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Category Archives: Space Travel

Future Returns: How to Invest in Space Travel and Technologies – Barron’s

Posted: December 18, 2019 at 9:28 pm

New developments in space travel and related technologies are linking together a diverse array of firms, creating a new economy around the activity in their industry. According to a report from Morgan Stanley published earlier this year, the global space industry could generate more than $1 trillion by 2040, up from about $350 billion today.

Its just starting, says Adam Jonas, managing director of Global Auto & Shared Mobility Research at Morgan Stanley, adding that just a few years ago, investing in space would have been on the average investors mind as much as autonomous cars were a decade ago, or electric cars were before Tesla went public.

Id say it went from a zero out of 10 in terms of on peoples minds, to approaching a one out of 10 today, he says. But make no mistake, the space industry is emerging due to the improved unit economics of putting things in orbit and improvements in technology. The capability of what you can put 300 miles above the earth is very different than it was in the 1990s, he says.

The main catalyst behind the space industry, Jonas says, is human missions, but there are multiple end markets and related adjacent industries within the space economy.

He sees three main areas for growth: media communications, transportation (space travel for earth, moving people and things), and earth observation. Jonas describes the latter as turning the upper atmosphere and orbital planes into an area for data collection with innumerable uses, from predicting weather to improving supply chain efficiencyeven stopping illegal fishing.

Jonas says these developments are important for the earth, because we need the perspective.

Its happening at a time when I think there may be some elevated consciousness in business and certainly amongst our clients, as to the earth and the changes of the earth, [and] how we view the change of earths resources and the environment.

Furthermore, the U.S. governments plans for a Space Command could help the industry take off like never before.

That combination of capitalism and national security could herald a more rapid development of this domain than people realize today, he says.

Heres what Jonas says is important to keep in mind when considering space industry investments.

Acknowledge the Sectors Difficulties

Historically, investing in space has been home to cautionary tales, Jonas says. Space is hard, capital intensive, and an unproven market.

In many cases, theres unproven technology, unproven physics, and certainly unproven business models, he says.

Despite a positive outlook for the sector, Jonas says its no less difficult today.

Investing is speculative by natureinvesting in space is a different level of speculation, he says.

The developments of travel and [communications] might take decades to play out. So be patient.

Part of the issue is that there are a lot of binary outcomes for the technologies, for example, getting approval for a certain band of communications, or not, without any in-between.

I suspect that there will be many companies that would fail, he says.

Investing in the marketplace isnt going to be all rocket launchers and space missions. As Jonas points out, there arent a lot of pure play space companies to invest in at the moment. The Morgan Stanley Space 20, for instance, includes companies like GoDaddy and Shopify among those best exposed to growth from the space industry.

You might have to be willing to own an investment that may not be a 100% pure play space.

Become an Expert

Many of these [space] companies are private, Jonas says, meaning the most exciting things that are going on are in the private domain.

Some unicorns, like SpaceX, have an outsized impact on the rest of the space industry, but most companies are too small to move the needle.

But that doesn't mean you shouldnt pay attention to smaller firms, because they might become public in the future. And there are still opportunities to invest in their orbit by investing in companies they partner with or in their supply chain.

Jonas says that even if companies arent accessible to invest in, they are worth keeping an eye on.

They might still be worth following because they might one day be public potentially, or they may be working on a topic that is at a bleeding edge of something that can affect the public markets, Jonas says.

Focus On a Long-Time Horizon

Jonas says space isnt the place to make a quick buck. At least the developments of travel and [communications] might take decades to play out, Jonas says. So be patient.

Virgin Galactic, for example, which styles itself as the worlds first commercial space line was founded in 2004 and has continually pushed back the date for commercial space flights, which it currently anticipates for 2020.

Jonas says the investment phase for some firms in the space industry might last a decade or more before any revenue.

In this case you might need your DCF (discounted cash flow) to go out 30 years, 40 years, Jonas says. He uses the example of space mining and says that might require a 50-year DCF. Not every investor would be comfortable doing that.

