After dropping hints a couple weeks ago, William Shatner confirmed Monday that he’s heading up into area on Oct. 12 on Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket—making him, on the age of 90, the oldest individual to ever go into area.
Shatner has the spunk of a person many years youthful—he was doling out insults on Twitter proper after the announcement—however touring into area comes with some bodily stress. So even when Shatner is in nice form for his superior age, is it actually protected for him to go away the planet?
New Shepard flights aren’t your traditional journey into area—they’re “suborbital” flights that take you beneath the edge the place one begins to orbit the Earth. These missions shoot as much as solely about 66 miles excessive. Passengers spend only some minutes in weightlessness (although the view of Earth is unparalleled), earlier than the capsule heads again to Earth and parachute lands within the desert. It’s removed from the journey into area that NASA astronauts have wanted “the correct stuff” to finish.
However whereas the dangers are lots decrease than a typical journey into area, that is nonetheless no cakewalk. New Shepard passengers expertise g-forces of as much as 6 g vertically, with the brunt of strain felt of their head and torso. That’s greater than the common curler coaster, and it’s fairly well-documented that many individuals will really feel tunnel imaginative and prescient and potential black out at even 4 or 5 g vertically. The physique begins to alter and expertise one thing radically totally different from what it’s used to as quickly as these rocket engines hearth up.
Dr. Emmanuel Urquieta, a professor of area medication on the Baylor School of Drugs in Texas, instructed The Day by day Beast there are two main techniques that bear modifications throughout spaceflight. The primary is the cardiovascular system, as a result of all of the fluid within the physique begins to shift round. Blood strikes away from the legs, and is pulled up into the test and neck. “You’re feeling like your head has been flushed swiftly, like an enormous sinus situation,” he stated. For a brief flight just like the one Shatner is happening, there must be virtually nothing past minor points that come up, however it’s not straightforward to foretell how some our bodies will react.
The second is the sensory motor system. The largest situation is probably going movement illness—with out gravity to maintain you upright and with the jostling and pressures on the physique created by an excellent quick journey into area, it’s straightforward for the physique to lose its lunch. That is very true when the spacecraft’s engines shut off all of the sudden and the crew all of the sudden stops accelerating by at g-forces.
Urquieta stated that from a basic perspective, these are the 2 techniques medical doctors want to concentrate to for anybody going into area, “particularly for an older inhabitants.” The dangers of underlying situations like coronary heart arrhythmias or inner-ear issues go up with age.
A minimum of from the skin, Urquieta doesn’t suppose there’s something that will recommend Shatner has one thing to fret about. In public, Shatner appears about as wholesome as a 90-year-old could possibly be. A misdiagnosis of prostate cancer in 2016 was his most high-profile well being scare.
Urquieta emphasised that every one these new spaceflight firms like Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic have their very own medical screening to make sure solely wholesome individuals are going up, with no authorities laws??. “There’s no standardized medical standards for screening spaceflight prospects,” he stated. “The Federal Aviation Administration simply has basic steerage that it points.”
And finally, we simply don’t have a variety of expertise with older folks going into area. Earlier than Funk, the oldest individual to ever go into area was John Glenn, at age 77 in 1998.
Shatner can be eight years older than aviation pioneer Wally Funk, who went up into space along with Jeff Bezos in July however she went up and got here again and not using a single hiccup attributable to her age. “I cherished each minute of it,” she instructed reporters after she got here again to Earth.
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