Wednesday, May 18, 2005


May 18, 2005

Study to see if women up for long space trips
Ball State scientists aim to determine how missions would affect strength, other abilities.

Associated Press

MUNCIE, Ind. -- Two brothers, both Ball State University researchers, are working on an international study to determine how women would fare in long-term space missions.

Scott and Todd Trappe are watching 12 women go through 60 days of bed rest to find out how aerobic exercise and resistance training might help counter muscle loss during spaceflight.

"The study will mimic a zero-gravity environment, allowing us to understand how weightlessness affects human locomotion and posture," Scott Trappe, Ball State's Human Performance Lab director, told The Star Press for a Tuesday story.

He had worked on a similar international study in which researchers learned men can lose up to 40 percent of their muscle strength after spending six months in space.

The brothers frequently travel to a clinical research facility in Toulouse, France, for the Women's International Space Simulation for Exploration study.

The work is a collaboration of the European, French and Canadian space agencies as well as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

"I think my brother and I have traveled a combined 100,000 miles in the air in the last few months on this project," said Todd Trappe.

Scott Trappe, a director of the study, said research might be used to determine how well women can handle their time in space.

"Who knows? They may be able to better adapt to the environment than men," Scott said.

Three groups of eight women each have had to lie in bed, their heads slightly lower than their feet. The first group is exercising in bed, the second will receive a nutritional supplement and the third will be have neither treatment.

Such analysis mimics physiological changes that occur when astronauts are in space, Scott Trappe said.


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