Category Archives: Space Tourism

Why The Proposed California Tax On Rockets Is Good For Texas

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.

Designing the laws of space with Western Sydney University law professor Steven Freeland

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Innovation of the Week: Fried chicken marketing in space

This artist rendering provided by World View Enterprises shows the World View Voyager balloon carrying a pressurized space capsule that will be transported to the edge of space. The Arizona company says it has successfully completed the first scale test flight of a high-altitude balloon and capsule being developed to take tourists to the edge of space. World View Enterprises of Tucson said Tuesday June 24, 2014 that it launched the flight last week from Roswell, NM. CEO Jane Poynter says the system broke the world record for highest parafoil flight, lifting a payload one-tenth of what is planned for passenger flight to 120,000 feet. (AP Photo/World View Enterprises)

AP Photo/World View Enterprises

An artist’s rendering of the World View Voyager balloon carrying a pressurized space capsule that will be transported to the edge of space.

What is it? A space flight promoting fried chicken

Innovators: World View Enterprises and KFC

What were they thinking? World View Enterprises, an Arizona company, is finishing up development of a celestial balloon called the “stratollite.” A portmanteau of “stratosphere” and “satellite,” it won’t go all the way to space, but it’ll get pretty close. While it should have some scientific value — providing more precise storm warnings — it was designed for a commercial purpose: near-space tourism. And if you’re a commercial enterprise, publicity is pretty important. So when fast food giant KFC called, proposing a tasty piece of cargo on World View’s next demonstration flight — the Zinger, a hand-breaded fried chicken sandwich with lettuce and mayo — World View was happy to oblige.

Did it work? The gimmick has provided plenty of fodder for TV commercials. You may have seen Rob Lowe as a spacesuit-clad Colonel Sanders, offering a zesty take on John F. Kennedy’s 1962 “We choose to go to the moon” speech as an inspired nation looks on. But there is some risk. “Can you actually launch KFC’s world-famous Zinger chicken sandwich into space?,” the colonel asks. “The answer is, we certainly hope so, our entire marketing campaign depends on it.”

If a chicken sandwich goes to space, tourists are next

A KFC chicken sandwich will soon fly to space, and while it may sound silly, that means we’re one step closer to sending tourists to space, too. World View Enterprises, a space tourism company based in Arizona, is testing its unmanned, high-altitude balloon by launching fried chicken 100,000 feet into the air. The company will launch any day now.

What’s next: The next step is to carry tourists to the edge of the atmosphere. The chicken sandwich’s voyage, which will last four days and be filmed by multiple cameras, will test the balloon’s ability to communicate with ground operations and use solar power. If all goes well, World View Enterprises plans to charge passengers $75,000 for a view of the curvature of the Earth. Tickets are already on sale.

Why it matters: The high-altitude balloon offers a relatively inexpensive version of space tourism, which usually costs many millions.

VIDEO : Blast off for Tiverton High School's rockets as pupils learn about future technologies

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Astrophysicists at Tiverton High School have created rockets to be blasted into the sky.

Able and talented students in Year 8 spent Tuesday, June 21 with Starchaser Industries and HepcoMotion, learning about rockets and then engineering their own.

This is the third year the event has been run at the school. Assistant headteacher Tom Williams said: “I think it’s an understanding of all the STEM related career pathways in terms of future industries and job prospects, also they’ve been doing lots of work looking at physics and chemistry which they’ve been studying, links in with rockets and construction and potentially linking in with space tourism as a future employment area.

“They’ve had some fantastic ideas, fantastic teamwork and some awesome engineering has been happening throughout the day.”

Steve Bennett from Starchaser Industries added: “It’s all about rockets today starting off with a presentation talking about what Starchaser is doing in terms of space tourism and how we can get people into space, then the kids made their own rockets, then we did propulsion lab science show, set fire to stuff, blew rocket fuel up and then we came out to field to fire the rockets that they have made.”

“We are proving science can be fun.”

The school also welcome back former pupils Sam Morrell who is studying Astrophysics and Callum Hutcheon who is doing an apprenticeship in marketing at HepcoMotion who sponsored the day.

Apprentice at the company Toby Cowan was helping the year eight pupils create the best rockets they could. He said: “We are helping with the aerodynamics, construction and talking to them about the principles behind the rocket and getting them involved in STEM projects.

“It’s incredibly important because we have to make sure we’ve always got a strong generation of scientists and engineers and other such pursuits to keep a strong economy and push forward with science and technology.”

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Cleveland Grad Engineering Commercial Space Travel

 Before school was out for the summer, Cleveland students heard about spaceship travel from someone who once roamed the same school hallways as they do and is now a go-to expert on space travel.

 On Tuesday, May 9, Jonathan Ritchie visited with Cleveland School’s fifth grade and middle school students. Ritchie is Chief Engineer of the Virgin Galactic SpaceshipTWO project.  

 Ritchie, son of retired educators Jack and Dadreon Ritchie, was raised in Cleveland, graduating from Cleveland High School. He attended Oklahoma State University where he obtained his degree in aerospace and mechanical engineering.

 In 2011 Ritchie moved to Mojave, Calif. with his family to work at The Spaceship Company owned by Richard Branson, of Virgin Galactic. The company’s aim is to not only provide commercial space tourism to “regular people,” but to be the first to do so. There is a new space race going on, Ritchie explained.

 He pointed out that only 550 people have EVER been to space! The touristic experience that The Spaceship Company is striving to offer is a two-hour round-trip from Spaceport America in Mojave, Calif. The space ship will carry two pilots and six passengers. The WhiteKnight airplane also has two pilots onboard. It brings the space ship to 50,000 feet where the SpaceshipTwo and WhiteKnight will separate. Then the rocket engine ignites, burning for 60 seconds, bringing SpaceshipTwo into space at 360,000 ft. The Spaceship Two is fueled by burning rubber and nitrous oxide (laughing gas) — lots of it! The passengers would be in space for five minutes and get to unbuckle their seat belts and experience weightlessness. To fully enjoy this experience passengers must go through three days of training before embarking on the two hour flight. The pilots are all specifically trained experimental test pilots. According to plan, Spaceship Two and WhiteKnight would both land separately back at Spaceport.

 The new space race is currently running neck-to-neck. Ritchie’s team has three successful test flights under their belts and working with the best of the best in the industry. Ritchie is confident commercial space travel will be a reality very soon. The whole experience will cost space tourists $250,000 and there are already over 700 people on a waiting list.

 Passengers must be 18 years old for legal consent. Height restrictions are between 5 ft. to 6.4 ft. and passengers most weigh less than 260 pounds.

 Ritchie concluded by saying, “I hope you have a great summer and never lose your curiosity and imagination. Imagination and desire joined with action are what make dreams come true.”