But for those who are willing, the potential for long--term returns might make it worth investing in the final frontier.

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Will commercial space flight be like Ad Astra? We went to a flight base to check it out – SYFY WIRE

Posted: at 9:28 pm

Science fiction has long been the domain of fanciful imagination, particularly as it pertains to movies set in space. A significant portion of space-faring sci-fi asks the viewer to imagine what life might be like in the distant future, or with the benefit of incredible, as-yet-undeveloped, technology. Or else it asks us to imagine first contact with an alien civilization. Spoilers: it usually doesnt turn out well.

Ad Astra, directed by James Gray and starring Brad Pitt, does something a little different, though not wholly unheard of. It imagines a world just a few decades off, one which appears, for the most part, as a reasonable facsimile of what space travel of the future might actually be like and not too far into the future, either.

**Spoiler Warning: There are spoilers for Ad Astra below**

Ad Astra isnt without its own flights of fancy. There are Moon pirates, the pursuit of alien contact, and at least a couple of middle fingers cast lovingly toward the law of physics. But for the most part, and despite most of it taking place off-world, it feels grounded. There isnt any time travel, no cryogenic pods, and no warp drive. Space travel, as portrayed in the film is arduous, slow, and, at times, lonely.

Ahead of Ad Astra's home release, SYFY WIRE traveled to the deserts of New Mexico (almost an alien planet in its own right) to visit Spaceport America, talk with astronauts, NASA engineers, and commercial space travel experts, about the film, the role of science fiction, and the future of space travel, which has become the next frontier in human transport.

THE PRESENT AND FUTURE OF COMMERCIAL SPACEFLIGHT

Roy McBride (Pitt) works as an astronaut on the International Space Antenna, a massive piece of engineering designed in hopes of communicating with non-human intelligences elsewhere in the universe. When a dangerous burst of energy from the far reaches of the solar system destroy the antenna, McBride barely survives a vertigo-inducing freefall from terrifying heights.

Once back on the surface, Roy embarks on a mission to save the world from a potentially catastrophic event that threatens all life on Earth. The explosions on the antenna were only the beginning, the hint of a far greater cosmic threat, originating near Neptune.

Getting to the far reaches of the solar system will take several crafts and a layover on Mars, but first he has to get to the Moon. And in order to do that, he has to ride coach, so to speak.

Rather than take a government-operated craft to the Moon, McBride flies Virgin Atlantic. Its an interesting story choice and one which does a lot of world-building without having to say too much. Commercial spaceflight, in the world of Ad Astra, is mundane. Common. There are flight attendants and (expensive) onboard amenities. Space is no longer the domain of the few, dominated by world governments and those chosen few. Instead, its available to anyone and everyone. At least everyone willing and able to shell out the cash.

Science fiction often hand waves the technology needed to accomplish large-scale travel to, and extended living in, space. The service Ad Astra, and movies like it, provide is to present at least one possible way forward. And thats important.

One of the biggest missions of science fiction in general, whether its movies or novels, is to tell us what is possible, or what could be possible, and give us some optimism that we can get to that point, said Robert Yowell, former NASA Engineer and technical adviser for Ad Astra.

Private companies have been pursuing commercial spaceflight for decades. At least since the 70s, designs have been floating around which intended to carry dozens of people off-world. These plans never materialized.

From a certain point of view, consumer spaceflight is already happening. In 1984 and 85, Charles Walker became the first non-government individual to go to space. He flew a total of three shuttle missions on behalf of his employer, McDonnel Douglas Co, who paid NASA $40,000 per flight.

In 1990, Toyohiro Akiyama flew to MIR, on behalf of the Tokyo Broadcasting System. The total cost is in dispute but ranges in the tens of millions.

