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Updated June 26, 2017
Posted June 26, 2017

SpaceX goes for a weekend rocket launch 'doubleheader'

So far, SpaceX has safely landed first-stage rockets on land or a droneship 12 times.

SpaceX just capped off two successful missions to space this weekend – the company’s quickest launch turnaround yet. The system was first successfully used on a Falcon 9 launch from Kennedy Space Center in Florida on February 17.

This weekend, it started to look like the future business Musk had originally envisaged back in 2002, when two Falcon 9s were launched within the space of three days.

Seven minutes after the launch, the first-stage of the rocket landed back on earth on a drone ship.

On Friday, a Falcon 9 launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida. SpaceX may eventually move used boosters for another launch in a day.

Shortly after the landing, though, Musk returned to Twitter to add that the rocket booster used “almost all of the emergency crush core”, which helps soften the landing.

No matter what you did over the weekend, you’ll struggle to top Elon Musk’s after his space trucking venture launched 11 satellites atop two rockets, both of which stuck flawless landings on barges.

Ground checks have been completed for Friday’s launch and the mission to send BulgariaSat-1 – a Bulgarian commercial satellite – appears set for lift off at Nasa’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The most-recent came more than a day before SpaceX’s planned Monday launch.

The latest mission: to deliver a group of satellites into orbit for a company called Iridium.

The second batch of 10 satellites is now scheduled to launch on a Falcon 9 from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California Sunday (June 25), making a weekend doubleheader for SpaceX.

Following the launch, the rocket booster successfully landed on the floating pad. As it’s done in the past, SpaceX will be using one of its drone ships due to the launch trajectory.

BulgariaSat-1, which was built by the California company SSL, is the first Bulgarian-owned communications satellite. The plan makes sense to both parties since it means an addition $3 billion in revenue for Mr. Musk and the chance for Iridium Communications to replace 66 older satellites and put 9 new satellites into orbit before the decade is through.

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Bread's Done! This Company Wants to Help Astronauts Bake in Space

This proof of concept shows the front plate of an oven that can bake bread in microgravity.

A team of engineers and scientists may have just found a way for astronauts to enjoy fresh bread in space.

Currently, astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS) rely on tortillas as their “bread” because they have a long “shelf life” and don’t produce crumbs. But now, a team of engineers and scientists in Germany is developing an oven that works in microgravity, as well as space-grade dough that’s suitable for baking bread in orbit, so that astronauts may one day be able to bake and enjoy fresh bread on the job.

Germany-based startup Bake In Space also plans to develop a made-in-space sourdough brand based on yeast cultivated at the International Space Station.

According to Sebastian Marcu, founder and CEO of Bake In Space, the idea came from his friend, spacecraft engineer Neil Jaschinski, who had been struggling to find a better solution to what he says was poor-quality bread in the Netherlands, where he works. 

“Bread is a big topic in Germany,” Marcu told Space.com. “We have 3,200 variations of bread, with a bakery pretty much on every street corner. In the Netherlands, most Germans would complain about the quality of bread.” [Space Food Evolution: How Astronaut Chow Has Changed (Photos)]

Spacecraft engineer Neil Jaschinski poses with Bake In Space's prototype microgravity oven.

Spacecraft engineer Neil Jaschinski poses with Bake In Space’s prototype microgravity oven.

Credit: Bake In Space

Jaschinski have overcome the lack of good bread by learning to bake his own at home. However, he and Marcu realized that their fellow German, ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst — who is slated to command the ISS in the second half of 2018 — would have no choice but to survive his six months in space on NASA-approved tortillas. 

“I have heard from several former German astronauts that they really missed bread” while in space, Marcu said. “Everything on the space station has to have [a] long shelf-life. And fresh produce, freshly baked products — that’s something they really miss.”

Former German astronaut Gerhard Thiele has joined the project as well.

‘We need to take care of the human beings that we are sending [to space], of their wellbeing, and food, as well as the environment, is an essential part of this,” commented Thiele, who spent 11 days in space in 2000 aboard Space Shuttle mission STS-99

“To have something fresh, whether it is bread or whether it is vegetables, it would be wonderful.”

Bread has been a staple in human diet for thousands of years but replicating the art of bread making in orbital conditions presents multiple challenges. Microgravity, Marcu said, is only one of them.

“We have to comply with a whole set of safety regulations that we have on the space station,” Marcu said. “We have to make sure that none of the surfaces [of the oven] becomes hotter than 45 degrees Celsius [113 degrees Fahrenheit]. This means that we cannot preheat the oven; we cannot open the oven in the middle of operation.”

On Earth, bread needs to be baked at a temperature of about 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Once it’s done, the bakers remove it from the heated oven. But that would not be possible in space. Processes such as thermal convection, which helps to mix up air on Earth, don’t work in space. If a bubble of air that hot were to escape from the oven in orbit, it could stay floating inside the station for quite a while, posing a serious health risk to the astronauts,Marcu said.

Marcu said the team has found a way to overcome this challenge.

“We basically put the baking product, the dough, inside the cold oven and start heating it up,” he said. “Once it’s almost done, we start cooling it down. But at that time, any product will start to get dry, and that’s why we need to design the oven so that some water is added during the baking process.” 

