Space Sickness

A mutation of Legionnaire's Disease, Space Sickness, or Space Lung, is a not uncommon malady of the Cosmic Era



The symptoms of Space Sickness include shortness of breath, nausea, coughing, high fever, and muscle pains. Diarrhea and vomiting can follow. Onset can occur between two and ten days from the point of exposure, and the majority of people with healthy functional immune systems will not catch the disease. Luckily, the disease is rarely passed from person to person, but is most commonly transmitted through contaminated water supplies, ventilation systems, and other areas with aerosol water exposure.


The most common mode of exposure to Space Sickness comes from interplanetary travel. It doesn't take much for a contaminated water supply to potentially infect an entire shuttle of passengers moving from the surface of a planet to an orbital hub. Long duration ships such as military cruisers, passenger liners, or exploration ships are the highest risk. An infected water supply can contaminate hydroponics sectors, air recirculation systems, air filtration systems, and so forth. The longer a passenger is on a ship, their chance of infection rises. Likewise, the age of the ship or habitat also plays a factor, as older facilities are less likely to be held to the same rigorous cleaning and maintenance schedules.


Treating space sickness is a relatively simple affair, and most people can self diagnose the disease through their autoscanner, and have the appropriate medications automatically delivered to them.


On long space runs, Space Sickness can cause the largest problems, where maintenance and extensive cleaning of a ship cannot fully purge the water supply of the contamination, and medical supplies can be limited. This can become aggravated as the symptoms are fairly generic, and can be ignored as a cold or other general respiratory infection. Once the pneumonia aspect is manifested, the disease can strain crew morale and supplies, as well as even kill older and weaker victims.

This danger does remain largely because of the amount of time required for a proper quarantine would be excessively restrictive, no one can afford a ten day stay at each change-over or stop on a trans-system voyage. Space travel is already slow enough as it is without mandating weeks of medical isolation. The present risk of disease, something much more severe for the immuno-suppressed residents of arcologies (glass bubble dwellers), is one of the reasons that virtual commuting is much more popular than analog/actual traveling.


? Responses (6)-6

Goto Author

Space Sickness is a real thing and is not related to bacterial infections.

Not sure that people would start naming the flu or a cold as 'Space Sickness' just because they now get it in space.

Goto Author

Just like people can travel across the ocean on a ship without getting scurvy, people in the Cosmic Era can travel through space with the same general lack of concern about SAS. Motion sickness is a minor discomfort because basically they've had 346 years (the majority of those with space flight capability) to iron out the details. For us it's been 113 years since the Wright Flyer, but 459 for the Cosmic Era, the same amount of time between 1557 and 2016. Most of our modern problems with spaceflight are very similar to the old worries about going to fast (going over 60 mph the force of would could remove your face, or so thought people a century ago) The same goes for muscle and bone mass loss, and other health concerns the stem from the radical change in environment. Space Sickness is just the generic name for a fairly easy to overlook illness that is in that era, most commonly contracted in space. It's not space flu or a space cold (those are still just influenza and the cold virus) because it's legionnaire's disease. I got the idea for this after reading about a D.C. hotel that had a contaminated water supply and guests of the hotel because very frequently sick with said disease.

Now look at popular grimdark space ships, they are dark, very often moist and dripping, and warm enough to be festering pools of bacterial growth.

Goto Author

I see. I would restructure the post to highlight the origin / nature of the disease first. The interesting aspects of Space Sickness have more to do with the fact that it comes from contaminated water / air systems than that its symptoms are like the cold or the flu.

Goto Author

Updating vote.

I still think the title should be changed to Space Legionnaire's Disease or similar and that the article should start by focusing on the cause of the disease rather than the effects (since they are less important).

Goto Author

Something like this is already around -

Goto Author

Right - I think this is the Legionnaire's Disease it is based on