Canadian Space Agency announces long lead time for new Human Analog Studies opportunity

Canadian Space Agency Funds Health Technologies for Deep-Space Exploration. Credit: Canadian Space Agency.

The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) has posted a new announcement of opportunity for Human Analog Studies. This follows an earlier announcement in 2019.

The announcement posted to the CSA website on Friday, October 29, 2021 is a grant opportunity with a maximum amount of funding per project of $200k. Applications are due by October 7, 2022. The projects must be completed within two years and can only begin after April 1, 2023, which coincides with the new fiscal year for the CSA.

The CSA is providing almost a full year to prepare proposals. Space health, and in particular deep space healthcare is an identified priority for Canada and was part of the 2019 Space Strategy.

The announcement is open to:

  • Canadian post-secondary institutions, defined as a Canadian university or college (including CEGEPs in Quebec) that has provincial accreditation to grant degrees, diplomas, certificates or other recognized qualifications;
  • Not for profit organizations established and operating in Canada that have research included in their institutional mandate, and that have a standing Research Ethics Board (as defined by the Tri-Council Policy Statement: Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans), or that delegate this responsibility to another institution’s recognized board.

Eligible projects “are those where Canadian researchers are involved as PI or as Co-I of a proposal that has been selected based on scientific merit through one of the international partner competitions.”

Examples of accepted competitions the CSA provided include:

  • Announcement of Opportunity for Human Research on Concordia, Antarctica (AO-2021-Concordia) (ESA)
  • Ground-Based Facilities (ESA)
  • Parabolic flights (ESA)
  • DLR Parabolic flights
  • SIRIUS – Isolation and confinement (NASA)
  • HERA – Isolation and confinement (NASA)

Background

The CSA provided background information to the Human Analog Studies announcement. Here’s an excerpt:

In the future, human exploration of space is expected to extend beyond Low Earth Orbit (LEO) to cis-lunar space, the surface of the Moon, and ultimately to distant targets such as Mars. The resulting expeditions will require extended periods of exposure to weightlessness and space radiation, with confinement and isolation in the extreme environment of space, all of which are linked to substantial human health and performance risks.

The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) is interested in human spaceflight and maintaining a healthy and highly qualified Canadian astronaut corps capable of participating in space exploration missions. Also, in line with the vision and priorities of the recent Space Strategy for Canada, the CSA aims to enable scientific opportunities and global partnerships, and to harness space to solve everyday challenges for Canadians.

To achieve this, the CSA’s Health and Life Sciences (HLS) group conducts activities generating knowledge in fields that sustain human space flights, mitigate health risks and develop countermeasures for these missions. Since time and resources on ISS are limited, CSA aims to broaden science opportunities in order to enhance and supplement flight investigations on the International Space Station (ISS) and to optimize utilization of CSA’s ISS allocation.

The intent of this Announcement of Opportunity (AO) is to provide financial support to researchers in Canadian Universities, post-secondary institutions, and not for profit organizations to conduct science investigations that will lead to a better understanding of human spaceflight risks while contributing to improve remote medicine and health benefits here on Earth. The focus of research to be funded in this AO will be on human-subject space analogue studies that reproduce the health and performance factors of space environments such as variable gravity, isolation, and confinement. Well-designed ground studies are valuable for improving the understanding of the risks of spaceflight or for initial validation of new countermeasures. The studies targeted in this AO must be precursors of Canadian investigations on the ISS.

Human Analog Studies Objectives

The CSA states the objectives of this opportunity “must have as their objective to increase scientific knowledge that will contribute to the efforts toward the understanding, mitigation or elimination of health risks associated with human space exploration, and to generate scientific insights that will contribute to applications on Earth.”

Specifically they must:

  • Create an opportunity for new space life science experiments to generate knowledge and insight into the risks of human space flight, with the ultimate objective to keep astronauts healthy in space. All proposed studies must clearly indicate how they are a direct precursor of future Canadian investigations on the ISS;
  • Advance understanding of similar health issues or applications on Earth, that could contribute to improving health of Canadians;
  • Foster the development of highly qualified personnel (HQP), and inclusion of diversity of HQP in space health and life sciences.

About Marc Boucher

Boucher is an entrepreneur, writer, editor & publisher. He is the founder of SpaceQ Media Inc. and CEO and co-founder of SpaceRef Interactive Inc. Boucher has 20 years working in various roles in the space industry and a total of 28 years as a technology entrepreneur including creating Maple Square, Canada's first internet directory and search engine.

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