Tag Archives: iss

Adorable NASA robocube will float and do the housekeeping aboard the ISS

The Intelligent Robotics Group at NASA’s Ames Research Center has designed a new cube robot destined for the ISS later this year. The one-foot box-bot is named Astrobee and will follow astronauts around, helping with housekeeping and other tasks.

Astrobee vs Spheres.

Image modified after NASA / JPL.

It’s adorable, it’s cubic, it’s gonna hang out with astronauts — what’s not to like about the Astrobee? The little bot was designed to replace the aging SPHERES robots currently buzzing around the ISS, and has several improvements over them. Astrobee can either be operated from the ground by personnel at the Johnson Space Center in Houston or left to its own devices in autonomous operations mode. It’s equipped with radio-frequency identification (RFDI) scanners which allow it to ‘see’ the myriad tools and supply boxed aboard the ISS and keep track of inventories so astronauts can focus on more important work — like quantum physics.

Astrobee will also keep constant watch over the environmental factors aboard the space station, and its cameras will allow Houston to observe and record the astronauts and the experiments they perform — something for which the crew currently has to mount stationary cameras.

Thee of these bots will be sent to the ISS, where two will be kept operational at any one time and the other in standby. They should free up the schedule of astronauts by taking on housekeeping and monitoring tasks — because, as it turns out, sending people to space is really expensive, so NASA wants them to focus on the important bits instead of counting packets of microwaveable chicken.

Astrobee will trundle along the ISS propelled by a tiny fan-powered thruster but plans are already underway to test a magnetic propulsion system for the bots, which could allow swarms of Astrobees to fly in formation even without an atmosphere to fan. For delicate maneuvers, the box-bot comes equipped with a robotic arm to latch onto handholds in 0 g.




First artwork to be made in space is now orbiting above all our heads

Art has found its way to space! On Friday, a 3D printer aboard the ISS launched a sculpture of the human laugh into space.

Image credits NASA.

It’s not the first time art has gone to space — but it’s the first time it’s been made up there, as part of project #Laugh. This collaboration between Israeli artist Eyal Gever and California-based company Made In Space (the guys that build and operate the ISS’s Additive Manufacturing Facility/3D printer), started back in Dec. 2016 when Gever launched an app that converts the users’ unique laugh soundwave into a 3D-model.

Gever let all the app’s users vote on their favorite ‘laugh star’ — the winner was Naughtia Jane Stanko of Las Vegas, whose model was beamed up to the ISS and printed out Friday. But it’s not just a pretty shape — the star carries symbolic significance, Gever said.

“We live in epic times, where continuous disruption and rapid change exists against a backdrop of extremely volatile cultural shifts constantly challenging our human conscience,” he said in a statement.

“A laugh star floating in space, above all our heads, is my attempt to create a contemporary metaphor for the hanging ‘Sword of Damocles,’ a reminder that the beauty of human life is so fragile.”

The AMF is usually put to work printing spare parts, tool, and a whole wide range of stuff the astronauts need aboard their orbiting lab. Made in Space were more than happy to expand on its usual range of applications for the project however.

“It’s important for the world to see that technology and art are not independent of one another,” Made In Space President and CEO Andrew Rush said in the same statement.

“We’ve enjoyed being a part of this project, and hope that it communicates to the world that innovation and creativity are the driving forces behind humanity’s future in space.”

Gever and Made In Space Chief Technology Officer Jason Dunn will showcase the laugh star on March 13 at the South by Southwest Festival in Austin, Texas.

Russian-launched Progress resupply module crashes on-route to the ISS

The Russian unmanned spacecraft, on its way to re-supply the ISS, has crashed and burned in a remote southern part of the Russian wilderness.

Soyuz TMA-08M .

Bear necessities

Thursday morning, the Russian space agency Roscosmos successfully launched a Progress module packed with some 2,450 kg (5,383 lbs) of water, food, medicinal supplies and equipment, as well as toiletries and other simple bare necessities towards the ISS. The expendable module was launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, carried by a Soyuz rocket. It was supposed to be a 9-minute flight, but shortly after the 6:30-minute mark ground control lost communications with the Progress module.

“After the launch of the Soyuz-U launch vehicle along with the Progress MS-04 cargo spacecraft, telemetry connection was lost on the 383th second of flight,” reads a Roscosmos tweet, according to a translation by RT.com (Russian state-controlled news agency).

The Progress was supposed to separate from the third and last stage of the Soyuz at the end of the flight. But losing comms a full 2 minutes before the separation point isn’t a good sign. If the module detached too early, it wouldn’t have enough speed to reach orbit; if it detaches too late, it’s too heavy to reach orbit — so either way, the craft arches back towards Earth, burns up in the atmosphere, crashes down, or both.

NASA quickly informed the Expedition 50 ISS crew aboard the space station about the incident.

“Unfortunately I have some not-so-great news for you guys,” a mission controller told astronauts.

“Basically, what we saw was indications of the third-stage [separation] occurring a few minutes early and we haven’t had any communications with the Progress at all.”

Roscomos has later confirmed the loss of the Progress MS-04 about 118 miles above Tuva, a “rugged uninhabited mountainous territory,” the agency wrote in a release. It also disclosed that most fragments “were burned in the dense layers of the atmosphere”, suggesting that at least part of the craft crashed down. The agency also said that the crash won’t affect the going-ons on board the ISS. NASA has confirmed that the astronauts are well stocked with everything they need, and wants to remind the public that JAXA is preparing the launch of its HTV-6 cargo ship bound for the ISS on December 9, so fresh supplies are incoming.

Russia has formed a state commission to investigate the incident.

NASA astronaut Kate Rubins, Russian cosmonaut Anatoly Ivanishin of Roscosmos, and astronaut Takuya Onishi of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) touched down near the town of Zhezkazgan, Kazakhstan on Sunday. Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

Amazing photos of Exp 49 astronauts touching down on Earth after 115 days in space

 NASA astronaut Kate Rubins, Russian cosmonaut Anatoly Ivanishin of Roscosmos, and astronaut Takuya Onishi of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) touched down near the town of Zhezkazgan, Kazakhstan on Sunday. Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

NASA astronaut Kate Rubins, Russian cosmonaut Anatoly Ivanishin of Roscosmos, and astronaut Takuya Onishi of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) touched down near the town of Zhezkazgan, Kazakhstan on Sunday. Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

Sunday at noon, three astronauts who had been on an 115-day-long mission on the International Space Station safely landed on Earth. The Expedition 49 crew made of Kate Rubins, Anatoly Ivanishin, and Takuya Onishi first climbed into the cramped Russian-made Soyuz spacecraft, then closed the hatch to the ISS. Three hours later, the craft’s parachute opened and the crew touched down in central Kazakhstan where rescue helicopters hovered above — all under the vigilant eye of Bill Ingalls, a NASA photographer.  Here are some of the highlights from the landing.

