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Amazing SpaceX video reveals how Crew Dragon capsule will fire astronauts to the ISS – The Sun

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SPACEX has revealed how it plans to launch astronauts into space for the first time next year.

A simulated video released by the US rocket company shows its Crew Dragon capsule on a trip to the International Space Station.

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SpaceX has released a simulation showing how its Crew Dragon capsule will take astronauts into space. Pictured is a still from the video of the capsule atop a Falcon 9 rocket ahead of launchCredit: SpaceX

A crew of two spacefarers strolls into the 13ft-wide capsule atop one of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rockets before it’s blasted into orbit.

It separates from the rocket beyond Earth’s atmosphere before gliding to the International Space Station (ISS) 250 miles above our planet’s surface.

The Crew Dragon was due to begin taking astronauts to the orbiting space lab earlier this year but its first launch was pushed back after a safety test resulted in an unmanned capsule exploding in April.

No one was killed in the blast but the incident delayed the craft’s launch schedule by more than 12 months.

 Astronauts are shown boarding the capsule prior to launch

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Astronauts are shown boarding the capsule prior to launchCredit: SpaceX
 The capsule will eventually take astronauts to the International Space Station

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The capsule will eventually take astronauts to the International Space StationCredit: SpaceX
 SpaceX hopes to carry out its first manned flight in 2020

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SpaceX hopes to carry out its first manned flight in 2020Credit: SpaceX
 A Falcon 9 rocket topped with a Crew Dragon capsule

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A Falcon 9 rocket topped with a Crew Dragon capsuleCredit: SpaceX

Following the simulation’s release on Monday, SpaceX boss Elon Musk tweeted that the capsule should be “physically ready” to launch from the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida in February, 2020.

However, completing all safety reviews would “probably take a few more months”, he added.

The two-minute clip also shows how Crew Dragon will return to Earth following missions to the ISS.

The capsule separates from the station before autonomously gliding towards our planet.

 The capsule soars into space before separating from the Falcon 9 rocket

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The capsule soars into space before separating from the Falcon 9 rocketCredit: SpaceX
 An ISS crew member watches as the Crew Dragon capsule glides towards the orbiting space lab

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An ISS crew member watches as the Crew Dragon capsule glides towards the orbiting space labCredit: SpaceX
 The capsule eventually docks with the ISS, allowing its crew to board the space station

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The capsule eventually docks with the ISS, allowing its crew to board the space stationCredit: SpaceX
 The International Space Station is an orbiting laboratory that houses between three and six astronauts at any one time

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The International Space Station is an orbiting laboratory that houses between three and six astronauts at any one timeCredit: SpaceX

It performs several orbits of Earth before burning through Earth’s atmosphere, slowing its descent to the surface using four parachutes.

SpaceX has designed the capsule so it can be re-used on several missions in a bid to cut costs.

Nasa currently sends astronauts into space by piggybacking on launches of Russian Soyuz rockets.

The US space agency last fired one of its own astronauts into space in 2011.

What is the ISS?

Here’s what you need to know about the International Space Station…

  • The International Space Station, often abbreviated to ISS, is a large space craft that orbits Earth and houses astronauts who go up there to complete scientific missions
  • Many countries worked together to build it and they work together to use it
  • It is made up of many pieces, which astronauts had to send up individually on rockets and put together from 1998 to 2000
  • Ever since the year 2000, people have lived on the ISS
  • Nasa uses the station to learn about living and working in space
  • It is approximately 250 miles above Earth and orbits around the planet just like a satellite
  • Living inside the ISS is said to be like living inside a big house with five bedrooms, two bathrooms, a gym, lots of science labs and a big bay window for viewing Earth

Nasa retired its astronaut-carrying space shuttles that year to make way for a new space exploration program aimed at sending man to asteroids and other deep space targets.

However, multiple delays to its development schedule has left the space agency without a way to fire astronauts to space for several years.

Nasa hopes to fill the gap with spacecraft launched by private companies like SpaceX, owned by Musk, and Blue Origin, run by Amazon boss Jeff Bezos.

