Will NASA create genetically engineered astronauts?

Posted by preimert1 3 years, 6 months ago to Science
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The concept of humans genetically engineered for space travel is scientifically possible now. But should it be done? Will such people be seen as "different" from us? Is this the start of "Blade Runner"? Could the become a separate sub-species--homo-astrians or something?
SOURCE URL: https://www.technologyreview.com/s/604142/engineering-the-perfect-astronaut/?set=604205


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  • Posted by $ AJAshinoff 3 years, 6 months ago
    I speculate that living and organic deep space exploration, while genetically human, will scarcely be recognized as human by humans on earth. The distances alone require generations of humans to have to have been grown, lived, and died without ever having set foot on Earth or having breathed natural air. I anticipate genetic splicing to include, but not limited to, hibernation, less oxygen consumption, less food consumption, lower dependence on light to conserve power, and four arms (no legs) since floating will allow each of the four hands to be of productive use. Further, when physical planetary exploration is needed such genetic splicing/modification could allow for enhanced tolerance to specific environments; breathing less oxygen or perhaps methane, better resistance to whatever radiation is encountered, revised musculature and bones to better handle rugged terrain, perhaps webbed hands and feet for aqueous worlds, or perhaps even enhanced eyelids (or duplicated eyelids) to better protect vision.

    I suspect that if these human sub-species returned home they would considered aliens by their appearance, before they were genetically examined.

    This could be coming from the novel series I'm currently writing. Either way its fascinating stuff. Fun to ponder.
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  • Posted by Herb7734 3 years, 6 months ago
    Provided that one can predict what the conditions on the targeted planet are, and genetic engineering has advanced to the point where people can be made to conform to the planet's or the moon's conditions, I see no problems with the idea. If thousands of modified humans are sent all over the galaxy. Some will never get to their destination. Some will fail once they get there. But, hopefully, some will thrive.This process will take many thousands of years unless someone figures out a way to overcome the speed of light barrier. Look at the progress made from 1899 to 1999. Less than a gasp in universe time. Sure looks interesting Life may be short but speculation is thrilling..
    "how do you like your blue-eyed boy now, Mr. Death?" e. e. cummings
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  • Posted by Owlsrayne 3 years, 5 months ago
    James S A Corey in his original novel which the Scifi Channel is basing their "Expanse" series on had characters called "Spacers" which are modified humans adapted to working and living in low G environment of the asteroid belt. The concept is viable but more research is needed so human's could live & work in that part of the solar system.
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  • Posted by DrZarkov99 3 years, 6 months ago
    Genetically engineered humans will be a challenge, since we're pretty complicated. Research on cause and effect regarding Alzheimer's, e.g., has so far discovered 59 genetic mechanisms that have impact (positive and negative) on neurodestructive plaque formation. I would surmise that the early focus will be on correcting easily identified inherited genetic disorders. Serious engineering of the human into something very different will have to be approached very carefully, and will likely take a couple of centuries to iron out due to human development time.

