Astronauts who suffer chest trauma such as a collapsed lung could soon have a new technology to save their lives: The payloads aboard Blue Origin’s suborbital test flight Tuesday (Dec. 12) included a NASA-funded space technology that could treat the dangerous injury.
If an astronaut suffered a collapsed lung, the crew would have to return to Earth immediately. That’s because collapsed lungs are treated with gravity-dependent collectors that don’t work in microgravity, NASA officials said in a statement.
Instead, the newly launched device uses suction to keep the lungs inflated continuously and to store blood for transfusion. The version of the device that flew on Blue Origin’s New Shepard spacecraft included a device called a pneumothorax simulator that the system could be tested on to see how it would remove air and blood from a collapsed lung.