Russian search and rescue helicopters survey the drop site in anticipation for the astronauts' landing. Credit: Bill Ingalls/NASA

Russian search and rescue helicopters survey the drop site in anticipation of the astronauts’ landing. Credit: Bill Ingalls/NASA

astronauts back to earth

Credit: Bill Ingalls/NASA

The old but reliable Soyuz MS-01 spacecraft brings the three astronauts back to Earth safely. Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

The old but reliable Soyuz MS-01 spacecraft brings the three astronauts back to Earth safely. Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

During their mission, the three astronauts performed various biology, biotech, and physics experiments. They were also responsible for loading and unloading three cargo shipments which docked with the ISS during their stay.

A battered Soyuz craft from the atmospheric re-entry with the crew still inside, shortly before the hatch was opened and the astronauts touched Earth for the first time in 115 days. Credit: Bill Ingalls/NASA

A battered Soyuz craft from the atmospheric re-entry with the crew still inside, shortly before the hatch was opened and the astronauts touched Earth for the first time in 115 days. Credit: Bill Ingalls/NASA

“I’m kind of reluctant to close the hatch,” Ivanishin said during a ceremony Friday when he handed command of the space station to U.S. astronaut Shane Kimbrough. “The time is very special here. … I didn’t have time to know what’s going on on our planet, and maybe it’s for the better. On the space station, you live in a very friendly, very good environment.”

Anatoly Ivanishin exits the Soyuz spacecraft. Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

Anatoly Ivanishin exits the Soyuz spacecraft. Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

Astronaut Kate Rubins talks to her family on satphone shortly after she landed on Earth. Bill Ingalls/NASA

Astronaut Kate Rubins talks to her family on satphone shortly after she landed on Earth. Bill Ingalls/NASA

None of the astronauts was hurt or injured during the landing. It is, however, standard procedure that all astronauts who come back to Earth are carried in wheelchairs until they receive medical attention. Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

None of the astronauts was hurt or injured during the landing. It is, however, the standard procedure that all astronauts who come back to Earth are carried in wheelchairs until they receive medical attention. Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls


ISS crew just planted their third lettuce crop, hope to make it a permanent farm

Astronauts aboard the ISS are have just planted the fall crop of lettuce — or, as they call it, the Veg-03 experiment.

Veggie team supervises the planting.
Image credits NASA.

Space food hasn’t been exactly gourmet up to now. We’ve come a long way from beef paste in a tube, but you’d probably have trouble finding folks who would eat astronaut food if the Earth variety is available. It looks, feels, and probably just tastes, different. However, since food is such an integral part of human life and we all like to enjoy what we put in our bellies, NASA is working hard on bringing the best quality chow to its crews.

Earlier today, NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough started the Veg-03 experiment — one of his first assignments since joining the crew aboard the ISS but arguably the most important one for future explorers. Ground control’s Veggie team supervised him through a live video link from consoles in the Experiment Monitoring Area at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida as Kimbrough planted the third crop in space, the agency reports.

“Operations went great today! A little slower than expected, but all plant pillows were successfully primed for the first time in our Veg series,” said Veggie project manager Nicole Dufour.

Plant pillows are kind of like a crop-in-a-bag: small pouches with a “growth medium”, seeds, and fertilizer. All astronauts have to do to start growing their own food is to add a little water to the pillows. They’re going to be vital for future long-duration missions where resupplying from Earth won’t be possible. The Veg-03 plant growth facility is the latest installment of the experiment, which resulted in the first-ever harvest in orbit in the summer of 2015. With the 03, NASA hopes to develop a new repetitive harvest technique they call “Cut-and-Come-Again”.

“We previously have had some hardware issues that prevented at least one pillow from each ‘grow out’ from being successfully primed, so we were very excited to achieve that milestone,” she added.

“Once the plants are approximately four weeks old, a selection of leaves can be harvested for a bit of fresh lettuce and possibly science samples. Meanwhile, some leaves are left intact along with the core of the plant, and will continue to grow and produce more leaves,” Dufour explained.

Having access to an onboard food source would do wonders for astronauts’ diets, as well as their morale. The team is now expecting germination, which will likely take place early next week.

Some of the samples will be returned to Earth for testing, but the crew will get to enjoy the rest.


NASA to install new ISS module for space taxis

After being cramped up on the International Space Station (ISS) for several weeks, NASA astronauts Kate Rubins and Jeff Williams will get to stretch their legs during a six-and-a-half hour spacewalk this Friday. However, this isn’t going to be just a walk in the park. The astronauts will be working on installing a new international docking adapter (IDA) to the outside of the ISS. This is a crucial component of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

Image via NASA

A major issue with the ISS is it’s relative inaccessibility. It takes a lot of planning, work and resources to send people or equipment up there. For this reason, SpaceX and Boeing have been working on commercial alternatives. These alternatives — so-called space taxis — would be faster and cheaper than existing possibilities.

SpaceX is building a crewed version of its Dragon cargo capsule, called Crew Dragon, and Boeing is building a brand-new crew capsule called the CST-100 Starliner, the two being slated to work in 2017 and 2018, respectively. However, in order for these to dock at the station, a new docking module needs to be installed to fit the shuttles and astronauts need to get to work.

There is a reason to worry about the spacewalk. This will be the first one since January, and that spacewalk didn’t exactly go swimmingly. Then, NASA astronaut Tim Kopra noticed a small water bubble forming inside his helmet, probably due to an issue with his spacesuit’s sublimator, inducing too much condensation. NASA has already taken steps to fix this issue and hopefully, it  won’t be a problem in the future.

