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Technical Paper

Space Life Support from the Cellular Perspective

Determining the fundamental role of gravity in vital biological systems in space is one of six science and research areas that provides the philosophical underpinning for why NASA exists. The study of cells, tissues, and microorganisms in a spaceflight environment holds the promise of answering multiple intriguing questions about how gravity affects living systems. To enable these studies, specimens must be maintained in an environment similar to that used in a laboratory. Cell culture studies under normal laboratory conditions involve maintaining a highly specialized environment with the necessary temperature, humidity control, nutrient, and gas exchange conditions. These same cell life support conditions must be provided by the International Space Station (ISS) Cell Culture Unit (CCU) in the unique environment of space. The CCU is a perfusion-based system that must function in microgravity, at unit gravity (1g) on earth, and from 0.1g up to 2g aboard the ISS centrifuge rotor.
Technical Paper

Subject Effects Exhibited in Human Posture in Neutral Buoyancy and Parabolic Flight

Neutral buoyancy (NB) and parabolic flight (PF) are the only available human-scale three-dimensional spaceflight simulation environments. As such, both environments are used extensively for both research and mission operations purposes despite a lack of quantitative (or even qualitative) characterization of the fidelity of either environment to the spacelfight analog. The present study was undertaken as part of a larger research effort to begin to build such characterizations. Eight healthy adults (4 men and 4 women) were asked to adopt relaxed postures while ‘standing’ in space shuttle middeck standard-type foot restraints, in NB and during the 0g periods of PF. Subjects were tested in NB in 9 orientations, 3 trials each: Upright; tilted 45° Front, 45° Back, 45° Right, 45° Left; and tilted 90° Front, Back, Right, and Left. PF limitations prohibited 90° testing; consequently the PF test protocol included only Upright and 45° orientations.