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NIH Record

Space Shuttle Astronauts To Debrief NIH, July 16

On Thursday, July 16, NIH will have a special opportunity to hear presentations by Space Shuttle Columbia astronauts visiting from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The event will take place in Natcher auditorium from 10:30 a.m. to noon and is open to all NIH employees.

Attendees will hear Commander Richard A. Searfoss present an overview of scientific experiments conducted on the recent "Neurolab" mission, which was devoted to nervous system research. He will be joined by five of his fellow crew members, Pilot Scott D. Altman, Mission Specialists Kathryn P. Hire, Richard M. Linnehan, and Dafydd Rhys Williams, and Payload Specialists Jay C. Buckey, Jr., and James A. Pawelczyk.

Neurolab was a collaborative effort between NASA and various domestic and international agencies, with substantial support provided by NIH.

The Space Shuttle mission carrying the Neurolab program had its origins in 1991 and was designed to be NASA's contribution to the "Decade of the Brain," a congressional declaration signed into law on Jan. 1, 1990, by former President George Bush.

Although it was the third Space Shuttle mission dedicated to life science research, the Neurolab flight was the first mission that specifically focused on how the neurological system responds to the challenges of space flight. Over the 16-day mission, which began on Apr. 16, seven crew members worked in a reusable laboratory module called Spacelab, which was carried in the shuttle payload bay and was designed to allow scientists to perform experiments under microgravity conditions while orbiting Earth.

In addition to crew members conducting in-flight experiments with animals in Spacelab, separate teams of scientists temporarily based at Florida's Kennedy Space Center conducted controlled experiments on the ground. Human investigations were coordinated at the Johnson Space Center in Houston.

Experiments were conducted on aquatics, the autonomic nervous system, mammalian development, sleep, the vestibular system, neurobiology and sensory motor and performance.

For details, see the NIH Web site under "News and Events."

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