Morality, Rights And Responsibilities in Space

As humanity begins to break out into space, the biggest obstacle we must overcome is not gravity or physics. It is ourselves. The outcome of the first Space Race illustrated the truth of this. Using only the technology of the time we were able to fly to the Moon. Yet, having tentatively touched our toes on its dusty surface, we withdrew and began circling our own world for the next 50 years, culturally unable to comprehend that we had stood for a moment on the edge of the universe. The international policies and codes of conduct for space in place today were created in that era when the concepts of colonizing space and utilizing space resources were still in the realm of science fiction. Now, with these prospects becoming increasingly real we have to consider a new approach to human action and interaction in space. In this article, Rick Tumlinson presents his ‘Declaration of the Rights of Humanity in the Universe’, a proposal for guidelines and shared principles for living and working in what is about to become the new reality beyond the boundaries of Earth – an open frontier in space that is owned by no one belongs to everyone and is open to all.

A future mining operation on the Moon, as envisaged by artist James Vaughan, using giant solar mirrors for illuminating a sunless crater.

Today, as we move through the first global catastrophe of the 21st century, we have seen both the best and worst of ourselves. Even as governments failed, science proved right and the people became the frontline heroes of the day. The attack of the coronavirus in fact demonstrates the weakness of top-down control, and a strong argument can be made that it is people themselves, through their own discipline, caring, and mutual support that has done much of the work to save the day. Thus, when I confront the legislative and political barriers to their independent participation in opening the space frontier, I am saddened, appalled, and confused.

Yes, governments made the initial investments in space exploration as part of their Cold War Space Race. But now the children of those times have stepped up into their footprints to take the giant leaps that will transform the future. While some visionary leaders and policymakers work to enable them to succeed, others try to slow them down, and all are stuck trying to re-interpret legal and policy frameworks designed for another era, almost literally trying to drive the future between commas in now obsolete treaties and texts.

Source: ROOM

Extending Human Rights Across The Final Frontier

The conception of outer space as a peaceful, cooperative, and collaborative domain is one that has persisted within the international community over the past half-century. The United Nations (UN) has continuously emphasized that the benefits tied to the exploration and use of outer space must collectively benefit the international community as a whole and not just those countries with space programs. Here, lawyer Jonathan Lim discusses the importance of human rights in space and how the maintenance of space as a peaceful and cooperative domain can be supported by established international law principles and agreements, including the international human rights law (IHRL) framework.

The extension of international human rights into the domain of outer space represents a necessary and foundational measure, conducive to supporting the exponential pace of humanity’s development and presence in outer space, and in reinforcing and maintaining the longstanding recognition of outer space as a “shared international commons” and the “province of all mankind”.

The intersection of human rights and space can be interpreted through two means. Firstly, the use of space technologies and applications to support the realization and maintenance of human rights obligations terrestrially, such as the use of remote sensing and Earth observation satellites for monitoring humanitarian developments in Burma. Secondly, the extension of terrestrial human rights into space, as a means of regulating and guiding human activities in outer space. It is this second intersection which will bear significance in shaping the ethical, moral, and philosophical character of humanity’s advance into space over the coming decades.

Introducing the contemporary IHRL framework into the domain of space gives rise to several noted benefits. First, it provides an agreed standard of norms for assessing and addressing the impact of human activities in space. Second, it facilitates understanding and engagement through shared language and values. Third, it provides an architecture to convene, deliberate, and enforce such standards. Finally, it provides a positive roadmap to guide decision making, and a moral compass necessary for promoting good governance and advancing the notion of inter-generational equity.

Source ROOM

Superconductors – Key To Unlocking High Power

The capabilities of future spacecraft will be driven by the electrical power available for them, but the generation of this power is only one part of the overall challenge facing the advancement of spacecraft capabilities. The question of how this power can be managed and utilized must also be considered. Superconductors have long been regarded as a potential solution to these problems but their need for low temperatures and their relative technological immaturity have prevented their adoption in space. Now, however, high-temperature superconductors (HTS) offer a new compelling alternative, with much higher operating temperatures and an unprecedented level of industrial maturity.

