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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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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!
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Astronauts may need to jump in space to fight bone loss – Space.com
When astronauts spend extended periods of time in space, many surprising and sometimes harmful changes can occur in their bodies. Unfortunately, there aren’t always ways to avoid or mitigate these effects.
One such health concern is a loss in bone density and bone strength due to the effects of microgravity and, to a lesser extent, radiation exposure. A NASA-funded study in 2009 found that astronauts’ bone strength decreased by at least 14% on average during a six-month stay in space. Other studies have found much higher rates of bone loss.
But a new study suggests that astronauts and mission planners could employ an effective weapon in the fight against bone-density loss: jumping and other forms of high-impact exercise.
Out of the 17 astronauts who participated in the new study (opens in new tab), which was published online Thursday (June 30) in the journal Scientific Reports, only eight regained full bone mass density one year after returning from flight. Bone density loss was found to be much higher in astronauts who flew on missions longer than six months.
But the researchers also found that astronauts who engaged in resistance-based training while in space were able to recover bone mineral density after they returned. The authors thus propose adding “jumping resistance-based exercise that provides high-impact dynamic loads on the legs” to astronauts’ existing exercise routines to prevent bone loss and promote bone growth while on spaceflight missions.
“Jumping provides short bouts of high-impact, dynamic loads that promote osteogenesis [bone growth],” the researchers wrote, while adding that “neither running, cycling, squats, nor heel raise volume were associated with bone recovery.” Adding jumping exercise routines to astronauts’ existing exercise regimens may prevent bone loss and actually reduce the amount of exercise time needed each day, the authors suggest.
Of course, any new jumping regimen would require specialized equipment, and space is always limited aboard any spaceflight. “Successful implementation of high-load jump-training on-orbit will require an exercise device that mitigates forces transferred to the vehicle, along with an exercise regimen that accounts for astronaut deconditioning,” the researchers wrote in the new study. The authors acknowledge that since living quarters are typically cramped aboard spaceflights, “exercise equipment will need to be optimized for a smaller footprint.”
Obviously, a study size of 17 astronauts isn’t exactly conclusive, and the authors note that much more data is needed before any firm conclusions can be drawn regarding the effects of resistance training on astronaut bone loss.
Astronauts already engage in regular exercise while in space to combat the effects of microgravity, and scientists have already tried feeding astronauts genetically modified vegetables to help stimulate bone growth and fish oil rich in omega-3 fatty acids to help mitigate bone breakdown. With bone loss still plaguing astronauts on long flights, there is still a need for more methods to mitigate it.
'Permanent bone loss': Calgary study finds astronauts suffer on return to Earth – Cochrane Today
CALGARY — The experience may be out-of-this-world but research indicates those who travel to outer space suffer from increased bone loss.
A study released Thursday from the Cumming School of Medicine at the University of Calgary followed 17 astronauts before and after their spaceflights.
The TBone study, conducted over a seven-year period starting in 2015, found that prolonged weightlessness accelerated bone loss in the astronauts.
“You see on average they lose about two decades of bone. We found that weight-bearing bones only partially recovered in most astronauts one year after spaceflight,” said Dr. Leigh Gabel, an assistant professor in the faculty of kinesiology and lead author of the study.
“After a year of recovery, they tend to regain about half of that. This suggests the permanent bone loss due to spaceflight is about the same as a decade worth of age-related bone loss on Earth.”
The researchers travelled to Johnson Space Center in Houston to scan the wrists and ankles of the astronauts before they left for space, on their return to Earth, after six months and then one year.
The findings, published in Scientific Reports, said the loss happens because bones that would normally be weight-bearing on Earth, such as the legs, don’t have to carry weight in a zero-gravity setting.
“We’ve seen astronauts who had trouble walking due to weakness and lack of balance after returning from spaceflight to others who cheerfully rode their bike on Johnson Space Center campus to meet us for a study visit,” said Dr. Steven Boyd, director of the McCaig Institute for Bone and Joint Health and professor in the Cumming School of Medicine.
