It is one small step for man; one giant leap for GE Healthcare. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has selected GE Healthcare’s Vivid™q Cardiovascular Ultrasound system for delivery to the International Space Station (ISS) on its final space shuttle flight. The Vivid q will be launched today on the space shuttle Atlantis.
Vivid q is a compact, lightweight diagnostic ultrasound system about the size of a laptop, enabling portability and ease of use. The Vivid q is designed for cardiovascular imaging and enables assessment of LV function and cardiac performance. The panoramic scan feature offered by the Vivid q is a capability NASA has not had available in space before.
NASA selected the Vivid q following a rigorous regimen of spaceflight hardware qualification and acceptance testing. The customized Vivid q will be used on-board ISS as part of NASA’s human research program, specifically to helpassess the impact of long duration microgravity space flight on astronauts.
NASA plans to use the equipment to replace and upgrade a 10-year-old ultrasound unit that stopped operating earlier this year in its Human Research Facility. The Vivid q device will be used for general crew health assessment, and in NASA space research investigations such as Integrated Cardiovascular, which looks at the weakening of heart muscles associated with long-duration spaceflight, and the Integrated Resistance and Aerobic Training Study (Sprint) evaluation of the use of high intensity, low volume exercise training to minimize loss of muscle, bone, and cardiovascular function in astronauts.
A European Space Agency experiment called Vascular Echography (Vessel Imaging) will use the device to help evaluate changes in central and peripheral blood vessel wall properties (thickness and compliance) and cross-sectional areas of station astronauts during and after long-term exposure to microgravity.