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SpaceX launches ants, avocados, robot to space station – Japan Today



A SpaceX shipment of ants, avocados and a human-sized robotic arm rocketed toward the International Space Station on Sunday.

The delivery — due to arrive Monday — is the company’s 23rd for NASA in just under a decade.

A recycled Falcon rocket blasted into the predawn sky from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. After hoisting the Dragon capsule, the first-stage booster landed upright on SpaceX’s newest ocean platform, named “A Shortfall of Gravitas.” SpaceX founder Elon Musk continued his tradition of naming the booster-recovery vessels in tribute to the late science fiction writer Iain Banks and his Culture series.

The Dragon is carrying more than 4,800 pounds (2,170 kilograms) of supplies and experiments, and fresh food including avocados, lemons and even ice cream for the space station’s seven astronauts.

The Girl Scouts are sending up ants, brine shrimp and plants as test subjects, while University of Wisconsin-Madison scientists are flying up seeds from mouse-ear cress, a small flowering weed used in genetic research. Samples of concrete, solar cells and other materials also will be subjected to weightlessness.

A Japanese start-up company’s experimental robotic arm, meanwhile, will attempt to screw items together in its orbital debut and perform other mundane chores normally done by astronauts. The first tests will be done inside the space station. Future models of Gitai Inc.’s robot will venture out into the vacuum of space to practice satellite and other repair jobs, said chief technology officer Toyotaka Kozuki.

As early as 2025, a squad of these arms could help build lunar bases and mine the moon for precious resources, he added.

SpaceX had to leave some experiments behind because of delays resulting from COVID-19.

It was the second launch attempt; Saturday’s try was foiled by stormy weather.

NASA turned to SpaceX and other U.S. companies to deliver cargo and crews to the space station, once the space shuttle program ended in 2011.

© Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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SpaceX Tourists Struggled With Space Toilet – Futurism



There was an issue with the Waste Management System.

Toilet Troubles

Four space tourists circled the Earth for three full days as part of SpaceX’s Inspiration4 mission last week.

It was mostly smooth sailing for the four civilians, who ate cold pizza and even watched “Spaceballs” during the trip.

But it sounds like the mission did leave some room for improvement — there were issues with the toilet, reports.

“It was very clean mission from start to finish,” SpaceX human spaceflight programs lead Benji Reed said during a press conference following the successful landing on Saturday. “We had a couple of issues that we worked, we did work something on the Waste Management System, but that was worked [out] fine and, you know, the crew was happy and healthy.”


Sucking Up Waste

The toilet — located underneath the massive glass cupola no less — is radically different from the ones you find on Earth. In the simplest terms, they are two vacuum tubes for sucking up pee and poop that rely on suction fans to remove waste.

We don’t know exactly what the issue was yet with the Waste Management System, but it involved the suction fan, according to Reed. It’s also unclear whether the malfunction had anything to do with the surprising decision not to release photos or videos inside the spaceship during the journey.

Inspiration4 was a little different than preceding Crew Dragon flights. The crew spent three whole days in the tiny capsule instead of less than 24 hours, the maximum length of a trip to the International Space Station.

Unfortunately, the crew wasn’t actually able to catch glimpses of the Earth while doing their business as the hatch had to be closed during toilet use, according to


The space tourists have yet to speak out about their toilet experience — but fortunately, it sounds like the issue was quickly resolved.

READ MORE: SpaceX’s private Inspiration4 astronauts had some toilet trouble in space []

More on the launch: SpaceX Tourist Watches Movie While Careening Down to Earth

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Elon Musk trolls President Biden over perceived Inspiration4 snub – CNET



SpaceX CEO Elon Musk unveiled the Dragon V2 in May 2014.

Tim Stevens/CNET

SpaceX founder and leading orbital travel agent Elon Musk was feeling a bit slighted by the world’s most powerful man this weekend after President Joe Biden failed to acknowledge the company’s landmark Inspiration4 mission that sent four civilians on a three-day trip in orbit of our planet. 

The flight was bankrolled by billionaire Jared Isaacman, who commanded the mission aboard a Crew Dragon capsule, alongside geologist Sian Proctor, data engineer Chris Sembroski and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital employee Hayley Arceneaux. The quartet splashed down safely off the coast of Florida on Saturday.

The mission served as a fundraiser for St. Jude, with over $60 million raised from the public so far. Isaacman also pledged $100 million and Musk added $50 million.

When a Twitter user asked why the president hadn’t acknowledged Inspiration4, Musk hopped into the replies.

