USA Today August 21, 2010
This Associated Press story on private space travel is receiving widespread national coverage. The Federal Aviation Administration announced this week a partnership with universities and industry groups to address the challenges facing commercial space transportation. James Vanderploeg, a professor of aerospace medicine at UTMB, said he is interested in finding ways to safely enable passengers with high blood pressure, diabetes and other medical conditions who want to experience zero gravity. “How do you evaluate those individuals, what kind of medical monitoring might be required, what sort of conditions would be acceptable to fly?” he said. Vanderploeg said he has spent the last four years testing about 80 people who have paid Virgin Galactic $200,000 for a ticket or made a deposit for their journey. He said those people trained on a centrifuge that simulates weightlessness, and the tests have found the majority of the group, even those in their 70s and 80s, could handle the gravitational force of a rocket launch and reentry to Earth. The story also appears in the Miami Herald, San Francisco Chronicle and Denver Post.