Campus & Community

Students fly in NASA’s weightless environment

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Research may change emergency medical protocols for future space missions

Harvard Extension School students Mario Garcia, So-One Hwang, Lily Kang, and Manoj Ramachandran in July 2003 experienced the weightlessness of microgravity through NASA’s Reduced Gravity Student Flight Opportunities Program, which provides research opportunities for college students aboard its Boeing KC-135A aircraft based in Houston. The Harvard team proposed to research the effectiveness of a one-person cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) protocol for a weightless environment. The students called it “Single-rescuer Emergency CPR while Unrestrained in Reduced gravity Experiment” (SECURE). “The whole purpose of our experiment was to show that we can do effective CPR while unrestrained, because it takes too much time to restrain the victim in the crew medical restraint system,” says Hwang, who served as the team’s captain. Preliminary indications in August 2003 were that their research will produce solid results that might lead to a change in the way NASA administers emergency medicine in space.