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July 3, 1981

US-USSR space medicine

JAMA. 1981;246(1):19. doi:10.1001/jama.1981.03320010011009

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Relations between the United States and the Soviet Union may be cool at the moment, but plans still are going forward for a joint space medicine research project in mid-1982.

The plan is to send two rhesus monkeys aloft for two weeks in an unmanned Soviet Cosmos satellite to study their metabolism, biorhythms, and changes in bone composition. The United States participated scientifically in 1975, 1977, and 1979 Cosmos missions.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) says that data from the 1979 mission, in which 37 white rats were launched into an elliptical orbit and recovered 18 1/2 days later within the Soviet Union, now have been compiled. The NASA researchers found further evidence that normal bone resorption continues under conditions of weightlessness but that production of replacement bone slows down, resulting in a net (20%) loss of bone mineral content and decreased skeletal strength.

Some of the rats'