Will Space Tourists Be Getting Heart Attacks in Space?

Crew Dragon docking with ISS

Astronauts are considered by many to be an elite bunch of people; healthy, fit and capable in many disciplines. Went they travel into space they can face health issues related to weightlessness from reduction in bone density to issues with their eyesight. These are people at the peak of physical fitness but what will happen to the rest of us when space tourism really kicks off. It is likely that anyone with underlying health issues could worsen in space. A new study suggests those with cardiovascular issues may suffer heart failure in space!

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Astroscale Closes Within 50 Meters of its Space Junk Target

Image of space junk

Space debris is a major problem for space exploration. There are millions of pieces up there in orbit from flecks of paint to defunct satellites. It is a known challenge to space exploration creating a shell of uncontrolled debris which could cause damage to orbiting craft or astronauts. A team at Astroscale have a spacecraft in orbit whose singular purpose has been to rendezvous with a defunct Japanese upper-stage rocket module. On arrival it is to survey the debris to test approach and survey techniques to ultimately inform how we can remove them from orbit.

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A New Way to Survive the Harsh Lunar Night

Heat-Switch Device Boosts Lunar Rover Longevity in Harsh Moon Climate.
Heat-Switch Device Boosts Lunar Rover Longevity in Harsh Moon Climate. Credit: Shinichiro Kinoshita, Masahito Nishikawara

The Moon is a tough place to survive, and not just for humans. The wild temperature extremes between day and night make it extremely difficult to build reliable machinery that will continue to operate. But an engineering team from Nagoya University in Japan have developed an energy-efficient new way to control Loop Heat Pipes (LHP) to safely cool lunar rovers. This will extend their lifespan, keeping them running for extended lunar exploration missions.

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An Astronaut Might Need Kidney Dialysis on the Way Home from Mars

Long term space exploration comes with many challenges. Not least is how much toilet paper to take but more worryingly is the impact on human physiology. We have not evolved in a weightless environment, we are not used to floating around for months on end nor are we able to cope with increased levels of radiation. It is likely that organs like the kidneys will become damaged but it make take time for signs to appear. Researchers are developing ways to detect organ issues in the early stages and develop ways to protect them during long duration flights. 

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Starliner Has Five Leaks

Boeing Starliner

Many space fans have been following the successful launch of the Boeing Starliner, another commercial organisation aiming to make space more accessible. It successfully reached the International Space Station, delivering Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams into orbit but it wasn’t without a hitch. Three of its thrusters experienced problems and there were ‘five small leaks on the service module.’ The crew and ground teams are working through safety checks of power and habitability. To ensure a safe return of the astronauts NASA has extended the mission by four days to 18th June. 

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Highlights from the 10th Achieving Mars Workshop

The Tenth Community Workshop for Achievability and Sustainability of Human Exploration of Mars. Credit: Explore Mars Inc.

Back in December, NASA officials, space industry experts, members of the academic community, and science communicators descended on Washington, D.C., for the Achieving Mars Workshop X (AM X). This workshop is hosted by Explore Mars Inc., a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing leading experts from disparate fields together to contribute to creating the first crewed missions to Mars. On May 17th, the results of this year’s workshop were summarized in a report titled “The Tenth Community Workshop for Achievability and Sustainability of Human Exploration of Mars.”

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South Korea is Planning to Send a Mission to Mars by 2045

Mars, Credit NASA

It is truly wonderful to see so many nations aspiring to space exploration and trips to the Moon. Earlier this week on the 27th May, South Korea innaugurated its new space agency, the Korea AeroSpace Administration otherwise known as KASA. The group is headed up by former professor of aerospace engineering Yoon Young-bin. Whilst the group has yet to announce detailed plans for their upcoming missions Young-bin has stated they hope to land on the Moon by 2032 and to get to Mars by 2045.

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Astronauts Could Deploy Extra Arms to Stay Stable on the Moon

Astronaut with "SuperLimbs"

Walking along on the surface of the Moon, as aptly demonstrated by the Apollo astronauts, is no easy feat.  The gravity at the Moon’s surface is 1/6th of Earth’s and there are plenty of videos of astronauts stumbling, falling and then trying to get up! Engineers have come up with a solution; a robotic arm system that can be attached to an astronauts back pack to give them a helping hand if they fall. The “SuperLimbs” as they have been called will not only aid them as they walk around the surface but also give them extra stability while carrying out tasks. 

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A Rotating Spacecraft Would Solve So Many Problems in Spaceflight

DALL-E image of a rotating space station

If you watch astronauts in space then you will know how they seem to float around their spaceship. Spaceships in orbit around the Earth are in free-fall, constantly falling toward surface fo the Earth with the surface constantly falling away from it. Any occupant is also in free-fall but living like this causes muscle tone to degrade slowly. One solution is to generate artificial gravity through acceleration in particular a rotating motion. A new paper makes the case for a rotating space station and goes so far that it is achievable now. 

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Astronaut Food Will Lose Nutrients on Long-Duration Missions. NASA is Working on a Fix

NASA astronaut and Expedition 68 Flight Engineer Nicole Mann works in the International Space Station’s Harmony module on the BioNutrients-2 investigation that uses genetically engineered microbes to provide nutrients, and potentially other compounds and pharmaceuticals, on demand in space. NASA

Astronauts on board the International Space Station are often visited by supply ships from Earth with food among other things. Take a trip to Mars or other and the distances are much greater making it impractical to send fresh supplies. The prepackaged food used by NASA loses nutritional value over time so NASA is looking at ways astronauts can produce nutrients. They are exploring genetic engineering techniques that can create microbes with minimal resource usage. 

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