Rodent Research-20 (RR-20)

Science Objectives

Throughout the course of three shuttle missions, alterations in ovarian function were detected in female mice that could potentially lead to fertility issues. This latest mission to the International Space Station will further probe whether space-flown female mice have temporary or permanent alterations to their reproductive capability and whether dysfunctional hormone signaling is linked with bone loss. Because women astronauts will travel on extended missions to the Moon and potentially Mars, this mission is critical to understanding the impact of spaceflight on women's health.


The Rodent Research-20 (RR-20) Mission launched aboard SpaceX-29 to the International Space Station (ISS) November 2023.

Experiment Description

The experiment consists of three groups of adult female mice for spaceflight and three groups for ground controls that match the flight groups for different types of analyses and time points. All animals will be housed in the animal enclosure module, and ground controls will be maintained under the same conditions as on the International Space Station with respect to temperature, carbon dioxide, and humidity.

Two of the groups will involve the same analyses at different time points, ~12 days and ~60 days after initiation of space flight, while the third group will be mated upon return to Earth to determine the fertility of the space-flown mice. The offspring from the ground control and spaceflight females will also be monitored to determine their developmental health.

During the mission, ground control and spaceflight adult female mice will be assessed at different timepoints for ovarian function. This assessment is done by determining endocrine hormone levels in serum and evaluation (or analysis) of ovarian and uterine morphology. Ovarian, uterine and bone gene expression studies will also be performed to determine whether hormone signaling, and ovarian function are altered by spaceflight.

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