The oven also needs to be able to operate with only 270 watts of power — about one-tenth the power used by conventional ovens on Earth. Marcu said the team hopes to have a prototype ready by the end of this year. [The International Space Station: Inside and Out (Infographic)]

Mastering the process of baking is only one step toward making the space-grade bread. Crumbs could damage the station’s equipment, or astronauts could accidently inhale them. Marcu said he hopes the combination of the new baking process and a carefully designed dough will solve the problem. 

There are further challenges when it comes to the dough, Marcu added. While the ultimate goal is to make bread in space from scratch, he said, the engineers will launch a premade bread product to the space station as a first step. But as with all space food, this bread product will have to have an extremely long shelf life and survive without a fridge or a freezer.

“At the moment, we are testing out different dough recipes, doing longevity storage tests, keeping them at ambient temperature and making sure that nothing grows inside that is not wanted that could contaminate the space station,” Marcu said.

Separately, Bake In Space will send a yeast culture to the space station that the astronauts will use to create sourdough, which will be delivered back to Earth to establish a line of made-in-space bread. 

Sourdough is a traditional type of bread dough that people used before the industrialization of bread making. It uses naturally occurring yeast and bacteria that ferment the dough and provide it with its typical mildly sour taste. 

“Sourdough basically takes up the bacteria from its near vicinity and the person that has his hands in the bread, and that’s how the special taste of the bread is developed,” Marcu said. [Can You Keep Kosher or Halal in Space?]

“Wherever you are on Earth, sourdough has a unique taste, whether it’s created in San Francisco or India,” he added. “It will be interesting to see what the flavor will be when we cultivate it in space.”

Marcu said the made-in-space bread could be one small way to improve the quality of life in space before space tourism and deep-space exploration fully take off. Although the diversity of space food has improved greatly, it can still be rather dull compared Earth-based fare. 

“On Earth, bread has always been a symbol of quality of life,” Marcu said. “Bread always stands for friendship and well-being, and that’s what drives our project. If we want to go further into space, we need to create quality of life, and that’s why bread is really a stepping stone for human exploration of space.”

Follow us @SpacedotcomFacebook and Google+. Original article on Space.com.

Former Nasa astronaut to replace Buzz Aldrin and deliver Cork space talk

A former Nasa astronaut who spent more than 100 days in space and completed six space walks has been chosen to deputise for space pioneer Dr Buzz Aldrin, who has had to abandon plans to deliver a lecture in Cork for medical reasons.

Dr Aldrin, the second man to step on the moon after Neil Armstrong from Apollo 11, was due to give the opening lecture as part of the International Space University’s 30th space studies progamme hosted by Cork Institute of Technology on Tuesday, June 27th.

However, Dr Aldrin (87) has had to withdraw on medical grounds and will not able to travel to Cork. His place has been taken by astronaut Dan Tani, who during a 16-year career with Nasa flew on two space missions for an accumulated 132 days during which time he performed six space walks.

Among Mr Tani’s space walks was the 100th space walk on the International Space Station, and this will be among the experiences that he will draw on when he delivers the lecture at CIT where he will discuss human space flight and the future of space exploration.

Mr Tani was born in Pennsylvania, US, and now lives in Tokyo with his Cork-born wife Jane Egan and their three children. He has previously visited Cork and spoken at the Blackrock Castle Observatory. He also served as grand marshall for Cork’s St Patrick’s Day parade in 2009.

‘Museum of Moon’

Mr Tani’s lecture at CIT will be given in front of a seven-metre Museum of Moon, an art installation by UK artist Luke Jerram, which has been brought to Cork as part of the Cork Midsummer Festival and the International Space University’s space studies programme.

According to Dr Niall Smith, head of research at CIT, who led the pitch to bring the ISU’s space studies programme to Cork, the event will attract some 320 space experts from 26 countries. It will run from June 26th to August 25th

Among the many experts are astronauts Nicole Scott, Robert Thirsk, Yi So-yeon and Jeffrey Hoffman who represent more than 30 years of international spaceflight experience and who will join with Dan Tani in a panel discussions on space exploration.

In addition to the official elements of the programme reserved for delegates, CIT and Blackrock Castle Observatory are also running an extensive public engagement programme with over 50 public events, aimed at young and old alike across Cork city and county, said Dr Smith.

For further information, visit www.ssp17.ie

SpaceX to Launch 10 More Satellites Into Orbit

Just two days after a successful satellite launch from Florida, SpaceX announced Sunday that is has scheduled another planned launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. According to a report, the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket is scheduled to lift off at 1:25 PM Sunday afternoon, carrying 10 more satellites for Iridium Communications. Iridium reportedly plans to launch around 75 new satellites for its mobile data and voice communications system by mid-2018. The Sunday launch follows a similar one Friday in which a Falcon 9 took off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, carrying a Bulgarian communications satellite. Media: Wochit Tech

Sat. 7 pm: Cortland native lives underwater for NASA

CORTLAND – A Lakeview High School graduate is part of a NASA research team spending 10 days in the world’s only underwater research lab to help prepare for future space exploration.

Trevor Graff is part of the NEEMO (NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations) 22 expedition to Aquarius, an underwater sea lab near Key Largo, Fla.

Graff, 40, a planetary scientist with the Astromaterials Research and Exploration Science Division at NASA’s Johnson Space Center, with another scientist, two technicians and two astronauts, are performing experiments and doing research in conditions similar to space, like the International Space Station.

Read more about Graff’s experience in Sunday’s Tribune Chronicle.

To watch a live feed of Graff and his crew, click here.