international space station

Space Station Toilet Clogged with Calcium Deposits; Could Astronauts' Bone Loss Be the Culprit?

It's a bit cliché to kick off a story about NASA with "Houston, we have a problem," but seriously, they've got a problem: the plumbing on the International Space Station is clogged, and NASA isn't exactly sure why, or how to fix it. To clarify, it's not the actual toilet component that's broken, but the $250 million system designed to recycle astronauts' urine, sweat, and exhaled vapor into clean, potable water.

Engineers working on the problem believe high concentrations of calcium in the astronauts' urine is causing deposits to build up, clogging the system that provides up to two-thirds of the water used on the station.

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Robotic Arm on Space Station Will Try Refueling a Satellite

NASA's bold repair mission for the Hubble Space Telescope has inspired engineers to tackle another challenge -- using the robotic arm on the International Space Station to refuel a satellite. Aviation Week reports that the Canadian "Dextre" arm could use a special tool to cut into a spacecraft that was never designed to be refueled, pierce the insulation, and access the fuel plumbing.

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Japanese Astronaut to Serve First Sushi in Space

Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi has successfully lifted off from Baikonur Space Center on the steppes of Kazakhstan, bringing with him the first sushi in space.

"We had a training in Japan and I was stupid enough to train [my fellow astronauts] to be sushi lovers," he told Reuters.

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Butterflies Hatch in Space for The First Time

To some, watching a butterfly emerge from its cocoon, transformed from larva to magnificent winged beauty, is proof of nature's great wonder. For two butterflies aboard the International Space Station, it was a wonder that they emerged at all. For the first time in history, two painted lady butterflies each survived the larvae stage, formed a chrysalis and emerged as mature butterflies.

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Thousands of Worms Headed to International Space Station For Muscle Tests

The perils of space flight number in the hundreds, from radiation exposure to the impact of micro-asteroids. But for astronauts who spend an extended amount of time floating weightlessly in the near-endless void of space, muscle atrophy remains the most common health problem. Thankfully, a shipment of RNA-treated worms may help scientists on the International Space Station solve that issue.

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Is That An Astronaut In Your Pocket?

NASA’s got an iPhone app

Few of us can ever hope to become an astronaut in our lifetimes, so the latest iPhone app from NASA lets us enjoy the next best thing: keeping tabs on absolutely everything they do – from the International Space Station and the Lunar Reconaissance Orbiter to Mars exploration and space shuttle launches.

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ISS Could Get its Own Electron-Beam Fabrication 3-D Printer

Electron Beam Freeform Fabrication: An electron beam melts a metal feedstock, layering the raw molten material into a predetermined part or object. EBF3 could head to the ISS in the near future.  NASA
Every good futuristic sci-fi narrative has its version: Star Trek had the replicator that produced Picard's piping hot Earl Grey from what appeared to be thin air, and Forbidden Planet had Robbie the Robot, who generated entire luncheons from the chemical lab in his nether regions. But NASA scientists have come many real-world steps closer to creating something from nothing, via a process called electron beam freeform fabrication, and a version of the technology will soon be going to the International Space Station for testing.

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First Vaccine Developed in Space is Headed for Human Trials

A salmonella vaccine derived from space research could enter clinical trials next year

A company called Astrogenetix has started the approval process for putting their salmonella vaccine through the clinical trial wringer. The outfit, based in Austin, Texas developed its vaccine through research carried out on NASA's space shuttle missions.

Scientists have long known that bacteria and viruses grow more rapidly and virulently in space. Astrogenetix took advantage of that fast-growing, super-active state to home in on the salmonella genes responsible for infectiousness, and then removed said genes to create a weak vaccine strain.

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Augmented Reality Headsets to Help ISS Astronauts

As if space isn't cool enough already. Why can't they augment our mundane Earth reality first?

The movies make space flight seem easy. A simple flip of the joystick or twist of the knob and any asteroid or space creature is done for. Sadly, the reality of space flight involves the constant monitoring of, and fiddling with, a near-endless set of dials, switches and buttons. In fact, so much of modern space craft are packed with gear and doodads that even astronauts have trouble keeping everything straight.

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Space Shuttle Unleashes Magnificent Plume of Pee

To anyone who's ever pondered what urine looks like in space -- c'mon, don't be shy -- we say: wonder no more, because photos of the phenomenon have finally hit the internet.

Last Wednesday, a number of skygazers were lucky to sight a mysterious flare in the night sky, that, as it now turns out, was a 150-pound cocktail of astronaut urine and waste water released from the shuttle Discovery.

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Discovery Swerves To Avoid Orbiting Space Junk

The space shuttle Discovery just can’t catch a break. Astronauts aboard the orbiting craft, which is scheduled to land back on Earth later today, fired the engines around noon EDT today to dodge a piece of space junk creeping into its orbit, marking the third piece of orbiting detritus to enter the shuttle’s neighborhood during this mission.

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Panel Recommends Life Extension for Space Station

But at what cost to further space exploration?

NASA should extend space station operations beyond the planned 2016 retirement, according to a subcommittee of the presidential panel reviewing the human space program's future. But some members also warned that such a step could delay the return of astronauts to the moon.

This comes shortly after NASA had announced plans to de-orbit the International Space Station in 2016. Russia, Europe, Japan and Canada all support extending the $100-billion collaborative venture beyond 2015.

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Space Shuttle Endeavour Finally Lifts Off, Suffers Possible Damage

NASA still determining the effect of falling fuel tank debris

Space Shuttle Endeavour Launch:  NASA/Jeffrey Marino
NASA's Endeavour shuttle launched yesterday evening, after a near-record five delays, on a mission to aid in International Space Station construction for 16 days. However, the craft lost about a dozen pieces of fuel-tank debris during lift off, possibly causing damage to the shuttle.

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NASA to De-Orbit International Space Station In 2016

Despite nearing completion after more than a decade of construction, and recently announcing some upcoming improvements to accompany its full crew of six astronauts, NASA plans to de-orbit the International Space Station in 2016. Meaning the station will have spent more time under construction than completed.

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In Space, No One Can Hear You Blog

A new way of communicating with the International Space Station could lead to space's very own Internet

Despite it being in many ways a marvel of modern technology, the International Space Station can't keep up with even the simplest modern cellphone in terms of data communication with Earth. Disruption-Tolerant Networking, a new protocol for transmitting data in space being developed jointly by NASA, Google's "Chief Internet Evangelist" and others, hopes to change that.

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