Researchers Will Try to Grow Space Drugs on the Space Station
Fungal organisms are no strangers to space travel. From the rogue fungi that took over the Mir space station to the mycological extremophiles that recently survived exposure to the vacuum of space, these organisms have developed a knack for life off Earth.
Now, for the first time, scientists will be sending a batch of fungi to the International Space Station (ISS) for the purpose of drug development. Four different strains of Aspergillus nidulans, a fungus used as a model organism in a wide variety of scientific research, will be sent to the station with the SpaceX CRS-8 mission, currently scheduled for launch on April 8. The goal of this experiment—called the NASA Micro-10 project—is to find out if exposure to microgravity and high radiation will stimulate the fungi’s creativity.
NASA’s New ‘Green’ Space Fuel Ready For Launch
NASA has been tinkering around with a new ‘green’ propulsion system for space travel since 2012, when it launched the $45 million Green Propellant Infusion Mission. The initiative is aimed at replacing a highly toxic and corrosive rocket propellant with something kinder and gentler.
CleanTechnica spotted the GPIM initiative in 2013 when it took form between NASA (the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration) and the US Air Force, working with Ball Aerospace and Aerojet Rocketdyne (so yes, #thanksobama for this new green fuel).
The idea was to find an alternative to the widely used rocket and spacecraft fuel hydrazine. It’s a powerful fuel and it stores well, but it’s also nasty stuff, and it involves prep time that slows down ground operations considerably.
Space Station Ready for Inflatable Habitat Test
Twenty-five years after NASA began designing an inflatable space house for astronauts, a prototype habitat is launching next week for a trial run aboard the International Space Station.
Astronauts won’t be spending much time inside the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module, or BEAM, which inflates to a size of a small bedroom. It’s flying as a technology demonstration to verify that the materials, assembly processes and safety features work as advertised.
Compared to traditional metal habitats, such as the 13 pressurized modules that comprise the space station, inflatable habitats are lightweight and compact to launch, saving millions. BEAM, for example, which weighs about 3,100 pounds, increases its internal volume to about 560 cubic feet — 10 times more than its configuration at launch.
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Do you want to directly contribute to space exploration? With the Astronaut Selection Test, the European Space Agency (ESA), Swedish Defence Research Agency FOI and NLR are collaborating to give you the opportunity to test for yourself if you have the right stuff to be an astronaut. The test is open for everyone to participate. ESA’s Head of Astronaut Training, Rüdiger Seine, explains: “By ‘playing’ with the test online you will help the team validate it, essentially making sure it works. For us, the more people who participate, the better.” More information