As of earlier this year, NASA has opened the International Space Station to commercial enterprises. In addition to commercial research, the ISS is being opened up to commercial astronaut missions. According to the announcement, there will be two slots for commercial astronauts each year, beginning as early as 2020. These missions will be short-term, up to 30 days, and will be privately funded, dedicated commercial flights.

This would mark a considerable shift in the culture of spaceflight, effectively beginning a new era of regular non-government human activities in space.

While commercial flights to the ISS would open the door to space for private citizens, several companies arent content to wait for permission. In fact, Virgin, the company which ferried Roy McBride to the Moon, is making moves to get there itself.

Virgin Galactic, the spaceflight arm of the Virgin Group, is developing its own planes intended for commercial spaceflight. The original intent was to have flights in progress by 2009, but the project encountered a few setbacks, not unheard of in this arena.

Still, earlier this year, two of Virgins test pilots were awarded astronaut wings by the U.S. Department of Transportation after a successful flight to 51.4 miles above Earths surface, surpassing the 50-mile benchmark recognized by the department.

Virgin Galactic is currently operating out of Spaceport America, in New Mexico. The site serves as the first purpose-built commercial spaceport in the world. Sitting on 18,000 acres, the spaceport offers a rocket launchpad, hangers for holding spacecraft, and an impressive runway built with landing space planes in mind.

Once Virgins commercial operations get off the ground, the primary focus will be tourism. The company will offer suborbital flights for a fee, but thats just the beginning. While initial flights will take off and land at the same location, the ultimate goal is point-to-point flights to different locations around the world. This would require considerably more spaceports in varying locations, but could revolutionize travel. At least for those who can afford it.

Because these flights would be happening at such high altitudes and traveling at such incredible speeds, travel times would be drastically reduced. These sorts of point-to-point spaceflights could deliver a passenger from L.A. to Hong Kong in two hours.

Daniel Hicks, CEO of Spaceport America, however, holds a grander view of what theyre trying to do. Yes, they are trying to accomplish the decades-old dream of spaceflight for the common person, but it isnt just about making money.

We are at a precipice now, where exploration by sailing ship was in the fourteenth century. If you look at the timeline between Columbus and Sir Francis Drake, it was hundreds of years. Because there was no economic reason to do it. Now were at a point where people understand there is money to be made in space. And thats going to open up the doors to exploration to allow flights to Mars, etc. NASA was the genesis for all of this and NASA should never go away. But commercialization is really what the world has been waiting for the past few decades, Hicks said.

Theres good reason to believe Hicks might be right. During a panel on the future of spaceflight, at Spaceport America, each of the panelists, Robert Yowell, Ellen Ochoa, Leland Melvin, and Daniel Hicks spoke of witnessing Apollo 11 and the way it influenced them, in ways they might not have understood at the time, to ultimately pursue paths which lead them into space. And in the case of Melvin and Ochoa, into space itself.

While activities in space, both crewed and uncrewed, have continued since Apollo weve been missing that spark of excitement for some time, the electric anticipation and sense of victory over nature and over our own limitations, which will inspire the next generation of explorers.

Maybe the proliferation of commercial space travel, is just the thing we need to get todays kids excited about pushing into that final frontier.

When asked about what was exciting in space travel today, Melvin said, One of the most exciting things is you can have a panel like this and have a discussion with a Hispanic woman and an African American male astronaut on the panel. The representation in movies and in real life, in space, is helping everyone feel like they have a seat a the table to be part of this journey.

While the pioneering work by NASA and other space agencies around the world is immeasurable, moving space into the private sector and making it available to everyone, is the next logical step opening up the possibility for everyone to be part of the journey.

Its reasonable to expect continued delays, not just from Virgin Galactic, but from all commercial spaceflight endeavors. Traveling in space is a dangerous undertaking, one which requires considerable caution. This is one area in which its better to be right than it is to be fast.

With any luck, companies like Virgin Galactic, Blue Horizons, and SpaceX will realize the dream of extending human spaceflight to humanity, at large, in the coming decades. Until then, weve got our dreams and our stories. But we might want to rethink building an Applebee's on the Moon.

