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Mission or Study ID:   STS-47
Shuttle Program
Launch/Start Date:
Landing/End Date:
7 days
STS-47 Crew Patch

The Spacelab J mission was a cooperative effort between the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the National Space Development Agency of Japan (NASDA). The primary objective of this internationally funded Shuttle flight was dedicated to fundamental materials and life sciences research utilizing the weightless and radiation environments of an orbiting space laboratory. As a part of this international mission, a crew of seven, including a payload specialist from Japan (the first time a NASDA astronaut flew in space), performed experiments developed by scientists from NASA and NASDA. These experiments were performed in Spacelab, a reuseable orbiting laboratory developed jointly by the European Space Agency (ESA) and NASA, and carried aloft by the Shuttle. The STS-47 crew consisted of Commander Robert L. Gibson, Pilot Curtis L. Brown, Payload Commander Mark C. Lee, Mission Specialists N. Jan Davis, Jay Apt, and Mae C. Jemison, and Payload Specialist Mamoru Mohri.

International cooperation during the SL-J mission enabled the participating agencies to attain mutually beneficial goals. NASA provided mission management, payload integration, and Shuttle transportation to and from orbit, and hardware for certain NASA and joint experiments. NASDA provided hardware that their own scientists used. Joint use of facilities reduced the cost of space experimentation for each agency. Investigators also shared certain data and samples so that the scientific return was multiplied.

The payload included nine U. S. experiments (seven life sciences and two microgravity sciences), most of which were maintained within the Spacelab module.

The First Material Processing Test (FMPT) payload, developed by NASDA, was a set of 35 investigations (13 in Life Sciences and 22 in Materials Sciences) which also flew on SL-J. This complement of experiments allowed a maximum number of Japanese scientists to participate in space-based research, gather data on mission operations, and demonstrate the effective use of the space environment for research.

The SL-J life sciences experiments encompassed a diverse group of biological investigations including physiology, cell growth and development, separation processes for purification of biological materials, enzyme crystal growth, and radiation biology. Several experiments were designed to evaluate the specific effects of the space environment, such as radiation and microgravity, on biological systems and may have direct applications for improving the health and well being of astronauts. Other life sciences investigations utilized the microgravity environment to study methods to improve purification of biological materials and to grow protein crystals of interest to the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries.

The U.S. human physiology life sciences investigations on SL-J concentrated on studying methods for counteracting the potentially harmful effects of space flight. The Autogenic Feedback Training experiment tested the astronauts? ability to minimize their motion sickness symptoms that result from space adaptation syndrome by using biofeedback techniques that do not use drugs. The Bone Cell Research experiment investigated how space flight causes changes in bone cell function to better understand why bones become weaker during space flight. The Lower Body Negative Pressure study investigated a method to protect astronauts from orthostatic intolerance, a condition of low blood pressure after space flight caused by the adaptive body fluid loss in microgravity. Finally, the Magnetic Resonance Imaging experiment actually took place on the ground before and after the SL-J mission., and studied astronauts and bed-rest patients and compared changes in muscle, bone and vertebral discs to assess any harmful effects of space flight.

Other life sciences experiments performed during the STS-47 mission were those classified as Detailed Supplementary Objectives (DSOs). A DSO is a NASA-sponsored investigation performed by Space Shuttle crewmembers, who serve as the test subjects. These studies are designed to require minimal crew time, power and stowage. Biomedical DSOs focus on operational concerns, including space motion sickness, cardiovascular deconditioning, muscle loss, changes in coordination and balance strategies, radiation exposure, pharmacokinetics and changes in the body's biochemistry.

The materials sciences investigations were designed to utilize the unique microgravity environment of space for processing materials and for studying physical phenomena impacted by such gravity-related effects as buoyancy, sedimentation, and convection. The SL-J materials science experiments included crystal growth studies, material processing experiments, fluid physics investigations, and the characterization and monitoring of the acceleration environment of the Spacelab. These experiments have a wide range of applications in areas such as the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries, metallurgy, infrared detector technology, superconductivity, and semiconductor technology. They also provide basic information necessary to understanding specific physical phenomena occurring both on Earth and in space.

Spacelab J added much to the on-going research in life and microgravity sciences and helped scientists understand better how the human body and biological and metallurgical materials react to the microgravity and radiation environment of space. The SL-J mission was also a step towards the future for two space agencies that will be working together in an international effort to build a space station.

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Experiments on this Mission