How would you feel about drinking your own urine? To most, it is a measure that would only be taken in the direst of circumstances. However, astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS) have been drinking recycled urine every day for the past decade. In 2008, the ISS installed the Water Recovery System, a wastewater recycling device which converts urine, sweat, and atmospheric moisture into drinking water. This device has allowed the ISS to be much more self-sufficient and devices like it could serve to more sustainable produce clean water on Earth.
Water is used for a variety of tasks on the International Space Station. Activities such as scientific experiments, food rehydration, and astronaut hygiene all require that the ISS has an ample supply of water available for its passengers. Therefore, in order to meet all of the ISS’s demands, engineers developed the Water Recovery System. In a video explaining how the Water Recovery System works, astronaut Chris Hadfield explains that the system uses “filters and a keg-sized distiller that spins to create artificial gravity as well as move the waste water along” (VideoFromSpace, 2013).
Initially, contaminants are removed from the wastewater in a rotating distillation unit. After the distillation phase, the water enters the station’s water processor assembly where it is treated and filtered before it can be reused by the inhabitants of the ISS (NASA Johnson, 2014). Hadfield also claims that even though astronauts are drinking recycled urine, “the water that we end up with [on the ISS] is purer than most of the water that you drink [on Earth] on a daily basis” (NASA Johnson, 2014).
Thanks to the Water Recovery System, the ISS produces up to 6000 liters of water each year and has been able to successfully reclaim about 93% of its water (VideoFromSpace, 2013). These numbers are only expected to improve as wastewater recycling technologies are further developed. In fact, new wastewater recovery systems have been developed by NASA and the University of Puerto Rico which are not only capable of converting urine into drinking water but also producing electrical energy (Nicolau, 2014). This is an important step for humankind’s ability to sustain itself for long periods of time away from the planet.
On Earth, wastewater recovery systems similar to the Water Recovery System are relevant to realizing multiple of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Wastewater recovery systems are able to improve access to potable water in remote or undeveloped locations on Earth. However, these systems can also be used in more developed regions in order to diversify water resources and reduce the environmental impact that cities have on their surrounding environments. In fact, Singapore has already implemented a nationwide wastewater recovery system. Singapore’s NEWater system collects the country’s sewage water and converts it into potable water. The majority of NEWater water that is produced is used for industrial consumption and not for drinking. However, PUB, Singapore’s National Water Agency, claims that it is “well within the WHO and USEPA’s requirements for drinking water" (Pub, 2018). One day soon, clean water may not originate in lakes and rivers, but instead may come from your own toilet.
SourcesNicolau, Eduardo, José J. Fonseca, José A. Rodríguez-Martínez, Tra-My Justine Richardson,
Michael Flynn, Kai Griebenow, and Carlos R. Cabrera. 2014. "Evaluation of a Urea
Bioelectrochemical System for Wastewater Treatment Processes." ACS Sustainable
Chemistry & Engineering 2, no. 4 (2014): 749-54. doi:10.1021/sc400342x
Johnson, NASA. 2014."Recycling Water on Space Station." YouTube. Uploaded March 21, 2014.
Pub. 2018. "NEWater." PUB, Singapore's National Water Agency. November 26, 2018.
SgPUB. 2016."NEWater: A Singapore Success Story." YouTube. Uploaded August 01, 2016.
VideoFromSpace. 2013. "Astronauts Drink Urine and Other Waste Water | Video." YouTube. Uploaded April 29, 2013. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZQ2T9OJY1lg.
Amazon is officially joining the race to create a network of satellites in low Earth orbit that will provide high-speed terrestrial internet services.
The company has filed its first papers with the U.S. government for approval to launch a network of 3,236 satellites through a subsidiary called Kuiper Systems LLC, according to a report in GeekWire.
“Project Kuiper is a new initiative to launch a constellation of Low Earth Orbit satellites that will provide low-latency, high-speed broadband connectivity to unserved and underserved communities around the world,” Amazon confirmed in a statement. “This is a long-term project that envisions serving tens of millions of people who lack basic access to broadband internet. We look forward to partnering on this initiative with companies that share this common vision.”