Regarding the space operation itself, NASA writes:

“The two astronauts will venture outside the space station’s Quest airlock to install the first IDA onto Pressurized Mating Adapter-2, located on the forward end of the Harmony module. On Wednesday, Aug. 17, ground controllers will use the Canadarm2 robotic arm, and its attached “Dextre” Special Purpose Dexterous Manipulator, to extract the IDA from the trunk of Dragon, and position it just inches away from PMA-2. There will be no live coverage of the trunk removal and IDA positioning.”

In other ISS news, Russia is reportedly planning on reducing its space crew from 3 to 2. The Russian newspaper Izvestia quoted cosmonaut Sergei Krikalev, who serves as the head of piloted space programs for Russia’s state-run space corporation, Roscosmos.

“They’re exploring the option of going down to two crew on the Russian segment,”said ISS operations integration manager Kenneth Todd, responding to a question from collectSPACE.com editor Robert Pearlman. “We’ll look at it as we do with all these kind of things—we’ll trade it against whatever risk that might put into the program, first and foremost the risk to our crew onboard, and the station itself.”

The whole building operation will be streamed by NASA. You can check out the live streaming, as well as other information and updates on http://www.nasa.gov/nasatv.


British Astronaut runs London Marathon from space

British astronaut Tim Peake ran the London Marathon on a treadmill aboard the International Space Station. He became the first man and second person to run a marathon in orbit after US astronaut Sunita Williams ran the Boston Marathon on the ISS in 2007.

Tim Peake running the London Marathon aboard the ISS, as shown by the European Space Agency.

Every year, thousands of people gather in London to participate in one of the world’s most popular running events. The marathon is run over a largely flat course around the River Thames, and spans 42.195 kilometres (26 miles and 385 yards). This setting was unavailable for Tim Peake, so he had to settle for a treadmill onboard the International Space Station. He joined marathoners from 400 km above wearing weights on his body to counter the zero gravity conditions. Before the race, Peake twitted:

He finished the marathon in three hours, 35 minutes and 21 seconds, according to estimated times posted on the website of the European Space Agency. Peake trained specifically for the marathon for weeks and used an iPad showing a moving image of the run so he could feel more in the race.

While running in orbit, Peake was joined by two team members on the ground who were running dressed in replica Russian space suits.

Astronaut Scott Kelly returns home after a year in space

Today is homecoming day for a record-setting crew. Three Expedition 46 crew members from the International Space Station are finishing packing the Soyuz TMA-18M spacecraft for the ride home today, ending their record-setting mission.

Astronaut Scott Kelly posted this photo taken from the International Space Station to Twitter on Feb. 27, 2016 with the caption, “Of all the sunrises I’ve seen on my #YearInSpace, this was one of the best! One of the last too. Headed home soon.”

In November 2012, NASA, the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos), and their international partners selected two veteran spacefarers for a one-year mission aboard the International Space Station in 2015. Scott Kelly was the perfect candidate: experienced, knowledgeable, and a twin. The twin part was a bonus which will allow doctors to study how the body changes after a year in space and enable NASA to better prepare for longer trips. Part of this research also includes a comparative study on the genetic effects of spaceflight with Scott’s twin brother Mark as the ground control subject.

After handing over command of the International Space Station to astronaut Tim Kopra, Kelly will join Mikhail Kornienko and Sergey Volkov for a trip back home. He spent a record-breaking 340 days in space. Upon arrival, they will be monitored by doctors to see how their bodies have adapted to the year in space, and how it will re-adapt to Earth.

Prior to his mission Kelly was asked about what it will be like to command the ISS:

“Certainly as the commander you’re responsible for safety and the health of your people and making sure they have everything they need to do their jobs. I’ll certainly be conscious of those things but we’re all professionals, we all understand what we need to do, and we’re all kind of self-starters and kind of take care of ourselves very well so it shouldn’t be much different than when Doug Wheelock, the previous commander, was in charge.”

Now, after passing command, he seems rather sad and a bit sentimental – not about passing command, but about having to leave space and returning to Earth. After he sees how some things are down here, he might want to return.

Astronauts test new Holo-Lens Sidekick aboard the ISS

Astronaut Scott Kelly (seen in pic) and his colleagues stationed on the International Space Station now have a new Sidekick. The project is a collaboration between NASA and Microsoft aimed to help with astronaut duties, like repairs, experiments or space walks, using an out of this world augment reality device called the HoloLens.

ZME Science previously reported on how the HoleLens works and what’s it useful for. So, I’ll just mention that the HoloLens delivers everything that the virtual reality industry has falsely advertised for the past two decades:  immersive and interactive augmented reality. This is the real deal!

With a headset on, astronauts could see the inner workings of a telescope or instrument as if they had X-ray vision. An expert on ground who shares the same view as an astronaut could provide better and more accurate instructions. This remote sidekick could also draw or call animations visible in the astronaut’s view, superimposed on real objects or in a whole new virtual plane. Pre-HoloLens, astronauts could only rely on verbal or written instructions to carry out complicated repairs or experiments.

The HoloLens will also prove very useful during astronaut training. Cadets could immerse themselves in the ISS experience, but also that of Mars some day.

Last year  NASA tested the device on its Weightless Wonder C9 jet. The first HoloLens headsets were supposed to arrive last last year, but a SpaceX rocket tasked with delivering the cargo exploded in mid-air.

There’s not much word yet on how Kelly or other astronauts are using the device, but I have a feeling we’ll find out more soon. For the rest of us mortals, the HoloLens will supposedly cost $3,000 once it’s out publicly.

The International Space Station’s incredible flower garden is in full bloom

Remember this article we wrote in November about the astronaut crew that got the longest green thumbs in history by planting a small garden on the ISS?

Well, their flowers have gone in full bloom. This hints at what might be possible on a lunar or even Martian settlement in the not-so-distant future. And we’re here to tell you all about how Scott Kelly and his colleagues managed to grow flowers in a metal box zipping around the Earth with no sunlight and having only limited water and gravity while I can’t even keep a cactus alive.

Image via twitter/Scott Kelly.

This bright orange zinnia was grown in the Vegetable Production System (also known as the gloriously puny “Veggie”), a deployable unit built to sustain a range of crops including lettuce — the first space-grown crop that the ISS taste-tested in August.

Veggie comes equiped with LED lighting and a nutrient distribution system for the plants inside, relying on the surrounding cabin to maintain an optimal environment inside it’s plastic-wrapped growth chamber. Still, it hasn’t been easy for the crew to grow the flowers, and as much as Veggie helped, it also worked agains them.