SpaceX has carried out dozens of successful safety tests but recent setbacks have caught the ire of Nasa boss Jim Bridenstine.

 SpaceX boss Elon Musk says the Crew Dragon will begin carrying astronauts into space next year

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SpaceX boss Elon Musk says the Crew Dragon will begin carrying astronauts into space next yearCredit: Twitter
 SpaceX boss Elon Musk stands with a Crew Dragon capsule

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SpaceX boss Elon Musk stands with a Crew Dragon capsuleCredit: Getty – Contributor
 An unmanned Crew Dragon capsule (left) suffered a catastrophic explosion (right) during a safety test in April. No one was harmed in the blast

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An unmanned Crew Dragon capsule (left) suffered a catastrophic explosion (right) during a safety test in April. No one was harmed in the blast

Specifically, he lambasted SpaceX for setting unrealistic timelines for the development of its space technologies.

Bridenstine recently held a joint conference with Musk after maligning the company on Twitter.

“I have been focused on returning to realism when it comes to costs and schedules,” said the Nasa Administrator.

“So I was signalling – and I haven’t done it just to SpaceX but to all of our contractors – that we need more realism built into the development timelines.”

SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule ‘explodes in catastrophic safety test’

In other space news, Musk recently unveiled SpaceX’s new Starship rocket designed for private trips to the Moon and Mars.

SpaceX apparently wants the US Army to use the 18,000 mile-an-hour spacecraft to transport troops & supplies across the planet in “minutes”.

And, this stunning Earth ‘timelapse’ photo taken from space reveals huge field of thunderstorms, giant wildfires and bright city lights.

Do you think man will ever make it to Mars? Let us know in the comments!


We pay for your stories! Do you have a story for The Sun Online Tech & Science team? Email us at tech@the-sun.co.uk


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Toward customizable timber, grown in a lab – EurekAlert

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image: In an effort to provide an environmentally friendly and low-waste alternative, researchers at MIT have pioneered a tunable technique to generate wood-like plant material in a lab.
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Credit: Image courtesy of Luis Fernando Velásquez-García, Ashley Beckwith, et al

Each year, the world loses about 10 million hectares of forest — an area about the size of Iceland — because of deforestation. At that rate, some scientists predict the world’s forests could disappear in 100 to 200 years.

In an effort to provide an environmentally friendly and low-waste alternative, researchers at MIT have pioneered a tunable technique to generate wood-like plant material in a lab, which could enable someone to “grow” a wooden product like a table without needing to cut down trees, process lumber, etc.

These researchers have now demonstrated that, by adjusting certain chemicals used during the growth process, they can precisely control the physical and mechanical properties of the resulting plant material, such as its stiffness and density.

They also show that, using 3D bioprinting techniques, they can grow plant material in shapes, sizes, and forms that are not found in nature and that can’t be easily produced using traditional agricultural methods.

“The idea is that you can grow these plant materials in exactly the shape that you need, so you don’t need to do any subtractive manufacturing after the fact, which reduces the amount of energy and waste. There is a lot of potential to expand this and grow three-dimensional structures,” says lead author Ashley Beckwith, a recent PhD graduate.

Though still in its early days, this research demonstrates that lab-grown plant materials can be tuned to have specific characteristics, which could someday enable researchers to grow wood products with the exact features needed for a particular application, like high strength to support the walls of a house or certain thermal properties to more efficiently heat a room, explains senior author Luis Fernando Velásquez-García, a principal scientist in MIT’s Microsystems Technology Laboratories.

Joining Beckwith and Velásquez-García on the paper is Jeffrey Borenstein, a biomedical engineer and group leader at the Charles Stark Draper Laboratory. The research is published today in Materials Today.

Planting cells

To begin the process of growing plant material in the lab, the researchers first isolate cells from the leaves of young Zinnia elegans plants. The cells are cultured in liquid medium for two days, then transferred to a gel-based medium, which contains nutrients and two different hormones.

