Medicine and Surgery Fellowship

Addressing the challenges of deep space medical and surgical care, and adapting the solutions to help everyone

About APEX

The Arizona Program for Exploration Medicine and Surgery (APEX) started as an idea for a new aerospace training pathway to encourage procedural physicians to get involved with human space flight. Conceptualized by Drs. Eric Petersen and Anil Menon during the SpaceX Demo-2 mission, APEX has become a University of Arizona-hosted fellowship. Housed under the Department of Surgery, the inaugural fellow is slated to start in 2023.

APEX was created to address the challenges of deep space procedural and critical care. Aerospace medicine is a field historically dedicated to keeping healthy individuals optimized in abnormal environments and relies on preventive medicine techniques. The reality of commercial space flight necessitates redefining aerospace medicine to include the care of pathology in abnormal environments. This requires tackling the knowledge, technological, and training gaps in implementing procedural and critical care in deep space. APEX is designed to research and solve these inevitabilities, and to translate these findings to rural and global surgical platforms.

To accomplish this goal, APEX has partnered with the largest commercial space provider, SpaceX. This unique program will train physicians in the fundamentals of traditional aerospace medicine, provide training in austere surgical care, and pursue multidisciplinary research in surgical research topics.


To develop and sustain the first training program designed to prepare practitioners to work in the commercial aerospace medical field and to provide austere surgical and critical care support.

"We are going to the Moon”


“You want to wake up in the morning and think the future is going to be great - and that’s what being a spacefaring civilization is all about. It’s about believing in the future and thinking that the future will be better than the past. And I can’t think of anything more exciting than going out there and being among the stars.” -Elon Musk


“Given the risks and isolation inherent in long duration spaceflight, a clever surgeon and/or surgical capability will be required onboard a Mars exploration vessel.”

Kirkpatrick, A.W., Ball, C.G., Campbell, M. et al. Severe traumatic injury during long duration spaceflight: Light years beyond ATLS. J Trauma Manage Outcomes 3, 4 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1186/1752-2897-3-4


Short term goals:

  • Become the first program offering both aerospace medical and austere surgical training

    • Start with 1 fellow per year

    • Teach the fundamentals of aerospace medicine

    • Provide a unique curriculum around austere surgical and critical care

  • Develop a space-focused surgical and critical care research program

Long term goals:

  • Consider expanding to 2 years

  • Consider ACGME accreditation and a board certification

  • Consider expanding to >1 fellow per year