Thruster plume of the SX3 100 kW Steady-State AF-MPD thruster prototype at the Institute of Space Systems, University of Stuttgart.

Traditionally, superconductors have required cooling to extremely low temperatures (<20 K) for their operation. In 1986, a superconducting material at 35 K was discovered, and since 1997, superconductors have been discovered with critical temperatures above 77 K, the boiling point of liquid Nitrogen. Such superconductors are termed ‘high-temperature superconductors’ (HTS), and their ability to operate at such temperatures drastically reduces the challenges and requirements of the cryogenic systems needed to keep them at operational temperatures. Furthermore, HTS has achieved a degree of technological maturity that makes them suitable to become game-changers for space applications.

Space start-up Neutron Star Systems is leading efforts to promote the uptake of superconductor technology within the space industry through the development of superconducting-based subsystems for spacecraft applications. Together with its key partners, the Institute of Space Systems (IRS) at the University of Stuttgart and Krisol AG, Neutron Star Systems plans to develop the key enabling technologies needed to unlock high power space missions.

Source: ROOM

This is How Astronauts Celebrate Thanksgiving

The International Space Station will host seven crew members throughout the holiday season, the most ever for the orbiting laboratory in its 20 years of having humans living aboard. The international crew includes NASA astronauts Kate Rubins, Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover, and Shannon Walker; Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Soichi Noguchi; and Russian cosmonauts Sergey Kud-Sverchkov and Sergey Ryzhikov.

The international crew will take the day off from working on the space station and sit down for a special meal together, as well as calling home to talk with friends, family, and loved ones.
“I’m very happy to be on the space station this year because I get to share American traditions with my international crewmates,” Walker said. She hinted that they may stream some football games, another Thanksgiving tradition. It’s her second Thanksgiving in space; she was also on the space station in November 2010.
The menu includes cornbread dressing, smoked turkey, green beans, and mashed potatoes. Noguchi brought some special Japanese “party food” to share, including curry rice, red bean rice, and some special seafood that a Japanese high school student on Earth prepared for the crew.
The crew also shared their Thanksgiving wishes from space on Wednesday.
“The year 2020 is a tough one, but it’s also the year of Perseverance and the year of Resilience and I really hope every one of you cherishes every moment with your friends and family,” Noguchi said. The names of the Perseverance rover and the SpaceX Crew-1 capsule Resilience, both launched this year, seem even more meaningful to the crew during the pandemic.
For Hopkins, its his second Thanksgiving in space after spending the holiday on the station in 2013.
“For me, Thanksgiving is all about family,” Hopkins said. “This year, I’m spending it with my international family. We all feel very blessed to be up here and we’re very grateful for everything we have.”

Holidays away from Earth

Astronauts have marked the tradition of celebrating holidays in space since the days of the Apollo mission when the Apollo 8 crew famously shared their Christmas Eve message in a live television broadcast in 1968 by taking turns reading from the Book of Genesis in the Bible.
The first Thanksgiving in space was celebrated on November 22, 1973, when Skylab 4 astronauts Gerald P. Carr, Edward G. Gibson, and William R. Pogue each ate two meals at dinnertime, although nothing special was on the menu for the occasion. The three worked on and supported a spacewalk lasting six hours and 33 minutes earlier in the day and missed lunch.
How these holidays are marked and celebrated is up to each individual crew and space veterans tend to share suggestions and ideas with rookies before they go up, NASA astronaut Dr. Andrew Morgan told CNN.
Morgan spent the entirety of the holiday season on the space station in 2019 alongside crewmates Jessica Meir, Christina Koch, Alexander Skvortsov, Oleg Skripochka and Luca Parmitano.
It&#39;s not Thanksgiving in space without some handmade turkey decor.
It’s not Thanksgiving in space without some handmade turkey decor.
Although it was a busy time on the space station with multiple spacewalks and experiments on the schedule, the astronauts were able to come together for a special meal that weekend with their international crew members and talk about what Thanksgiving meant to them.
Turkey, stuffing, and mashed potatoes are on the standard menu for NASA astronauts in space, but they also saved special treats like smoked salmon and cranberry sauce to share with each other. In space, the cranberry sauce perfectly retains the shape of the can it came in. Meir and Koch also made hand turkeys for their table decor.