Adjusting the hormone levels at this stage in the process enables researchers to tune the physical and mechanical properties of the plant cells that grow in that nutrient-rich broth.

“In the human body, you have hormones that determine how your cells develop and how certain traits emerge. In the same way, by changing the hormone concentrations in the nutrient broth, the plant cells respond differently. Just by manipulating these tiny chemical quantities, we can elicit pretty dramatic changes in terms of the physical outcomes,” Beckwith says.

In a way, these growing plant cells behave almost like stem cells — researchers can give them cues to tell them what to become, Velásquez-García adds.

They use a 3D printer to extrude the cell culture gel solution into a specific structure in a petri dish, and let it incubate in the dark for three months. Even with this incubation period, the researchers’ process is about two orders of magnitude faster than the time it takes for a tree to grow to maturity, Velásquez-García says.

Following incubation, the resulting cell-based material is dehydrated, and then the researchers evaluate its properties.

Wood-like characteristics

They found that lower hormone levels yielded plant materials with more rounded, open cells that have lower density, while higher hormone levels led to the growth of plant materials with smaller, denser cell structures. Higher hormone levels also yielded plant material that was stiffer; the researchers were able to grow plant material with a storage modulus (stiffness) similar to that of some natural woods.

Another goal of this work is to study what is known as lignification in these lab-grown plant materials. Lignin is a polymer that is deposited in the cell walls of plants which makes them rigid and woody. They found that higher hormone levels in the growth medium causes more lignification, which would lead to plant material with more wood-like properties.

The researchers also demonstrated that, using a 3D bioprinting process, the plant material can be grown in a custom shape and size. Rather than using a mold, the process involves the use of a customizable computer-aided design file that is fed to a 3D bioprinter, which deposits the cell gel culture into a specific shape. For instance, they were able to grow plant material in the shape of a tiny evergreen tree.

Research of this kind is relatively new, Borenstein says.

“This work demonstrates the power that a technology at the interface between engineering and biology can bring to bear on an environmental challenge, leveraging advances originally developed for health care applications,” he adds.

The researchers also show that the cell cultures can survive and continue to grow for months after printing, and that using a thicker gel to produce thicker plant material structures does not impact the survival rate of the lab-grown cells.

“Amenable to customization”

“I think the real opportunity here is to be optimal with what you use and how you use it. If you want to create an object that is going to serve some purpose, there are mechanical expectations to consider. This process is really amenable to customization,” Velásquez-García says.

Now that they have demonstrated the effective tunability of this technique, the researchers want to continue experimenting so they can better understand and control cellular development. They also want to explore how other chemical and genetic factors can direct the growth of the cells.

They hope to evaluate how their method could be transferred to a new species. Zinnia plants don’t produce wood, but if this method were used to make a commercially important tree species, like pine, the process would need to be tailored to that species, Velásquez-García says.  

Ultimately, he is hopeful this work can help to motivate other groups to dive into this area of research to help reduce deforestation.

“Trees and forests are an amazing tool for helping us manage climate change, so being as strategic as we can with these resources will be a societal necessity going forward,” Beckwith adds.

This research is funded, in part, by the Draper Scholars Program.

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Written by Adam Zewe, MIT News Office

Additional background

Paper: “Physical, mechanical, and microstructural characterization of novel, 3D-printable, tunable, lab-grown plant materials generated from Zinnia elegans cell cultures”

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1369702122000451


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Crumbling comet could create meteor shower May 30 – Northern Daily News

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Article content

A crumbling comet could create a meteor shower on May 30.

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The ‘tau Herculids’ meteor display might be one of the most dramatic observed in over two decades, according to Space.com.

Meteor showers occur when dust or particles from asteroids or comets enter Earth’s atmosphere at a very high speed, the U.K. Sun explained.

This one is expected to be the product of a comet named 73P/Schwassmann-Wachmann, also known as SW3.

SW3 was first discovered in 1930 but did not reappear again until the 1970s, Republic World reported.