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How to Go to Space: The Real Science Behind ‘Ad Astra’s Commercial Space Travel – Collider.com

Posted: at 9:28 pm

Remember when the thought of taking a commercial trip to space was a pipe dream, or maybe just a super cool thing that could only happen in a sci-fi movie? Well, those days are numbered now because Spaceport America will offer paying customers just that in the near future via Virgin Galactic.InJames GraysAd Astra, Major Roy McBride (Brad Pitt) sets out on a dangerous mission across the solar system to figure out what happened to his long lost father (Tommy Lee Jones) and his doomed mission, but it all starts with some casual space travel that could wind up being a reality fairly soon. McBride kicks off his trip with acommercial flight to the moon, ultimately arriving on a moon-based facility that looks a whole lot like a traditional airport, fast food and all.

In celebration ofAd Astras December 3rd digital release and its December 17th 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD release, Collider got the opportunity to visit Spaceport America in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico. Not only did we get to explore the budding facility, but they also had one of the screen-used moon rovers fromAd Astra on hand to take a spin in. And, speaking of spinning, we also got the chance to give the facilitys G-Shock Machine a go and see how we fared while experiencing increased gravitational forces. The visit also included an extended interview with NASA engineer andAd Astratechnical consultantRobert Yowell, as well as a press conference that also included the CEO of Spaceport America,Daniel Hicks, as well as former astronaut Leland Melvin, andEllen Ochoa who was the first hispanic woman to go to space.

It was quite the experience to watchAd Astra tap into the possibilities of commercial space travel in thenot too distant future and then to actually get a taste of the reality of it at Spaceport America. If you want to catch a glimpse of whats brewing over atVirgin Galactic, check out the video of our visit to the facility in the player at the top of this article. And if youre looking for more information on the additional content available on theAd Astra Blu-ray and 4K, weve got a full list of special features for you right here.

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Nasa building supersonic plane that goes as fast as Concorde without the sound – The Independent

Posted: at 9:28 pm

Nasa's X-59 space plane, capable of flying faster than the speed of sound without the loud boom that comes with supersonic flight, is finally nearing completion.

The plane will be the first large scale, piloted X-plane that Nasa has launched in more than 30 years when it is finally put together.

It could also herald a new era in fast space travel, as it attempts to overcome the problems that have blighted previous attempts like Concorde. Normally, supersonic planes create a loud boom when they reach the speed of sound and have as a result been banned from flying over populated areas but the creators of the X-59 claim it will be almost silent.

Sharing the full story, not just the headlines

And the space agency has announced that it is cleared for final assembly and "integration of its systems" after being looked over by senior managers.

The plane which has the full nameX-59 QuietSuperSonicTechnology (QueSST) is being put together by Lockheed Martin, which will now work to complete it ahead of testing.

The eye of Hurricane Dorian as captured by Nasa astronaut Nick Hague from onboard the International Space Station (ISS) on 3 September

Nasa/EPA

The River Nile and its delta captured at night from the ISS on 2 September

Nasa

The galaxy Messier 81, located in the northern constellation of Ursa Major, as seen by Nasa's Spitzer Space Telescope

Nasa/JPL-Caltech

The flight path Soyuz MS-15 spacecraft is seen in this long exposure photograph as it launches from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on 25 September

Nasa/Bill Ingalls

Danielson Crater, an impact crater in the Arabia region of Mars, as captured by Nasa's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft

Nasa/JPL-Caltech

A team rehearses landing and crew extraction from Boeing's CST-100 Starliner, which will be used to carry humans to the International Space Station at the White Sands Missile Range outside Las Cruces, New Mexico

Nasa/Bill Ingalls

Bound for the International Space Station, the Soyuz MS-15 spacecraft launches from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on 25 September