“There was mould, drought, and flooding in the roots. There were gardening guidelines, urgent, 4am phone calls, and distressed tweets. Some plants didn’t make it and had to be clipped off,” Lonnie Shekhtman reports for The Christian Science Monitor.

Around Christmas the flowers started to get mouldy because of a humidity build-up inside the plastic-wrapped chamber. Early efforts to ventilate the chamber dried out the plants, killing two of the crew’s zinnias. After weeks of tweaking however, the crew figured out how to use fans to gently dry out the plants and two survived to blossom fully over the weekend.

Image via twitter/Scott Kelly

While they’re not the first plants to be grown in space (the Guiness Book of Records gives that distinction to the 1982 Russian astronauts who grew Arabidopsis seeds aboard the ISS) they’re certainly the most beautiful yet. And these plants’ story, with its ups and downs, will play a huge in our eforts to grow our food on other planets in the future.

“The unexpected turns experienced during this Veggie run have actually offered bountiful opportunities for new learning and better understanding of one of the critical components to future journeys to Mars,” says NASA.

via ScienceAlert

Astronaut food during the Skylab days in the 1970s: grape drink, beef pot roast, chicken and rice, beef sandwiches and sugar cookie cubes, orange drink, strawberries, asparagus, prime rib, dinner roll and butterscotch pudding. Credit: NASA.

Astronaut food: what astronauts eat in space

Astronaut food during the Skylab days in the 1970s:  grape drink, beef pot roast, chicken and rice, beef sandwiches and sugar cookie cubes, orange drink, strawberries, asparagus, prime rib, dinner roll and butterscotch pudding. Credit: NASA.

Astronaut food during the Skylab days in the 1970s: grape drink, beef pot roast, chicken and rice, beef sandwiches and sugar cookie cubes, orange drink, strawberries, asparagus, prime rib, dinner roll and butterscotch pudding. Credit: NASA.

Many of you reading this hope to one day be able to explore outer space; the thrill of discovery, entwined with the peace and solitude that only the silent void can provide. It’s awesome stuff, I’m completely on board. But as it usually goes, great adventures come with great sacrifices.

Little comforts, like hanging out with friends, enjoying a movie, or holding a cup of hot chocolate in your hands by the fire tend to be the first to go for more practical concerns, like efficiency and ease of transport. Would-be space explorers like ourselves know this already. We’re here for the good of all, the call of wanderlust, and we’re glad to sacrifice part of our comforts on the altar of human exploration.

The real question is…Do you have the stomach for the trip?

First meals in space

The first meals in space were…Pretty horrible.

Beef and vegetable tube.

John Glenn was the first American to have a bite in orbit, and while he found the actual process of eating pleasant enough, the menu was more to be endured than enjoyed: bite-sized cubes, freeze-dried powders, and semi-liquids stuffed in aluminum tubes.

During the Project Mercury flights, astronauts complained that the chow was unappetizing and that they disliked squeezing the tubes, the freeze-dried courses were nearly impossible to re-hydrate, and crumbs from the cubes would float through the cabin and interfere with the wiring in the walls. It was a disheartening business and something had to be done. Thankfully, NASA took this seriously and things started to look up nom-wise for our intrepid explorers.

On the Gemini mission, the aluminum tubes were scrapped altogether. A special gelatin coat was applied to the cubes to reduce crumbling, and the freeze-dried foods were packaged in a special plastic container to make reconstitution easier. Variety improved too, with shrimp cocktail, chicken and vegetables, butterscotch pudding, and applesauce on the menu.

This didn’t exactly bode well with all astronauts. John Young launched to Earths’ orbit aboard the Gemini 3 some 50 years ago. With him was crewmate Gus Grissom and a two days old corn beef sandwich, smuggled without permission on the spacecraft.

Grissom: What is it?
Young: Corn beef sandwich.
Grissom: Where did that come from?
Young: I brought it with me. Let’s see how it tastes. Smells, doesn’t it?

A corn beef sandwich encased in acrylic to prevent decay, on display at the Grissom Memorial Museum in Indiana. Image: Collect Space

A corn beef sandwich encased in acrylic to prevent decay, on display at the Grissom Memorial Museum in Indiana. Image: Collect Space

Suffice to say, even after two bites, the sandwich crumbled into thousands of pieces which spread out through the spacecraft. It was a novice move, but nothing bad happened.

Gemini Meal Preparation
Food packages of beef and gravy fully reconstituted and ready to eat. The water gun is used to reconstitute dehydrated food and the scissors are used to open the packages to eat.
Image via airandspace

By the time the Apollo program was off the ground, both quality and variety increased even further. The crew had access to hot water to improve freeze-dried food preparation, and a new “spoon bowl” container made it more enjoyable to actually get the food where it’s needed — your belly.

How do they make these tasty concoctions?

The main concern of the space agency is to keep the food as light as possible while making sure they’re nutritious, tasty, and stable without refrigeration for as long as they possibly can. The usual foods an astronaut has available include rehydratable, thermostabilized, intermediate moisture, irradiated, and natural form courses, which must provide an astronaut with at least 2,500 calories per day.

Rehydratable foods are items that have had their water content extracted, basically super-dry foods. This is done to conserve weight, but also to stop the items from spoiling: the bacteria that decompose foods require water just as much as we do, and find it hard to survive in this bone-dry environment. Thankfully for the crew, shuttle fuel cells, that combine oxygen and hydrogen for electricity also provide ample reserves of water for them to mix with the course before eating.

Image via quest.arc.nasa

From soups — like chicken consomme and cream of mushroom — to macaroni and cheese or chicken and rice casseroles, appetizers — like shrimp cocktail — and breakfast foods — like scrambled eggs and cereals — many types of food are usually prepared this way.

Thermostabilized food is heat processed and sealed; in essence, this category includes canned foods, be it in aluminum or bimetallic cans, plastic cups, or chow in flexible retort pouches.

Thanksgiving dinner.
Image via Tech Times

Courses such as beef tips with mushrooms, tomatoes and eggplant, chicken a la king, and ham are prepared this way.

Intermediate moisture foods have just the right level of water content to prevent microbial growth while allowing the food to maintain its soft texture and to be eaten without further preparation — usually between 15 to 30 percent water content, but the water molecules are chemically tied and can’t support microbial growth. The most common preparation process is salting or sugaring.

