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  • The Cygnus spacecraft is about to hitch a ride atop Northrop Grumman's Antares rocket

  • to deliver roughly 2,000 kilograms of experiments and hardware to test on the International Space Station.

  • These payloads are designed to push human space exploration,

  • especially as we prepare for NASA's Artemis mission and one day, sending a crew to Mars.

  • Scientists want to make a livable environment among the stars,

  • but some of our biggest challenges are communication delays,

  • sustainability, and radiation exposure.

  • To combat these issues, some of the most thrilling investigations consist of utilizing a 'space internet'

  • to remotely control an advanced rover from ESA,

  • Made in Space's Plastic Recycler,

  • and a brand new, never been space-tested before, radiation-protection vest

  • from Lockheed Martin and StemRad.

  • Now, scouting new planets, like the exotic surface of Mars, with robots,

  • is the safest and most efficient way to investigate areas of interest for human exploration.

  • However, right now, we're incapable of remotely controlling these seamlessly.

  • The delay time for a radio signal from mission control to a planetary rover is wildly inefficient

  • and this antiquated technology can create massive latency issues resulting in missed opportunities.

  • But ESA's METERON project is developing new communications,

  • robot interfaces, and hardware for astronauts to control robots from thousands of kilometers away.

  • More specifically, from onboard a spacecraft orbiting whatever planetary body they're investigating.

  • The robot should be on the surface, and the astronaut controls the robot from onboard the spacecraft.

  • So what makes these robots different from what we already have

  • is that they operate through a “space internetand they're equipped with their own haptic systems,

  • meaning astronauts onboard an orbiting spacecraft

  • can feel the sensitivity the robot feels when picking something up, like a rock.

  • And this technology helps massively to do certain maintenance tasks

  • that would not be possible without the feedback.

  • ESA has been testing this technology for the last few years with various iterations of robots.

  • Cyngus will be delivering the key piece of this haptic technology,

  • the Sigma 7 joystick, for their new experiment, ANALOG-1.

  • This investigation will be a combination of everything the team has learned so far on the Meteron project

  • and also will be the most advanced version of their haptic technology being controlled in orbit.

  • This is the first experiment that we control a complete robot with a complete

  • sixth degree of freedom haptic device onboard the space station.

  • So Haptics-1 and Haptics-2 was just the simple one degree of freedom choice.

  • Now we'll be going one step further to the 60 degree haptic device

  • that controls the robotic arm in all three translations and all three rotations.

  • And these innovative systems can do more outside of the space mission as well.

  • And also the prospect of it you think of this technologies what what it could mean for for us

  • that we have similar problems in deep sea robotics and so on.

  • That would be quite handy to use similar technologies to control robots.

  • Or think of nuclear power plants.

  • To send in a robot with remote operation, and safe distance.

  • And this is just one of the many robotic instruments onboard the ISS,

  • but this next device could be key in helping astronauts achieve more sustainable stays in space.

  • Right now, the ISS takes extreme measures to make sure it's efficient in preserving resources,

  • recycling air and water, reducing waste, and repurposing materials.

  • But even then, trash accumulates and it can weigh up to two metric tons.

  • So the only way astronauts can receive or get rid of these materials

  • is utilizing a commercial resupply vehicle.

  • To help address the waste, innovative 3D printing devices,

  • like Made in Space's Additive Manufacturing Facility,

  • was introduced to the station to have astronauts print their own tools and supplies,

  • but there's one problem: the 3D printer still receives its restock of filaments from Earth.

  • And this is where the Plastic Recycler comes in.

  • We're launching the Recycler to the International Space Station

  • to add the capability of being able to use the materials on orbit,

  • primarily the waste materials for something beneficial.

  • The machine isn't too far off from what you'd find here on Earth except it will primarily use a green polyethylene,

  • which is a renewable polymer made from sugarcane by a team at Braskem's Innovation & Technology.

  • The polymer and other plastic like it will be broken down using the Recycler.

  • The Recycler starts by taking plastic bags, bubble wrap, 3D printed polyethylene parts, into a chamber.

  • From that point, the material flows through a grinding system that turns it into a fluffy, ground-up powder

  • that is stored in a hopper.

  • That then injects that material into an extrusion system.

  • The extrusion system melts the material and turns it into a 1.75 millimeter filament.

  • It's cooled and then wrapped on a spool,

  • then we can take that spool as a feedstock cartridge, and put that into our manufacturing device 3D printer.

  • We can now use material, print with it, reprocess it, turn it back into feedstock,

  • and create this closed loop system.

  • This is exactly what astronauts are going to need in missions that travel further into our solar system

  • and away from our home planet.

  • Future space explorations are gonna rely on humans utilizing available resources

  • and having a very sustainable ecosystem.

  • And part of that entails local manufacturing:

  • building what you need on demand, on sight, where you're at, with what you have available.

  • This brings a whole new level of sustainability and re-usability to the International Space Station.

  • But space is full of uncompromising conditions like high levels of radiation exposure,

  • so our aspirations to live on the moon and Mars remain close to impossiblefor now.

  • After mission delivery, astronauts will be partaking

  • in theComfort and Human Factors: AstroRad Radiation Garment Evaluation,”

  • otherwise known asCHARGEor the AstroRad Vest investigation.

  • This garment is made with hydrogen-rich materials that will provide protection against space radiation.

  • Female crew members have been chosen for this experiment because they have the greatest sensitivity

  • to this harsh environment due to radiation-induced cancer risk to ovaries and breast tissue.

  • They will be wearing the vests for over 3-4 weeks, doing their daily duties onboard the ISS

  • and will provide feedback about its flexibility and comfort.

  • When it's all over, the data will be analyzed by researchers back on Earth,

  • where they'll make improvements to the design to be ready for future missions.

  • So it's safe to say that all these payloads are going to make drastic changes

  • in the future of space mission technology.

  • When the Antares rocket launches from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia,

  • we'll be one step closer to improving our ability to stay and explore our solar system to the fullest capacity.

  • Going to the ISS is cool, but there's a future mission that's headed to an all-metal asteroid named Psyche.

  • This will be the first time humans will see a world like this

  • and we cover everything about it in this episode here.

  • Are there are any other launches that you'd like to see us cover?

  • Let us know down in the comments below, and make sure to subscribe to Seeker

  • for all your rocket launch news.

  • Thanks for watching.

The Cygnus spacecraft is about to hitch a ride atop Northrop Grumman's Antares rocket

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The New Tech Heading To The ISS Will Change Human Space Exploration, Here’s How

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    林宜悉 posted on 2020/03/31
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