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Musk: SpaceX Set For Over 300 missions in Five Years

According to Musk, the huge new rocket would be nearly 350 feet tall and span 30 feet in diameter

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Elon Musk, tesla
Tesla CEO, Elon Musk. (Wikimedia Commons)
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After an updated version of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from Florida’s Cape Canaveral carrying Bangladesh’s first communications satellite into orbit, its Founder and CEO Elon Musk on Sunday said his company is set for over 300 missions in five years.

The “Block 5” booster, the final substantial upgrade to SpaceX’s Falcon 9 launch vehicle, was launched from NASA’s Kennedy Space Centre on its maiden flight on Friday.

The rocket’s first stage was successfully recovered, landing on the “Of Course I Still Love You” offshore droneship, about eight minutes after the launch, at an unmanned platform vessel in the Pacific Ocean.

“SpaceX will probably build 30 to 40 rocket cores for 300 missions over 5 years. Then the Big Falcon Rocket (BFR) takes over & Falcon retires. Goal of BFR is to enable anyone to move to moon, Mars & eventually outer planets,” Musk tweeted on Sunday.

Representational image.
Representational image. Pixabay

The “Block-5” booster is designed to be capable of 10 or more flights with very limited refurbishment as SpaceX continues to strive for rapid reusability and extremely high reliability,

“Rate at which things are getting more bizarre appears to be increasing. In the future, it will seem bizarre that we used to crash rockets into the ocean instead of reusing them,” Musk added.

Also Read: NASA Is Sending a Helicopter to Mars in 2020

Falcon 9 rocket, aiming to bring astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) in the future, came with many design changes to improve its reusability and reliability. Those changes may make engineers easier to refurbish its first stages for more flights.

The new rocket has improved its helium tanks submerged in liquid oxygen propellant tanks in the second stage. The helium tanks were ruptured in a pre-launch test on September 1, 2016, causing an explosion.

The Big Falcon Rocket, or BFR, which will be used to explore Mars — a goal that Musk hopes to accomplish by 2022 — will be built in the Port of Los Angeles.

Representational image.
Representational Image, VOA

According to media reports, the LA Board of Harbor Commissioners gave its unanimous approval to permit SpaceX to build the BFR Mars rocket at a new facility on Terminal Island at the Port of Los Angeles.

The report said the new rocket manufacturing facility would be built on a 19-acre parcel on the mostly artificial island that’s part of the port. The facility would provide employment to as many as 700 people, according to SpaceX.

Also Read: SpaceX Launches New Falcon 9 Block 5 Rocket

According to Musk, the huge new rocket would be nearly 350 feet tall and span 30 feet in diameter.

Last month, NASA’s next planet-hunter, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (Tess), was successfully launched on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

Tess is expected to find thousands of new exoplanets orbiting nearby stars, including some that could support life. (IANS)

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NASA to Send Organ-on-Chips To Test Human Tissue Health in Space

Called a micro-physiological system, a tissue chip needs three main properties

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NASA, tissue
NASA to send tissue chips to space to test human health, genetic changes. Flcikr

NASA is planning to send small devices containing human cells in a 3D matrix — known as tissue chips or organs-on-chips — to the International Space Station (ISS) to test how they respond to stress, drugs and genetic changes.

Made of flexible plastic, tissue chips have ports and channels to provide nutrients and oxygen to the cells inside them.

The “Tissue Chips in Space” initiative seeks to better understand the role of microgravity on human health and disease and to translate that understanding to improved human health on Earth, NASA said.

“Spaceflight causes many significant changes in the human body,” said Liz Warren, Associate Program Scientist at the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) in the US.

Kepler, NASA, tissue
This illustration made available by NASA shows the Kepler Space Telescope. As of October 2018, the planet-hunting spacecraft has been in space for nearly a decade. VOA

“We expect tissue chips in space to behave much like an astronaut’s body, experiencing the same kind of rapid change,” Warren said.

The US space agency is planning the investigations in collaboration with CASIS and the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) at the National Institutes for Health (NIH).

Many of the changes in the human body caused by microgravity resemble the onset and progression of diseases associated with ageing on Earth, such as bone and muscle loss. But the space-related changes occur much faster.

That means scientists may be able to use tissue chips in space to model changes that might take months or years to happen on Earth.

Parkinson's Disease, Kepler, NASA, tissue
A researcher takes a tissue sample from a human brain at the Multiple Sclerosis and Parkinson’s UK Tissue Bank, VOA

This first phase of Tissue Chips in Space includes five investigations. An investigation of immune system ageing is planned for launch on the SpaceX CRS-16 flight, scheduled for this year.

The other four, scheduled to launch on SpaceX CRS-17 or subsequent flights, include lung host defense, the blood-brain barrier, musculoskeletal disease and kidney function.

In addition, four more projects are scheduled for launch in summer 2020, including two on engineered heart tissue to understand cardiovascular health, one on muscle wasting and another on gut inflammation.

Kepler, NASA, tissue
“Detecting life in an agnostic fashion means not using characteristics particular to Earth life,” said Heather Graham at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. Pixabay

Also called a micro-physiological system, a tissue chip needs three main properties, according to Lucie Low, scientific programme manager at National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences in the US.

Also Read: NASA’s Ralph Will Explore Jupiter’s Trojan Asteroids in 2021

“It has to be 3D, because humans are 3D,” she explained.

“It must have multiple, different types of cells, because an organ is made up of all kinds of tissue types. And it must have microfluidic channels, because every single tissue in your body has vasculature to bring in blood and nutrients and to take away detritus,” she added. (IANS)