With the First Spacelab Payload (FSLP) flight on STS-9 a major step towards a permanent European space life sciences programme has been taken. A few experiments have been flown in the Apollo and Skylab programmes, but this was the first time that a larger number of experiments were flown in one mission. The next opportunity will be the D-1 mission in 1985 which will contain the BIORACK facility and the SLED experiment. Furthermore biological experiments will be part of the scientific payload of the first EURECA mission in 1987.
The European Space Agency (ESA) is preparing for Phase 2 of the Microgravity Programme which will last from mid 1984 till the end of 1988, thereby overlapping the first phase in 1984-85. This programme is intended to make a maximum use of existing multi-user facilities developed or under development by ESA (e.g. SLED, BIORACK and BOTANY FACILITY) and of those elements developed nationally for FSLP and D-1.
The primary new facility is the human physiology rack ANTHRORACK, which involves significant research in cardiovascular, body fluid, electrolyte and sensori-motor systems.
The mission opportunities for Phase 2 of the microgravity programme are the International Microgravity Laboratory (IML-1), the German D-2 or the ESA E-2 and finally a second EURECA mission, all in the 1987-89 time frame.
In parallel with the major scientific programmes, a series of technology activities are ongoing to provide feasible engineering concepts in order to reduce the technological and programme risks. Typical Supporting Technology Programme (STP) activities are e.g. Biosample Preservation, Observation and Handling, Mini Life Support and Small Mammalian Holding Unit.
This paper gives a status overview and description of the various present and planned life sciences programme elements in Europe both from a scientific and hardware point of view.