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Development of Occupational Health at NASA: Five Decades of Progress

Doarn, Charles R. MBA; Angotti, Catherine RD; Cooper, Linda MHS

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: March 2012 - Volume 54 - Issue 3 - p 336–344
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e3182426ae1
Original Articles

Objective: As NASA celebrates the 50th anniversary of human spaceflight, we reflect back on the individuals who forged a new way in the frontier of space.

Methods: While much has been written about the astronauts and the systems that got them into space and safely home; less attention has been given to NASA employees and its contractors. NASA has always been conscious of the unique nature of its workforce and its importance to the space program.

Results: NASA established a comprehensive occupational health program, which began as part of the Agency's Space Medicine function in the early 1960s. Over the years, this program grew in stature and capability.

Conclusions: This paper traces the history and development of NASA's Occupational Health, highlighting the programs and people who focused their energies on ensuring the health and safety of its workforce.

From the Department of Family and Community Medicine (Mr Doarn), University of Cincinnati, OH; and Office of the Chief Health and Medical Officer (Mr Doarn and Mss Angotti and Cooper), NASA Headquarters, Washington, DC.

Address correspondence to: Charles R. Doarn, MBA, Department of Family and Community Medicine, University of Cincinnati, 260 Stetson, Suite 4200, PO Box 670582, ML 0840, Cincinnati, OH 45267 (

The authors declare no conflicts of interest—US Government Work.

©2012The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine