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Category Archives: Space Station

27 best photos from the space station show Earth’s hidden beauty – Business Insider

Posted: November 30, 2019 at 10:11 am

As of this week, the International Space Station (ISS) has been orbiting Earth for 21 years,and the astronauts on board have been taking breathtaking photos for almost as long.

The first module of the space station launched into orbit on November 20, 1998, and the first crew of astronauts arrived two years later. Humans have lived onboard the ISS continuously in the 13 years since the longest-lasting human presence in space.

In that time, they've taken millions of photos. The views can sometimes be hard to believe.

"How can something so beautiful be tolerated by human eyes?" NASA astronaut Mike Massimino explained to the Washington Post.

Here are the best photos ever taken from the space station.

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NASA’s Space Food; Thanksgiving Menu On The International Space Station – NPR

Posted: at 10:11 am

Earlier this month, crew aboard the International Space Station received a a novel item in their cargo re-supply: a Zero-G oven and cookie dough. NASA/Nanoracks hide caption

Earlier this month, crew aboard the International Space Station received a a novel item in their cargo re-supply: a Zero-G oven and cookie dough.

Imagine having your Thanksgiving meal in microgravity? That's the reality for the six astronauts aboard the International Space Station. Today, we look at the evolution of astronaut food and a planned attempt to bake chocolate chip cookies in space. Follow Maddie Sofia @maddie_sofia and Emily Kwong @emilykwong1234. Email the show at

This episode was produced by Brent Baughman and edited by Viet Le.

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Watch: Maine astronaut’s Thanksgiving challenge on space station don’t let the turkey get away – Press Herald

Posted: at 10:11 am

Astronaut Jessica Meir might be living in space, but she wont miss out on a Thanksgiving feast.

Meir, along with fellow NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Andrew Morgan, took to Instagram for a sneak peak of the holiday meal theyll share aboard the International Space Station.

On the menu: smoked turkey, green beans, cornbread dressing and macaroni and cheese theyll reconstitute with water. For the occasion, NASA sent the astronauts a can of jellied cranberry sauce.

Of course, its got to stay in the shape of the can after you open it up, Morgan said as the can floated in front of him.

Click arrow to right of first video to see the astronauts display their food.

Meir, a Caribou native who arrived at the space station in September for a six-month stay, suggested they try to stuff the cornbread dressing into the turkey pouches for a more authentic touch.

But what about pie? The closest thing the astronauts have is a cran-apple dessert, but Koch said they have been brainstorming how to re-create pumpkin pie by combining cookies and packets of candied yams.

Meir said shell be thinking of her family Thursday.

To me, Thanksgiving is all about family. I grew up in a family with five kids and as a first generation American I guess my parents had to learn pretty quick how to put on a great Thanksgiving feast. I have a lot of fond memories of growing up and eating with all of my siblings and having a great time, she said. As I got older and lived in various places, Thanksgiving turned into an even broader extended family. I have adopted families all over the country. So Ill be thinking this year about everyone down on the ground celebrating together.

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Watch: Maine astronaut's Thanksgiving challenge on space station don't let the turkey get away - Press Herald

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China’s Big Ambitions for Space Are Riding on a December Launch –

Posted: at 10:11 am

China's space program recently staged a show test of its first Mars lander on a nearly 460 feet (140-meter) tower at a site near Beijing, looking ahead to the program's launch next summer. But an equally crucial mission component faces a different kind of test in December.

That's when the country's largest rocket will resume to flight, blasting off from the Wenchang Satellite Launch Center on Hainan island in southern China. The Long March 5, with a length of 184 feet (56 meters) and a mass at liftoff of nearly 2 million lbs. (867,000 kilograms), is one of the biggest active rockets in the world, comparable to the European Ariane 5 or the American Delta IV Heavy, earning it the nickname "fat five" in Chinese.

With this rocket, China intends to launch Chang'e 5, which is a lunar sample-return mission, and its first independent interplanetary mission, bound for Mars, next year. A shorter variant, the Long March 5B, will be used to launch the modules of China's planned space station into low Earth orbit.

Related: This Is the 1st Photo of China's Mars Explorer Launching in 2020

However, all of these projects will face delays again if the Long March 5 does not have a successful return to flight next month.

The Long March 5 made a shaky debut in late 2016; its second launch, in July 2017, failed to reach orbit after equipment on a first-stage engine broke off. The anomaly postponed the launch of Chang'e 5, which had been scheduled for November 2017.

Now, after redesigns and testing of its first-stage liquid-hydrogen-liquid-oxygen engines, the Long March 5 is once again ready for flight. The rocket's first mission, expected to lift off in mid- to late December, will carry Shijian 20, a large experimental communications satellite.

Shijian 20, which means Practice 20, is expected to greatly boost China's high-throughput satellite communications capacity once it reaches its intended geostationary orbit, 22,236 miles (35,786 kilometers) above Earth. Shijian 20 will also carry a technology-demonstration laser communications payload and new domestic ion thrusters.

China lost Shijian 18, a similar satellite based on the same new large-satellite platform, during the failed 2017 launch and, most likely, another communications satellite, called ChinaSat 18, in August.

Despite the importance of the payload in that context, China's main concern during next month's launch will be getting the rocket cleared for more ambitious projects. Launch preparations for the Long March 5 family, including the rocket assembly and testing, take about two months, forcing China to spread out missions.