Out of this world Christmas memories

In the days leading up to the holiday, Morgan and his crew played Christmas music throughout the station and had classic holiday movies playing to create a festive atmosphere. They also used a projector with a recording of a burning yule log to make it look like they had a cozy fireplace on the station, he said.
Given the international nature of their crew, they actually celebrated Christmas twice: Christmas on December 25 and Russian Orthodox Christmas on January 7.
Meir showed off her Hannukah socks in the cupola.
Meir showed off her Hannukah socks in the cupola.
Meir is Jewish and marked the passing of Hanukkah on the space station, tweeting pictures of her festive socks, but she also grew up celebrating Christmas as well and joined in the festivities on the station.
If your idea of planning ahead is buying Christmas gifts on Black Friday, it’s very different for astronauts thinking ahead to their space mission if it includes holidays.
Meir, Parmitano, Morgan and Koch (left to right) celebrate Christmas in space -- in matching pajamas.
Meir, Parmitano, Morgan, and Koch (left to right) celebrate Christmas in space — in matching pajamas.
“We had to think about a year or more in advance to make sure we purchased, packed, and kept these gifts a secret the entire time,” Morgan said.
Morgan knew that Parmitano enjoyed a special Russian treat called chocolate cheese, which is essentially a heavy chocolate fudge, so Morgan saved some to include with Parmitano’s present. Morgan also gave every crewmate a harmonica in their stocking so they could have a harmonica band on board.
Together, the crew shared a holiday message and serenaded their mission control centers across the world with one refrain each from John Lennon’s “Happy Christmas” and José Feliciano’s “Feliz Navidad” — all while wearing matching festively striped pajamas.
Morgan was missing his family and thinking about the traditions he would normally share with them. One of his favorites is spending Christmas eve only lit by candlelight. He grew up with this tradition and continues it with his family.
A festive yule log is projected on the space station.
A festive yule log is projected on the space station.
When he woke up on Christmas morning in the space station, all of the lights were turned off in the modules, a normal occurrence while the astronauts are asleep.
But Koch had taken small flashlights and covered them with gold-colored tape to make them look like little burning candles. They were everywhere — in the lab, the crew quarters, the galley where the crew eats.
“When I saw that, I actually got choked up with nostalgia,” Morgan said. “It made me think about missing my family during Christmas, but also just the thoughtfulness of Christina’s gesture. She had paid attention to that little detail and it was extremely meaningful. It’s one of the many memories I cherish from my time on the space station.”

Many happy new years

The space station operates on Greenwich Mean Time to stick to a schedule. The crew witnesses 16 sunrises and 16 sunsets each day as they orbit the Earth at 17,500 miles per hour.
So when it comes time to say “Happy New Year,” the crew has many chances to celebrate. They make calls down to each mission control as the new year arrives in their time zone.
New Year’s is a much bigger holiday than Christmas for the Russian crew, so the entire crew came together to enjoy a large meal and toast to the year ahead.
The crew formed a band to serenade mission control centers around the world.
The crew formed a band to serenade mission control centers around the world.
But the other big tradition involves watching a Russian film, which, when translated essentially means, “The Irony of Fate.” The 1976 Soviet romantic comedy television film has “a little bit of a bizarre plot about a gentleman who becomes so drunk, he ends up in Leningrad and doesn’t know how he got there,” Morgan said.
It’s a cultural phenomenon to watch the movie on New Year’s Eve in Russia, so it is played in the Russian segment to honor the tradition.
“To experience that with our Russian crewmates was extra special,” Morgan said. “That exchange of those traditions and experiencing each others’ holidays and sharing that with each other across an international crew, that will be the thing I take away from that experience. It embodies everything good about international cooperation and sharing traditions across different countries.”

