As the study of biology and medicine continues to take place beyond the confines of Earth's atmosphere, so too does the study of important, sometimes unique, bioethics issues. Recognizing the need for a cogent bioethics policy, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration recently hired its first chief of bioethics and human subject protection, Paul Root Wolpe, a fellow at the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania. NASA's individual centers already convene bioethics committees, and NASA has consulted, and will continue to consult, with an external Institutional Review Board. But the space administration has never had a trained bioethicist on staff. Wolpe says that his position aims to "centralize and coordinate what up till now has been a fragmented and scattered set of activities." Wolpe, who started in early April, cites several potential ethical issues that need to be addressed. They include examining the ethical justification for having...
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