If the Long March 5 performs well, the next launch will be a test of the Long March 5B that would carry an uncrewed prototype of a new crewed spacecraft designed to take astronauts beyond low Earth orbit. Success of that flight would allow China to begin preparing to launch the 44,000-lb. (20,000 kg) core module of the Chinese Space Station.

The following Long March 5 will carry China's Mars spacecraft, scheduled to launch in late July or early August 2020, using the same launch window that NASA's Mars 2020 rover, the European-Russian ExoMars Rosalind Franklin rover, and the United Arab Emirates' Hope Mars mission are all targeting.

The next mission to fly would likely launch the 17,600-lb. (8,000 kg) Chang'e 5 lunar spacecraft in late 2020 on the fifth Long March 5. That mission aims to collect 4.4 lbs. (2 kg) of lunar samples and return them to Earth following a complex automated lunar orbit rendezvous between an ascent vehicle and a service module.

If these launches go well, China may begin the construction of its space station in 2021. The complex will eventually consist of the Tianhe core module and two modules holding experiments. China also plans to launch a Hubble-class space telescope into the same orbit, which would be capable of docking with the space station for maintenance and repairs.

All of these plans are dependent on the Long March 5 and its 5B variant. Preparations for the crucial return-to-flight mission are now underway.

With a core stage that measures 16.4 feet (5 m) across, the rocket is too wide to be transported by rail as China's earlier rockets were. Instead, specially designed cargo ships dubbed Yuanwang 21 and Yuanwang 22 collected the components of the new Long March 5 from Tianjin, China. The containers holding the rocket stages and side boosters arrived at Wenchang Satellite Launch Center in late October.

Unlike China's three closed-off inland launch centers, Wenchang is more open to the public and boasts viewing areas at safe distances. China has not yet announced whether there will be a live (or nearly so) webcast of the mission, as was made available for the two previous Long March 5 launches, given the last failure and the many hopes that rest on this launch. Nor has the country announced the exact timing of the upcoming launch.

Of course, the fate of the Long March 5 rocket family wasn't the only uncertainty on people's minds at the public test of the Mars lander in Hebei Province on Nov. 14. "After the launch, it will take around seven months for the Mars probe to reach its destination, but the landing process only lasts seven minutes," said Zhang Rongqiao, chief designer of China's Mars exploration mission, said at the test. "So the landing is the most difficult and challenging part of the Mars mission."

But without a successful launch, there's no chance of a successful landing.

Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.

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Seeking the Killer Space App with Space Tango – The Planetary Society

Posted: at 10:11 am

Organizations are using the microgravity environment of the International Space Station to develop unique new products. One of them is Kentucky-based Space Tango. Well meet its chairman and co-founder and the woman who manages its Tangolab. Also, a NASA rep who works with these pioneers. Time magazine has named the Planetary Societys LightSail its aerospace invention of the year! Society CEO Bill Nye is grateful to all who have been part of the project. Bruce Betts provides a solar sail update at the top of this weeks Whats Up, and wishes Mat a happy 17th anniversary of Planetary Radio.

What is the largest known object in our solar system that, as of now, has NOT been visited by a spacecraft? Flybys count. The Sun does not.

What is the new or relatively new name for the most distant object visited by a spacecraft?

The winner will be revealed next week.

The Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity was the first spacecraft to see a planetary transit (Mercury) from another planet.

Mat Kaplan: [00:00:00] Hemp in space, how about beer? That's this Week on Planetary Radio.

Welcome. I'm at Kaplan of the Planetary Society with more of the human adventure across our solar system and beyond. Kentucky based Space Tango is actually conducting International Space Station research on far more than the catchy items in my opening line. We'll talk with co-founder Kris Kimel and others about the burgeoning effort to find the killer app or product for production at Zero-G. Happy Anniversary to us whose stats will help me celebrate 17 years of Planetary Radio in this week's what's up. He'll also give us a LightSail 2 update.

LightSail is also why we'll be joined by Planetary Society CEO, Bill Nye the planetary guy right after we check in with the downlink. The Planetary Society's weekly collection of the top headlines in Space [00:01:00] exploration presented by our editorial director Jason Davis. The insight lander on Mars keeps plugging or pounding away with help from the crafts robotic arm. The long trouble Mole hit probe is once again hammering itself below the surface of the Red Planet. Boeing has put at CST 100 Starliner spacecraft on top of an atlas five rocket. With luck, it will make its first voyage to the ISS in December. Science human crew, I'll also note that SpaceX hopes to fly a test of the Crew Dragon capsules escape system next month. Meanwhile, a prototype of that company Starship blew its top a few days ago. SpaceX says the mishap shouldn't delay development of the huge vehicle.

Lastly, scientists have for the first time directly detected water vapor above Europa using the Keck Observatory in Hawaii. The finding support prior research indicating that there may be transient [00:02:00] plumes erupting from the moon's subsurface ocean. Though other explanations are also possible. Go Europa Clipper. For more on these and other stories, including great links, visit Now to Bill Nye, who is celebrating recognition of the Planetary Society's LightSail solar sail project by the leading news magazine in the US. Bill, not that we needed Time Magazine to acknowledge the, uh... our pride or the success of LightSail 2 but, but it doesn't hurt, does it?

Bill Nye: No, no, it's pretty cool. So Time Magazine's inventions of the year, we are the aerospace invention of the year. It's certainly a heck of a thing. You know, and it's of the year, of, of a year. This thing depend when you start counting is you know, 42 years in the making. And so, uh, it's really gratifying, you know. And for those members who are listening or people who are not yet members, you know, [00:03:00] we flew Cosmos 1 in 2005 but it ended up in the ocean. And then we had an opportunity, uh, four years ago to fly LightSail 1 and we just took it because you just don't know when you're gonna get an opportunity to, to get on a NASA Flight or an ELaNa, Educational Launch of Nanosatellites opportunity so we took that. But LightSail 2 we were able to get to a high enough altitude, 720 kilometers where we could prove that the thing works. Is just... It's really gratifying, Mat. It's just cool as heck.

Mat Kaplan: You mentioned our members, but other people as well. I hear the number 50,000 bandied about.

Bill Nye: Yeah. That's what we say. 50,000 people contributed to LightSail... the LightSail program. Most of them were more recent LightSail 2 when we had Kickstarter awareness and so on. So, thank you all. Really, Mat, another extraordinary aspect of it is, I mentioned Kickstarter, that was one way we raise money, but the main way is just through membership in the Planetary Society. We did [00:04:00] our first $7 million over, over, uh, it depends how you count, over the last 12 years or what have you. If you were gonna do that at a regular space agency like NASA, or ISA, or CNES, or French Space Agency, it would cost about, people estimate about 20 times as much. 140, 150 million to do this project to fly two Solar sails in Earth orbit.

And the reason we did it so much more cheaply is we took risks. And we also do not have continuous coverage around the world. We don't have the Deep Space Network, we just have Hawaii, San Luis Obispo, California, Purdue in Indiana and Georgia Tech in Georgia in the US. And so it's very cool. We pulled it off.

Mat Kaplan: And I am very proud. I am, I'm proud to be a member who stood behind this, who stands behind this and I... I'm proud to be part of the organization, if not a direct part of the team that, uh, that put it up [00:05:00] there.

Bill Nye: Yeah. I'm not a direct part of the team either, Mat, I'm, once in a while I'd say, "Okay, write a check."

Mat Kaplan: [laughs]

Bill Nye: No. So the, the problems that these guys and gals overcame is really, really exciting. You know, and, and pers... the whole thing is so romantic, you know. If you're keeping track, it goes back to Johannes Kepler in 1607 looking at what we now call Comet Halley... Halley's Comet before Edmond Halley ever saw it. He noticed this comet in the night sky, and he noticed that the tail, noticed very carefully that the tail always pointed away from the sun. And Kepler, not really having any knowledge of photons or modern physics of light, he just reason that there's something about the sun that's creating this tail or these tails, the ion tail and the dust tail. Then 400 years later, we were able to exploit that feature of sunlight to fly. It's just exciting.

And so we [00:06:00] hope, as, as the goal of the Planetary Society this... democratizes spaceflight that other organizations, universities will use Solar sails to go to other destinations in the solar system.

Mat Kaplan: Or perhaps beyond.

Bill Nye: Whoo. Yeah, it really is the only technology anybody's thought of right now that could take you to another star system and that is you build a Solar sail, uh, similar in shape to LightSail 2 and you give it a push with a la- with a laser or a group of lasers either on earth or on the far side of the moon, has been discussed, where you'd have solar panels to make electricity to crank huge lasers and give this thing a push. And so the existing drawings, or plans, or artists concepts of inter [inaudible 00:06:48] or flight, uh, always... we always have a square sail very similar to LightSail. You know, you converge on the same answer, right? Do you want booms, things to hold the sail rigid, [00:07:00] or would you rely on just the spin of a sail. Just the centripetal centrifugal action of, uh, something on the, on the corners or the ci- circumference of the sail... perimeter of the sail. And, uh, now right now everybody's thinking is we... booms are good. Booms ar, are efficient.

Mat Kaplan: I would say that LightSail has had a good part in helping to convince people that those booms are a, are a, a, a good way to go.

Bill Nye: Or a worthy way to go. So everybody if you haven't done it, go to our control panel-

Mat Kaplan: Mm-hmm [affirmative]-

Bill Nye: Our mission, mission control, rather, on our website,, and you'll find when you can go looking for it in the night sky, in the evening sky, the morning sky. It's really something... when... it's just a dot, it's just a pinprick of light, but it's, it's our.of light people built by citizens around the world who just thought that this was a worthy technology to pursue, and this... there are a couple missions [00:08:00] that a future LightSail style spacecraft is ideal for climate monitoring from above the poles, and, uh, the search for asteroids and especially monitoring solar weather. So there'll be a coronal mass ejection event on the sun. And this stream of particles is hurtling toward our planet that would damage... excessively damage, will create excessive damage to our satellites, to our space assets.

And with the solar sail station keeping with the earth at an inferior orbit, say around the orbit of Venus 0.7 astronomical units from the sun, you could get a head start. You could get three, three and a half, four hours warning against the stream of charged particles. In 2012 there's a very serious event that mised the earth by about two weeks.

Mat Kaplan: Mm-hmm [affirmative]-

Bill Nye: It, it slashed through Earth's orbit two weeks behind us. So we, uh, we... this is a real practical use of this technology along with the [00:09:00] romance.

Mat Kaplan: And I will say with a wink of my eye as we close here, more news approaching, more honors approaching-

Bill Nye: Oh, yes. Yes, your eyes are, are a wink.