Celebrating in isolation

While the astronauts normally have the ability to send emails, do video conferences, and make phone calls, they get a little more time to do these so they can connect with family during the holidays.
In 2020, it’s also how families and friends are connecting as their social distance to stay safe.
“While it isn’t perfect, we still have a lot to be thankful for,” Morgan said. “We have the technology available to be part of each others’ holiday experiences even though we are far apart, whether that be across states, oceans, or from low-Earth orbit.”
It’s his first Thanksgiving home since 2018. While they usually host astronauts and cosmonauts in Houston who are visiting for training, they can’t do that this year.
Morgan said the key to enjoying this holiday season is similar to how the astronauts celebrate in space: with planning, intention, and thoughtfulness.
Connect with people you haven’t reached out to in a while, be deliberately thoughtful and make small gestures that have a big impact, Morgan said.
Before going to space, he collected photos of his friends and family. In space, he took them to the cupola, where Earth is visible from the space station, and took photos of his loved ones with Earth as a backdrop. It was a simple thing, although it took some planning, but brought joy to his loved ones.
Morgan also shared his wish for the current crew on the space station as well as everyone on Earth.
“As they experience the holidays separated from loved ones, so are the majority of the people on this planet right now,” Morgan said. “But that separation is finite. The crew will return and be reunited, this pandemic will pass and we will all be reunited as human beings.”
Source: CNN

Astronaut Victor Glover’s First Video From Space

NASA astronaut Victor Glover shares his first video from SPACE of him looking through the SpaceX Crew capsule down at Earth

  • Astronaut Victor Glover is one of three members of the Crew-1 mission
  • The team launched to the ISS on November 15 and Glover captured a video of it
  • Glover shared a clip of Earth from the view of the capsule while in space

NASA astronaut Victor Glover shared his first video from space as he and three other astronauts soared above the Earth while traveling to the International Space Station.

Glover is part of the Crew-1 mission that launched aboard the SpaceX‘s Crew Dragon capsule, nicknamed ‘Dragon Resilience,’ on November 15.

This is Glover’s first trip to space and the video shares the excitement – ‘the video doesn’t do it justice,’ Glover says wide-eyed and smiling as he looked down at Earth.

The short clip, shared on Twitter, is just a few seconds long but shows the curve of our planet, the stunning blue sky, and thing clouds spread out in the atmosphere.

‘Looking at the Earth through the window of Dragon Resilience,’ Glover wrote in the tweet. ‘The scale of detail and sensory inputs made this a breathtaking perspective!’

Glover fell in love with space when he was in middle school and decades later is living out that dream 250 miles above Earth’s surface.

Crew-1 mission docked with the ISS around 11 pm ET Monday, November 16, and emerged from the capsule about two hours after completing necessary checks to ensure the capsule and the ISS had an air-tight seal – and were greeted by the other residents of the ship.

Glover took the 240 mile trip with his commander Michael Hopkins and fellow astronauts Shannon Walker and Soichi Noguchi from the Japanese space agency, JAXA.

Along with reaching his personal dream, Glover has also hit a milestone in history for being the first black person to live on the orbiting lab for an extended stay – he will call the massive ship home for the next six months.


NASA has sent more than 300 American astronauts into space, but only 14 of them been black, The New York Times reports.

Glover joined NASA’s ranks in 2013 and is a commander in the US Navy, but is now the 14th black astronaut to venture into space.

‘Flying has been such an important part of my professional life and I love to do it,’ Glover said in a NASA video.

‘6,400 feet, that’s the highest up I’ve ever been above the ground and so to get to a point beyond that, that’ll be a little special moment.’

