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Astronauts can suffer a DECADE of bone loss during longer spaceflights due to zero gravity

Astronauts sacrifice a lot to investigate the mysteries of deep space and it is well known that the gravitational environment leads to bone loss.

However, new research shows that astronauts participating in spaceflights lasting longer than three months may show signs of incomplete bone repair even after a full year back on Earth.

“The adverse effect of spaceflight on skeletal tissue could be significant,” reads the opening sentence of the study published today in Scientific Reports

“We found that weight-bearing bones in most astronauts only partially recovered a year after spaceflight,” said Leigh Gabel, an assistant professor of Kinesiology and lead author of the study, in a statement. pronunciation

The impact of gravity on an astronaut's bones could be

The impact of gravity on an astronaut’s bones could be “profound,” according to the study. Pictured above is astronaut Tom Marshburn after pinning the official NASA astronaut badge to ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Matthias Maurer after the Crew-3 Crew Dragon ‘Endurance’ was successfully docked to the International Space Station

“This suggests that the permanent bone loss from spaceflight is about the same as a decade of age-related bone loss on Earth.”

Started in 2017, the study followed 17 astronauts before and after spaceflights for seven years to determine how bone does or does not recover after longer spaceflights.

Researchers went to the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas and scanned the astronauts’ wrists and ankles before taking off for space.

One year after returning from a prolonged space flight, most astronauts showed incomplete recovery of bone density, strength and trabecular thickness at the weight-bearing distal tibia.

Incomplete recovery of bone density and strength was more pronounced in astronauts flying on longer duration missions, researchers found.  Pictured above is the International Space Station as photographed by Expedition 56 . crew members

Incomplete recovery of bone density and strength was more pronounced in astronauts flying on longer duration missions, researchers found. Pictured above is the International Space Station as photographed by Expedition 56 . crew members

When astronauts float in microgravity, their bones, which would bear the weight on Earth, don’t have to carry any weight.

“Understanding what happens to astronauts and how they recover is incredibly rare. It lets us look at the processes that take place in the body in such a short period of time. We would have to follow someone on Earth for decades to see the same amount of bone loss,” explains Gabel.

Incomplete recovery of bone density and strength was more pronounced in astronauts flying on longer duration missions, whose bone loss after spaceflight was significantly higher than astronauts on shorter missions.

Researchers noted that astronauts all react differently to the physical effects of space travel.

All astronauts recover differently when it comes to the impact of gravity.  Pictured above is the deployment of science experiments by Astronaut Edwin Aldrin Jr., photographed by Astronaut Neil Armstrong during the Apollo 11 Moon mission.

All astronauts recover differently when it comes to the impact of gravity. Pictured above is the deployment of science experiments by Astronaut Edwin Aldrin Jr., photographed by Astronaut Neil Armstrong during the Apollo 11 Moon mission.

“We’ve seen astronauts who had difficulty walking due to weakness and lack of balance after returning from spaceflight, to others who rode their bicycles happily on the Johnson Space Center campus to meet us for a study visit,” said Dr. Steven Body, director of the McCaig Institute for Bone and Joint Health and professor at the Cumming School of Medicine, who began the study.

As space travel enters a new era where long-term missions are more common, the study plans to explore the impact of even longer travel in its next iteration.”

Astronaut Robert Thirsk knows how bizarre returning to Earth can be: ‘Just as the body has to adapt to spaceflight at the beginning of a mission, it also has to adapt to Earth’s gravitational field at the end,’ says Thirsk, the former Chancellor of Ucalgary. †

WHEN LATER LAUNCHED NASA MANNED MISSIONS FROM US?

Shuttle Columbia is shown launching from Kennedy Space Center in 2003

Shuttle Columbia is shown launching from Kennedy Space Center in 2003

NASA launched its first space shuttle, Space Shuttle Columbia (STS-1), from Kennedy Space Center on April 12, 1981.

In the three decades that followed, the space agency conducted a total of 135 missions from American soil.

Columbia was just the beginning; following in his footsteps, NASA launched Challenger, Discovery, Atlantis and Endeavor to take humans to orbit.

These launches also enabled the construction of the International Space Station – the largest structure in space, now home to a revolving crew of astronauts from around the world, conducting important experiments that continue to advance our understanding of the cosmos.

The shuttle missions came to an end on July 21, 2011 with the Atlantis shuttle after STS-135.

In the years since, NASA relied on Russian modules to send astronauts to the ISS, all of which are launched from foreign soil.

Now the space agency has turned to the private sector to provide space taxi services, to bring astronauts from American soil to the ISS.

On August 3, 2018, NASA revealed that astronauts would fly on the Boeing CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX Crew Dragon.

So far, only SpaceX has successfully brought astronauts to the ISS, but it is hoped that the first Starliner flight will take place in 2022.

The shuttle missions came to an end on July 21, 2011 with the Atlantis shuttle after STS-135.  Above, Atlantis lands at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, marking the official end of its 30-year program

The shuttle missions came to an end on July 21, 2011 with the Atlantis shuttle after STS-135. Above, Atlantis lands at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, marking the official end of its 30-year program

Fatigue, light-headedness and imbalance were immediate challenges for me upon my return. Bones and muscles take the longest to recover after spaceflight.

“But within a day of landing, I felt comfortable as an Earthling again.”

The research team consisted of two members of the European Space Agency (ESA), Dr. Anna-Maria Liphardt and Martina Heer, as well as two from NASA, Dr. Scott Smith and Dr. Jean Sibonga.

The study was funded by the Canadian Space Agency and conducted in collaboration with ESA, NASA and astronauts from North America, Europe and Asia.

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