Mat Kaplan: [laughs]

Bill Nye: That's cool. It's... But you guys in Time Magazine, come on, it's like Person of the Year, except it's our spacecraft with 99 other cool inventions. Carry on, Mat.

Mat Kaplan: Thank you, Bill. We will. Thanks for, uh-

Bill Nye: Let's keep them flying.

Mat Kaplan: Thanks for the leadership. That's Bill Nye. He's the CEO of the Planetary Society, which, uh, stands behind and under LightSail 2, which, uh, could be sailing on the light of the sun over your head right now.

Another SpaceX Dragon cargo capsule will head for the International Space Station in early December. It will carry a metric ton of science experiments to that national laboratory. One of them will contain barley seeds provided by none other than Anheuser-Busch Brewer of Budweiser and [00:10:00] many other beers. The fascinating story behind this and other efforts is what brought me in early October to the Kentucky headquarters of Space Tango. My host was the company's co-founder and chairman, Kris Kimel. Kris, it's pretty fun to be here at the home of Space Tango in, uh, Lexington, Kentucky. What is happening here? I see a whole bunch of workbenches.

Kris Kimel: Well, fundamentally there's... everybody's preparing for the next launch. Space Tango, of course, is really a research design and manufacturing company that just doesn't do work on the planet Earth. Uh, so everybody is busy preparing for, uh, a series of missions and experiments that will go up on, on the next launch, which I believe is going to be in, in late October. Um, we'll... we generally launch now about, about, uh, six times a year. So it's always very active. Uh, a lot of interesting things going on, and what you're basically around is all the, uh, engineering capabilities as well as some of the biotechnology.

Mat Kaplan: You know, the line from, uh, Captain James Kirk. He said, "Yeah, I'm from Iowa. I just work up there."

Kris Kimel: That's [00:11:00] basically it. Yeah. You know, I tell people about... when I give talks often, I say that or if I'm talking about some of the biot... biomedical things that we do that are really interesting. I sometimes say, you know, "What if the next big... Have you ever thought about it, the next big biomedical breakthrough isn't on the planet Earth?" Just to give them a sense of, yeah, its space it's exotic. But on the other hand, it's really just a... it's another physics environment. And we along with others are now be a- able to exploit that physics environment, use that physics environment for trying to answer different kinds of questions and look for different kinds of solutions.

Mat Kaplan: You're the chair... chairman, but you're also one of the co-founders. Why did you wanna create a company like this?

Kris Kimel: I would like to say that, oh, um, it all started when I was five years old, um, but it didn't have... I think a lot of people my, my, uh, my interest in my career have been very circuitous. Um, at one point I was president of the Kentucky Science Technology Corporation. Um, and that's where the genesis for this, this kind of organization started to, to percolate and we [00:12:00] created... the first organization we created was something called Kentucky Space, which was an independent nonprofit subsidiary. And, um, actually we started thinking we were going to, to build, um, small satellites. CubeSat.

Mat Kaplan: Mm-hmm [affirmative]-

Kris Kimel: Is which was where we started. We started will help high-altitude balloons, then moved to suborbital and into orbital. Um, actually Twyman Clements, who's now the CEO of Space Tango was actually hired, hired as a student to work at Kentucky space. So he's, he's been there since the... he's the other co-founder and has been there since the beginning. It kind of evolved.

And as we started to go into the, the CubeSat, uh, arena, and then had, had an opportunity to build something for Space Station, it was just one of those things where I think our curiosity, um, and the opportunity kind of converged and then we realized that low Earth orbit and microgravity, uh, may be a, a revolutionary, uh, new pathway for all sorts of no... new discoveries with materials and, and particularly in the, in the biomedical area for applications on earth in addition to no space medicine, which is, you [00:13:00] know, how do we keep people alive in space? Which is obviously a, a big issue too. But really our focus has been more on how do we, you know, utilize microgravity for... to benefit people on earth.

Mat Kaplan: Kentucky Bourbon Thoroughbred's, nothing against this town. It's a lovely town. But Lexington, Kentucky is not the first place most people think of in terms of developing or exploring space. And yet you've been able to build this company here. I mean, it seems to say something about the progress that we've made in space development, space utilization.

Kris Kimel: Well, I think clearly over the, particularly the past 10 years, five to 10 years, the spa- you know, the space industry, commercial space research has, has really opened up. I think a couple things have been driving that that made it more difficult for places like Lexington or people here and other places to get involved. One was the access to space. Um, I, I think since actually I think, at the time, it was controversial, but I think NASA's decision to scrub The Shuttle, uh, and then move to a different vehicle and encourage the private [00:14:00] sector to get involved, really opened things up. Uh, it was very difficult for anyone to compete with The Shuttle because of the cost and et cetera. I think that opened things up.

The other thing I think it's really been... is revolutionary, uh, is just the relentless and continued, uh, miniaturization and develop of new technologies.

Mat Kaplan: Mm-hmm [affirmative]-

Kris Kimel: Everything that we do here most everything is, um, is very small, very robust, very technical, and that ability to develop very, very small technologies, uh, and be able to partner with a NASA, or an Orbital, or SpaceX or some of the other vehicle, uh, launch vehicle companies to put things it's ve... it's really something that was not available 10 years ago. And because of that, I mean, we have a lot of people here in Lexington, like everywhere else in the country in the world that have great ideas and are very smart. I think a lot of things that, that may be kept us from creating, uh, synergy here in the past wasn't the lack of ideas. It wasn't a lack of people. It was just lack of the infrastructure and ability to do that.

