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Stanford researchers go from heaven to Earth in 'lifeguard' test

tion to computers stationed in the Bay Area.

In March, four team members tested LifeGuard aboard NASA's KC-135, a jet airplane that provides a taste of zero gravity by flying a roller-coaster-course trajectory. At the top of the arcs, the aircraft and its contents are weightless. "The CPODs worked beautifully," said Judy Swain, MD, professor and chair of Stanford's Department of Medicine, who was part of the LifeGuard testing team.

Not only did the devices perform perfectly, they proved their value for monitoring astronauts with a variety of illnesses including space sickness, a combination of symptoms that occur in the weightless conditions of space flight.

The team feels confident that the device is ready for NASA's assessment, which will probably take place next year. That's great news for NASA's Hines, whose goal is to develop the capability to provide medical monitoring of astronauts in space. "One day, hopefully, we'll fly this technology to the Moon and maybe Mars," Hines said.

But the testing isn't over. "We want to start looking at how it could be improved for other applications - not just space," said Montgomery.

And now that LifeGuard has proved itself, the device is in demand. Among the requests are several from NASA, including one to monitor astronauts during simulated spacewalks in the Neutral Buoyancy Lab, a huge 40-foot-deep pool of water at Johnson Space Center that astronauts use to get the hang of zero-gravity conditions.


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15-Jun-2004


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