Navy vet wants to create space medicine hub in Northeast Florida

A retired Navy pilot from Orange Park is spearheading an effort to create a space medicine hub in Northeast Florida.

Larry Harvey, co-founder of the Center for Applied Space Technology, or CAST, recently helped a Jacksonville Mayo Clinic project get on board an EXOS Aerospace Systems & Technologies rocket launch.

Husband-and-wife team Dr. Michelle Freeman and Dr. David Freeman helped create technology that can monitor astronauts’ vital signs without them having to wear cumbersome medical equipment.

“People ask: How does this help us on Earth?” said Dr. David Freeman, who is the medical director of the neurology intensive care unit at the Mayo Clinic. “If you can do that in space, you can monitor people in their own home -- their health monitoring in home, like Alexa or Siri.”

Harvey said one of the reasons he thinks Northeast Florida has potential is the development of Cecil Spaceport on Jacksonville’s Westside.

It's the only licensed horizontal launch commercial spaceport on the East Coast.
The first launch is expected to happen there in the spring.

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“The area’s got an awful lot to offer -- a strong workforce, a good aerospace background, a lot of Navy folks who decide to stay in the area here that have that kind of a background,” said Harvey.

Harvey said the area’s hospitals and universities also provide a solid foundation for space medicine.

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“There’s a long queue for people to fly research and very limited access right now to the space station since the end of the shuttle program. But what has happened is the commercial space industry has taken off -- your SpaceX, your Blue Origin,” said Harvey.

Harvey said that private sector growth will lead to easier access for researchers.