It seems Glover is having that special little moment, as he is now 1,161,600 feet above Earth’s surface.

Glover took the 240 mile trip with his commander Michael Hopkins and fellow astronauts Shannon Walker and Soichi Noguchi from the Japanese space agency, JAXA


Glover joined NASA’s ranks in 2013 and is a commander in the US Navy, but is now the 14th black astronaut to venture into space

‘I’m a rookie astronaut, I’m the pilot and going to be learning the ropes from a very experienced crew,’ said Glover.

Guin S. Bluford Jr. was the first black astronaut in space and traveled aboard the Challenger space shuttle in 1983.

Mae Jamison became the first black woman to take the journey in 1992 – neither were aboard the ISS, as it was not built until 1998.

NASA astronaut Jeanette Epps will become the first black woman to board the ISS in 2021.

Epps was set to be the first black astronaut to complete an extended stay on a mission in 2018, but was unexpectedly pulled from her June flight, The Washington Post reports.

NASA announced Serena Auñón-Chancellor, who previously was assigned to Expedition 58/59, has been reassigned to the Expedition 56/57 crew, taking the place of Epps.

The American space agency did not provide an explanation as to why there was a crew change, but Epp’s brother pointed to racism.

‘My sister Dr. Jeannette Epps has been fighting against oppressive racism and misogynist in NASA and now they are holding her back and allowing a Caucasian Astronaut to take her place!’ Henry Epps wrote in a Facebook post in 2018.

Although Glover’s adventure is a major milestone in history, he said it is ‘bittersweet.’

Speaking with The Christian Chronicle, he said: ‘I’ve had some amazing colleagues before me that really could have done it, and there are some amazing folks that will go behind me.’

‘I wish it would have already been done, but I try not to draw too much attention to it.’

Glover is married to Dionna Odom, and they have four children.

He was born in Pomona, California and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in general engineering from California Polytechnic State University in 1999.

Those closest to Glover refer to him as ‘Ike,’ as a nod to a call sign a former commanding officer gave him that stands for ‘I know everything.’

SWRI Tests “Clockwork Starfish” for Sampling Asteroids

Researchers at the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) are working on a novel approach for collecting samples from an asteroid – a Clockwork Starfish that turns itself inside out to gobble up rocky debris.

The prototype sampling device was tested this week in a low gravity environment during a flight aboard Blue Origin’s New Shepard suborbital rocket, which launched from Van Horn, Texas.

While the machine might look more like a pointed mussel shell in its folded-up position when in action, it mimics the behavior of a starfish, which feeds by first extending its stomach out of its mouth and over the digestible parts of its prey.

The tetrahedron Clockwork Starfish on the other hand “feeds” by first luring asteroid fragments to its surfaces with magnets.

SWRI’s Clockwork Starfish. The righthand shows the experiment working in low gravity aboard a New Shepard rocket launched this week. Image: SWRI

Most asteroid surfaces are strewn with material that contains magnetic compounds, so the “starfish” is able to attract the rubble with its magnetized panels. It then stores the samples for transport by turning itself entirely inside-out.

“While current asteroid sample return missions visit single asteroids and collect samples from one or two locations on their surface, a future mission carrying dozens of micro-sampler landers like these could return samples from various locations on numerous asteroids,” said SwRI Principal Scientist Dr. Alex Parker, who led the development of the Clockwork Starfish device.

“This would be a game-changer for understanding the origin and history of the solar system, as well as providing a valuable glimpse into potential exploration-enabling resources present on these tiny worlds.”

The experiment performed on the New Shepard, which incidentally was the seventh consecutive test flight of this particular rocket booster and the 13th flight for Blue Origin’s New Shepard program, involved placing two Clockwork Starfish inside two separate vacuum-sealed containers, with meteorite-like materials.

A small camera placed in each container then recorded how the technology interacts with the materials in low gravity.