As private companies look to commercialize space, high-speed internet is among the prospects that offer the highest profits in the short term, while providing necessary services to get online the remaining 3.8 billion people who don’t have access to the internet.
In February, OneWeb, another company that’s expecting to create a network of satellites to provide high-speed internet access, successfully launched its first satellites. The company has raised at least $3 billion, according to Crunchbase, from investors, including Virgin, Coca-Cola and the Bharti Group — and they’re not the only company to raise several billion dollars to develop these services.
SpaceX also has designs on creating a global satellite network — in addition to its leading position as a launch services provider for companies looking to access outer space.
Finally, the social networking giant Facebook has been working on satellite capabilities of its own. In a May report, the IEEE Spectrum laid out how Facebook had set up a small subsidiary called PointView Tech, which was developing a new satellite called “Athena” that could deliver data 10 times faster than SpaceX’s Starlink satellites.
Amazon’s Kuiper satellite service complements the work that another Jeff Bezos company, Blue Origin, is conducting on the design, development and production of launch vehicles to take payloads into orbit.
Blue Origin has already signed contracts for a multi-launch agreement with Telesat — another company that’s developing a low Earth orbit constellation of satellites that will deliver fiber-like broadband services across the globe.
Source: Amazon joins SpaceX, OneWeb, and Facebook in the race to create space-based internet services
An international agreement between U.S. and Brazil for commercial use of a rocket launch site in Alcantara is advancing and will take center stage during Vice President Mike Pence's visit to Brasilia this week.
Brazil's defense minister recently said that Boeing, Lockheed Martin and other U.S. aerospace companies have expressed interest in launching rockets from its Alcantara military base.
Alcantara's location makes it attractive because one-fifth less fuel is used to launch satellites into orbit along the equator compared with sites farther north or south. Both sides have made concessions and things are moving ahead in a very positive way, says Jefferson Michaelis head of the BFCC/KSCIA International Space-STEM Partnerships.
Alcantara's proximity to the equator which is only 2 degrees south of the equator makes it cheaper to launch rockets. The base could generate revenue of up to $1.5 billion per year, according to the Brazilian defense ministry.
Launches from Brazil take advantage of the increased rotational velocity of the earth for an "extra push" into equatorial orbits, translating to about a 30 percent increase in the amount of payload a rocket can lift as compared to Cape Canaveral. This would be a major efficiency gain for U.S. launch companies.
Brazil's geographic and economic characteristics are such that there is a great potential to employ space technology to meet national needs, therefore a huge market for U.S. companies to compete for potential large contracts in the domestic space market. The Brazilian Air Force plans to spend approximately $2.4 billion over the next 10 years on its strategic space systems program, including on four or five fleets of satellites, investment in the Alcântara infrastructure, laboratories and research. Brazil's satellite program plans to spend $380 million over the same period.
The Brazilian commercial market is also very attractive. There is huge demand for satellite services (broadband connectivity, rural communications, etc.) that satellite service providers could help to address, including a Brazilian national broadband plan designed to providing broadband to millions of Brazilians who currently don't have Internet access. Brazil is already one of the largest smartphone market by volume in the world.
According to 321Go.Space sources, a cooperation on a space partnership between the U.S. and Brazil will be an important part of the upcoming trip and a topic of a working lunch Vice President Mike Pence will have with President Michel Temer. Pence heads the National Space Council and is seeking to expand the council's work with international space partnerships.
Visit: http://www.BrazilFlorida.org for more details
The educational CubeSat missions were selected through the CubeSat Launch Initiative as part of the 14th installment of NASA’s Educational Launch of Nanosatellites (ELaNa) missions. The ELaNa XIV mission was an auxiliary payload on the Nov. 18, 2017, launch of the Joint Polar Satellite System-1 satellite (now NOAA-20), a collaborative effort between the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and NASA.
One CubeSat launched from the JPSS-1 rocket, RadFxSat, is a partnership between students at Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee, and AMSAT, a worldwide group of amateur radio operators. The Vanderbilt team built the science payload while AMSAT did the integration onto their own CubeSat platform. Their experiment is designed to obtain early on-orbit data in support of modeling radiation effects in a commercial memory, currently used for consumer electronics.
