Deliverables for Exploration

The Musculoskeletal Alterations Team is developing countermeasures to the negative effects of spaceflight on muscles and bones. Current in-flight exercise regimens, dietary and vitamin supplements, and pre-flight conditioning have not prevented bone loss during long-duration flights such as those on Russia's Mir Space Station and the International Space Station.

Also, long-duration exposure to microgravity produces functional deficits in skeletal muscle. These include atrophy in the muscles of the lower extremities and losses in strength and power, a shift in appearance and contractile quality of muscle, and deficits in motor control and movement. All of these changes could lead to injury.

The Teamís anticipated deliverables for spaceflight include:
  • Ground-based simulation of on-orbit exercise devices;
  • Balance and coordination training combined with resistance and aerobic exercise;
  • Specific exercise prescriptions tailored to individual astronauts;
  • Pharmacological therapies for bone loss;
  • Compounds and pharmacologic agents to protect against muscle weakness and fatigue; and
  • Designing improved exercise devices.

To aid the design of equipment and learn more about the efficacy of exercise in space, a vertical, floating treadmill simulates astronaut exercise on Earth.