Rodents and Jellyfish in Space … It's Science, Folks

Twenty years ago today — June 5, 1991 — the Space Shuttle Columbia lifted off from the Kennedy Space Center.

(The Spacelab module in the shuttle cargo bay. NASA image.)

The STS-40 crew — Bryan D. O’Connor, Sidney M. Gutierrez, M. Rhea Seddon, James Bagian, Tamara Jernigan, F. Andrew Gaffney, and Millie Hughes-Fulford — spent 9 days in space conducting a variety of life sciences experiments in the Spacelab module in the shuttle’s cargo bay. Not only did they run a variety of experiments, but they ran them on a variety of test subjects: themselves, a collection of 30 rodents, and “thousands of tiny jellyfish.”

Of course, all of this serious science stuff has to give way now and then to a little frivolity:

(The STS-40 crew pose on the shuttle’s middeck, with an apparent stowaway. NASA image.)

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