NASA’s FY-2006 budget includes a $1.3 million grant, at Florida Congressman Dave Weldon’s request, for a life sciences research collaboration between the Florida Institute of Technology and the Florida Space Research Institute (FSRI). The two organizations will support ongoing programs within the state’s Space Life Sciences (SLS) Lab at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, including research aimed at mitigating the negative health effects of long-duration space flight.

“Certain health issues must be better understood before we send astronauts on long-duration missions to the Moon and Mars,” said Congressman Dave Weldon, who serves on the appropriations committee responsible for NASA’s budget. “As a physician, I believe we must develop countermeasures to prevent or minimize the effects of radiation, bone demineralization, muscle atrophy, and other problems associated with human space flight. Research funded under this NASA grant to FSRI and Florida Tech will support the vision for space exploration.”

Florida Tech President Anthony Catanese said the collaboration underscores the university’s dedication to space-related research.

“We’re pleased with this continuation of our leadership in space research and look forward to working with our colleagues at FSRI now and in the future,” said Catanese.

The NASA grant will support joint faculty appointments between Florida Tech and FSRI within the SLS Lab, support existing biomedical and other life support technology projects within the facility, and enable research by other Florida universities and companies under FSRI’s Florida/NASA Matching Grant Program. Florida Tech, FSRI, and the Economic Development Commission of Florida’s Space Coast will continue to work closely together to leverage the research activity to continue their successes in the expansion of aerospace and biotech programs in the state.

Florida Tech was founded in 1958 in Melbourne, Florida, to provide continuing education to professionals working in the space program at what is now Kennedy Space Center. The independent university is consistently listed as one of America’s best colleges in U.S. News & World Report.

FSRI, which co-manages the Space Life Sciences Lab with NASA at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport, was established by Governor Jeb Bush and the Florida Legislature to promote collaboration among the state’s academic institutions, industry, and federal space agencies to support space-related education, training, research and technology development.