The Apollo Medical Operations Project: Recommendations to improve crew health and performance for future exploration missions and lunar surface operations
Introduction: Medical requirements for the future crew exploration vehicle (CEV), lunar surface access module (LSAM), advanced extravehicular activity (EVA) suits, and Lunar habitat are currently being developed within the exploration architecture. While much is known about the vehicle and lunar surface activities during Apollo, relatively little is known about whether the hardware, systems, or environment impacted crew health or performance during these missions. Also, inherent to the proposed aggressive surface activities is the potential risk of injury to crewmembers. The Space Medicine Division at the NASA Johnson Space Center (JSC) requested a study in December 2005 to identify Apollo mission issues relevant to medical operations impacting crew health and/or performance during a lunar mission. The goals of this project were to develop or modify medical requirements for new vehicles and habitats, create a centralized database for future access, and share relevant Apollo information with various working groups participating in the exploration effort. Methods: A review of medical operations during Apollo missions 7-17 was conducted. Ten categories of hardware, systems, or crew factors were identified during preliminary data review generating 655 data records which were captured in an Access® database. The preliminary review resulted in 285 questions. The questions were posed to surviving Apollo crewmembers using mail, face-to-face meetings, phone communications, or online interactions. Results: Fourteen of 22 surviving Apollo astronauts (64%) participated in the project. This effort yielded 107 recommendations for future vehicles, habitats, EVA suits, and lunar surface operations. Conclusions: To date, the Apollo Medical Operations recommendations are being incorporated into the exploration mission architecture at various levels and a centralized database has been developed. The Apollo crewmember's input has proved to be an invaluable resource. We will continue soliciting input from this group as we continue to evolve and refine requirements for the future exploration missions.