NASA/ESA Bed Rest Studies

Medical research for future spaceflight

Long-term stays in space are an enormous strain on the human body that lead to muscle and bone loss. Body fluids move from the legs toward the head due to the lack of gravity. The different pressure conditions can also lead to medical problems. Astronauts repeatedly report that they experience changes to their vision while in space.

To develop countermeasures, researchers must first better understand the complex physiological changes that take place under space conditions. The use of ‘terrestrial astronauts’ has several advantages: more people can be studied under controlled study conditions with significantly less effort and cost than could feasibly be achieved in space.

Bed rest studies are considered the gold standard of space medicine research into degenerative processes of the human body under microgravity conditions. They are highly complex projects characterised by international cooperation, and to a considerable extent by the commitment of participants from various life science disciplines.

The DLR Institute of Aerospace Medicine in Cologne conducts approximately two thirds of all bed rest studies worldwide. Depending on the scientific question, these studies involve a period of bed rest lasting 30 or 60 days. The focus is on developing measures to ensure or at least support the health of astronauts. The :envihab research facility in Cologne provides the necessary infrastructure to ensure these complex studies can be conducted optimally.

Further bed rest studies are planned at DLR in the coming years. For this purpose, we are always looking for participants!
Would you like to support space research and be part of an international team? Then apply for our bed rest studies starting in 2024.


German Aerospace Center (DLR)
Institute of Aerospace Medicine
Andrea Nitsche | Email