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Mission Brief
We'd like to thank the American Society for Gravitational and Space Biology for this Mission Brief.

In 1983 an historic space event took place -- the first Spacelab flight. The international Spacelab took up where Skylab left off and offered the promise of major new scientific advances. Three major life science flights: Spacelab Life Sciences-1 (SLS-1 or STS-40, flown in 1991), SLS-2 (STS-58, flown in 1993) and LMS (STS-78, flown in 1996) have contributed much to our knowledge of adaptation to spaceflight. Neurolab may well be the last of this series and the last Spacelab flight. The experiments, procedures and testing planned for Neurolab show how much progress has been made since Spacelab-1.

The physiologic challenges of spaceflight remain unchanged since Spacelab-1 days. Motion sickness remains a significant, but now treatable, problem inflight. Crewmembers return with difficulties in maintaining balance.  Standing upright after spaceflight can be difficult due both to labile blood pressure and unstable posture. Muscle mass and strength are reduced.  Astronauts tend to sleep poorly.  Many of these symptoms reflect major underlying changes in the nervous system.  This has led to a series of questions that will be answered on Neurolab.  For example,

Neurolab will study both people and experimental animals to find answers -- recording everything from the crewmember's ability to catch a ball, to changes in gene expression in the rat brain. Particularly important is a new series investigations in the area of mammalian neural development, which ask the following: These are basic questions about nervous system development that can only be performed without gravity, and Neurolab will provide the needed environment.

The 26 Neurolab Experiments have been organized into teams, each focusing on a particular area. The eight teams are:

The experiments in each team share resources to answer the different questions addressed by each investigator.  We hope that what may be the last Spacelab flight will also be the most productive!
 


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