In 1995, astronomers noticed that the comet’s nucleus split into four smaller chunks, according to CNET.

It has continued to disintegrate more in the ensuing years.

The display is expected to be very visible in the Northern Hemisphere as it is occurring on a Moon-less night.

A consensus of experts predicts that the shower will be visible starting from 1 a.m. EST on May 31.

It is suggested viewers will want to be outside at least an hour before this so your eyes have a chance to adjust to the dark.

“The southwestern USA and Mexico are favored locations as the radiant, the area of the sky where these meteors come from, will be located highest in a dark sky,” Robert Lunsford wrote for AMS.

“The outburst may be seen from southeastern Canada and the remainder of the (eastern) USA, but at a lower altitude.”

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Boeing capsule lands back on Earth after space shakedown – Phys.org

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Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft lands at White Sands Missile Range’s Space Harbor, Wednesday, May 25, 2022, in New Mexico. Credit: Bill Ingalls/NASA via AP

Boeing’s crew taxi returned to Earth from the International Space Station on Wednesday, completing a repeat test flight before NASA astronauts climb aboard.

It was a quick trip back: The Starliner capsule parachuted into the New Mexico desert just four hours after leaving the orbiting lab, with airbags attached to cushion the landing. Only a mannequin was buckled in.

Aside from thruster failures and cooling system snags, Starliner appeared to clinch its high-stakes shakedown cruise, 2 1/2 years after its botched first try. Flight controllers in Houston applauded and cheered the bull’s-eye touchdown.

“It’s great to have this incredible test flight behind us,” said Steve Stich, director of NASA’s commercial crew program. He described the demo as “extremely successful,” with all objectives met.

Added Boeing’s Mark Nappi, a : “On a scale of one to 10, I think I’d give it a 15.”

Based on these early results, NASA astronauts will strap in next for a trip to the , perhaps by year’s end. The has long wanted two competing U.S. companies ferrying astronauts, for added insurance as it drastically reduced its reliance on Russia for rides to and from the space station.

Boeing capsule lands back on Earth after space shakedown
Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft lands at White Sands Missile Range’s Space Harbor, Wednesday, May 25, 2022, in New Mexico. Credit: Bill Ingalls/NASA via AP

Elon Musk’s SpaceX is already the established leader, launching astronauts since 2020 and even tourists. Its crew capsules splash down off the Florida coast, Boeing’s Starliner returns to the Army’s expansive and desolate White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico.

Boeing scrapped its first attempt to reach the space station in 2019, after software errors left the capsule in the wrong orbit and nearly doomed it. The company fixed the flaws and tried again last summer, but corroded valves halted the countdown. Following more repairs, Starliner finally lifted off from Cape Canaveral last Thursday and docked to the space station Friday.

Station astronauts tested Starliner’s communication and computer systems during its five days at the space station. They also unloaded hundreds of pounds (kilograms) of groceries and other supplies that flew up in the Boeing capsule, then filled it with empty air tanks and other discarded gear.

  • Boeing capsule lands back on Earth after space shakedown
    In this infrared image from video made available by NASA, the Boeing Starliner capsule uses parachutes as it descends to land at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico on Wednesday, May 25, 2022. Credit: NASA via AP
  • Boeing capsule lands back on Earth after space shakedown
    In this image from video made available by NASA, the Boeing Starliner capsule, upper center, leaves the International Space Station on Wedndesday, May 25, 2022. At bottom foreground is a SpaceX Dragon capsule, still docked to the station. Credit: NASA via AP

A folded U.S. flag sent up by Boeing stayed behind, to be retrieved by the first Starliner crew.

“We’re a little sad to see her go,” station astronaut Bob Hines radioed as the capsule flew away.

Along for the ride was Starliner’s test dummy—Rosie the Rocketeer, a takeoff on World War II’s Rosie the Riveter.

The repairs and do-over cost Boeing nearly $600 million.


Explore further

Boeing docks crew capsule to space station in test do-over


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