“This could offer a simple but robust alternative to other means of sampling small bodies like drilling,” said SwRI Principal Scientist Dr. Dan Durda, the experiment’s principal investigator. “Instead, it could be as easy as bringing a magnet along.”

The Clockwork Starfish is part of a larger project called the Box of Rocks Experiment II (BORE II) that first began in 2016.

The initial experiment (BORE) was designed as a simple, no-moving-parts experiment to study the settling effects of regolith, as very little is known about the low-gravity geological processes on the surfaces of small bodies, explained Durda at the time.

The improved BORE II experiment built upon the project, by using materials that are much closer in composition and texture to actual meteorites.

Source: ROOM

First 4G Cellular Network On The Moon To Be Built By Nokia

When astronauts on the Moon want to talk to one another, the signals that will be relayed around our nearest celestial neighbor will be done so via Nokia, say the telecommunications giant, as the European firm has been selected by NASA to deploy the first LTE/4G communications system in space.

Chosen as part of NASA’s ‘Partners to Advance ‘Tipping Point’ Technologies for the Moon’, the company Nokia Bell Labs division will build a 4G communications system to be deployed on a lunar lander to the Moon’s surface in late 2022, say the firm.

To start with, the initial proposed Nokia network would be restricted to proximity communications on the lunar surface, providing wireless network coverage around the landing module.

Illustration of a lunar rover communicating with a landing module using Nokia Bell Lab’s LTE/4G self-configuring cellular network. Image: Nokia Bell Labs/Intuitive Machines

This is likely to evolve to providing communications to and from a spacecraft orbiting the Moon.

Nokia was awarded $14.1 million out of a $370 million innovations development award offered by the US space agency to help them forge ahead with their Artemis program.

“Nokia’s LTE network – the precursor to 5G – is ideally suited for providing wireless connectivity for any activity that astronauts need to carry out, enabling voice and video communications capabilities, telemetry, and biometric data exchange, and deployment and control of robotic and sensor payloads,” Nokia said recently in a press release.

Inspired by Earth-based communications technologies, Nokia Bell Labs said they will “space-harden” their communications system and make it ultra-compact and low-power to cope with the extreme conditions faced on the Moon.

Communication is critical for any private company or governmental agency wanting to establish a permanent presence on the Moon, and although television shows and movies can make communicating with people in space look easy, it isn’t.

Interference, latency, bandwidth restrictions, and high data rates must all be overcome by ground networks and space relays in order to communicate effectively.

Technology advancements such as the one proposed by Nokia could make lunar calling plans much easier in the near future.

“Leveraging our rich and successful history in space technologies, from pioneering satellite communication to discovering the cosmic microwave background radiation produced by the Big Bang, we are now building the first-ever cellular communications network on the Moon,” says Marcus Weldon, Chief Technology Officer at Nokia and Nokia Bell Labs President.

The Finnish telecommunications equipment maker has enlisted the help of US-firm Intuitive Machines which NASA chose to build a small “hopper lander” to carry out high-resolution surveys of the lunar surface;

Nokia will use the lander to deliver the communications system to the lunar surface and once deployed the network will “self-configure” to establish the first LTE communications system on the Moon.

“Reliable, resilient, and high-capacity communications networks will be key to supporting sustainable human presence on the lunar surface,” Weldon said. “By building the first high-performance wireless network solution on the Moon, Nokia Bell Labs is once again planting the flag for pioneering innovation beyond the conventional limits.”

Source: ROOM

‘For Future Humans, Space Must Be Home’, Says Former MP And Asgardia’s Chair Of Parliament – Sputnik International

‘For Future Humans, Space Must Be Home’, Says Former MP And Asgardia’s Chair Of Parliament – Sputnik International

‘For Future Humans, Space Must Be Home’, Says Former MP And Asgardia’s Chair Of Parliament  Sputnik International


via Asgardia AND Parliament

June 29, 2020 at 04:00PM