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Exposure to the space environment has resulted in numerous alterations to homeostatic mechanisms within the human body. Immune suppression, musculoskeletal degradation, decreased cardiac output and fluid redistribution have all been reported throughout short and long term space flight. The goal of this review is to discover if long term interstellar travel is biologically possible for humans. The relative influence of cosmic radiation, microgravity, and high velocity travel on homeostasis has not been previously established for interstellar space travel. Real-time space flight data and ground-based studies were compiled from other researchers. This data was analyzed with the goal of establishing the relationship between the aforementioned environmental pressures and the corresponding homeostatic consequences. Meta-analysis revealed that the predicted homeostatic consequences of interstellar space flight do not significantly inhibit the body’s ability to function in the space environment. Although interstellar travel is mechanically restricted, it is biologically plausible provided proper defense mechanisms are applied. Further research must be directed towards eliminating mechanical restrictions including but not limited to propulsion mechanisms, circular sustainment systems, environmental protection and interstellar communication.
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Virginia Commonwealth University. Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program
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VCU Undergraduate Research Posters
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