Nasa/Bill Ingalls

Hurricane Dorian as seen from the ISS on 2 September

Nasa

A string of tropical cyclones streams across Earth's northern hemisphere in this picture taken from the ISS on 4 September

Nasa

The city of New York as seen from the ISS on 11 September

Nasa

The eye of Hurricane Dorian as captured by Nasa astronaut Nick Hague from onboard the International Space Station (ISS) on 3 September

Nasa/EPA

The River Nile and its delta captured at night from the ISS on 2 September

Nasa

The galaxy Messier 81, located in the northern constellation of Ursa Major, as seen by Nasa's Spitzer Space Telescope

Nasa/JPL-Caltech

The flight path Soyuz MS-15 spacecraft is seen in this long exposure photograph as it launches from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on 25 September

Nasa/Bill Ingalls

Danielson Crater, an impact crater in the Arabia region of Mars, as captured by Nasa's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft

Nasa/JPL-Caltech

A team rehearses landing and crew extraction from Boeing's CST-100 Starliner, which will be used to carry humans to the International Space Station at the White Sands Missile Range outside Las Cruces, New Mexico

Nasa/Bill Ingalls

Bound for the International Space Station, the Soyuz MS-15 spacecraft launches from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on 25 September

Nasa/Bill Ingalls

Hurricane Dorian as seen from the ISS on 2 September

Nasa

A string of tropical cyclones streams across Earth's northern hemisphere in this picture taken from the ISS on 4 September

Nasa

The city of New York as seen from the ISS on 11 September

Nasa

It should be approved for its first flight in 2020, and the actual launch will come a year after that.

With the completion ofKDP-Dweve shown the project is on schedule, its well planned and on track. We have everything in place to continue this historic research mission for the nationsair-travelingpublic, said BobPearce, NASAs associate administrator for aeronautics, in a statement.

Nasa says that the new plane will make a boom that will onlybe audible as a "gentle thump", or might be entirely silent. It is able to do because of its precise shape, which looks something like an even more sharp version of the Concorde.

It will fly nearly as fast as its lookalike, with a cruising speed of1.42.

That will be put to the test when the plane is ready to fly. The trials will see it sent over "select US communities" in test flights that wil allow Nasa to measure itusing sensors and people on the ground who will "gauge public perception" of the sound of the plane.

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Why Elon Musk’s SpaceX Is Launching Cannabis and Coffee to Space in 2020 – Inc.

Posted: at 9:28 pm

It wasn't long ago that SpaceX chief Elon Musk was criticized for smoking marijuana on Joe Rogan's podcast,The Joe Rogan Experience. Now, Musk's team will be flying cannabis to the International Space Station (ISS).

In a planned flight in March, SpaceX will be bringing cargo to the ISS. In addition to its regular payload, the cargo will also include hemp and coffee,Newsweekreports,after talking to the companies behind the decision. According to the report, Front Range Biosciences is partnering with SpaceCells USA and BioServe Space Technologiesto determine whether space travel and the environment in space in any way genetically mutatethe plants.

Hemp is a federally legal strain of cannabis that's used in a variety of ways, including in clothing, shoes, rope, and more. It has an extremely low level of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which means it can't produce the psychoactive effects common in marijuana. On a federal level, marijuana is still illegal. Some states, however, have made it legal for recreational use, medicinal use, or both.

Bringing hemp and coffee cell cultures to space could have important and profound effects on our broader understanding of agriculture. Chiefly, the scientists want to know whether space in some way materially affects the plants and how they can be used in the future for a variety of products. Certain beneficial changes could create new discoveries in plant-based products.

Similarly, the scientists toldNewsweekthat they want to examine the plants when they get back to Earth to determine whether they can genetically modify them to grow in harsher environments. Indeed, the researchers hope that they candevelop ways to ensure plants can survive in different environments as climate change furtherimpacts the world. A trusted plant-based food source at that time could be critical.

To achieve that and get some real insight, however, the plants will need to be in space for 30 days. The scientists are sending 480 plant cultures into orbit andthen evaluating the plants when theyreturnto the planet.

For its part, SpaceX is acting as little more than the courier, bringing the plants to and from space. The researchers were quick to note, however, that if their efforts are successful, many more plant-based trials will be conducted aboard SpaceX vehicles to develop hardier plants.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.

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Not-Elon Musk Welcomes Us to Avenue 5, the Future of Space Travel – Gizmodo

Posted: at 9:28 pm

Come with me and youll be in a world of space imagination.Image: HBO (YouTube)

Imagine a world where a billionaire yearned to create the field of space tourism, but hadnt really figured out the details of how to actually do it. So weird and implausible, right?

In this latest look at HBOs Avenue 5, Judd Galaxys founder, Herman Judd (Josh Gad), wants to bring us into the future with stock footage and totally not an impending disaster. Maybe.

HBO has released a couple new teasers for Avenue 5, which stars Hugh Laurie as Ryan Clark, the captain of a space cruise ship called the Avenue 5 that encounters some trouble while carousing about in the solar system. The first one, which you can watch above, is a promo video hosted by billionaire Herman Judd (Gad)channeling some serious Douglas Reynholm Spaceology vibespromising the future of space tourism. At least, itll happen at some point: Hes not super specific on the details. Thats what other people are for.

Theres also a more traditional teaser that shows the Doctor Who Voyage of the Damned-style space cruiser as it travels the cosmos with its latest batch of tacky tourists and entitled millionaires.

Of course, something is bound to go wrong on a trip like this, putting Captain Clark in the difficult position of protecting his ship, crew, and passengers...even though most of the folks on board are pretty much intolerable.

Avenue 5 debuts on HBO January 19.

For more, make sure youre following us on our Instagram @io9dotcom.

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Will weed mutate in outer space? Thanks to Elon Musk we’re about to find out – Happy Mag

Posted: at 9:28 pm

Humans have always been fascinated by space, its endless possibilities and mysteries. As soon as humans were finally able to go there, much of the space research focused on the impact of gravity on plants, animals and humans. Last year, NASA even sent semen samples from bulls and men on a SpaceX cargo flight to the International Space Station (ISS). Now, its time for weed.

Next spring, a collaboration among Front Range Biosciences, Space Cells USA, and BioServe Space Technologies at the University of Colorado plans to be the first to send plant cultures of coffee and hemp in a SpaceX Dragon capsule perched atop a Falcon 9 rocket to the ISS. Hemp is potentially the worlds most versatile crop in the history of agriculture. Its cheap, healthy, easy to grow, and carbon negative.

This is the first time anyone is researching the effects of microgravity and spaceflight on hemp and coffee cell cultures, Jonathan Vaught, co-founder and CEO of Front Range Biosciences, said in a statement.

There is science to support the theory that plants in space experience mutations. This is an opportunity to see whether those mutations hold up once brought back to earth and if there are new commercial applications.

After a month in space, the 480 plant cell cultures will be returned to earth so Front Range Biosciences can analyse the DNA and evaluate the effects of radiation and microgravity on the plants.

We are excited to learn more about both hemp and coffee gene expression in microgravity and how that will inform our breeding programs, Reggie Gaudino, VP of research and development at Front Range, said in a statement.

Ultimately, the results of the research could help growers and scientists identify new varieties or chemical expressions in the plant. This will also allow scientists to better understand how plants manage the stress of space travel and set the stage for a whole new area of research for the industry.

It could also be a good news for the environment. Cannabis is a pretty eco-friendly plant, all things considered, and it can help make dry, damaged land lush again not to mention absorb carbon from the atmosphere. This research may help design more resilient crops able to survive in places hit hard by climate change.

These are big ideas were pursuing and theres a massive opportunity to bring to market new chemotypes, as well as plants that can better adapt to drought and cold conditions, Peter McCullagh, the CEO of space research firm SpaceCells,said in a press release. We expect to prove through these and other missions that we can adapt the food supply to climate change.

