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Drexel Doctor Leads Medical Training for Commercial Space Travel

October 1, 2007

Richard Hamilton, M.D., chairman of the Department of Emergency Medicine at Drexel University College of Medicine is leading the team that is evaluating the medical suitability of future commercial space travelers. Training for the first people to travel into space on a non-government sponsored vehicle is currently underway at Environmental Tectonics Corporation’s National Aerospace Training and Research (NASTARSM) Center in Southampton, Pennsylvania. The company has planned a grand opening launch ceremony October 4, which is open to the media. (www.nastarcenter.com/launch)

NASTARSM Center is equipped with leading-edge simulation technology, including a state-of-the-art human centrifuge that can provide commercial space travelers the ability to explore sustained elevated G exposure, and other technology which is used for training in altitude exposure, spatial disorientation, and other physiological effects of entering the space environment. Dr. Hamilton was selected to lead NASTARSM Center’s medical team in part because of his special expertise in aviation medicine, space flight physiology, and centrifuge-based training and simulation from his early career as a U.S. Navy flight surgeon.

“Commercial space travel is a physiologically stressful experience,” said Hamilton. “It requires the ability to withstand high G forces which can cause difficulty breathing, blackouts, motion sickness, cardiovascular stress, and other medical problems.”

NASTARSM Center announced in August that it has signed a contract with Virgin Galactic to provide training for Virgin Galactic's suborbital space travelers. Virgin Galactic is on track to become the world's first commercial spaceline and provider of private suborbital spaceflights. The first scheduled Virgin Galactic space travelers, known as Founders, have begun training at NASTARSM Center.

“This training is extremely important to prepare space travelers and insure safety,” said Hamilton. “I am honored and excited to be a part of this history-making process.”

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News Media Contact: Rachel Sparrow, Drexel University College of Medicine 215-255-7328, 267-716-0975 (cell) or rsparrow@drexelmed.edu

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