Um, you know, you needed big stuff, you needed to be, you know, [00:15:00] you needed to, to handle... to launch capability or be near a NASA facility. And I think that's all changed. And that's opened a lot of opportunity up for places like this.

Mat Kaplan: What is the infrastructure? I mean, what have all these developments allowed you to create on the International Space Station so that you can basically host this work?

Kris Kimel: Uh, I think it's a lot of things. Uh, our, our engineers probably have or have a better deeper sense of some of the specifics. But clearly, we now know... we know, um, that, you know, when you move into microgravity, all biological and physical systems are scrambled. Uh, and that scrambling process, uh, opens up a whole new, uh, opportunity, one, to understand, uh, how things operate not only in microgravity, but they act differently there. Is it, you know, sometimes it tells us something about the system, how it operates on earth that we may not have seen on Earth. Just very briefly, we did an experiment a year, a year or two ago with Tuft University dealing with planarian flatworm is which our major focus were regenerative medicine. Those of you who didn't sleep [00:16:00] through high school sciences, I did.

Mat Kaplan: [laughs]

Kris Kimel: Know that when you cut them in threes, they regenerate heads, tails, and the midsection grows a head and tail. So they were very interested in one big, you know, focuses. Understand that mechanism. So we put, you know, we put 15 in space and then cut 15 other and cut them. And when we came back, they saw some really interesting differences. And one of the most intrig- intriguing differences they saw is that one of the mid sections had grown to heads. And I believe their offspring had two heads. So that's one of those things where you go, "Gosh, wh- wh... how did that happen?" And we don't know.

A lot of times people will ask us when we're doing experiments, "What do you think you're gonna see when you send something..." we planned experiments, for example, uh, plants that are the basis for chemo drugs, looking for chemistry changes or any kind of alterations. We've done, you know, things with stem cells, brain organoids. And people often ask, "What do you think you're gonna see?" And the answer most of the time is, "We don't know." Uh, this is very much a frontier and that's why we're going to space. But that microgravity environment, because of its very nature is, is opening up and allowing us and [00:17:00] others into a different room to look for different kinds of solutions that really we haven't been able to do in the past.

Mat Kaplan: Of course, that brain organoid work, we're also talking about because of the folks at UCSD that you're working with. But I'm curious about some of the other... some of these other experiments that have been set up. Uh, what's this thing about hemp?

Kris Kimel: Well, uh, we're a curious company. People understand that one of the aspects of, of Space Tango is that we, we don't see ourselves simply as a service company or a transactional company. I mean, that's a lot of what we do right now. Uh, but we also see ourselves as an idea company. We see ourselves as a company also pushing the envelope with our own ideas or ideas in partnership with others, to try to figure out new ways and new things, new ideas. We became, uh, very interested last year in looking at some of the potential biomedical applications primarily of things like cannabinoids, and CBD, and, and things of that nature and did a lot of research on, on CBD and of course, hemp being the non psychoactive cousin of THC, [00:18:00] and discovered, discovered or you know, uncovered in our mind, some... we thought are some very interesting opportunities to look at the properties of cannabinoids in a Zero-G environment.

Um, for example there's over, I think approximately 130 cannabinoids actually. And we really could only access wi- with any degree of accuracy and volume, a co... just a couple [inaudible 00:18:22] a THC and CBD I think, CBA or CB other things, other... a few others. But... So, one of the things we're really interested in is do we see which we have seen in the past with other planets perhaps epigenetic changes in the space that might turn on some of those genes that might, uh, allow us to see or turn on or activate, uh, other kinds of, of, uh, cannabinoids, uh, et cetera. Do we see differences in the plants and the chemistry and the genes. And so our really interest is looking at cannabinoids, looking at the hemp plant in that environment as a possible, understand is a possible pathway to enhancing the biomedical potential.

Mat Kaplan: Mm-hmm [affirmative]-

Kris Kimel: [00:19:00] Uh, and health and, and wellness potential of CBD and other cannabinoids and other chemistry that are part of the hemp plant.

Mat Kaplan: So it's 95 degrees here today in Lexington, I maybe therefore I'm not that sorry that we're not gonna make it out to a field just out of town. You showed me some pictures and maybe we'll post one of those on the show page. Uh, were you doing a little bit of cultivation.

Kris Kimel: Yeah. Um, Space Tango is a small company, uh, which is great. And when you're in a small company, uh, you have to do a lot of things. And, uh, when we brought the hemp seeds back one of the things we did we planted them in a greenhouse, uh, and then we grew them out of the greenhouse and evaluated them, uh, at certain, certain intervals. And then we're gonna put them in the field and then once they've grown out in the field, and then harvest them from the field at a particular, uh, interval and then do genetic and chemistry analysis and see what, what, uh, might evolve from that point.

And, um, as luck would have it, last week, I got a call on Tuesday from one of our... Rob Gabbert who works with us and said, "Hey, we got to get 60 plants out in the [00:20:00] field by Friday." And I said, "Well, Who's we?" And he said, "Well, I guess it's you and me since the engineers are busy preparing for the next flight and we don't have, you know, people out there."

