Applying the Science of Human Space Flight to Elite Athletes


Applying the Science of  Elite Athletes to Humans in Space

Sovaris Aerospace is in a unique position in the human performance application space. Our field of operations spans from astronauts entering orbital and deep space, to collegiate athletes, to professional athletes, to military Special Forces, to wilderness and remote operators, and other groups. We also have extensive work with individuals, as well as teams and crews.

This has afforded us unique insight wherein we can take knowledge learned from the spaceflight environment and apply it to elite athletes on Earth. Conversely, our work with elite athletes has provided insight into solutions that can be applied to astronauts in space.

Each of these groups has a unique operating environment and unique demands. At the same time, they share numerous features in that their margins for error are small, their performance stakes are high, and decrements/increments in performance are easily noticed. They also share the fundamental attribute that incremental losses can degrade performance and incremental gains can enhance performance. Finally, we have detected patterns in our molecular profiling that are shared across many elite performance domains.

Optimizing Metabolic Networks

All high performers rely upon efficient metabolic networks. Deficits in metabolic networks can impair performance efficiency. Everything from muscle force output to psychomotor speed and multiple processes in between can be impacted. When multiple deficits occur, effects can scale, spreading across metabolic networks and driving an incremental, aggregating, and adverse impact on performance and recovery. Our expertise is in detecting these patterns of variance, describing the fundamental biological meaning, and developing preventive and in-mission/in-season solutions.

Rapid Prototyping of Countermeasures

Once patterns of variance have been identified in an elite performer, there is a need for solutions. The Sovaris Aerospace team understands that the careers of elite performers are very short.  The peak operating years for astronauts, football players, baseball players, basketball players, soccer athletes, military Special Forces, and many others is age 20 to 40. Moreover, these individuals are focused on solutions now, rather than solutions in five to ten years or more.

One of our strengths is focusing on those immediate needs and working toward the development of countermeasures (solutions) in real time. This can take two forms. The first is formal product development aimed at solving a range of specific target problems. The second is personalization of solutions applied to small groups (stratification) and to individuals (personalization).

Personalization and Stratification

Personalization is focused on solutions directed toward an individual, based on his or her individual molecular, physiological, and behavioral profile. We have used this personalized approach with numerous athletes, warfighters, and teams. Stratification recognizes that there are patterns common within groups that may benefit a common intervention.

Based on our work with thousands of laboratory profiles and millions of data points in elite performers, we have a keen sense of the common patterns of variance (deficiency/excess) across elite performer groups, but also of the importance of variability unique to one individual.

Performance Outcome Goals

The performance goals of our work is aligned with what we hear from elite performers in their respective fields of operation or competition. They typically seek:

1. High degree of performance and recovery in training

2. High degree of performance and recovery in competition or missions

3. High degree of recovery between games and between missions. In sports, this is especially important where there are back-to-back games. Likewise in the military where there are back-to-back missions.

4. High degree of recovery within games or within missions

5. Career longevity

6. Optimize and maintain health and safety

Elite Athletes and Extreme Environments

Mountain Ascent and Altitude Tolerance

Development of personalized assessment, performance, endurance, and training methods for high altitude.  Development efforts focused on improving altitude tolerance and reducing symptoms of acute mountain sickness, using molecular countermeasure solutions. Includes space analogue conditions, such as Mars.  Collaborators include the Mayo Clinic and others.

Professional Auto Racing & Human Performance

Co-development of Corvette Racing’s driver science, personalized medicine, human performance program, based on molecular and physiologic metrics. Consultation with NASCAR teams and other racing teams around molecular-derived personalized countermeasures.

Pattern Analysis & Countermeasures in Elite Basketball Players

Molecular profiling and individualized countermeasures for NBA teams and athletes.  This includes our work with the Golden State Warriors when they set the NBA record for wins at 73-9.


Pattern Analysis & Countermeasures in Elite Football Players

Development of study paradigms and possible solutions for football-associated concussion.  This work is focused on NAD, ATP, PARP-1, BNDF, and other molecular networks. Includes advanced neuroimaging approaches, such as 31P MRS.  Beyond the research area, this also incorporates analysis of football player serum molecular profiles and development of tailored, personalized solutions.  Collaborations include the NFL Players Association, US Olympic teams, and West Point Military Academy (USMA).

Military Special Forces

Development of individualized molecular profiling and molecular countermeasure strategies for US Special Forces.  Development of study paradigms and possible solutions for combat-associated concussion.  Research surrounding  extending operations in the field and improving soldier performance.  This includes work with the Combat Feeding Directorate and West Point Military Academy (USMA).

Team Cohesion & Performance in Extreme Environments

Examination of patterns of human performance in expedition environments, which can also serve as space analogue environments.  Team cohesion is one of the central elements that governs team success in almost any environment (sports, special forces, spaceflight, wilderness, etc.).  It also strongly impacts individual success and survival. We work to study and optimize the neurobehavioral and biological influences on team cohesion, with a focus on countermeasures.


To determine the effect of oral nicotinamide riboside (NR) on altitude tolerance, team cohesion, cardiopulmonary function, sleep, and measures of aging.  This study also served as a Mars analogue mission, with further applications to military training and operations in hypobaric hypoxia field conditions.

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