Skip to Content
SBMI Horizontal Logo

Healthcare Informatics and Process Support for Human Spaceflight Operations

Author: John D. Calhoun, MS Statistic (2013)

Primary Advisor:  Sriram Iyengar, PhD

Masters thesis, The University of Texas School of Biomedical Informatics at Houston.


The exploration of space presents significant challenges to the well-being of the human traveler. Nonetheless it seems inevitable mankind extends its presence beyond low Earth Orbit, eventually traveling and living on terrestrial surfaces other than Earth. Comprehensive knowledge of engineered systems and an ever increasing understanding of the physical nature of our universe continue to drive innovations in technology, constraining limitations to those of the physical nature of man alone. This paper provides an overview of efforts underway to begin initial development of the human healthcare support systems needed to enable the journey. It also includes a discussion of the general framework elements upon which the “human support” systems for space travel are conceptualized, designed, and implemented. The framework, hereafter referred to as “The foundations of Healthcare for Space Applications”, is a threefold base of informatics, decision support, and process supplementation. Outcomes of the student practicum in the area of space medicine are reviewed, along with an assessment of current developments in healthcare for human space exploration mission systems. Knowledge gained from the experience is used to assess the impact of collaboration, decision support and process supplementation on administration of effective medical care programs for space travel and exploration. Specific attention is given to discussion of a collaborative approach to integration of all required support functions into a single integrated, natural use “process cycle” concept.

Keywords: spaceflight informatics, healthcare collaboration, process visualization tract