HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — After spending a month in microgravity, the last of the lab mice that were sent to the International Space Station aboard a SpaceX cargo capsule have been dissected, NASA officials said Tuesday. "We just finished up the very end of the rodent research," payload operations director Tim Horvath told NASA Administrator Charles Bolden during a photo op at Marshall Space Flight Center's Payload Operations Integration Center in Huntsville.
Astronauts dissected half of the 20 mice in time to send tissue samples back on the SpaceX Dragon that went up in September and returned to Earth on Saturday. Those animals were part of an experiment by the Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research, aimed at breeding a strain of mice that is resistant to muscle loss. The rest of the mice were part of a NASA experiment, and the astronauts finished those dissections on Monday, space agency representatives told NBC News. Samples from those mice are due to be returned to Earth during SpaceX's next robotic cargo mission, currently scheduled for launch on Dec. 9.
— Alan Boyle