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Mission or Study ID:   STS-8
Shuttle Program
Launch/Start Date:
Landing/End Date:
6 days
STS-8 Crew Patch

STS-8 featured the Shuttle program's first night launch and landing. The crew included Commander Richard H. Truly, Pilot Daniel C. Brandenstein, and Mission Specialists Dale A. Gardner, Guion S. Bluford, and William E. Thornton. During the mission, the crew launched India's INSAT 1-B communications satellite, conducted the first tests of Shuttle-to-ground communications with the new Tracking and Data Relay Satellite, and exercised the Remote Manipulator arm with a test article weighing nearly four tons. Thornton, an M.D., conducted biomedical experiments, and Bluford became the first African-American in space.

For the Development Flight Instrumentation Pallet (DFI PLT), the crew filmed performance of an experimental heat pipe mounted in the cargo bay. Also, the orbiter dropped to 139 miles in altitude to perform tests on thin atomic oxygen to identify the cause of a glow that surrounds parts of the orbiter at night. Biofeedback experiments were performed on rats flown in the Animal Enclosure Module to observe animal reactions in space. Other payloads included the Continuous Flow Electrophoresis System (CFES), the Shuttle Student Involvement Program (SSlP) experiment, the Incubator-Cell Attachment Test (l CAT), the Investigation of STS Atmospheric Luminosities (ISAL), Radiation Monitoring Equipment (RME) and five Get Away Special experiment packages.

Shuttle Student Involvement Program (SSIP) Payload
The Shuttle Student Involvement Program (SSIP) is sponsored jointly by the National Science Teacher's Association and NASA. The program gives students in U.S. secondary schools the opportunity to propose experiments for flight on the Space Shuttle. A contest is held every year to select experiments for flight. Each experiment is sponsored by an individual or organization in the private sector.

Ames Research Center (ARC) has been involved in three SSIP life sciences experiments. These were flown on STS-8, STS-41B, and STS-29.

The six-day STS-8 mission was launched on August 30, 1983. The performance of the Animal Enclosure Module (AEM) was tested during the flight. The AEM had been built for an SSIP experiment that was to be flown on STS-41B, and it had to be tested during space flight to ensure that the experiment's objectives could be achieved.

Six gnotobiotic Lewis Wistar rats were used as test subjects. Because the microbial flora found in the rats were known, the investigator hoped to determine if the AEM was able to contain microorganisms without leaking into the environment outside the AEM. By the same rationale, it was expected that it would be possible to determine whether microbes from the crew had leaked into the AEM and contaminated the rats. Control studies were performed on the ground using identical groups of rats.

Preflight and postflight cultures were made of the bacterial flora found in the animals, the AEM, and the food and water sources. The AEM was shown to be capable of maintaining the rats in good health. Two microorganisms were found in the animals postflight that had not been present preflight. These were presumably introduced by the potatoes that had been provided as a food and water source. An alternative explanation was that the AEM had not been properly sterilized preflight. Since the microorganisms were not found in the exhaust system of the AEM, it was concluded that the AEM was able to maintain biological material in isolation.

Detailed Supplementary Objectives (DSOs)
Detailed Supplementary Objectives (DSOs) were performed on this mission. ADSO is a NASA-sponsored investigation that is performed by SpaceShuttle crewmembers, who serve as the test subjects. These studies aredesigned to require minimal crew time, power and stowage. Biomedical DSOsfocus on operational concerns, including space motion sickness,cardiovascular deconditioning, muscle loss, changes in coordination andbalance strategies, radiation exposure, pharmacokinetics and changes in thebody's biochemistry.

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