Scientists discover SpaceX made astronauts genetically younger

The world's first all-civilian space mission conducted by SpaceX took four crew members to orbit, and scientists found they've become genetically younger.

1 minute & 22 seconds read time

The astronauts who were part of the first all-civilian space mission to orbit have been studied by scientists, and across three studies, it was found that they've become younger.

SpaceX was behind the Inspiration4 mission that was conducted in 2021, where four civilian astronauts were transported to orbit via a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule. The team of four only spent a few days in space and, upon return, committed their bodies to science, intending to understand how the environment in space affects human physiology. Now, three studies have been conducted, and it was found that astronauts got genetically younger during their stay in space, but the effects were only shortlived.

Scientists looked at the astronauts' DNA and found aging markers called telomeres, which are caps that protect chromosomes known to shorten with age after being exposed to certain environmental factors and stress. However, during the time spent in space, the astronauts' telomeres elongated, indicating the aging of DNA decreased. Researchers believe the telomeres getting longer is a response to the higher radiation environment in space.

Scientists discover SpaceX made astronauts genetically younger 265261

Notably, these effects were permanent because after the astronauts returned to Earth, it only took a couple of months before the telomeres returned to being shortened. Shortened telomeres can lead to DNA damage that makes the individual more susceptible to a variety of diseases, such as cancer, heart disease, and more.

Lastly, the researchers found the female astronauts' health markers returned to pre-flight levels quicker than the male astronauts. The studies analyzing the astronauts' health have been published in the scientific journal Nature.

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Jak joined the TweakTown team in 2017 and has since reviewed 100s of new tech products and kept us informed daily on the latest science, space, and artificial intelligence news. Jak's love for science, space, and technology, and, more specifically, PC gaming, began at 10 years old. It was the day his dad showed him how to play Age of Empires on an old Compaq PC. Ever since that day, Jak fell in love with games and the progression of the technology industry in all its forms. Instead of typical FPS, Jak holds a very special spot in his heart for RTS games.

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