Bioastronautics – at the interface of biology, medicine, engineering and space research– challenges the state of the art in human protection and integrative physiology. An astronaut who travels for long periods far from earth is affected by weightlessness, space radiation and psychological stress, and is utterly dependent on artificial life-support. Bones and muscles, cardiovascular regulation and sensory-motor control depend on gravity on earth and require protection during space flight. The challenge of bioastronautics is to protect the astronaut during and following long flights, and to provide air, water, food, and telemedicine, while dealing with the scientific issues of gravitational biology.
HST’s PhD Program in Bioastronautics prepares graduate students in space life sciences, aerospace engineering and space medicine for a broad range of possible career opportunities. It is funded by the National Space Biomedical Research Institute (NSBRI), a consortium of universities that works with NASA to prevent or solve health problems related to long-duration space travel and prolonged exposure to microgravity. HST's program is part of NSBRI's Mentored Research Program and is coordinated with a parallel program at Texas A&M University. The program provides its students with a combination of science and engineering coursework, clinical experiences, space-related research apprenticeships, and thesis research options at MIT, Harvard, and associated hospitals.