So far the project is successfully sending back data. “Because we partnered with the company donating the memory, there were engineering challenges to make sure we could communicate with the memory properly. I learned about power allocation and making sure the memories were within their power budget. I didn’t realize how important power was for a spacecraft until I had to do it myself,” said Rebekah Austin, a graduating Ph.D. student in electrical engineering at Vanderbilt. Austin is also a returning engineering summer intern at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.
A small group of students recently got to experience a rare, spaceflight thrill: seeing if the tiny satellite, called a CubeSat, they designed and built not only survived a rocket launch to space but also successfully gathered and transmitted data once on orbit.
Meanwhile, another CubeSat project, called EagleSat-1, is working through post-launch challenges. “It turns out we are not getting data back. There is still learning occurring, which is our main reason for doing the program. The students are learning the process of failure analysis and understanding the spacecraft a little bit better as a result of trying to figure out what could have gone wrong and try to figure out if there is anything we can do while it is on orbit,” said Dr. Gary Yale, associate professor of aerospace engineering and faculty mentor for EagleSat-1, at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott, Arizona.
One possibility under consideration by the team of undergraduate researchers is that their antenna did not deploy after launch. The EagleSat-1 team hopes that if that is the problem, eventually the fishing line holding the antenna down will decay due to ultraviolet radiation in the space environment, causing the line to break and deploy the antenna, which was the backup plan for that eventuality.
For additional information about NASA’s CubeSat Launch Initiative program, visit:
For additional information on JPSS: http://www.jpss.noaa.gov/
For additional information on RadFxSat: http://www.isde.vanderbilt.edu/wp/radfxsat1/
For additional information on EagleSat: http://prescott.erau.edu/about/labs/axfab-eaglesat/
NASA has selected 304 proposals from U.S. small businesses to advance research and technology in Phase I of its 2018 SmallBusinessInnovationResearch (SBIR) program and 44 proposals for the Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program, totaling $43.5 million in awards. These selections support NASA's future space exploration missions, while also benefiting the U.S. economy.
"This round of Phase I ideas look very promising and creative, and will enhance innovation throughout the Agency,” said Jim Reuter, acting associate administrator for NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD). “Many of the businesses that go through the SBIR program end up working with NASA on the research and technologies needed to advance our space exploration goals.”
Proposals were selected according to their technical merit and feasibility, in addition to the experience, qualifications and facilities of the submitting organization. Additional criteria included effectiveness of the work plan and commercial potential.
The selected proposals will support the development of technologies in the areas of aeronautics, human space exploration and operations, science, and space technology. Awards cover a breadth of research and development needs, including:
Phase I work and results provide a sound basis for the continued development, demonstration and delivery of the proposed innovation in Phase II and follow-on efforts. Phase III is the commercialization of innovative technologies, products and services resulting from either a Phase I or Phase II contract.
The SBIR and STTR programs encourage small businesses and research institutions to develop innovative ideas that meet the specific research and development needs of the federal government. The programs are intended to stimulate technological innovation in the private sector, increase the commercial application of research results, and encourage participation of socially and economically disadvantaged persons and women-owned small businesses. Since the 1970s, small businesses have created approximately 55 percent of all jobs in the United States.
The SBIR and STTR programs are managed for STMD by NASA's Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley. STMD is responsible for developing the cross-cutting, pioneering new technologies and capabilities needed by the agency to achieve its current and future missions.
For more information about the SBIR/STTR program, including the selection list, visit:
For more information about NASA's investment in space technology, visit:
Israel’s Space Agency (ISA) and NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) announced on Tuesday that they were joining forces to protect astronauts in space from radiation exposure, tapping into technology developed by Israeli company StemRad for a radiation protection vest it created, the AstroRad, set to be tested in deep space.
