HOUSTON INNOVATORS PODCAST EPISODE 189
Houston innovator on the importance of commercial missions for the future of space health research
With the rise of commercial space flight, researchers have increased access to space health data that's key to the future of the industry as a whole. The organization that's conducting this valuable research is based right in Houston's Texas Medical Center.
TRISH, or the Translational Research Institute for Space Health, is an organization based out of Baylor College of Medicine and partnered with NASA's Human Spaceflight group. As commercial space companies have emerged, TRISH has strategically aligned with these businesses to bring back health data from the civilian trips.
“Most of the research that’s done at NASA and other government agencies usually takes decades to get something that could be implemented in space or terrestrially," Dr. Emmanuel Urquieta, chief medical officer for TRISH, says on the Houston Innovators Podcast. "What we do at TRISH is something different.
"On the one hand, we look at really new technologies that are just an idea, but could be really game changing," he continues. "Then on the other hand, we look at technologies already in the market that could be tweaked to work in spaceflight.”
Since 2021, TRISH has conducted its research on four missions — Inspiration4, the first all-civilian mission to space; Axiom Mission 1, the first all civilian mission to the International Space Station; MS20, which flew two Japanese civilians to ISS; and, most recently, Axiom Mission 2, which included the first all-private crew commanded by a woman and two members of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia's national astronaut program.
“We really saw the value of implementing research in civilians because they are different from your traditional government astronaut,” Urquieta says. “In civilians, you see a more diverse population.”
Urquieta says TRISH's experiments on these missions all fall within a few pillars of space health, including space's effects on sensory motor skills, like balance and motion sickness, as well as mental health, environmental data from the vehicles, vital monitoring, and more.
“We’ve developed a capability to collect high-priority, high-value data from these space flight participants without having to train them for long periods of time — which is a challenge, because they don’t train for years like traditional astronauts,” he explains.
The plan, Urquieta says, is to be able to share TRISH's space health data in order to more safely send humans into space. He shares more about TRISH's program and the challenges the organization faces on the show. Listen to the interview below — or wherever you stream your podcasts — and subscribe for weekly episodes.