So, um, I put on my, my, my jeans and work shirt and Rob and I went out and dug and planted, uh, 60 holes and planted out, uh, 60, uh, of the hemp plants that had been in the, in the greenhouse that he had both the control group and the plants that had been, uh, the dry from seed that had been in space. Uh, and I will say, like a lot of places in this country, it hasn't rained here in about two months. So the, the ground was rock hard.

Mat Kaplan: Mm-hmm [affirmative]-

Kris Kimel: Uh, but that's what we had to do. And that's like a small company. You do what you have to do. There's no such thing as a small company as, that's not a good use of my time.

Mat Kaplan: Such other duties as maybe a sign.

Kris Kimel: That's right.

Mat Kaplan: I- I'm curious about the relationship with NASA. Because obviously, the space agency had to enable these things to happen on the ISS. How does that work for you?

Kris Kimel: NASA has been an, an amazing partner with Kentucky Space and Space Tango from the very beginning, as they have with a lot of other emerging space companies. We fortunately have [00:21:00] something called a Space Act Agreement with NASA that basically, uh, gives us access to the station, it gives us launch opportunities in partnership with NASA and some of the launch, launch companies. And so they're very much, uh, very much a... an ongoing full time really partner o- of what we do. Um, and wi- without NASA and some of their new innovative policies, we certainly couldn't... wouldn't able to be achieving what we do. And, uh, those Space Act Agreements and other kinds of, of collaborations that we have in NASA are, are absolutely essential. Not only to I think Space Tango, uh, feature, but really the, the, the commercialization of space in general.

Mat Kaplan: It sure seems like all of this is still happening at a pretty embryonic level. Do you see enormous potential? Do you expect to see, well, I'll call it the killer app, but it might be a killer product or do you think that microgravity is going to pay off basically? Not just in terms of a profit for you and your partners, but in, in terms of, uh, helping us down here on the surface of [00:22:00] earth.

Kris Kimel: Absolutely. Um, a lot of times its Space Tango we talk about. You know, every time we've, we have been able to get a hold of, or, uh, capture a physics environment, a new physics environment, um, harness it, whether it be, uh, electromagnetism or the vacuum, it has led to a couple of things. It has inevitably led to exponential growth in new ideas and, and applications and, and significant capital creation. And really what we're talking about here is the fact that we are now at the beginning of being able to harness the physical environment of microgravity in a real way.

You know, on Earth, you can't mimic it on Earth, you know, drop towers, you know, the vomit comet, you get a few minutes, but-

Mat Kaplan: Mm-hmm [affirmative]-

Kris Kimel: ... you really don't get any kind of prolonged exposure like we do now. And yes, we're on the, we're on the cusp of that. But just like other physics environments, we fully expect and anticipate that this too, uh, we will look back upon, um, in the years ahead and realize that this was a, a monumental breakthrough that has led to all [00:23:00] sorts of new understandings and improvement in, in people's lives.

Mat Kaplan: We like pioneers on this show. Kris. Thank you. Exciting stuff. Best of success.

Kris Kimel: Thank you.

Mat Kaplan: That's Kris Kimmel. By the way, we'll learn more about those so called brain organoids Kris mentioned in an upcoming episode of Planetary Radio, stick around, we're about to meet the woman who manages all of the amazing research taken on by Space Tango and its clients.

Casey Dreier: I know you're a fan of space because you're listening to Planetary Radio right now. But if you want to take that extra step to be not just a fan, but an advocate, I hope you'll join me Casey Dreier, the Chief Advocate here at the Planetary Society at our annual Day of Action this February 9th and 10th in Washington, DC. That's when members from across the country come to DC and meet with members of Congress face to face and advocate for space. To learn more, go to

Mat Kaplan: Back to Space Tango.

Gentry Barnett: My name is Gentry Barnett and [00:24:00] I am the TangoLab Program Manager at Space Tango.

Mat Kaplan: And do a lot of the biomedical stuff here right here.

Gentry Barnett: I am a biomedical, uh, engineer by trade. Yes. And so I, I, I oversee all the payloads in this role. For each mission we'll select a couple of mi... payloads for that mission depending on payload readiness, uh, and some of the logistics they need for each flight. So that, that kind of determines what payloads go on a mission. Uh, yes, and then I will oversee all those, the development, the engineering, uh, a- and making sure those get to space.

Mat Kaplan: So as our listeners know, I'm a gear head at least that's what my boss, the, the science guy says. Uh, this is kind of heavenly. And tell me about this amazing collection of circuit boards, and tubes, and, and a bag of seeds. What's going on here?

Gentry Barnett: So this is actually a payload that's going up on our next mission. This is a payload with, uh, Anheuser-Busch. Um, what they're looking at or the seeds you're looking a, um, are barley seeds.

Mat Kaplan: Uh-huh.

Gentry Barnett: And, and they're really exploring with this payload, the malting process. [00:25:00] Uh, wh- which consists of three different phases: Steeping, uh, germination, and kilning. Normally, obviously, they do this in a much larger environment. Um-

Mat Kaplan: They make a lot of beer.

Gentry Barnett: Yes, they do. Uh, so we, we went out to their facilities in Fort Collins, Colorado, uh, to learn this process. So what we do, uh, uh, air space thing, uh, with the engineers is, is we really miniaturize that process, uh, into something, um, slightly bigger than a, than a shoe box, uh, which we call a CubeLab. Uh, and this is a self-contained environment, uh, that we automate from our offices in Lexington.