Front Range Biosciences plans to run more experiments like this. In the future, we plan for the crew to harvest and preserve the plants at different points in their grow-cycle, so we can analyse which metabolic pathways are turned on and turned off, Louis Stodieck, director of BioServe Space Technologies at the University of Colorado, Boulder, said in a statement. This is a fascinating area of study that has considerable potential.

Its not the first time cannabis has been sent off-planet. Earlier this year, Space Tango, a Kentucky-based space research company,sent hemp seedsto the ISS via a SpaceX rocket, returned them to earth and started growing them. Were still waiting for the results.

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Space Nation Asgardia Is Recruiting Vermonters to Leave Earth Behind – Seven Days

Posted: at 9:28 pm

A former member of British Parliament wants Vermonters to join him in space.

Lembit pik is recruiting new followers and residents for Asgardia, a self-proclaimed space nation that's got its sights set on leaving Earth behind. The group has already launched a small satellite to mark its territory. And it boasts a million followers from around the world including roughly 1,000 in Vermont and "residents" who pay an annual fee for the honor.

Asgardians in Vermont are clustered around Essex, Stowe and Burlington, according to the group.

Dr. Igor Ashurbeyli founded Asgardia in 2016 and has funded the venture with millions of his personal fortune. The Russian scientist "was dissatisfied with the way Earth affairs are run by humanity," according to pik.

"He was in Canada when he came up with the idea that we could do the whole human community thing better if we started again, and took the best of what we do and leave the worst behind," pik said in a phone interview from London. "And do it in space."

pik said the group is aiming for permanent space habitation by 2043. And he thinks Vermonters are inclined to join up. In a press release issued earlier this month, the Asgardians stated that Vermont is ranks third per capita among all U.S. states in sightings of unidentified flying objects. And they wrote that 13,000 people work in the state's aerospace industry, which the group valued at $2 billion. It's unclear where those figures come from.

With a rapidly changing climate and a divisive political climate at home, who among us wouldn't yearn for space travel?

"Eventually, we have to carry on reaching out as species," pik said. "Otherwise, we end up trapped on Earth."

pik said Asgardians will eventually push for recognition from the United Nations.

"Aside from the Northern Ireland peace process, which I was involved in, this is probably the most important thing I've ever done," pik said.

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SpaceX 2020 Mission: Send Coffee to ISS – Science Times

Posted: at 9:28 pm

Often times, human curiosity leads to bizarre experimentations and that is the case with American agricultural tech companyFront Range Biosciences-- in partnership with the University of Colorado, Boulder -- by creating a new experiment of sending coffee plants to the International Space Station next year as a part of a zero-gravity experiment.

Tissue culturesof coffee plants will be transported to the ISS along with the resupply mission aboard SpaceX by 2020.

CAN COFFEE PLANTS SURVIVE IN SPACE?

(Photo : Jakub Kapusnak / Unsplash)

Since space does not provide a good condition for life to thrive, it is not yet known how plants will germinate. For this experiment, however, environmental conditions for the coffee plants will be strictly observed. 480 plant cells will be placed in an incubator for 30 days, which will regulate the temperature. The incubator will also enable the astronauts to observe how the plant cells will undergo genetic mutations in a zero-gravity environment.

Researchers particularly chose the Java varietyof the coffee that will be sent to the International Space Station and will be remotely observed by researchers at the BioServe Space Technologies at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

After 30 days, the plant cells will be returned to Earth, where the researchers at Front Range Biosciences will examine the plants to see how microgravity and radiation from space affected the plant tissues and how that environment altered their genetic composition. In a statement released by Front Range Biosciences, Chief Executive Office Jonathan Vaught explained that this is one of the pioneering experiments in researching the effects of microgravity and spaceflight on hemp and coffee cell cultures. "There is science to support the theory that plants in space experience mutations. This is an opportunity to see whether those mutations hold up once brought back to Earth and if there are new commercial applications to it."

