June 11, 2024

UATX Professor Publishes Groundbreaking Series on Private Space Travel

Dr. Eliah Overbey’s research leads to “10-fold increase” in publicly available space health data

UATX Professor Publishes Groundbreaking Series on Private Space Travel

June 11, 2024, Austin, Texas – University of Austin (UATX) Professor of Bioastronautics Dr. Eliah Overbey today published a groundbreaking series of studies in Nature on the viability of civilian space flight. She led a multi-institutional team of researchers whose findings indicated that not only is low orbital travel safe with minimal training, but the health monitoring pioneered by her team has the potential to inform public space policy, as well as “pave the way” for treating conditions on earth.

Among the findings published in Nature:

A civilian crew can be selected, trained, and deployed in less than 6 months, and shows that they can lead experiments, process samples, and significantly contribute to spaceflight research and development… Most metrics of the astronauts (e.g. gene expression profiles, telomere lengths, cytokine levels) were either stable, or quickly reverted back to baseline after landing. These data suggest that short-duration spaceflight presents relatively low risk for commercial crews.

Overbey and her team conducted extensive testing and monitoring on crew members' physical and cognitive health, employing Apple watches as well as the pioneering use of ultrasound technology to observe the astronauts who provided the most diverse cohort of subjects in the history of space travel. Researchers obtained more than 3,000 samples from the four participating members of SpaceX’s 2021 Inspiration4 flight. The data amassed by Dr. Overbey and her team represented a "10-fold increase in publicly available human space [cell health] data."

Inspiration4 data will serve as a rich foundation for scaling and enhancing the knowledge base on early phases of space physiology and expanding our understanding of spaceflight-associated effects on human health. Finally, at least one of these same crew members will be present on future missions, and continue to contribute to long-term studies of astronaut health, which will also help delineate the long-term impacts of spaceflight and continue to prepare future astronauts for their missions…
The study of the parallels between the physiological impacts of spaceflight and aging, chronic disease and immune system disorders using multi-omic data can pave the way for therapeutics applicable to conditions on Earth.

“Our understanding of the human body lags behind the technology that makes space flight possible, but the research we are conducting at the University of Austin will help bridge that gap,” Dr. Overbey said. “I would like to thank the dozens of researchers and funders who contributed to this study, as well as participants who will help to foster medical breakthroughs not only for those in space but here on earth."

“A special thank you to the senior authors on the paper, Drs. Christopher Mason and Cem Meydan, at Weill Cornell Medicine, who are my co-founders for the SOMA data portal and first commercial astronaut sample biobank. It is only the first small step in what will enable type of large-scale human health analysis we require to become a thriving multi-planetary species.”

Dr. Overbey and her collaborators are in the midst of conducting similar studies on astronauts scheduled to embark on another private space flight in the summer of 2024.

To schedule an interview with Dr. Overbey, contact Maggie Kelly at


The University of Austin (UATX) is a new private, nonprofit, nonsectarian university in Austin, Texas, dedicated to the fearless pursuit of truth. Its innovative undergraduate curriculum combines the rich inheritances of the past with the most compelling ideas and initiatives of the present. Each student will undertake a four-year Polaris Project to build, create, or discover something that serves humanity. The University of Austin's inaugural freshman class will begin their journey in the fall of 2024.

Applications Are Being Accepted

UATX has a rolling admissions process and is accepting applications to join the first class of 100 Founding Scholars, each of whom will receive full scholarships for all four years of college. These scholarships cover the full cost of undergraduate tuition, a value of approximately $130,000.

Exceptional high school seniors who have what it takes to join the UATX’s intrepid founding class are encouraged to apply.


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