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May 30, 2011 - Guinea Pigs with the Right Stuff

Guinea Pigs with the Right Stuff On a slightly overcast Florida morning twenty years ago this week, the space shuttle Columbia thundered from the launch pad on the first Spacelab mission completely dedicated to life sciences. The seven astronauts of STS-40 spent nine days in orbit conducting medical studies on the effects of microgravity on several major body systems. Although the medical subjects included 30 rats and 2,500 jellyfish, the most interesting subjects were the seven human guinea pigs on board. The crew members volunteered themselves to be extensively tested and monitored before the mission, during the flight itself, and upon their return to Earth. The experiments of STS-40 added to the growing body of knowledge about the long-term effects of spaceflight on the human body.

Image credit: NASA

Weekly Calendar

May 30 - June 5, 2011

Holidays - Sky Events - Space History

Moon phase Monday 30

Memorial Day

Mars 4° south of Moon

1966: Surveyor 1 launched
1971: Mariner 9 probe launched

Moon phase Tuesday 31

Venus 4° south of Moon

1975: European Space Agency formed
1990: Kristall module launched to Mir space station
2008: STS-124 Discovery launched

Moon phase Wednesday 1

New Moon 5:03 PM ET

Moon phase Thursday 2

Ascension Day

1930: Charles “Pete” Conrad born
1966: Surveyor 1 lands on Moon
1970: First glide test of M2-F3 lifting body
1998: STS-91 Discovery launched
2003: Mars Express / Beagle 2 launched

Moon phase Friday 3

Neptune appears stationary

1948: 200-inch Hale telescope dedicated
1965: Gemini IV launched; Ed White takes America’s first space walk
1966: Gemini IX launched

Moon phase Saturday 4

1971: Last X-24A lifting body flight
1974: Construction begins on space shuttle Enterprise
2000: Compton Gamma Ray Observatory reenters atmosphere

Moon phase Sunday 5

1819: John Couch Adams born
1989: Voyager 2 begins regular observations of Neptune
1991: STS-40 Columbia launched
2002: STS-111 Endeavour launched

Suggestions for new history dates or better links? Corrections for errors on this page? Please e-mail me.