These days astronauts are some of the healthiest and physically robust individuals that NASA can get a hold of. But one day we may see all kinds of people going to space, even those with heart conditions. Shelbi Klingsporn, a Nebraska high school student had the idea to test whether an existing pacemaker is able to handle the vibrations, radiation, and weightlessness of space to get a sense of whether pacemakers have a future in the final frontier.
Medtronic‘s Micra pacemaker is so small that it fits inside the heart and is delivered in a minimally invasive fashion. Conveniently, it is also small enough to fit inside a 4 cm square box that’s a standard size of the Cubes in Space project. Cubes in Space relies on NASA sounding rockets to deliver a bunch of small high school experiments into space for a few minutes, but without putting them into orbit. The rocket flies in a parabolic trajectory and the flight lasts only about ten minutes. Nevertheless, this is long enough, and the flight is traumatic enough, to get a pretty good idea of the pacemaker’s performance.
The flight is scheduled for Thursday, June 22 and can be seen live at this link. We wish the Micra a safe flight and hoping to hear that it will have worked just fine throughout the journey, as it will keep open the possibility of visits to space for a lot of people.