Fortifyedge taps the edge to monitor astronauts’ health in space

NASA Astronaut

Fin is a former junior editor at TechForge.

Tasmanian start-up Fortifyedge has developed a software that will enable stress, fatigue and other physiological responses in astronauts to be monitored as they travel in space.

The software was created with the support of the Tasmanian government’s Space Technology Seed Fund.

Fortifyedge received funding from the first round of the Seed Fund, alongside the Launceston-based startup Firmus, which is using university telescopes to capture and commercialise data to help address the issue of space junk.

Both start-ups and their projects are helping to grow Tasmania’s position in the space technology sector.

Fortifyedge CEO Peter Padd said the company’s end goal is for its astronaut identification, status and safety software to be used with the International Space Station’s Hewlett Packard Spaceborne Computer-2.

Padd said the software monitors the location and health of the astronauts in real-time, providing information back to Earth when communication functions are unavailable.

“The software runs on tiny little devices that are wearable. They can still get important information at the speed of relevance,” he said.

“If you were on the moon right now, it is even more important for them to know exactly where the crew is, who it is, where they are, and physiologically, how are they doing. Are they stressed out or fatigued? Because that could lead to human error and catastrophe on their mission.”

Thanks to the Tasmanian government, Fortifyedge was able to build an artificial intelligence prototype that monitored human stressors such as fatigue using a smart watch.

This prototype captured the attention of NASA and led to a partnership with Tasmania’s hyperbaric chamber that allowed them to simulate the environment of space, such as the conditions on the surface of the moon, on mars or in a space capsule.

“The plan next year is to run our software as if our crew were a bunch of astronauts running on the HP computer that is on the space station right now,” Padd revealed.

“Part of our goal here is to show that we can train an astronaut at the hyperbaric chamber with our software, predict their stressors and so on, and be able to simulate what is happening on the International Space Station.”

According to Australian science and technology minister Madeleine Ogilvie, the country’s space industry is expected to grow to a value of twelve billion AUD (£7 billion) and create 20,000 new jobs by 2030.

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