Image via dehydrator.letaq

Dried peaches, pears, or apricots and dried beef are examples of this type of Shuttle food.

On the other hand, Natural form foods are packed as-is in clear, flexible pouches. They are ready to eat with no preparation required. NASA classifies foods such as nuts, granola bars, and cookies as natural form foods.

Image via quest.arc.nasa

And lastly, Irradiated foods are cooked, packaged in foil-laminated pouches, and sterilized by treatment with ionized radiation, to remain stable at room temperature.

Beefsteak is currently the only irradiated product intended for space consumption.

What astronauts eat today for breakfast, lunch, and dinner

Food aboard the Space Shuttle served on a tray, with magnets, springs, and Velcro to hold the cutlery and food packets down. Image via wikipedia

Food aboard the Space Shuttle served on a tray, with magnets, springs, and Velcro to hold the cutlery and food packets down.
Image via Wikipedia

Today’s astronauts dine better than any before. On the ISS, due to constraints regarding water generation, most of the food will be delivered frozen, refrigerated, or thermostabilised once every 90 days. Astronauts will cook these in microwave ovens and the better quality of the food, together with cutlery that won’t float away and sitting while eating, make for a much more filling meal. Different nations are also supplying their astronauts with traditional courses, helping the crew socialize and share cultures.

Food choice is extremely important to astronauts, and the longer the flight, the more significant those choices become:

“Being on Space Station, so much of what is going on is beyond their control,” said Vickie Kloeris, JSC manager of Space Food Systems.

“And so food is just a comfort thing that they would like to feel they have some input on or some control over. It’s just a big psychological thing — I don’t know if we’ve flown anyone to Station that has not been concerned about their food.”

Crew members can pick what they want to eat, so if they feel chicken three nights in a row, they can do that.

Compared to sucking applesauce through a tube, dining in space has gone a long way. Station farms are also being tested, and soon ships might be able to produce some or all of their food for long voyages.

Kickstarter project plans to put you virtually on the ISS

There is no denying that the view from the International Space S is spectacular. But precious few of us will ever get to visit it and catch yell enthusiastically “i can see my house from here” to the sounds of astronauts sighing, and asking to do so without taking a long and probably tiresome trip is just silly.

“Only 536 people have ever been to space; at SpaceVR we ask, what about the other 7 billion?”

Well, what about them, go on!

SpaceVR started a Kickstarter campaign today with the goal of sending a 3D, 360-degree camera to the ISS. This camera will collect footage that you can then view in virtual reality goggles. Space-views from the comfort of your home? Yes please!

The Overview One, the camera that SpaceVR plans to sent to the ISS. Image via Kickstarter

The Overview One, the camera that SpaceVR plans to sent to the ISS.
Image via Kickstarter

“We have all dreamed of the stars. Imagine being able to float through the space station, experience a space walk, or even explore the Moon and Mars. Our goal at SpaceVR is to bring space exploration within reach of everyone. We are sending a 360-degree camera to the International Space Station (ISS) to collect footage that anyone can experience using virtual reality headsets. With SpaceVR, now anyone can be an astronaut!” their Kickstarter page reads.

The name of the project comes from something that astronauts refer to as the Overview Effect, the feeling that our planet is a tiny, fragile ball of life, “hanging in the void”, shielded and nourished by a paper-thin atmosphere that one gets from seeing Earth from outer space.

“The idea of national boundaries vanishes, the conflicts that divide people become irrelevant, and the need to come together as a civilization to protect this “pale blue dot” becomes both obvious and imperative” SpaceVR’s pitch says.

The company doesn’t want to limit our journey to the ISS alone, either. Other goals they set for their future include:

  • Live-streaming content from space to your VR headset. You can see what’s happening in orbit in real-time.
  • Sending a VR camera to the moon in 2017.
  • Landing a VR camera on an asteroid in 2022.
  • Launching a remote controllable cube-sat VR camera system into orbit. You can not only control where the satellite goes, but also see exactly what it’s seeing from your headset!
  • Going to Mars as soon as 2026.

At the time i’m writing this, the campaign has 142 backers, gathering $9,916 of the $500,000 goal.


Watch: astronauts dock at the International Space Station

It took more than was expected, but the three astronauts set for the International Space Station docked with the International Space Station at 10:46 p.m. E.T. You can watch them here:

The rocket had a successful launch at 5:02 p.m. EDT (2102 GMT) to experienced Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko and rookie astronauts Kjell Lindgren with NASA and Japan’s Kimiya Yui into orbit. The crew will stay there for 5 months, returning on December 22, just in time to make Christmas on Earth. Aboard the ISS, they will join Scott Kelly and Mikhail Kornienko, who have already been in space for 117 days.

The trio was set to launch in May, but the mission was delayed after an issue with the Soyuz rocket destined to take them there. That accident stranded a Progress ship, an expendable cargo spacecraft with the purpose of delivering supplies needed to sustain human presence in orbit. Nine days later, the capsule, loaded with three tons of equipment and supplies, fell back into Earth’s atmosphere and was incinerated.

However, things seem to have settled down and the source of the error was identified and the problem was fixed.

Image via NASA.


All astronauts are allowed to take a special item with them, and after we had a tortilla last time, now, we’re going to have some sushi onboard! Yui told a news conference that he was taking some sushi with him as a treat for the others – yum!

NASA releases 4K timelapse of photos taken from the ISS – artists create epic videos

After showing us how the ISS got put together, the guys over at NASA released a new 4K timelapse video of breath taking beauty. Using 95,600 photo files of high fidelity taken by the ISS, they created almost 40 minutes of raw footage of the Earth.

As the ISS hurtles in orbit around the Earth, an eternal freefall at 17,100 mph, its cameras, and the astronauts on board, are capturing images and footage of our planet below — much of which is from NASA, and therefore public domain.

Russian photo blogger Dmitry Pisanko selected 4 minutes of video and — with the soundtrack provided by Italian pianist and composer Ludovico Einaudi — created ISS Symphony. According to Pisanko, it took him three months to find the perfect score.

Using about 80 Gigabytes of footage from ISS expeditions 28, 29, 30 and 34, France-based filmmaker Guillaume Juin created a supercut of time-lapses, edited into a final short film named Astronaut:

“What does astronaut see from up there? From the red soil of Africa, the blue water of oceans, to the green lights of the poles and yellow light of human activity, discover, throughout this journey to space, something astoundingly beautiful and strange at the same time,” he wrote.

