“It was not a kind gesture. I did it for a unique personal experience, but as long as I went into space, I wanted to make a positive difference in society. A
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Montreal businessman Mark Pathi recently spent US $ 50 million on a private mission to the International Space Station. Installed in the office of his company, Mavrik Corporation, the entrepreneur describes his experience.
“When I decided to go into space, I contacted the Canadian Space Agency and the Montreal Children’s Hospital Foundation. I asked them what I could do as a Canadian contributor to science, ”he said.
During his mission as a private astronaut, the entrepreneur conducted research on chronic pain, microbiome and sleep disorders. It has conducted world observation and photography missions in partnership with research centers and universities.
Organized by the American company Axiom Space, the mission was the first to go to the International Space Station completely private. A spaceship from SpaceX, an agency founded by Elon Musk, was used for travel.
A painful experience
After more than a year of training, including seven months full-time, the entrepreneur flew to the International Space Station on April 8th. He was accompanied by two other businessmen and former NASA astronaut Michael Lopez-Allegria.
By the time we reached the station, I was completely lost. I didn’t like it. I felt sick. For the first few days, I had back pain and headaches due to microgravity.
His experience is not unique. Studies conducted on the pain experienced by astronauts have shown that microgravity in space, when the gravitational force is very weak, can increase the perception of pain.
Dr Pablo Ingelmo, a chronic pain researcher at Montreal Children’s Hospital, wanted to know more about this little-known field of study. “When I was contacted to tell them that I had the opportunity to do a test in space, I immediately contacted my team. I told them to cancel everything they had planned for the weekend. On Monday, we made the whole protocol, ”he said.
Mark Pathi performed multiple tests before, during and after the spaceflight, including questionnaires, blood tests and MRI scans. In the coming months, researchers will compare the results obtained to determine if the astronaut’s perception of the body and pain has changed during the process.
Dr Ingelmo wants the information gathered in space to advance the study of pain on Earth.
For its part, dD Pediatric sleep expert Evelyn Constantine tried to understand how the spatial environment affects sleep. To do this, Mr. Pathi always wore a bracelet to measure wakefulness and sleep. “He wore it before and after the mission. We are comparing different moments to see the effect of the space mission on his sleep, ”said the doctor.
Although the results of the study have not yet been obtained, the astronaut confirmed that his sleep quality was disrupted during the flight.
It was hard, sleeping in space. It has no visual cues to tell it day or night, so it affects the circadian rhythm.
The man was lying straight in a sleeping bag hanging from the ceiling. “A few days later I got used to it, but at first it wasn’t easy,” says the astronaut, who slept about five hours a night. “I was taking sleeping pills almost every night,” she says.
DD Constantine also studied the effects of space travel on the microbiome, i.e. all the germs, such as bacteria, fungi, viruses, that live in our bodies and naturally. “Sleep and the microbiome are things that have so far been rarely studied during small space missions. It was a unique experience,” he says.
When he was not participating in scientific experiments, Mr. Pathi was busy: lecturing with the school, interviewing, observing the world, photography.
In total, it was in orbit for 17 days, one week longer than planned. “The weather wasn’t good enough to come back, it was very windy in Florida,” he explains.
His team finally landed from Florida on April 25th. A SpaceX ship came from Jacksonville to recover it from the Atlantic Ocean.
Two months after his return, Mr. Pathi is still amazed at his experience. “It was great. It changed my life,” he concluded.
Agency with France-Press