Laurence Young, professor emeritus of astronautics and renowned expert in bioastronautics, dies at 85

By Sara Cody

Laurence R. Young '57, SM '59, ScD '62, the Apollo Program Professor Emeritus of Astronautics and professor of health sciences and technology at MIT, died peacefully at his home in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on Aug. 4 after a long illness. He was 85.

A longtime member of the MIT community, Young was widely regarded for his pioneering role in the field of bioastronautics, the study of the impact of the space environment on living organisms, focusing in particular on the human factors of spaceflight. Many biological systems processes that comprise and govern the human body — from bones and muscles to cardiovascular regulation and sensory-motor control — depend on Earth's gravity to function properly. To protect astronauts from potentially negative effects of weightlessness, radiation, and psychological stress encountered in space, developing artificial life support systems for human protection is vital for future missions. 

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