Press Release

Second Shuttle Flight for Canadian H-Reflex Experiment

By SpaceRef Editor
August 7, 2001
Filed under ,

Ottawa, August 7, 2001 – When the Expedition Three crew blast off on August
9 to their new home away from home, they will be taking along Canada’s
Hoffman Reflex experiment. Canadian scientist, Dr. Doug Watt of McGill
University, is continuing his research into the effects of microgravity on
human reflexes. This research has important implications for the health and
safety of astronauts and may also lead to improvements in managing balance
disorders on Earth, particularly in the elderly.

“H-Reflex demonstrates the value of ISS for research,” said Dr. Alan
Mortimer, Director of Life and Microgravity Sciences for the Canadian Space
Agency. “We are able to obtain a complete picture of this scientific
question in ways we never could before.”

The ISS is still under construction, so there is limited space and crew time
for conducting experiments. H-Reflex is among the early science experiments
to be undertaken and is Canada’s first on board the ISS. The experiment is
performed on crewmembers prior to launch, during their shuttle trip, while
on the Station and again during and after their return flight to Earth. The
first subjects, current ISS crewmembers Yury Usachev, Susan Helms and James
Voss, have undergone the experiment three times while in space. They are
scheduled to return to Earth on August 21 (TBC).

“In each case, the data files were on my desk less than 24 hours after the
experiment was completed,” said Dr. Watt. “So far, the results indicate that
spinal cord excitability falls quite rapidly in weightlessness. However,
there also appears to be a partial recovery after several months. The first
finding was expected but the second is a bit of a surprise.”

A second set of H-Reflex hardware will be used onboard Discovery by
Expedition Three crewmembers Frank Culbertson, Vladimir Dezhurov and Mikhail
Tyurin. Once aboard the ISS, they, like their predecessors, will repeat the
experiment several times. Ground support for the H-Reflex experiment is
provided from the Payload Mission Support Centre at the Canadian Space
Agency’s headquarters in Saint-Hubert, Quebec.

About the Canadian Space Agency

Established in 1989 with its headquarters situated in Saint-Hubert, Quebec,
the Canadian Space Agency coordinates all aspects of the Canadian Space
Program. Through its Space Knowledge, Applications and Industry Development
business line, the CSA delivers services involving: Earth and the
Environment; Space Science; Human Presence in Space; Satellite
Communications; Generic Space Technologies; Space Qualification Services and
Awareness. The Canadian Space Agency is at the forefront of the development
and application of space knowledge for the benefit of Canadians and

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For more information on the first flight of H-Reflex including a video clip
of Susan Helms performing the experiment on board Space Shuttle Discovery,
please visit:

For more information:
CSA Media Relations Office
Canadian Space Agency
Telephone: (450) 926-4370
Fax: (514) 943-4352
Web site:

SpaceRef staff editor.