NASA is set to launch the AstroRad into space as part of the last test flight of its Orion spacecraft, with dummies on deck, before manned missions begin. The launch is planned for 2019 and the spacecraft will spend about three weeks in space, including in retrograde orbit around the moon. The trial will involve testing the new protective suit against cosmic gamma rays as part of a feasability study for any future mission to Mars.
The AstroRad suit protects mainly bone marrow, the lungs, chest, stomach, colon, and the ovaries among women, organs which are particularly sensitive to the formation of malignant tumors as a result of exposure to radiation. The suit itself is made out of hydrogen-rich materials and worn like a vest.
The suit was developed following the success of the company’s first product – a special belt that protects the bone marrow in the pelvis – which is commonly worn by “first responders” to radiation accidents around the world. StemRad is collaborating with Lockheed Martin to adapt the suit’s technology to space use.
The agreement with NASA follows an agreement signed a year ago between the ISA and the German Space Agency to test the suitability of the suit to the effects of radiation in deep space and the extent of its absorption by the human body.
Source: NoCamels and The Jerusalem Post
On April 13, 1985, Space Shuttle Atlantis arrived at Kennedy Space Center (KSC) to be prepped for its maiden flight. Over the following 26 years, Atlantis would go on to launch 33 times - deploying satellites & planetary probes Magellan & Galileo, delivering vital components to the International Space Station, & pioneering the Shuttle-Mir era. In July of 2011, NASA's final shuttle mission was flown by Atlantis (STS-135), marking the end of the Shuttle Era. Today, Atlantis is on full display at the historic Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida.
This year's EPIC Space Coast Yuri's Night party will take place underneath Shuttle Atlantis exactly 33 years to the day since the orbiter arrived at KSC. Come join us on Friday April 13th, 2018, to celebrate this historic spacecraft, the excitement of space exploration, & the anniversary of Yuri Gagarin's monumental flight into orbit.
Dancing Under the Space Shuttle Atlantis
The evening culminates with an epic dance party under the Space Shuttle Atlantis. We'll be bringing you sick space beats from two Miami-based DJ's past midnight. It is a unique opportunity to party under a national treasure. You are welcome to dress up, costumes encouraged!
More information: Get Tickets
Pittsburgh, PA – Astrobotic, in partnership with Carnegie Mellon University, has been selected by NASA for a Phase II SBIR Award to develop CubeRover, a class of 2-kg rover platform capable of small-scale science and exploration on the Moon and other planetary surfaces. This new small rover platform complements Astrobotic’s lunar payload delivery service by providing a low-cost mobility capability to the lunar surface for customers around the world.
CubeRover is based on the idea that a standard robotic mobility platform, built to survive the lunar environment, could be used by a wide range of companies, governments, universities, and non-profits to carry out their own small-scale lunar science and exploration missions. This standardized architecture will drive the space community to commoditize systems, components, and instruments that are compatible with the platform, lowering costs and vastly increasing functionality.
Just as the CubeSat revolution opened a new era of science and commerce in orbit, CubeRovers will make mobile lunar surface access available to everyone. When a CubeRover lands at the dawn of the next decade, it will change the paradigm for planetary surface operations, and create the infrastructure for off-world development and settlement from the ground up.
“CubeRover stands to give more people access to the Moon than ever before. Countries and organizations without multi-billion-dollar budgets now have a means of exploring other worlds for the first time. We are thrilled NASA is supporting our vision to innovate lunar surface mobility,” said Dr. Andrew Horchler, Principal Investigator of the program at Astrobotic.
In Phase I, Astrobotic and Carnegie Mellon University collaborated on a rigorous, system-wide development of a 2-kg rover prototype that could explore the surface of the Moon. The team, made up of more than 30 individuals, performed major engineering studies to determine the architecture of a novel chassis, body type, power system, and computing system, and produced novel flight software and navigational techniques for small rovers.
In Phase II the team will follow up this groundbreaking work with a rapid, two-year development to deliver a flight-ready rover to NASA. The team intends to fly the first CubeRover on Astrobotic’s Peregrine lunar lander to the Moon in 2020.
