Rapid detection of microorganisms is of prime importance in ensuring astronaut health for the entire space program. To meet this need, NASA, in collaboration with industry, is supporting the development of several new technologies for the detection of microorganisms during spaceflight (NASA,1999a; NASA and USRA, 1999; NSBRI, 1998). The support for advanced technology development for microbiology is congruent with the general recommendation of the Strategy report. There is no current technology development specific to immunology.


The immunology and microbiology program has begun to develop priorities in accordance with those suggested in the Strategy report for ground-based experiments using animal models prior to the development of spaceflight studies. The extensive use of models by the programs, including animal models such as hindlimb unloading of rodents, tissue culture in the rotating cell vessel apparatus, and analogue environments such as isolation and polar overwintering, should permit critical testing of mechanistic hypotheses in space. Additional efforts should be directed toward such mechanistic studies and toward studies involving interactions with the HPA axis.

The number of investigators and funded projects for the entire immunology and microbiology programs is small, and the need for additional studies will become more pressing as prolonged exposure of crews to spaceflight conditions becomes the norm.


Hawkins, W.R., and J.F. Ziegschmid. 1975. Aspects of crew health. P. 43 in Biomedical Results of Apollo. R.F. Johnston, L.F. Dietlen, and C.A. Berr, eds. SP-368. Houston, Tex.: NASA.

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), Space and Life Sciences Directorate. 1998. Astronaut Medical Evaluation Requirements Document–Appendix B, Selection, Annual, Pre- and Postflight Medical Evaluation Requirements. Houston, Tex.: NASA.

NASA, Office of Life and Microgravity Sciences and Applications. 1999a. Life Sciences Program Tasks and Bibliography for FY 1998. Washington, D.C.: NASA.

NASA. 1999b. Research Announcement—Research Opportunities in Space Life Sciences. Biomedical Research and Countermeasures. Washington, D.C.: NASA.

NASA and Universities Space Research Association (USRA). 1999. Proceedings of the First Biennial Space Biomedical Investigators’ Workshop, January 11-13, 1999, League City, Texas. Houston, Tex.: NASA and USRA.

National Research Council (NRC), Space Studies Board. 1998. A Strategy for Research in Space Biology and Medicine in the New Century. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press.

National Space Biomedical Research Institute (NSBRI). 1998. Annual Report, October 1, 1997-September 30, 1998. Houston, Tex.: NSBRI.

Sonnenfeld, G. 1998. Immune responses in space flight. Int. J. Sports Med. 19:S195-S2.

Sonnenfeld, G., A.D. Mandel, I.V. Konstantinova, W.D. Berry, G.R. Taylor, A.T. Lesnyak, B.B. Fuchs, and A.L. Rakhmilevich. 1992. Spaceflight alters immune cell function and distribution. J. Appl. Physiol. 73:191S-195S.

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