Astronaut Scott Kelly had to spend about a year aboard the Intenational Space Station for researchers to learn about the long-term effects of space flight on the human body.
About 10 teenagers learned some of those same lessons last week during the Cosmosphere’s first-ever Space Rx camp.
“It’s so unique, and everybody in the industry is talking about the next big thing – Mars,” Mimi Meredith, vice president of development at the Cosmosphere said.
But sending astronauts to Mars, which at its closest is more than 100 times farther away than the moon, will require addressing the effects of long-term space flight on the human body. Meredith said that will require more than engineers and astronauts – it will take nutritionists, physical therapists and all sorts of other medical professionals.
Tracey Tomme, Cosmosphere vice president for education, said the idea for Space Rx came around three years ago when someone told her about a non-space medical camp. Hutchinson Regional Medical Center and the Hutchinson Clinic both embraced the idea, she said. But the planned camp didn’t see enough enrollees a year ago.
That changed this year, however. All of the campers signing up, coindentally, turned out to be girls.
In addition to trips to medical facilities to hear from doctors and other health care professionals, the group also got a cooking class at Apron Strings, focused on foods that would work well in weightlessness – which includes avoiding foods that generate a lot of crumbs, Tomme said.
Camp counselor Savannah Kipfer, a University of Kansas aerospace engineering student, said she was surprised to learn how big the effects of prolonged spaceflight could be, including how much bone density could be lost.
Tomme credited Sandy Heisler and Kris Friesen for helping create the camp and find presenters, who included Jeremy Patterson, Dr. Ryan Amick, Dr. Michael Hagley, Mark Hall, Dr. Christopher Kain, Dr. Steve…