And filmmaker David Peterson‘s youtube channel has some amazing videos one of which, titled “All Alone in the Night”, set to a track by Two Steps From Hell, shows the earth afire with city lights:


ISS astronauts could use laser cannon to blast off hazardous space junk

Astronauts onboard the ISS may soon get a new “toy” – a space laser cannon to blast off space debris that might threaten the space station. Even a tiny scratch or dent could cause massive problems, and with us putting more and more stuff in space, the risk of damage constantly increases too.

There are hundreds of thousands of pieces of space debris in orbit. Image via Wikipedia.

“Our proposal is radically different from the more conventional approach that is ground based, and we believe it is a more manageable approach that will be accurate, fast, and cheap. We may finally have a way to stop the headache of rapidly growing space debris that endangers space activities. We believe that this dedicated system could remove most of the centimeter-sized debris within five years of operation,” said project Toshikazu Ebisuzaki.

We’re dealing with air pollution, water pollution, ground pollution… but a lesser known issue is space pollution. Even though we’ve only started exploring outer space for decades, we’ve put out a staggering amount of stuff in orbit. As of 2009 about 19,000 pieces of debris larger than 5 cm (2 in) are tracked, with 300,000 pieces larger than 1 cm estimated to exist. Most junk sources are shuttle components, lost equipment, boosters or anti-satellite weapons put up by the US and Soviet Union during the 1960s and 1970s. Although most of these pieces orbit at a different distance from Earth than the ISS, many of them still have the potential to pose threats.

Up until now, the ISS had no other option than to try to change its trajectory to avoid space junk, but now, Japanese researchers believe they have found the solution to that problem. They developed a laser system that can vaporize bits of debris way before they can harm the ISS. The entire system was actually created to monitor the atmosphere for ultraviolet emissions from cosmic rays, but it could double as a precision space junk tracking system. In other words, you have the tracking system, and all you need is a space laser – an instrument that focuses intense beams of energy onto very specific targets, vaporizing them, or if the junk is hard metal, changing their trajectory so they aren’t dangerous anymore.

“We realized,” says Toshikazu Ebisuzaki, who led the effort, “that we could put it to another use. During twilight, thanks to EUSO’s wide field of view and powerful optics, we could adapt it to the new mission of detecting high-velocity debris in orbit near the ISS.”

The laser could zap targets from 60 miles away (100 km), and it could be installed as soon as 2017. Meanwhile the European Space Agency is testing fishing-style nets to catch larger pieces of space junk which can’t be handled otherwise.

“We may finally have a way to stop the headache of rapidly growing space debris that endangers space activities. We believe that this dedicated system could remove most of the centimeter-sized debris within five years of operation,” says Ebisuzaki.


NASA activates veggie growing system on the ISS

Growing vegetables in outer space – something which science fiction readers are very familiar with, but in the real world, this is a first – NASA’s veggie growing chambers have activated.


We were telling you a while ago about NASA’s plans to start growing vegetables onboard the ISS – and now, the system is online. The main question which is on everybody’s mind is “Will plants grow normally in microgravity?”. The plausible answer is mostly ‘Yes’. There will be of course differences in the growth patterns (plants will grow in all directions equally probably), but biologists do expect them to grow.

The first fresh food production system, along with the Veg-01 experiment, were delivered to the space station on the SpaceX-3 mission from Cape Canaveral in April and will rely on red, blue and green LED lights to stimulate growth. A root mat and six plant “pillows,” each containing ‘Outredgeous’ red romaine lettuce seeds, with each plant pillow containing controlled release fertilizer and a type of calcined clay used on baseball fields which stimulates growth.


These vegetable growing projects in outer space are essential for ultimately conducting long-term space travels.

“The farther and longer humans go away from Earth, the greater the need to be able to grow plants for food, atmosphere recycling and psychological benefits,” Dr. Gioia Massa, leader of the Veggie project said. “I think that plant systems will become important components of any long-duration exploration scenario.”

In the short run, it will improve the life quality of astronauts onboard the International Space and lower the space of transporting food – allowing them to grow and eat fresh vegetables.

“My hopes are that Veggie will eventually enable the crew to regularly grow and consume fresh vegetables,” Massa said.

This first batch of vegetables will grow for 28 days – photographs will be taken weekly, and we’ll definitely publish them when they are released. Also, microbial samples will be taken to check and study any microorganisms growing on the vegetables which may affect the crop. Veggie will remain on the station permanently and could become a research platform for other top-growing plant experiments; if these first experiments work out fine, they could pave the way for a new generation of studies.

“Veggie could be used as a modular plant chamber for a variety of plants that grow up rather than in the ground,” said Gerard Newsham, the Veggie payload support specialist with Jacobs Technology on the Test and Operations Support Contract. “This is just the beginning.”

In time, as the scientific bases and limits are established for the project, astronauts will be given more freedom, and the entire project will become more like a garden.

“I hope that the astronauts on the space station eventually will use the equipment to ‘experiment’ with their own seeds or projects,” said Nicole Dufour, who coordinated and led the testing of the flight hardware at Kennedy and wrote the crew procedures for the astronauts to use on space station. “Veggie is designed for crew interaction and to enjoy the plants as they are growing.”

Watch a livestream from the International Space Station – 24/7

The ISS in 2007.

If you’ve been living in a cave or just don’t care about science at all, then you don’t know what the International Space Station is, and I’ll explain here. The ISS is a a habitable artificial satellite in low Earth orbit. It’s been launched in 1998, and since then, it has been continuously operating. Astronauts come and stay there for a few months in a shift system, and they conduct extremely valuable experiments there – which couldn’t be performed on Earth.

But before I get into what the people onboard the ISS are doing and why it’s so valuable, here is a stream which you can follow at all times… more or less. If you see a black/blue screen, there has been a temporary loss of signal – but usually, when the astronauts are active and doing things, you can watch and hear them here:

The ISS stream

Live streaming video by Ustream

Why the ISS is so important

The ISS provides a platform to conduct scientific research that cannot be performed in any other way – out of the atmosphere, and in zero gravity. But it’s not just doing things in zero gravity – space stations offer a long term environment where studies can be performed potentially for decades. The experiments which are carried out cover vast areas of scientific research, in fields such as astrobiology, astronomy, human research including space medicine and life sciences, physical sciences, materials science, space weather, and meteorology.

