Spaceflights Are Safer For Women Than Men: New Study Reveals

13th Jun 2024
Spaceflights Are Safer For Women Than Men: New Study Reveals

Based on the Inspiration4 crew, the new study data focuses on astronauts’ immune changes and concludes that males appear to be more affected by spaceflight than females. 

Since 1961, around 680 astronauts have traveled to space, only 78 of whom were women. Despite their achievements, women have historically faced gender biases and underrepresentation in the field of space exploration. The new US study may change this.

Women may be more resilient than men to stresses of spaceflight

Spaceflight exposes individuals and their immune systems to unique environmental factors, including microgravity, fluid shifts, and radiation. 

The scientific paper analyzes the effect of space travel on astronauts’ immune systems and reveals conserved and distinct immune disruptions.

The research was conducted for the four-member crew (two women and two men) of the SpaceX Inspiration4 mission in 2021. Around 50 scientists took part in the research.

The Inspiration4 crew: Jared Isaacman, Sian Proctor, Hayley Arceneaux and Chris Sembroski. Credit: JOHN KRAUS/Inspiration4

What did scientists find out?

One of the angles of the research is sex-specific responses to spaceflight. Such unusual conditions affect the health of both men and women. However, scientists observed that males appear to be more affected by spaceflight, for almost all cell types and metrics, experiencing slower recovery when back on Earth. The aggregate data indicates that the gene regulatory and immune response to spaceflight is more sensitive in males. 

The molecular measures from the Inspiration4 crew were compared to prior missions: the NASA Twins Study, NASA JSC data, JAXA cfRNA and meta-analysis of the space-flown mouse studies, which mostly confirmed the observations. 

“More studies will be needed to confirm these trends, but such results can have implications for recovery times and possibly crew selection (e.g., more females) for high-altitude, lunar, and deep space missions” – authors write in the paper.

Space industry is unstoppable and people’s interest in space exploration has reached a new level. Many commercial missions are planned for the next few years (Axiom, SpaceX), NASA plans to put the first woman on the Moon. So, more individuals with diverse physical and biomedical backgrounds can be sent to space. 

Aerospace medicine is focused on how the human body reacts to spaceflight and recovers from it. Thus, the data from this research, based on the Inspiration4 crew (both women and men), can be crucial for reducing health risks for future space travelers.

Leave a Reply Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Related Articles

Explore Orbital Today