Mat Kaplan: They come to you Anheuser-Busch, "We would like to do something about malting, part of the beer mak... process of making beer in space in microgravity. You figure out how to make that work on the ISS.

Gentry Barnett: Yes, that's exactly what we do. A- as an engineer i- in this, uh, specific company, we have to have a very quick, uh, learning process. So, yes, we went out there, we, we went over the process that they normally [00:26:00] do. Uh, a- and then we have to, we have to miniaturize that. We have to learn each component of that. Uh, a- and then we'll set up what, what you're seeing in front of you, uh, this is the payload sprawled out, uh, i- in more of a benchtop prototype fashion, uh, so that we can see every functional piece of how this is working and, and follow along at e- at every step of the way.

Um, and what you'll see in the bag over here is actually the, the end of the steeping process. The seeds have actually developed these acro spires which is tunney, uh, growth at the end o- of one end of the seed. Uh, and that's exactly what we were looking for. So then tomorrow we'll, we'll go into the germination phase. Uh, and then the kilning where we will actually draw these seeds out and the end result will be malt that will send to them and they'll do a chemical profile and compare that... the different chemical profile and the, the taste profile, uh, that results from this malt. Uh, and then obviously we'll do the same thing for the result and malt that comes back from the Space Station.

Mat Kaplan: So this will all go into, I assume some kind of a rack mount unit and the self contained? I mean, [00:27:00] will astronauts have to tend this or will it pretty much take care of itself.

Gentry Barnett: Uh, no, once we, once we, uh, put the tops on our CubeLabs they become a, a self contained environment. So really the only crew interaction that we have is moving it from the rocket that takes it up. So either from the dragon or the Cygnus module, uh, will take that out and install it into our TangoLab facilities, um, on the Space Station that are in EXPRESS rack. And from that point forward, they will be fully automated. And we control that from our up station, um, here in Lexington upstairs.

Mat Kaplan: Is this experiment that has already been completed at least the first phase of it with so called brain organoids that we're also talking about today. Is it essentially similar to this? Where they, they came to you from UCSD and you had to figure out how to make it go into space?

Gentry Barnett: Yes, absolutely. So with the UCSD project, the brain, the organoids, they're studying how the brain develops, uh, in a microgravity environment under these different kinds of stresses that are normally [00:28:00] seen on Earth, obviously. What we have to do, um, as Space Tango is we have to take the environment that they have, uh, in their labs at UCSD, you know, how they normally keep these cells alive and do that in a much smaller, automated, fully sealed environment. Um, so we, we work directly, uh, you know, one on one with that team to understand their different requirements, uh, to explain our different requirements and really come together to develop this very unique, uh, minilab system that's put in our CubeLab.

Mat Kaplan: From beer to brains, with all kinds of other stuff in between, seems like a pretty fun job.

Gentry Barnett: Absolutely. It is a lot of fun. What's unique about everybody that works here and really all of our customers, um, is we're willing to discover. And we're willing to open the doors to whatever we may find, whatever we may not find. Uh, we're, we're always looking for another answer. We're always asking a different question. That drive for innovation, the drive for something new, just asking the question of, of what could happen, [00:29:00] uh, that's really what makes this job so interesting, and I think what brings a lot of our customers to our doors.

Mat Kaplan: Have you seen enough that you have confidence as Kris Kimel does in the potential of microgravity for developing manufacturing products that will be unlike any we can create on earth?

Gentry Barnett: 100%, yes. There's, there's really endless potential here. Uh, and again, it's just being... having that willingness to ask these questions. Every question you ask may not have this profound answer that you were expecting, uh, that these unique, I guess, side questions that you could also ask along the way, tend to bring results that you weren't expecting.

Mat Kaplan: Mm-hmm [affirmative]-

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adidas Link Up with the International Space Station to Launch The UltraBOOST 20 Model – Versus

Posted: at 10:11 am

adidas has officially launched an interstellar addition to their UltraBOOST line, the new-age UltraBOOST 20.

The Three Stripes have linked up with the International Space Stations U.S. National Lab to drop the model, giving the silhouette space age technology with the the ISS association actually enabling the brand to test out its patented BOOST molding process in space.

The model receives plenty of new state-of-the-art tech, with a Primeknit upper featuring a data-driven technology dubbed Tailored Fiber Placement TFP for short that lays fibers down precisely, tuned to the millimeter to ensure an optimal fit.

The shoe features a full-foot BOOST midsole that arrives in an iridescent purple colourway, with the model also equipped with Torsion spring and Stretchweb tech on a Continental rubber outsole in a design thats inspired by space shuttle aesthetic.

On top of the striking purple BOOST midsole, the UltraBOOST 20 will initially arrive with white and black uppers, complete with ISS and adidas branding on the tongue.

The adidas UltraBOOST 20 will release on and at select stockists come December 6. Check out imagery of the new model below.

In other sneaker news, 424 and adidas Originals have released their Luxe Leather SC Premiere and Pro Model collab models.

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There are now two AI-powered robot bees flying around the space station – BGR

Posted: at 10:11 am

The International Space Station typically plays host to a crew of six space-faring scientists at a time. During crew changes that number can be temporarily higher or lower, but there are almost always six humans aboard the spacecraft at any given time. The robot population of the orbiting laboratory, on the other hand, is steadily climbing.