For example, the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS) is a valuable tool which provided some hints about dark matter, and it’s been compared by NASA with the Hubble Telescope. According to the scientists:

The first results from the space-borne Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer confirm an unexplained excess of high-energy positrons in Earth-bound cosmic rays.”

Space is, of course, inhospitable for life as we know it. Intense radiation field, near absolute zero temperatures, high vacuum, microgravity – all these are fighting against life. But some simple life forms, called extremophiles (Greek for “extreme lovers”) can survive in this environment in an extremely dry state called desiccation.

Another area of research is the effects of long-term space exposure on the human body, which can vary greatly and have major effects on the human body. If we are to conduct interstellar flights, then the information provided by the International Space Station will be priceless. As of 2006, data on bone loss and muscular atrophy suggest that there would be a significant risk of fractures and movement problems if astronauts landed on a planet after a lengthy interplanetary cruise – even one as ‘short’ as the six month journey to Mars.

This is just a very brief insight into the huge importance  that the ISS has – it would take a book (at least) to go into detail with what they are doing. But if you are interested in what they are doing, you could read some of our other articles, or if you want to go straight to the source, read their page at NASA or even follow them on Facebook.

International Space Station life ‘to be extended’ until at least 2024

Good news everybody – the International Space Station won’t be sunk into the ocean in 2020! In case you don’t know what I’m taking about, in a previous article, we were telling you about the plans to sink the International Space Station in the ocean, in 2020. However, the ISS will be on at least until 2014.

Image via NASA.

The news comes as over 30 heads of space agencies from around the world prepare to gather in Washington January 9-10 for an unprecedented summit on the future of space exploration. Most engineers believe that the ISS could function without any risks until 2028, but this belief is not unanimous. NASA announced they are happy and optimistic regarding the collaboration with other agencies. Bill Gerstenmaier, the associate administrator at Nasa with responsibility for the station added that even if some partners will decide to back up, this extension is still feasible – though he believes that will not happen.

“I think the idea is that 10 years from today is a pretty far-reaching, pretty strategic decision,” he said. We have talked to the partners about this… They were involved in all the hardware studies. In general, they see this as a positive step moving forward.”

The extension of operations will allow NASA and its partners to run a series of very important research activities, including the planned human mission to an asteroid by 2025 and to Mars in the 2030s. NASA estimates that research on ISS is necessary to mitigate fully 21 of the 32 human-health risks anticipated on long-duration missions. Another important research program is represented by the testing of the technologies and spacecraft systems necessary for humans to safely and productively operate in deep space. This extension will allow these studies to reach fruition.

Furthermore, this extension will also allow NASA and its private-sector partners time to more fully transition to the commercial space industry the transportation of cargo and crew to low-Earth-orbit, allowing NASA to focus on more bold projects, focused on deep space.

Construction of the ISS began in 1998 and is a joint venture between the US, Russia, Canada, Japan, and states in the European Space Agency (ESA). The ISS is a unique facility that offers enormous scientific and societal benefits. The Obama Administration’s decision to allow it to continue its very valuable experiments for 4 more years (and the possibility to go even beyond that) will allow us to maximize its potential, deliver critical benefits to the US and the entire planet, and will pave the way for future deep space exploration.


Astronaut Chris Hadfield answers a few questions

Chris Hadfield is a (now retired) Candian astronaut – the first Canadian to walk into outer space; on 19 December 2012, Hadfield launched in the Soyuz TMA-07M flight for a long duration stay on board the International Space Station as part of Expedition 35. He was the commander on the ISS until May 12 May 2013. In total, Hadfield spent 14 hours, 50 minutes outside, travelling 10 times around the world during his spacewalk.

He gained even more popularity by chronicling life aboard the space station in a blog and taking several remarkable pictures and posting them through Twitter and Facebook to a large following of people around the world. He also recorded a song onboard the ISS. Now, he has taken the time to answer a few questions on Reddit, as part of an AMA (Ask Me Anything) – and the insight he provides is just amazing:


Chris Hadfield (C.H.): I am Commander Chris Hadfield, recently back from 5 months on the Space Station. [..] So, reddit. Ask me anything!

User (u.) huh009: Hi Commander Hadfield! I’m curious to know, is it possible for someone to get stuck floating in the middle of a room in the ISS? As in they’re floating and the walls are out of reach.

C.H.: Yes, it is – you can get stuck floating in the center of Node 1, where open space is biggest due to hatches on all sides. But ISS has fans and forced air to mix and refresh the internal atmosphere, so there’s always a small crosswind. Wait long enough, you’ll get pulled to an air inlet.

u. texasranger101: What’s your favorite city to look at from space?

C.H.: Cool question. As I think about it I’m mentally playing back all the imagery and feeling of seeing cities from ISS.
My favorites are the big, old cities, as they are well-lit testaments to history and culture – London, Paris, Cairo.

u. HCM4: Have you had any close calls/accidents while in orbit?

C.H.: I was blinded by contamination in my spacesuit during my 1st spacewalk. It was the anti-fog used on my visor, took about 30 minutes for my eyes to tear enough to dilute it so that I could see again. Without gravity, tears don’t fall, so they had to evaporate. No way to rub your eyes inside the helmet.

u. igloo27: That sounds like a terrible situation. What happens if you sneeze in the helmet?

C.H.: When we have to sneeze in our spacesuit, we lean our heads forward and sneeze into our chest, to keep it from splattering on the visor. Still messy, but the best compromise – clean it up when you de-suit.

u. lunacite: Two questions:
1. What is your favorite Sci-fi movie?
2. Do you think that funding priority should go towards manned or unmanned space exploration?

C.H.: 1. Galaxy Quest
2. Both, always both. They serve different purposes – we need robots and sensors for certain tasks and risk levels, but we need people to understand, solve and appreciate the complexities of being in a new place.

u. IAMAfortunecookieAMA: Hi Chris! What an awesome opportunity- thanks for fielding our questions!
Did you have to pass through Customs or some other international checkpoint when you landed in Kazakhstan?