“He’s still sleeping,” the CEO wrote, in an apparent reference to Donald Trump’s favorite nickname for his former adversary, “sleepy” Joe Biden.

It seems fair to point out, as a number of other Twitter users have, that the president may have a few other things on his plate at the moment, like continuing to manage the response to a global pandemic, climate crisis and various national security threats. 

For what it’s worth, NASA administrator Bill Nelson, a Biden appointee, did offer his congratulations to the crew multiple times.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Inspiration4 is the latest in a string of pioneering space tourism missions this year. Richard Branson flew to the edge of space on the first fully crewed flight of his Virgin Galactic spaceplane in July. Nine days later, Amazon and Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos cruised a bit higher with three other passengers on his New Shepard spacecraft. 

Unlike those flights, which lasted under 15 minutes each, the Inspiration4 mission was a much more complex venture that saw the four passengers performing scientific research during the multiple day flight as they orbited Earth over 40 times. 

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Small B.C. school gets an out-of-this-world visit from Chris Hadfield courtesy of a pup named Henry –



When Debbie Robinson looked at her email earlier this summer and saw a message from Chris Hadfield, she had a good laugh.

“All of us who breed and show dogs have been barraged with requests since the start of the pandemic by people who want dogs in their lives,” she said.

Read more:
Coronavirus risk hasn’t changed space training much, Canadian astronauts say

“So I was in the car with my husband when I got the request, and I started to laugh and I told my husband, ‘People will do anything to get a puppy now. I have one who even said he’s an astronaut.”

Her husband took a look at the message and told her the news – that is the real Col. Chris Hadfield, the astronaut.

Click to play video: 'New species of bee named after retired Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield'

New species of bee named after retired Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield

New species of bee named after retired Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield – Jul 3, 2020

Robinson wrote back right away, then she and Hadfield spoke on the phone. In short order, a little tan and black spaniel named Henry, born on the day that the town had to evacuate due to the White Rock Lake Wildfire, was matched with the Hadfield family.

Click to play video: 'COVID-19: Canadian Astronaut Chris Hadfield talks about self-isolation'

COVID-19: Canadian Astronaut Chris Hadfield talks about self-isolation

COVID-19: Canadian Astronaut Chris Hadfield talks about self-isolation – Mar 30, 2020

From that time until Friday, however, a few things transpired. Among other things, Robinson told her two grandchildren about their famed future visitor and they, in turn, told their friends, and their friends told their friends, and so on.

They go to Falkland Elementary School, which has about 150 students from kindergarten to Grade 8, and as word spread and the day Henry would be adopted crept closer, Robinson had an idea.

Debbie Robinson and Chris Hadfield posed for a quick snap after he adopted the adorable spaniel Henry into his family.

Debbie Robinson and Chris Hadfield posed for a quick snap after he adopted the adorable spaniel Henry into his family.


“I thought it would be easier to have him go to the school than to have 300 people line the road before he turned the corner to go up to our house,” she said.

She broached Hadfield with the idea and he took on the task with enthusiasm. As Robinson pointed out, when he was in space he often reached out to children.

“Unfortunately with COVID-19, he couldn’t have the whole school at his presentation, so some of the senior kids were in there and the other kids had it streamed into their classroom,” she said.

Click to play video: 'Chris Hadfield on SpaceX’s first manned mission'

Chris Hadfield on SpaceX’s first manned mission

Chris Hadfield on SpaceX’s first manned mission – May 29, 2020

Then he went from classroom to classroom and spoke with the kids.

“I am so grateful that he was willing to go there and share with the kids. It was inspirational for them. They were in awe, and he had a wonderful message for them to hear about reaching for their dreams no matter how hard it looks,” she said.

And her two grandchildren had an even more special visit.

He spent some time with both of them. He read through a book with my grandson, who is five years old, and he brought me some books, for me and my friends.

Read more:
Cornavirus — Tips to deal with isolation from Col. Chris Hadfield

Falkland Elementary school put out a statement about the event, saying “we feel so fortunate that he was able to pop in for a visit to share about his accomplishments and experiences in space.”

Hadfield’s many awards include the Order of Canada, the Meritorious Service Cross and the NASA Exceptional Service Medal. He was named the top test pilot in both the U.S. air force and the U.S. navy and was inducted into Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame.

He has flown three space missions, building two space stations, performing two spacewalks (EVAs), crewing the shuttle and Soyuz and commanding the International Space Station. He shared with students that he has been around the earth 2,650 times, saw the sun 16 times in one day, lived in space for half a year and was the first Canadian to leave a spacecraft and float freely/walk in space.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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