Disabled People In Space, Commercial Spaceflight Edition

I was quoted in this Space.com article about health risks for commercial spaceflight.

I want to add: Painting very specific and culturally informed ideas of what constitutes an ideal body as what we should seek for space travelers simply doesn’t hold when we’re talking about about space flight and space travel – since none of these places will be the environmental niche in which we’ve developed.

That’s a long way to say: what we think of as ideal on Earth won’t make any sense as ideal outside of the context of Earth.

It’s already the case that what we think of as ideal on Earth is heavily influenced by culture and sports and masculinity (see Cora Olson’s work for interesting conversations about sports, hormones, and norms), but it’s even more extremely wrongheaded to launch these misinformed/unquestioned ideals into outer space.

It’s time to throw out many of our preconceptions about what bodies fare best when we’re regarding environments radically different from what we have now.

I have a lot of worries about who will *continue to be* excluded from air travel as we talk about commercial spaceflight. It’s already terrible out there for many disabled travellers. There should be a whole post on this at another time…

Also, this view of “screening out pathologies” needs more interrogation than a blog post.

Author: techanddis

Dr. Ashley Shew, Assistant Professor, Virginia Tech. Please address queries to shew@vt.edu.

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