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Space toilet, Radishes, and a Spacewalk in Virtual Reality

Space toilet, Radishes, and a Spacewalk in Virtual Reality

A rocket is launching to the International Space Station next week, carrying tons of science and supplies to the orbiting laboratory. It’s Northrop Grumman’s 14th (NG-14) commercial resupply cargo mission, and includes plant research, a new space toilet, and a special virtual reality camera designed to immerse you in a spacewalk. Let’s take a closer look at what’s on board, and how you can ask some of the scientists anything.

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A new way to “boldly go” in space  

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A new space toilet is heading to the space station. It’s smaller than the current toilets aboard the station, and includes a 3D printed titanium cover for its dual fan separator. These are just some of the upgrades that make it better suited for our deep space exploration missions. Engineers also gathered feedback from astronauts and set out to design more comfortable attachments that would make “boldly going” in space a more enjoyable experience. The toilet is being tested on the space station, and will also be used on a future Artemis mission. The new design will allow us to increase how much water we recover for use, because yep … yesterday’s coffee becomes tomorrow’s drinking water. See below for an opportunity to speak with the folks who made the new space toilet happen.  

Space plants are rad(ish)!  

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Astronauts traveling to the Moon and Mars will need to grow food to supplement their diets. The latest in plant studies aboard the space station hopes to pack a crunch in that research. We’ll be growing radishes in a special plant chamber, and learning how light, water, atmosphere, and soil conditions affect the bulbous vegetables. Radishes are nutritious, grow quickly (roughly four weeks from sowing to harvest), and are genetically similar to Arabidopsis, a plant frequently studied in microgravity. What we learn could help optimize growth of the plants in space as well as provide an assessment of their nutrition and taste. See below for an opportunity to ask anything of the scientist and engineer behind this new crop.  

Immerse yourself in a spacewalk  

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If going to space is on your bucket list, you might be closer than you think to checking that box. Felix & Paul Studios is creating an immersive 360 virtual reality film of a spacewalk that will put you right next to the astronauts as they go about their work on the outside of the space station … at 17,500 miles per hour. The new camera, specially designed to withstand the incredibly harsh environment of space, will be mounted on the station’s robotic arm so it can be maneuvered around the outside of the space station. Félix Lajeunesse and Paul Raphaël are the co-founders of the immersive entertainment studio, and have been producing a film aboard the space station – from Earth – for more than a year already. See below for a chance to ask them anything about what filming in space takes.  

Space toilet, Radishes, and a Spacewalk in Virtual Reality

You can join in the NG-14 Reddit Ask Me Anything on Friday, Sept. 25 to ask anything of these folks and their projects. Here’s the schedule:  

  1. Space toilet (a.k.a the Universal Waste Management System): Melissa McKinley with NASA’s Advanced Exploration Systems and Jim Fuller of Collins Aerospace, and program manager for UWMS at 12 p.m. EDT at https://www.reddit.com/r/space.
  2. Radishes in space (a.k.a. Plant Habitat-02): Dr. Karl Hasenstein is the scientist behind the Plant Habitat-02, and Dave Reed knows the ins and outs of the Advanced Plant Habitat of the space station. Their Reddit AMA begins at 3 p.m. EDT at https://www.reddit.com/r/gardening.
  3. Virtual reality spacewalk camera: Félix Lajeunesse and Paul Raphaël co-founders and creative directors of Felix & Paul Studios will be taking questions at 5 p.m. EDT on https://www.reddit.com/r/filmmakers.

These are just a few of the payloads launching aboard the NG-14 Cygnus cargo vehicle to the space station next week. Read about the cancer research, and new commercial products also heading to space and watch the video above to learn more. Launch is targeted for Tuesday, Sept. 29, with a five-minute launch window opening at approximately 10:26 p.m. EDT. Live coverage begins on NASA TV at 10 p.m. EDT.

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