Effects of Spaceflight on the Musculoskeletal and Neurovascular Systems and Their Implications in Mice (Rodent Research-9 (RR-9)) - 08.02.17

Overview | Description | Applications | Operations | Results | Publications | Imagery

ISS Science for Everyone

Science Objectives for Everyone
The Effects of Spaceflight on the Musculoskeletal and Neurovascular Systems and Their Implications in Mice (Rodent Research-9 (RR-9)) experiment studies how microgravity affects the immune systems, muscles and bones of rodents during extended stays aboard the International Space Station (ISS). Rodent Research-9 (RR-9) consists of the transport and maintenance of a group of mice using NASA’s Rodent Research hardware. After approximately 30 days aboard the ISS, the mice return to Earth where scientists on the ground study how their time in space has affected various tissues including brain, muscle, heart, joint, the eyes and immune system.
Science Results for Everyone
Information Pending

The following content was provided by Janet E. Beegle, and is maintained in a database by the ISS Program Science Office.
Experiment Details


Principal Investigator(s)
Michael D. Delp, Ph.D., Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL, United States

Jeffrey Willey, Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, NC, United States
Xiao Wen Mao, Ph.D., Loma Linda University, Loma Linda, CA, United States

Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA

Sponsoring Space Agency
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

Sponsoring Organization
NASA Research Office - Space Life and Physical Sciences (NASA Research-SLPS)

Research Benefits
Information Pending

ISS Expedition Duration
April 2017 - September 2017; September 2017 - February 2018

Expeditions Assigned

Previous Missions
Information Pending

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Experiment Description

Research Overview

  • The Effects of Spaceflight on the Musculoskeletal and Neurovascular Systems and Their Implications in Mice (Rodent Research-9 (RR-9)) performs scientific operations to determine spaceflight-related responses to stressors associated with space missions.
  • Rodent Research-9 (RR-9) assesses the mechanisms involved in the previously reported adverse effects of spaceflight on human health using the mouse, an animal model flown in the Rodent Research hardware.
  • Rodent Research-9 (RR-9) aims to better understand and assess the effect of microgravity on rodents which may provide insight into human health on future long duration missions.

There are three major objectives in the current study titled: “Effects of Spaceflight on the Musculoskeletal and Neurovascular Systems and Their Implications in Mice” (Rodent Research-9 (RR-9). The first objective is to determine the effects of long-duration spaceflight on cerebral arterial and venous tone, constrictor responsiveness, mechanical stiffness and gross structure, as well as capillary endothelial cell structure and lymphatic contractile activity. The second objective is to evaluate the retinal microvascular and tissue remodeling that impact visual function and identify factors and cellular mechanisms that trigger space environment-induced alteration of cell-cell interaction in the function of the blood-retinal barrier. The third objective is to determine the extent of knee and hip joint degradation after long-duration spaceflight.

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Space Applications
Due to genetic and physiologic similarities between mice and humans, this research provides insights into how human tissue and systems change under stressful conditions. The research contributes to disease treatment and prevention by highlighting fundamental pathways of cellular degradation that may occur in human circulatory, immune and nervous systems.

Earth Applications
This research uses mammalian proxies to identify key health risks that humans face during long-term space travel by providing invaluable information on the effect of various stressors (e.g. launching, radiation and microgravity) associated with spaceflight. This evidence can be used in developing drugs and other regimens to mitigate adverse health effects of long-term space travel.

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Operational Requirements and Protocols
During the mission, the Transporter and Habitat hardware are used; the Transporter houses animals during the transit to ISS and the Habitat houses rodents on ISS for long duration missions. The Life Support System provided by the Dragon capsule provides environmental conditions during transport. The Access Unit interfaces with either the Transporter or Habitat to allow handling a transfer of animals. For this flight, 20 mice are flown to meet science objectives. Animals are transferred from the Transporter to the Habitats that provide long-duration housing abroad the ISS. At approximately 30 days in microgravity, animals are transferred to a clean unit of the Transporter and returned to Earth via Dragon capsule. Daily video downlink is necessary to check the health and well-being of animals while housed in the Habitats.

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Decadal Survey Recommendations

Information Pending

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Results/More Information

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Related Websites

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