Life and Microgravity Spacelab (LMS) Mission
The Life and Microgravity Spacelab mission launched on June 20, 1996.
This investigation extended the studies of the human lung in four major areas. Investigators studied lung function after the stress imposed by heavy exercise in the microgravity environment; they monitored the motion in the rib cage and abdomen to study the effects of microgravity on the musculoskeletal aspects of breathing during rest, during heavy exercise, and during deep breathing; they made the first measurements in microgravity of the body's response to inhaled carbon dioxide, a response that may be altered by spaceflight; and they continued to build on previous studies of how gas is distributed within the lung.
A sequence of breathing tests measured the concentrations and volumes of inhaled and exhaled gases before and after exercise several times throughout the LMS mission. The Astronaut Lung Function Experiment (ALFE) hardware developed for SLS-1 and -2 was modified and used with the addition of the Gas Analysis System for Metabolic Analysis Physiology (GASMAP) mass spectrometer and microcomputer. The crewmember inhaled either the ambient air of the Spacelab cabin or one of the test gases, depending on the activity being performed and the measurement being sought. Expired gases were monitored continuously while being directed either into the cabin, into the rebreathing bag, or into an exhaust bag. The Respitrace suit, a vest-like garment equipped with electronics connected to respiratory transducers located at the chest level and at the abdomen, was used for the rib cage/chest motion studies.
A better understanding of the effects of gravity on the human pulmonary system ultimately may benefit clinical medicine on Earth. Also, a comprehension of pulmonary function in microgravity is important for long-term spaceflight.
You may view pictures of the E030 team and LMS crew at work in our Photo Gallery.