After several years of planning
and reengineering, NASA has announced that an ATL Ultrasound/Philips Medical
Systems flagship HDI 5000 ultrasound system will be onboard the Space Shuttle
Discovery scheduled to lift off from Kennedy Space Center at 7:00 a.m. EST on
Thursday, March 8, 2001 (mission STS-102).
The HDI 5000 system is destined
for the International Space Station’s (ISS) Destiny research laboratory, where
it will be used to conduct long-term medical imaging studies and to help
evaluate and support the general medical condition of the ISS flight crew.
Ultrasound images obtained from the HDI 5000 system will be transmitted from
the ISS to Earth to allow scientists to study the effects of microgravity on
bloodflow, the heart and other organs as well as a range of musculoskeletal
and cardiovascular functions.

The HDI 5000 system will be used to conduct medical imaging experiments
that are expected to be important in understanding the human body and
beneficial to mankind.

“The medical research in space has broad impact beyond protecting the
health of current and future space travelers,” said James D. Thomas, MD, FACC,
Director of Cardiovascular Imaging at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation,
Cleveland, OH.
“For instance, the knowledge gained from the assessment of
cardiac function in space may be directly applicable to patients on Earth,” he
“At first in space, blood volume increases, but then experiences a
This can mimic heart failure, which gives us an opportunity to study
the effects under a more controlled situation.”

At present, three studies have been considered for the HDI 5000 system:
cardiac output measurements, the evaluation of changes in muscle fiber length
and thickness in microgravity, and a cardiac study using noninvasive
echocardiography to acquire as much diagnostic information as possible.

The HDI 5000 system is the only medical imaging device planned for the
According to David S. Martin, Senior Scientist for ultrasound at NASA’s
Johnson Space Center in Houston, “The stakes are extremely high if there is an
injury onboard, so we have to be prepared for sudden ailments such as
fractures, pneumothorax, abdominal trauma, musculoskeletal injuries, and
The ultrasound system can be of help in making an accurate
diagnosis should one of these occur,” he said.

ATL engineers’ consultation to NASA and their contractor Lockheed Martin
on how to re-engineer a compact and “space ready” ultrasound system was
another important factor in the selection of the ATL system for the ISS by
NASA’s Science Working Group in 1996.
An extensive reengineering effort was
undertaken to significantly alter the HDI 5000 system to fit into racks aboard
the space lab.
The normal 106,500 cubic inches of volume of the system was
reduced by 80 percent, and the weight was trimmed from 440 to 200 lbs.

In addition, engineers had to adapt the system to function in a space
Special shielding, for instance, had to be incorporated to
protect the system’s electronic circuitry from “galactic cosmic rays” which
can burn holes in the equipment.

The advances made in telemedicine during the mission will also have
immediate relevance on Earth.
Joe Garze, ATL Clinical Support Manager,
Cardiology, was part of a team that performed successful tests determining
that the HDI 5000 system could transmit real-time images through space to
researchers on Earth.
“Using a type of compression algorithm and satellite
transmission, we successfully transmitted cardiac ultrasound images from the
Cleveland Clinic to NASA’s Ames facility in California — in real time,” said
“There was no degradation in image quality at all.”

Another reason why NASA chose the ATL ultrasound system for use aboard the
ISS was because ATL had developed remote system diagnostics software.
Using a
version of ATL’s UpLink remote system diagnostics program customized for space
communication, NASA technicians will be able to remotely access the HDI 5000
system from Earth, allowing the ISS flight crew to make automated changes and
corrections that will keep the system at peak performance.
Since evolved by
ATL, UpLink is now used all over the world in hospitals and clinics, offering
remote system access for diagnostics, feature activation, image transfer, and
customer communication.

The scientific and medical communities are awaiting the beginning of the
ultrasound scanning on the ISS with great excitement and regard the studies as
further validation of the modality’s stature in medicine.

“This is a great milestone for medicine, medical imaging in general, and
ultrasound in particular,” said Arthur C. Fleischer, M.D., Chief of Diagnostic
Sonography, Professor of Radiology and OB/Gyn, Vanderbilt University Medical
Center, Nashville, TN and an advisor to NASA on clinical applications for
“The selection of ultrasound for the space station underscores
just how important ultrasound has become,” he said, “and the contributions of
sonography in studying the effects of space travel will be vital to future

“ATL and Philips are very proud to have been chosen by NASA to provide the
HDI 5000 system for the International Space Station,” said Victor Reddick,
ATL Ultrasound Senior Vice President of Global Marketing, Sales and Service.
“We’re excited to be part of this historic mission into space, which we feel
is very reflective of our corporate mission to consistently strive for
technological innovation.
We look forward to continuing our work with NASA
and seeing the clinical results derived from this mission,” he continued.

Introduced in July 1997, the HDI 5000 system applies powerful
supercomputed processing, patented Broadband Flow® imaging technology and
adaptive system intelligence to diagnostic ultrasound.
With an installed base
of more than 4,500 units, the HDI 5000 system continues to rapidly expand in
markets throughout the world.

ATL Ultrasound, a Philips Medical Systems company, has headquarters in
Bothell, Washington.
ATL is a worldwide leader in diagnostic medical
ultrasound systems, and has annual revenues of more than $500 million.
1988, ATL has led in the development and distribution of all-digital
ultrasound systems, the standard today in high performance diagnostic
Press releases and other information specifically about
ultrasound studies aboard the ISS are available on ATL’s Web site at .

Philips’ involvement with NASA also includes Philips lighting and
flat display technology.
Philips compact fluorescent light bulbs, which are
vibration-resistant, are used to light the Space Shuttle Launch Pad.
recently, the Atlantis space shuttle has been fitted with a new
“glass cockpit” that includes Philips’ cutting-edge active matrix liquid
crystal displays (AMLCDs).
NASA expects to replace the traditional cathode
ray tube (CRT) displays and numerous mechanical gauges within the cockpits of
all its space shuttles with Philips’ more advanced AMLCD displays.

Royal Philips Electronics of the Netherlands is one of the world’s biggest
electronics companies and Europe’s largest, with sales of
$34.9 billion (EUR 37.9 billion) in 2000.
It is a global leader in color
television sets, lighting, electric shavers, color picture tubes for
televisions and monitors, and one-chip TV products.
Its 219,400 employees in
more than 60 countries are active in the areas of lighting, consumer
electronics, domestic appliances, components, semiconductors, and medical
Philips is quoted on the NYSE (symbol: PHG), London, Frankfurt,
Amsterdam and other stock exchanges.
News from Philips is located at