ARE THERE PRACTICAL APPLICATIONS TO THIS EXPERIMENT?

Even the researchers are not yet sure. It is uncertain what the results may be, but the researches behind this experiment are optimistic that whatever these results tell, it could be a big help to farmers and to scientists so that they will be able to identify new varieties or maybe observe new chemical expressions in the seeds. The results can also provide insights into how a plant mange the stress of space travel, especially since astronomers are designing plans to terraform Mars.

Experiments like this create a path to understanding how plants will adapt to extreme environments like the zero-gravity setting of the International Space Station and enable agribusinesses like Front Range Biosciences to breed crops that can withstand harsh environments and can adapt to climate change. Louis Stodieck, chief scientist of Bioserve Space Technologies at the University of Colorado, Boulder, said, "We envision this to be the first of many experiments together. In the future, we plan for the crew to harvest and preserve the plants at different points in their growth cycle so we can analyze which metabolic pathways are turned on and off." He also explains that the whole sending plants to space are a fascinating area of study and has considerable potential in discovering new ways of how life finds a way.

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About that trip to Mars – Physician’s Weekly

Posted: at 9:28 pm

Astronomer and co-recipient of this years Nobel Prize in physics Didier Queloz doesnt think we can escape the effects of climate change by moving to another planet. Habitable planetsif they even existwould be very far away. He added, We are a species that has evolved and developed for this planet. We are not built to survive on any other planet than this one.

Even if a suitable planet was found, getting there would be quite a challenge. A couple of recent articles about medical issues in astronauts merely orbiting the earth are concerning. Astronaut Scott Kelly spent 340 days on the International Space Station. During that mission, he collected blood and urine samples and did mental and reaction tests. His twin brother Mark, also an astronaut, stayed on the ground and served as a control.

Scott experienced DNA mutations and immune system and microbiome changes, some of which have not disappeared since his return to earth. He also had lower cognitive test scores which have not returned to baseline. Its not clear whether the continued intellectual problems are related to his experience in space or due to pain and sleep disturbances after landing.

The DNA mutations may have been cells repairing radiation injury. He was exposed to 48 times more radiation in space than the average person on earth during the same period.

A recent paper found that 6 of 11 ISS astronauts had in-flight ultrasonography showing stagnant or retrograde blood flow in their internal jugular veins. Two of them developed internal jugular vein clots, one occlusive and one partial. Lower body negative pressure counteracted the flow reversal in over half of the subjects.

Those are just a few of the medical issues associated with space travel. In response to a 2014 story about NASAs attempt to develop robots that could perform surgery inside the human body, I blogged about the challenges of performing surgery in space. Five years later, we are not any closer to conquering the many obstacles which include personnel, equipment, anesthesia, recovery, blood contaminating the air in the spacecraft, spacecraft air contaminating the operative field, and more. The time lag for data transmission to or from Mars is about 20 minutes which would preclude having a surgeon on earth robotically performing an operation on a patient 140 million miles away.

More medical difficulties remain unsolved.

Zero or low gravity environments cause kidney stones and decreased bone density which might lead to untreatable fractures in space or on Mars.

In order to grow enough food to sustain human life, the number of plants that would have to be cultivated will produce more oxygen than humans can safely live in. However, decreasing the amount of plant food grown to keep the atmospheric oxygen level similar to that of earth will result in starvation of the Mars colonists.

Psychological issues related to confinement in a small space with only a few companions may occur.

In early 2015, CNET.com reported that the private nonprofit project Mars One had chosen 100 finalists from over 200,000 applicants to crew its planned one-way trip to Mars. However, the Mars One website has not issued a press release since February 2019 when one of its companies was placed in administration [bankruptcy protection] by a Swiss court.

Dont pack your bags just yet.

Other sources:

Listverse, NASA, EarthSky.

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About that trip to Mars - Physician's Weekly

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