Calendar of Cool: First Department of Space Medicine Established

On this day in, 1949 the first Department of Space Medicine was established.

This day in 1949 the United States Air Force School of Aviation Medicine at Randolph Field, Texas established the first Department of Space Medicine, and Dr. Hubertus Strughold became its first professor. Strughold had already been the director of aeromedical research for the German Air Force and had earlier accepted an invitation to join the staff of the USAF School of Aviation Medicine, when Col. Harry G. Armstrong, a pioneer in the field, had gathered together certain leading German scientists.

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The reason space medicine is so important is because astronauts face a very different environment on a space station than they might experience at home on Earth. The human body builds up strength because it must fight against the pull of gravity at all times. Humans in orbiting space stations do not feel the pull of gravity while in orbit and float freely about the station.

float

This lack of exposure to gravity causes a reduction in muscle tone and bone mass, which can weaken the body so much that it may be hard for astronauts to stand unassisted when they first return to Earth. Russian Cosmonauts learned that you must exercise diligently in order to keep up your strength while living in space.

exercise

Doctors whose job is to help us live in space and could help us live on other worlds in the future? Astronomically cool!

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