Everything I wrote about earlier in the blog: Getting Ready for NASA Ames Testing (a reflection on the past in preparation for the future ), we had to do to prepare for our time at KSC, plus a number of additional requirements. We will have more extensive background checks conducted and this time I will have a foreign national in my laboratory which will require additional time and paperwork (about 6 months’ notice).
As we were going to be in contact with material going up to the International Space Station (ISS), we were all required to have an extensive physical/health check to minimize any exposure risk to the astronauts. We have to complete another series of animal, X-ray, and laboratory safety training, both online as well as upon our arrival to KSC. For this reason, they recommend our team arrive at least 1 week in advance of the launch to pass all onsite training requirements. Furthermore, we have to complete not just 1, but 2 animal protocol application (>100 pages each); one for handling animals at KSC and one for handling animals in spaceflight. Each institution has what is termed an IACUC or Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee, which reviews and approves all animal investigations to make sure they are conducted in a humane fashion, do not duplicate what has already been done, and that the knowledge gained could not be done without using animals. Since we are interested in looking at bone regeneration we must use animals with bones, and bone regeneration with drug therapies in spaceflight, has not been done previously. All of KSC is considered 1 institution, therefore the KSC IACUC is in charge of everything done with mice at KSC (on the Earth). The ISS is considered a separate institution and the Ames IACUC is in charge of everything done with mice on the ISS. Thus, we had to complete 2 protocols with 2 sets of rules and 2 review procedures. Just before the holidays, we submitted our revised applications to KSC. Because of our extensive work on the launch simulation with Ames IACUC, we understood the NASA process much better and our initial applications required limited revisions. Just this week we received final IACUC approval.
So we are a GO for launch!
Written by Melissa Kacena
Image courtesy of alexisdc at FreeDigitalPhotos.net