts to present at UHCL summit to discuss extended duration spaceflight


NASA’s Chief Science Officer in the Human Health and Performance Directorate Judith Hayes was among 20 practitioners and nationally known experts to present at the Spaceflight Human Optimization and Performance Summit 2023 at University of Houston-Clear Lake last week.

 The summit’s goal was to connect high performance thought leaders in the fields of strength and conditioning, nutrition, psychology, sport science and other related disciplines in a forum to explore all aspects of the physical readiness of astronauts for extended duration space flight.

In her presentation, Hayes gave a historical overview of exercise in space, focusing on the risks to human systems during spaceflight.

“What we do at NASA is target our activities just to solve problems astronauts face,” Hayes said. “They include orthostatic intolerance, muscle loss, bone loss, loss of urinary calcium, and other conditions,” she said. “Some of these changes start even after just a few days in space. And as we get close to Mars, we have a lot of ‘red’ risks—that means we have a lot to do in that area.”

Spaceflight-associated neuro-ocular syndrome, which affects the eye, is part of the scope of her research, as well as psycho-social challenges that arise from extended duration spaceflight like confinement, stress, cognition, and sleep disruption.

The summit also introduced attendees to the logistical constraints of space travel, historical counter exercise measures, and some speculation on the human performance needs of astronauts who could travel to the moon or Mars.

Additional presenters included former astronaut and retired Navy SEAL Chris Cassidy, who keynoted the event, former astronaut and retired Army Colonel Shane Kimbrough, and Lead Sport Scientist at New Balance Barry Spiering.

The event was made possible through a partnership with KBR and UHCL.