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Space Travel

Most missions to the International Space Station range from 160 to 180 days, but this month Russia and NASA will launch a joint year-long mission designed to more fully test the stress of space travel on the human body. ISS veterans Scott Kelly (US) and Mikhail Kornienko (Russia) have been training for two years for this daunting mission, culminating in departure slated for March 27, 2015, 3:42 p.m. EST. from the historic Baikonur Cosmodrome. Read More
The airlock of the International Space Station (ISS) was turned into a laboratory last week. In a station with as much space as a 747, that may seem a bit odd, but its purpose was part of a study of the lungs of space travelers by monitoring the effects of one the astronauts' most surprising hazards: dust. Read More
It may look like the ultimate gaming joystick, but its purpose is very serious. On the International Space Station, astronauts recently finished putting the European Space Agency's (ESA) Haptics-1 joystick through its paces. The purpose of the first force-reflecting joystick in space is to improve how robots and humans interact in weightlessness. Read More
Space travel is a bit more civilized now that there's a bespoke Italian espresso machine aboard the International Space Station (ISS). Unfortunately, solving one problem just raises another and the astronauts are still having to drink their cappuccinos out of placcy bags. To help the zero-g coffee aficionado, Portland State University's (PSU) Maseeh College of Engineering and Computer Science has developed a microgravity espresso cup that drinks like its earthbound counterparts. Read More
If there's one steady market for wristwatches, it's astronauts. Omega watches, for example, have flown on manned space missions since the Omega Speedmaster Professional Chronograph was carried on Project Mercury in the early 1960s. Now the latest version, the Speedmaster Skywalker X-33, is seeing service on the International Space Station. Based on a patented idea by ESA astronaut Jean-François Clervoy, the timepiece is not only made to withstand the rigors of space, but also to carry out functions useful to space travelers. Read More
A European Space Agency experiment aboard the International Space Station suggests that space travelers may have less to worry about when it comes to radiation ... thanks to a phantom. Called the Matroshka, the "phantom" is a plastic mannequin that is the key component of the first comprehensive study of the effects of radiation on astronauts on long-term space missions that indicates that the hazard may not be as severe as previously thought. Read More
Plans are afoot to establish a spaceport in Australia. The town of Rockhampton in Queensland is one of three locations currently being considered as a potential site for the base, which would focus primarily on space tourism. Read More
Flushing the human waste produced on space missions out an airlock isn't an option for astronauts. Currently its stored in containers before being loaded into cargo vehicles that burn up as they pass through Earth's atmosphere, but researchers at the University of Florida (UF) have found a better use for the material, by developing a process to turn it into rocket fuel. Read More
One of NASA’s more off-the-radar facilities is responsible for some of the organization’s most important research. Kennedy Space Center and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory may get the lion's share of attention, but Marshall Space Flight Center, in Huntsville, Alabama, is responsible for developing much of the complex inner-workings of rockets, satellites, and future technologies. Read More
The secret to pulling off long-term manned space missions is biomanufacturing – at least, that's the argument presented by scientists at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) who have used synthetic biology to produce sustainable alternatives to fuel and anti-malaria drugs. Their theory rests on the idea that biological production processes and harnessing of materials at the mission destination could dramatically reduce mass (and hence cost) requirements. Read More
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