Astrobotic Technology, Inc. is a lunar logistics company that delivers payloads to the Moon for companies, governments, universities, non-profits, and individuals. The company’s spacecraft accommodates multiple customer payloads on a single flight, offering flexibility at an industry-defining low price of $1.2 million per kilogram. Astrobotic is an official partner with NASA through the Lunar CATALYST program, has 24 prior and ongoing NASA contracts, a commercial partnership with Airbus DS, a corporate sponsorship with DHL, 11 deals for its first mission to the Moon, and 130 customer payloads in the pipeline for upcoming missions. Astrobotic was founded in 2007 and is headquartered in Pittsburgh, PA.
WASHINGTON — A final fiscal year 2018 spending bill released by House and Senate appropriators March 21 would give NASA more than $20.7 billion, far above the administration’s original request.
The omnibus spending bill, completed after weeks of negotiations, restores funding for Earth science and education programs slated for cancellation by the White House and includes additional money for the agency to build a second mobile launch platform for the Space Launch System.
The appropriations bill gives NASA $20.736 billion for the 2018 fiscal year, which started more than five and a half months ago. That is more than $1.6 billion above the administration’s original request of $19.092 billion. A House appropriations bill offered NASA $19.872 billion and its Senate counterpart $19.529 billion. An overarching two-year budget deal reached earlier this year raised spending caps for both defense and non-defense programs, freeing up additional funding.
Appropriators used that additional funding to, in part, restore programs slated for cancellation in the original request. Four of the five Earth science programs the administration sought to cancel — the Plankton, Aerosol, Cloud, and ocean Ecosystem (PACE) mission, the CLARREO Pathfinder and Orbiting Carbon Observatory 3 instruments and the Earth observation instruments on the Deep Space Climate Observatory spacecraft — are explicitly funded in the request. A fifth program, the Radiation Budget Instrument, was already cancelled by NASA earlier this year because of technical and programmatic issues.
The budget also provides $100 million for NASA’s education program, which the administration had sought to close down. That proposal received wide bipartisan criticism in the House and Senate last year, whose appropriations bills restored funding. The Restore-L satellite servicing mission, which the administration sought to convert into a more general, and much smaller, technology development program, receives $130 million in the bill.
The White House once again seeks to shutter NASA’s education program in its fiscal year 2019 request, along with the same Earth science missions targeted for cancellation in the 2018 request.
NASA’s Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST), another mission slated for cancellation in the 2019 budget request, received $150 million in the 2018 omnibus bill. The report accompanying the bill makes no reference to the proposed cancellation but does direct NASA to provide to Congress a lifecycle cost estimate for the mission within 60 days, including any additions needed to make it consistent with a “class A” risk classification, as identified in an independent review of the program last fall.
NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope receives $533.7 million, the exact amount requested by the administration. As in past years, the bill includes language directing NASA to treat any increase as meeting a 30 percent under federal law. That law requires NASA to both provide a report on the size and cause of the overrun as well as prohibiting spending on it starting 18 months later unless authorized to continue by Congress. NASA officials said March 20 that a determination of any breach of the program’s $8 billion cost cap caused by further delays in its development could be announced as soon as next week.
The agency’s planetary science program received more than $2.2 billion in the bill, an increase of $300 million over the request. It includes $595 million to continue work on the Europa Clipper mission and follow-on lander, and retains provisions from prior bills calling on using the SLS for launching Europa Clipper by 2022 and the lander by 2024. The report also provides $23 million for a proposed helicopter NASA is considering including on the Mars 2020 rover mission.
NASA’s exploration programs also win additional funding in the bill, with the omnibus providing $2.15 billion for SLS and $1.35 billion for Orion, the same levels as in both the House and Senate bills but above the original request.
The bill includes $350 million to build a second mobile launch platform. NASA considered, but did not request, funding in its 2019 proposal for a second platform, which outside advisers said could shorten the gap between the first and second SLS missions by avoiding delays caused by modifying the platform to accommodate the larger version of the SLS used on second and subsequent missions.
The House is expected to take up the full omnibus bill on March 22, followed immediately after by the Senate. The government is currently operating on the latest in a series of stopgap funding bills, known as continuing resolutions, that expires March 23.