by Kim Ballard
i missed the job announcement Company Website. I missed it again when the company posted the job on linkedin. i missed it when eric ralph tweeted That posting was “probably the coolest job posting I’ve read in years.” Fortunately, though, I follow Isaac Kohne (MD, PhD), And me did Check out his tweet:
yes i am talking SpaceX. Yes, the job is for “Starship Medical Engineer”. Yes, it’s there to help SpaceX’s Mars mission, whenever that can happen. Who knows, Job might even go to Mars, though that’s not spelled out.
Of course, I am not remotely qualified for such a job. In fact, I don’t know anyone that could be. But I agree with Mr. Ralph that this is probably the coolest job posting I’ve seen in years, maybe ever. And I’m Dr. Agree with Kohn even more: it could be “an opportunity to rethink a hugely broken system”.
Hint: I don’t think he’s just talking about the SpaceX mission.
SpaceX is looking for a physician — MD or DO — who also has a Masters in Engineering and experience with aerospace medicine. I would imagine that the candidate pool has shrunk significantly. The list of responsibilities is very difficult:
- Serve as a point of contact for customers with SpaceX stakeholders relevant to medical development initiatives
- Work among teams to design, integrate and implement the medical system of the future
- Support research including health data collection before, during and after human spaceflight missions focusing on the effects of long-duration spaceflight in the context of a wide range of passenger health issues
- Work as aerospace medicine technical specialist for human space flight activities
- Develop and coordinate space medicine flight operations with technical, operational and programmatic parties
- Provide medical support during flight operations and development as a console operator
In short, “As a Starship Medical Engineer, you will be responsible for developing medical systems for the Starship.”
In a way, it’s easy for SpaceX: It’s going to be all new. It’s been over sixty years of aerospace engineering in the world since we started trying to send people into space. We’ve sent men (yes, only men) to the Moon, we’ve had a roundup of people for months at a time, and we’ve done almost routine work with many countries and even a few private companies to send astronauts into orbit. has made it. doing or preparing to do so (eg, blue originalhandjob SpaceXhandjob Virgin Galactic)
But no one has sent anyone to Mars. It has been fifty years since we sent anyone to the moon. The Moon is a little over 200,000 miles from Earth; The closest Mars ever to Earth is over 30 One million miles, and it could be more than 200 million miles away. This journey will take more than seven months to reach Mars.
The journey to Mars is quantitatively and qualitatively very different from anything we have done before.
As you can imagine, if someone becomes ill or injured, 911 is not called. There is no local hospital. No corner is drugstore. You cannot airflight anyone at home. As the mission progresses, it becomes far enough away that the speed of light limits its ability to communicate with Earth in time. With whatever expertise and equipment comes to the crew, they will have just enough to tackle whatever happens.
That’s why SpaceX wants a Starship Medical Engineer. Not a job for the faint hearted. The Starship Medical Engineer can build on existing solutions, but extending them to Mars missions requires innovative thinking and a new approach.
Starship Earth has a similar problem. UFOs (or UAPs, as they are now referred to) aside, we are all here on our own. There are no comparable planets, and no source of expertise elsewhere. If we screw things up here, we’re out of luck (which is why Elon Musk is keen to go to Mars).
And, let’s face it, we’re making things worse here. COVID-19 showed us that we are still vulnerable to pathogens. Climate change could make large parts of the world uninhabitable within a century. microplastics It has infiltrated almost everywhere, including within us, with yet to be determined effects on our food chain and our health. Bio weapons, nuclear weapons and cyber weapons can each destroy us in their own way.
Unlike SpaceX, we have our own medical expertise and facilities (well, many of us, anyway). We have many trained health care professionals, many health care offices and facilities, and much more prescription drugs and medical equipment than what we have to do. Till now in many countries, America included, life expectancy was falling even before the pandemic. We have lived most of our lives with chronic diseases, with many of us spending our final years in need of critical care. We have plenty of health care, but not enough good health.
It’s as if we planned a short trip to the Moon and unexpectedly found ourselves on our way to Mars. We don’t have the resources, and especially the healthcare system, that we need to travel.
Starship Earth needs a Starship Medical Engineer.
Just look at how the pandemic forced us to rediscover the potential of telehealth, and how we’re still faltering to contain it. We’re pouring money into “digital health” without really figuring out how “digital health” becomes part of “health.” Our health care system is largely separate from our public health system, and both are largely separate from our environmental health “system(s)”. We can’t even really integrate medicine, dentistry, vision and hearing within the healthcare system.
Who is inventing not just the medical system of the future but the health system of the future – not just care but lifestyle and environment? Who is doing the research, who is coordinating with various domain experts, who is overseeing the implementation of new practices? Who is advocating not only to get more funding for existing institutions but 21 . have to develop truly new ideas forscheduled tribe century?
SpaceX will find someone to medically engineer its Starship, and he will do some good work. Starship Earth, I’m not so sure.
Kim is a former emarketing executive at a major blues plan, editor of the late and bereaved Tincture.io, and now a regular THCB contributor.