Two Big Health Summits Coming up for Canadian Space Community

Two big health summits coming up for Canadian space community. Credit: Canadian Space Agency.

As Canada pushes further into deep space exploration, the Canadian Space Agency is holding its Health Beyond Summit on Nov. 29 for the following three days.

The free, virtual summit aims to bring together scientists, health care professionals, entrepreneurs, Indigenous stakeholders, policymakers and other interested groups across government, industry and academia. Registration is available here and if all goes well, the summit may become an annual event.

“One thing that we’re mindful to do with our initiatives is to connect with all the stakeholders, not only in Canada but internationally,” Annie Martin, manager of CSA’s Health Beyond portfolio, told SpaceQ.

Health Beyond seeks to find harmonies between astronaut health and health in related realms, like senior care or Indigenous technologies. In other words, it is seeking community involvement and investment in creating medical technologies for deep space that potentially could be repurposed for Earth applications.

“Our vision is being refined and we want to share with the stakeholders,” Martin said of the conference. “We also want to give the opportunity to innovators and researchers to come and talk about what they do so that it becomes a moment for all the community to get together and network and exchange and discuss ideas.”

The summit is taking place around the next expected launch time for Artemis 1, a moon mission being framed as a key milestone for Canadian space exploration. The successor crewed mission, Artemis 2, will bring a Canadian and a set of experiments around the moon. Meanwhile, Canada is working on the MDA-led Canadarm3 robotic arm to support NASA’s planned Gateway space station for Artemis moon missions.

In other words, the summit represents a moment to talk about deep space health care (also a theme of one of Canada’s ongoing challenges for the community) and how that affects stakeholders in Indigenous affairs, senior health, technologisists, roboticists and others that may be interested in offering care in remote environments here on Earth.

One of the summit’s priorities will be discussing the Connected Care Medical Module, which in essence seeks to empower astronauts to manage their own health care with the assistance of remote health technologies (read our other SpaceQ article for more details).

Martin emphasized that the vision for this module is flexible, and the summit will be key in helping CSA “shape a vision” in its efforts to be inclusive and to let the vision evolve with the technology. CSA says there is the potential for Canada to “become a global leader in remote healthcare”, but to do so, meetings like this summit are required to figure out the priorities, the technology and the direction for the future.

Martin emphasized the CSA has been working with many of the stakeholders over the past few years to make sure that the summit is bringing in “a variety of people” along with students, to continue to mentor and support future generations.

The summit has three key themes, each having its own day of presentations:

  • Day 1: Impact: “The impact of Health Beyond and healthcare professionals on healthcare advancement for deep space and remote communities.”
  • Day 2: Innovation: “New frontiers in the healthcare innovation industry and the development, demonstration, and adoption of novel technologies for space and Canada.”
  • Day 3: Involvement: “Avenues of involvement in Health Beyond’s bold vision, and the contribution of health science research to Canada’s space health network.”

A selection of topics include:

  • Canada’s Place in the International Space Program
  • Potential Benefits of Healthcare Innovation to Indigenous Communities
  • Future of Healthcare in Canada in relation to deep space exploration plans
  • Expanding the Space Health Market
  • Network Community Engagement Strategy for a Pan-Canadian Innovation Ecosystem
  • Navigating and Applying for CSA Funding Opportunities
  • Deep Space Healthcare through the Eyes of the Research Community

Some CSA personnel will be at the first Canadian Space Health Research Symposium, a two-day event hosted at the University of Calgary starting Nov. 17. The symposium is a more research-focused event on its way to creating ” a collaborative research network for the space health community in Canada,” according to its website. Registration is available here.

Some key events in that symposium include:

  • Leaders on the Frontline of Healthcare
  • Integrating and Translating Research: “Bench to Bedside” for Astronaut HealthPlanning for the Future of Canadian Space Research
  • Panels on key areas of research such as skeletal effects of microgravity, cardiovascular health in space, and coping with spaceflight

About Elizabeth Howell

Is SpaceQ's Associate Editor as well as a business and science reporter, researcher and consultant. She recently received her Ph.D. from the University of North Dakota and is communications Instructor instructor at Algonquin College.

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