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Microbial Exchange (AR-002)
Principal Investigators
Research Area:
Species Studied
Scientific Name: Homo sapiens Species: Human

Many previous space flight studies have detected the transfer of microbes between crewmembers during flight. These studies resulted in two broad ideas: (1) only a few species of aerobic microbes would survive in-flight and these would produce large populations, and (2) crewmembers might suffer "microbic shock" upon return to Earth after adjusting to fewer microbes in the spacecraft cabin; that is, crewmembers could get sick from the microbes found normally on Earth. Biologists in the United States and Soviet Union prepared a plan to identify and quantitate microbes launched in the Apollo and Soyuz spacecrafts and on each astronaut and cosmonaut. The Apollo-Soyuz Test Project (ASTP), a unique space flight in which two crewmember teams from different geographical areas joined in space with two different spacecrafts, presented a unique opportunity to study cross-contamination. Accordingly, it was necessary to identify and trace all aerobic bacterial species as well as medically important microorganisms present in the population.

The objectives of this joint experiment on ASTP were to evaluate components of the infectious disease process during space flight by measuring alterations in the composition of the crew and spacecraft microbial populations, the ability of each crewmember to resist infection and the ability of certain microorganisms to originate infections.

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Page LW, Page T. Microbes at large in the spacecraft. In: Apollo-Soyuz Pamphlet No. 7: Biology in Zero-G. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office; 1977:27-33. NASA EP-139. [NTRS]

Taylor GR and Zaloguev SN. Medically important micro-organisms recovered from Apollo-Soyuz Test Project (ASTP) crew members. Life Sciences and Space Research. 1977; 15-207 -12. []

Taylor GR, Kropp KD, Henney MR, Ekbald SS, Baky AA, Groves TO, et al. Microbial exchange, AR-002. In: Anderson M, Rummel JA, Deutsch S, eds. BIOSPEX: Biological Space Experiments. Houston, TX: NASA Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center; 1979:77. NASA TM-58217. [NTRS]

Taylor GR, Kropp KD, Henney MR, Ekblad SS, Baky AA, Groves TO, et al. Microbial exchange experiment AR-002. In: Apollo-Soyuz Test Project Summary Science Report. Washington, DC: NASA Headquarters; 1977;1:237-55. NASA SP-412. [NTRS]

Taylor GR, Kropp KD, Henney MR, Ekblad SS, Groves TO, Molina TC, et al. Microbial exchange experiment AR-002. In: Giuli RT. Apollo-Soyuz Test Project Preliminary Science Report. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office; 1974:16.1-16.31. NASA TM X-58173. [NTRS]

Taylor GR. Immune changes during short-duration missions. Journal of Leukocyte Biology. 1993. September; 54(3):202-8. []

Candida albicans
Environmental microbiology
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Data Information
Data Availability
Archive is complete. Some data sets are online.
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Some data sets are not publicly available but can be requested.
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Aerobic bacterial cells
Antigenic reactivity
Bacillus abortus
Candida albicans
Enterobacter aerogenes
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Mission/Study Information
Mission Launch/Start Date Landing/End Date Duration
ASTP 07/15/1975 07/24/1975 9 days, 7.5 hours

Additional Information
Managing NASA Center
Johnson Space Center (JSC)
Responsible NASA Representative
Johnson Space Center LSDA Office
Project Manager: Pamela A. Bieri
Institutional Support
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)