“There is quite a variety of response among astronauts when they return to Earth.”
Boyd said new scanning technology has made a world of difference.
“We’re using new technology that can measure the fine details of the bone that are even finer than a human hair in terms of resolution. We can see detail there that wasn’t possible to see before in these astronauts.”
The study found some astronauts who flew on shorter missions — under six months — recovered more bone strength and density in the lower body compared to those who flew for longer durations.
The study’s next iteration plans to look at the effects of even longer trips to support astronauts who may one day travel beyond the International Space Station.
“NASA’s really interested in understanding if longer-term spaceflight could lead to even further bone loss, which would not be very good for the astronaut,” said Boyd.
“The next phase is to do a study that would incorporate crew members who spend a year on the International Space Station, which will give us some more insight on whether you lose even more bone after that one year period.”
The University of Calgary’s former chancellor and astronaut, Robert Thirsk, said he knows how difficult it can be to be back on solid ground.
“Just as the body must adapt to spaceflight at the start of a mission, it must also readapt back to Earth’s gravity field at the end,” he said.
“Fatigue, light-headedness and imbalance were immediate challenges for me on my return. Bones and muscles take the longest to recover following spaceflight. But within a day of landing, I felt comfortable again as an Earthling.”
The study was funded by the Canadian Space Agency in partnership with the European Space Agency, NASA and astronauts from North America, Europe, and Asia.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 30, 2022.
Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press
James Webb Space Telescope's powers will be revealed in just weeks and scientists can't wait – Space.com
BALTIMORE — The James Webb Space Telescope’s first images are coming soon and scientists can’t wait for us to see them.
On Wednesday (June 29), NASA held a media day at the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore in advance of the release of the first science-quality images from the James Webb Space Telescope, which will occur during a live event on July 12. NASA scientists and administrators gave updates on the telescope, discussed Webb’s planned science during its first year in operation and hinted at the contents of some of Webb’s first official images.
“In a real sense, we’re sort of the first users of the observatory and using it for what it’s built for,” Klaus Pontoppidan, Webb project scientist at STScI, said during the news conference. “We recognize that we’re standing on the shoulders of all the scientists and engineers who’ve worked hard for the past six months to make this possible.”
Although NASA has already released a few images taken while aligning Webb, the images released on July 12 will be from a fully operational observatory, in full color, and they will show what each of the instruments on the telescope can contribute to science.
These first images will include a deep-field image peering farther into the past than ever before, scientists said during the briefing. NASA will also release Webb’s first spectroscopic data — precise data on the type of light that Webb detects that will allow scientists to learn more about the ingredients of distant cosmic objects. This data will include Webb’s first spectrum of an exoplanet, scientists said. While the images will be visually spectacular, the new information they reveal using Webb’s infrared-observing powers will distinguish them from images taken by other telescopes.
“The real difference is the new scientific information and then really opening up the longer wavelengths, infrared wavelengths in a way that we’ve really never seen before,” Jonathon Gardner, deputy senior project scientist for Webb, said during the news conference.
Each of the four instruments on Webb, including its main camera, two near-infrared spectrographs and a mid-infrared camera and spectrograph, will contribute to notable research in its first year of operation. They will collect data at nearly every scale and timescale, from our solar system today to the birth of our universe. Though scientists can detect radiation from near the beginning of our universe, no telescope has ever been able to detect light from some of the universe’s first stars and galaxies. Webb will be the first such observatory.
“The initial goal for this mission was to see the first stars and galaxies,” Eric Smith, Webb program scientist at NASA, said during the news conference. “Not the first light of the universe, but to watch the universe turn the lights on for the first time.”
Although Webb is already a remarkable feat, its first images represent the start of hopefully decades of science. Webb scientists said they have confirmed that the telescope has enough fuel to carry out science for the next 20 years. Data collected during these years could redefine how we understand our universe.
“This is really only the beginning,” Pontoppidan said. “We’re only scratching the surface.”
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