C.H.: Yes, we did. NASA kept our passports and visas, and brought them to us at landing, so we had them at the Karaganda airport to leave Kazakhstan. A funny but necessary detail of returning to Earth.

u. blizzardalert: Two questions:
1) How much damage did you body have when you came back to earth? Could you walk, did you find yourself nauseous, etc.
2) Where do you see manned spaceflight going in the future? Do you think we could ever have a moon base, or a mars base, or even make it out of the solar system.
Thanks, and I want to thank you and your mustache for being so awesome.

C.H.: Right at landing I felt dizzy, heavy, and then nauseous. After working out 2 hrs/day on ISS I was plenty strong, just disoriented. The inner ear takes time to recalibrate, as does blood pressure. Within 12 hours I could walk fine, though with a bit of staggering.

I see human spaceflight moving ever-outward from Earth. The logical sequence is Earth orbit, the Moon, asteroids, Mars. We have so much to learn/invent at each step, and there’s no rush. It needs to be both driven and paced by technology, and drawn by science, discovery and then business.

u. DSou7h: Hi Col. Chris! Reaaally important question. Do you fart more or less in space?

C.H.: More – because it’s impossible to burp when weightless (the gas, liquid and solid in your stomach all mix together).
As an experiment, try standing on your head and burping.

u. Sharetheride: Do you believe in extraterrestrials?

C.H.: I’ve always thought that was an odd way to ask. ‘Believing’ and ‘believing in’ are 2 different things.
Our best telescopes have shown us that there is basically an unlimited number of planets in the universe. To think that Earth is the only one where life could have developed is just self-importance.
But to think that intelligent life has traveled all the way here and is sneaking around observing us is also just self-importance.
The universe is basically endless. We have not yet found life anywhere but on Earth, but we’re looking for it, to the best of our technical ability. All else is wishful thinking and science fiction.

u. LionTamer8: If you could’ve had any animal in the ISS with you, what animal would it be?

C.H.: It’s a strange environment, weightlessness. I wouldn’t want to bring an animal that would be scared or unable to adapt. Also food and pooping are problematic. So perhaps something calm and simple, a reliable pet, like a snail.
Nah, who am I kidding – I’d like Albert, my pug. He’d be hilarious and cheerful.

u. Mother_Of_Reposts: Hi Chris, nice to see you here! How would you describe space to someone who hasn’t been there? And what are your goals for 2014? Thanks!

C.H.: Space is profound, endless, a textured black, a bottomless eternal bucket of untouchable velvet and untwinkling stars.
My goals for 2014 are the same as always – learn things, be useful, feel satisfied, play music, laugh and have fun, every day.

u. mossman85: Do you know if sex in space has been attempted before?

C.H.: Not that I know of, and with a small crew, the interpersonal psychological effects would be complex and perhaps destructive. Astronauts are just people in space, but we are professionals and crewmembers, and mutual respect and team success is key.

u. RileyRichard: Hello Chris, I have a question I’ve always wanted to know. How often do you guys use your imagination while floating in zero gravity, like do you ever imagine yourselves as Superman flying?

C.H.: Yes, we even pose for Superman-like pictures, normally with a big goofy grin on our faces. But the inside of ISS is small enough that super-hero leaps often end in a tumbling crash into the other wall.
An interesting experiment on ISS is to close your eyes and imagine that, instead of flying, you are falling. You can suddenly make the mental transition and it can be startling, like that panic rush you get in a dream. Then you open your eyes :)

u. HeadStonemason: Hello Commander Hadfield,
Thanks a lot for your videos while you were in space – they were pretty awesome.
What was your favorite part of Canada to look at as you passed over it?

C.H.: I felt a special thrill when I could see the plume of Niagara Falls from orbit. It’s a wonder of the world up close, and very cool to see from ISS.
I also liked seeing the Manicouagan Crater in Quebec, a 215-million-year-old scar 100 km across, evidence of a huge asteroid impact, still easily visible to passing spacecraft.

u. StaplingDean: What’s your favorite book (other than your own)?

C.H. Picking one book is hard – I liked Before the Dawn, Carrying the Fire, and I read Darwin’s Ghost while on orbit. I also read Sh*t My Dad Says up there.

u. CaseyDiamandis: What did you honestly think of the movie “Gravity”?

C.H.: Gravity is visually the most realistic spacewalking movie ever made. I’ve done 2 spacewalks. They got the immensity and tumult of it just right, the feeling of tininess in a vast universe, with an ever-omnipresent Earth. The story line is very Hollywood, with lots of technical errors and oversights, but it’s not intended to be a documentary or training film. It’s just entertainment, and Sandra Bullock does a great job with her role, triumphing over adversity. As an engineer and astronaut I can easily criticize it, but why would I? Just sit back, relax, and enjoy the spectacle.


How to send your own science experiment in space for only $5000

Manu Sharma is an aerospace engineer with a great vision: he wants high-school kids and college students to have the real possibility to conduct their own experiments in space via the International Space Station. The whole idea is extremely noble and the prospects young science enthusiasts have after such an experience are grand. But doesn’t launching anything into space cost millions of dollars?

Sharma was met with the same logistics and financial hurdles while in college himself. Back then he approached his professors about the idea of sending a  cube-shaped project he was working on into space, but was told it would take four years. There had to be a cheaper and faster way of sending experiments or, heck, anything into space. In the end, he founded Infinity Aerospace, a company who develops an open-source since platform called the ArduLab. The Ardulab is basically a tiny  polycarbonate chassis only 3.5×2.4 inches in size, fitted with a microcontroller with a SD slot for storing onboard memory, and a simple Arduino based programmable interface. Inside, anyone can place any kind of experiment worthy of studying space phenomena, be it fluid mixtures, gardening, an ant farm, whatever.


The company launched its first Ardulab only yesterday on the Orbital Sciences Cygnus spacecraft , and should reach the ISS this week. Infinity Aerospace has more launches lined-up already, as NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory will send up two experiments on a later mission, and Stanford University and three high schools in Houston are already designing ArduLab projects that will launch in July. Sharma estimates some 40 Ardulabs could fit in the ISS and as the project and its benefits become more recognized, other schools and institutions should follow suit.

“Our goal has been to tap into education, make people do space projects, or even art,” Sharma said.

Easy to use, cheap (the company claims the whole project including launching won’t cost more than $5000), fast to deploy (a class can design its own experiment in under 9 months) and scientifically valuable the Ardulab could make a lot of kids’ dreams come true.