Human Space Physiology Training Course 2018

What is it really like to live in space? What happens to the body in microgravity? Now, thanks to a new training course being offered by ESA’s Education and Space Medicine Offices, medical and biology university students can find out.

ESA’s Space Medicine Office and Education Office invite BSc and MSc university students studying medicine, allied healthcare subjects, life, biomedical or biomedical sciences to apply to the Human Space Physiology training course. The course will be held between 20 March and 24 March 2018, when selected students from partner organisations will be invited to the ESA European Astronaut Centre whilst there is an open competition for limited places at the Academy Training and Learning Centre at ESA’s Redu Centre in Belgium.

Students will discover how spaceflight represents a significant physiological challenge for the human body. Having evolved in Earth’s gravity, our bodies must adapt when in microgravity. These changes to the human body must be understood in order to be able to develop effective strategies to support humans during prolonged missions to space. 

During the four-day course, students will learn from ESA and external experts. They will learn about the range of approaches used to study the physiological effects of spaceflight, including various ground-based analogues and models of the space environment, such as long-term (head down) bed rest and over-wintering in Antarctica. Approaches to mitigate the effects of weightlessness on the human body will also be discussed.

In addition to face-to-face and videoconference lectures, students will work on a mini-project in small groups and will present it to the other participants on the final day of the course. Topics will include major issues and challenges facing human spaceflight such as: Female flyers - how could/should female astronaut health be addressed?; Bouncing babies: what could the biological effect of being born in partial gravity be on human development?


In summary, the students can expect to be introduced to the following topics: 

  • What it’s really like to live in space;
  • The challenges, lessons, and successes that have led to permanent occupation of the International Space Station, and the conditions it must provide to protect and support life;
  • How Human Space Physiology research is performed both in space and on Earth;
  • How the senses perceive being ‘weightless’ in an orbiting space vehicle;
  • How key physiological systems respond to microgravity, what mechanisms underlie these changes, and some approaches that may be used to mitigate such effects;
  • Major issues and challenges facing current human spaceflight and future space exploration.

For more information visit ESA, or contact j.vanloon@vumc.nl or david.green@esa.int, Education Coordinator for the European Astronaut Centre.