Back in May, NASA unboxed an AI-powered robot capable of navigating in zero gravity. The boxy bot was an Astrobee, and after half a year hovering in space, NASA just unleashed its twin. The new robot, named Honey, learned a lot from its companion, Bumble, including mapping data it had gathered that should give Honey a leg up in navigating the interior of the space station.

The idea behind the Astrobee program is to test the feasibility of using AI-powered robots to perform various tasks and aid astronauts as they carry out their daily duties. Ultimately, NASA envisions a future where autonomous robots are tasked with performing maintenance on spacecraft like the ISS, but were not quite there yet.

The first hurdles that NASA has to tackle are ensuring that tiny robots can make their way around a living space on their own. The Astrobee bots are equipped with fans that they use to push themselves along, and when they get low on power, they automatically navigate back to their charging dock.

Going forward, Bumble and Honey will be joined by a third robot sooner rather than later. The third Astrobee, named Queen, arrived at the space station this summer and will be booted up at some point in the coming months.

In late 2018, the European Space Agency sent its own AI bot to the ISS. The disc-shaped electronic assistant was named CIMON, and it was tested as a voice-activated helper and reminder-bot. Spaceflight can take a serious toll on everyone, though, and CIMON had some emotional issues shortly after being activated.

Image Source: NASA

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Watch Boeing’s Starliner Meet Its Rocket for the 1st Time in This Awesome Drone Video –

Posted: at 10:11 am

A drone flying around the Kennedy Space Center recently captured incredible footage of a small step forward for NASA's delayed commercial crew program.

Boeing joined its Starliner spacecraft, which is supposed to carry astronauts to the International Space Station in the near future, to a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket for the first time on Nov. 21.

An epic new drone video shared on NASA's commercial crew Twitter shows Starliner (accompanied by the requisite train of personnel in their own vehicles) making its way to the launch pad, where it was hoisted into position atop its booster. If all goes to plan, Starliner will launch on Dec. 17 for its first uncrewed test in orbit.

Related: In Photos: Boeing's Starliner Pad Abort Test Launch

"From #Starliner rollout and move to #AtlasV mate, this week has been AMAZING," Boeing said on Twitter. "Now we're counting down the days until the December 17 launch for our Orbital Flight Test to @Space_Station."

NASA echoed the excitement in its own tweet. "A major step forward for @Commercial_Crew this week: @BoeingSpace's #Starliner spacecraft rolled out of the processing facility and was secured atop a @ulalaunch rocket," it said.

NASA has two companies vying for commercial crew opportunities: Boeing and SpaceX. SpaceX's Crew Dragon made a test flight in March and both companies are still working toward their first crewed launches. NASA contracted each company in 2014 for crewed launches that at the time were expected to occur in 2017. Today, the most optimistic estimates say astronauts will use these vehicles in 2020.

The NASA Office of the Inspector General recently released a report citing numerous schedule and technical issues in the commercial crew program, and warned that the U.S. may have to continue using Russian Soyuz flights to the space station for even longer than planned. Boeing strenuously objected to some of the findings last week, adding that it still plans to launch crew in early 2020.

Follow Elizabeth Howell on Twitter @howellspace. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.

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How well do you know the International Space Station? – KLAS – 8 News Now

Posted: at 10:11 am

MYSTERY WIRE -- A U.S. military base known as the "Australian Area 51" has, judging by the few accounts available, survived a "storm" event that never managed to get the viral support that "Storm Area 51" rallied in Nevada.

Reports indicated just a few hundred people responded to the Facebook event targeting the base just west of Alice Springs in the Australian outback. About 150 people showed up. As the Nov. 27 event fizzled, officials turned their attention to a second event on Nov. 30. While it is probably headed for the same fate, the weekend might change see a bigger turnout.

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Be thankful youre not an ISS astronaut, because this is how they celebrate Thanksgiving – BGR

Posted: at 10:11 am

For most of us here on Earth, Thanksgiving is an opportunity to forget about our jobs for a moment and enjoy some good food with friends and family. Astronauts aboard the International Space Station cant exactly pause their work to celebrate with relatives, but that doesnt keep them from observing the holiday in their own unique way.

In a new video released by NASA, astronauts Christina Koch, Jessica Meir, and Andrew Morgan talk about the Thanksgiving traditions theyve celebrated all their lives. They also offer us a brief look at what theyll be feasting on during their holiday in space. Spoiler: Its in bags.

Of all the technology that has improved by leaps and bounds in the decades since humans first traveled into space, the food situation remains somewhat primitive. Everything is sealed up tight in small bags and cans, and that includes Thanksgiving dinner.

On offer this year are potatoes, green beans, sweet potatoes, macaroni and cheese, and cornbread dressing, which Meir suggests the crew could use as a stand-in for stuffing. As for the main course, the crew will be feasting on smoked turkey in a pouch, as Morgan puts it. Woof.

To wrap up the meal, the crew has pouches of what Koch describes as cran-apple dessert, though she suggests it may be possible to make a pumpkin pie-esque dessert using some cookies and candied yams. It all sounds pretty good. That is, as long as youre willing to ignore the last food item that Andrew Morgan shows off, which happens to be a rare can of cranberry sauce. Gross.

Joking aside, its pretty cool that NASAs high-flying scientists will have a chance to enjoy the holiday along with the rest of us, even if they have to do so at the office, so to speak.

Image Source: NASA

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