    Humans born on other worlds will "evolve" as a result of their environment. Gravity will have the most significant effect, with Earth Moon or Mars born unable to return to the home planet without some serious conditioning workouts on a regular basis.
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  • Posted by ProfChuck 3 years, 6 months ago
    As I see it we are faced with two choices; Design a spacecraft that reproduces the conditions here on Earth or design a new kind of human that can thrive in the environment of deep space. It is not clear which is the greater challenge.
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  • Posted by $ Temlakos 3 years, 6 months ago
    If Lebensborn is any indicator, any such attempt will fail. NASA know a lot about aerospace engineering but next to nothing about genetic engineering. That everyone else knows even less is beside the point.
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  • Posted by $ jbrenner 3 years, 6 months ago
    Right out of the old James Bond movie Moonraker.
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    • Posted by freedomforall 3 years, 6 months ago
      And Heinlein novels starting from the 50s, iirc.
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      • Posted by $ allosaur 3 years, 6 months ago
        During the early 60s, I first saw the word, cyborg, in a forgotten for a name short-lived comic book about outer space syfy. It explained what a cyborg was with Star Wars kinda detail.
        Heard the word again during the 70s with "The Million Dollar Man" TV series.
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        • Posted by freedomforall 3 years, 6 months ago
          Syfy is a trademarked abomination created by lawyers who care nothing about the sci-fi genre.
          Sci-fi is name of the genre you are referring to.
          I stopped watching the cable channel when they took that step and renamed themselves. It is probably appealing to people born after 1999.;^)
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          • Posted by $ allosaur 3 years, 6 months ago
            So solly! No, that would be a lie.
            I have a brother who was in a science fiction club while a student of the University of Alabama, who altogether disdained the use of the word, sci-fi, before anyone thought of SYFY for a cable channel. I regard my shorthand syfy as mere slang evolution. An abomination? Aw, c'mon!
            As for the uppity over being abbreviated~snort!~sci-unce fic-shee-un clu-ub, I attended three or four of their Tuscaloosa meetings and was with them due to my brother's invite at a science fiction convention in Birmingham. Ah, the convention is where I showed up first. Okay. This was all way back during the 70s.
            So my memory falters somewhat. Oh, yeah, a married fat girl kept bugging me with her affections and so I quit going.
            (Now I'm fat for then slim, but that's beside the point).
            The name of that club now resurfaces in my memory. It was called SAM or the Society for the Abolition of Mediocrity.
            Anyway, up until now, having turned 70, as for what science fiction is called, I don't really give a flip over such reverence.
            Science fiction is many things, including "space opera" like Star Wars or the enjoyable escapist Jupiter Ascending flick I noticed on SYFY last night. I had already seen it via Netflix.
            Ah! Another memory surfaces. Heinlein was an author of some science fiction books I bought way back during the early 60s. Those books are what got my said brother interested in science fiction in the first place.
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            • Posted by Herb7734 3 years, 6 months ago
              I'm so old that I remember when a group of writers tried to push their made-up word: "Scientifiction."
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              • Posted by $ allosaur 3 years, 6 months ago
                LOL!
                I laughed out loud for really real!
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                • Posted by Herb7734 3 years, 6 months ago
                  My grandkids think it's science fiction (or maybe just fiction) when I tell them what was hi-tech in the 40's. For example when Dumont came out with the enormous 16" B&W TV console. When we first saw that in the Department store widow.it took our breath away.You cold buy one for$400, equivalent to $3,000 in today's market.
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                  • Posted by $ allosaur 3 years, 6 months ago
                    Little dino was 12-years-old sitting on the living room floor in front of a Dumont when this unspeakable violence appeared out of no where.
                    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GZTjQ...
                    Me dino never heard of The Untouchables before but I was hooked. Countless were the times homework or studying for a test was set aside for an hour of Prohibition era shoot 'em ups.
                    Critics were actually worried about kids back then. But I think I~bwahaha!~turned out okay.
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                    • Posted by Herb7734 3 years, 6 months ago
                      My cannot miss TV besides wrestling, of course,, was "The Twilight Zone." I just loved Rod Serling. He looked so cool as he stood there quietly destroying someone's life as he puffed on his cigarette. Ness should have called on him to provide some hideous end to his enemies. How To Serve Mankind - indeed.
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                      • Posted by $ allosaur 3 years, 6 months ago
                        How To Serve Mankind is definitely a favorite. Believe that was the first time I saw the future Lurch of the B/W Addams Family.
                        I got hooked on local TV rasslin'. Unforgettable was Mario Galento
                        http://obsessedwithwrestling.com/prof...
                        and the ruthless Medics, who you just had to admire for their viscous methodical mayhem.
                        http://www.onlineworldofwrestling.com...
                        (This is the first time I looked these has-been local wrestlers up and was surprised to find them).
                        I remember another kid in elementary school making fun of a TV wrestling announcer's terminology. "He's hidin' a foreign object. A foreign object! Ref don't see that foreign object. Ouch! He done used that foreign object! Ref didn't see that either!"
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                        • Posted by Herb7734 3 years, 6 months ago
                          Everyone knows Jack Ruby, the Oswald assassin. He was originally from Detroit, and had two brothers.One of his brothers was Bert who was a local wrestler of some repute, and he worked with such luminaries a Verne Gagne and Dick the Bruiser (Dick Afflis). I delivered papers to Bert, who took me with him to work out at a gym where all the well known wrestlers and boxers hung out. Years later, the 3rd Ruby had a locker next to mine at the local heath club (I don't remember his name. He was the inheritor of the infamous gun which he showed around at the club.
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                          • Posted by $ allosaur 3 years, 6 months ago
                            I was coming off the outdoor field of a high school PE class and saw two coaches huddled about a radio that said JFK got shot.
                            I caught Jack Ruby shooting Oswald on Daddy's Dumont. I can't recall if I saw that live or just after that happened.
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        • Posted by 3 years, 6 months ago
          How about Robocop? I supose if a person can mentally control a prosthesis they are technically a cyborg.
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          • Posted by $ allosaur 3 years, 6 months ago
            Wow, this is the first time I made the mental connection that Robocop is indeed a cyborg.
            I was an Alabama corrections officer when that movie came out and there was a new trainee who picked up the nickname, Robocop.
            He kinda walked like Robocop, he barked orders at inmates kinda like Robocop and then poof he was quits and gone.
            Maybe someone needed Robocop parts.
            Manny did not last up to five years at that prison anyway.
            Most of my original coworkers were gone by the mid-90s.
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