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NASA Delivers Supplies To The Space Station

Experiments arriving via the Cygnus will observe how cement solidifies in weightlessness, among other things.

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Space Station
Northrop Grumman Antares rocket lifts off from the launch pad at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Wallops Island, Va., Saturday, Nov. 17, 2018. The rocket will deliver supplies to the International Space Station. VOA

A load of space station supplies rocketed into orbit from Virginia on Saturday, the second shipment in two days.

And another commercial delivery should be on its way in a couple weeks.

“What an outstanding launch,” said NASA’s deputy space station program manager, Joel Montalbano.

Northrop Grumman launched its Antares rocket from Wallops Island before dawn, delighting chilly early-bird observers along the Atlantic coast. The Russian Space Agency launched its own supplies to the International Space Station on Friday, just 15 hours earlier.

Parker-Solar-3, NASA, space, Space station
A Delta IV rocket, carrying the Parker Solar Probe, lifts off from launch complex 37 as seen during a time exposure at the Kennedy Space Center. VOA

The U.S. delivery will arrive at the orbiting lab Monday, a day after the Russian shipment. Among the 7,400 pounds (3,350 kilograms) of goods inside the Cygnus capsule: ice cream and fresh fruit for the three space station residents, and a 3D printer that recycles old plastic into new parts.

Thanksgiving turkey dinners — rehydratable, of course — are already aboard the 250-mile-high outpost. The space station is currently home to an American, a German and a Russian.

There’s another big event coming up, up there: The space station marks its 20th year in orbit on Tuesday. The first section launched on Nov. 20, 1998, from Kazakhstan.

“As we celebrate 20 years of the International Space Station,” Montalbano noted, “one of the coolest things is the cooperation we have across the globe.” Then there’s the U.S. commercial effort to keep the space station stocked and, beginning next year, to resume crew launches from Cape Canaveral. “To me, it’s been a huge success,” he said.

Space, Parker-Solar-3, NASA, space, Space station
The Soyuz-FG rocket booster with Soyuz MS-10 space ship carrying a new crew to the International Space Station, ISS, blasts off at the Russian leased Baikonur cosmodrome. VOA

This Cygnus, or Swan, is named the S.S. John Young to honor the legendary astronaut who walked on the moon and commanded the first space shuttle flight. He died in January.

Also Read: The Aborted Mission To Relaunch Soon: NASA

It is the first commercial cargo ship to bear Northrop Grumman’s name. Northrop Grumman acquired Orbital ATK in June. SpaceX is NASA’s other commercial shipper for the space station; its Dragon capsule is set to lift off in early December.

Experiments arriving via the Cygnus will observe how cement solidifies in weightlessness, among other things. There’s also medical, spacesuit and other equipment to replace items that never made it to orbit last month because of a Russian rocket failure; the two men who were riding the rocket survived their emergency landing. Three other astronauts are set to launch from Kazakhstan on Dec. 3. (VOA)

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Human Sperm Retains Viability in Outer Space Conditions: Researchers

The study was presented at an annual meeting of European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology in Vienna, Austria

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Each sperm has 37.5MB of DNA information in it.
Each sperm has 37.5MB of DNA information in it.

Researchers have found that human sperm retains its complete viability within the different gravitational conditions found in outer space.

The results could be a huge boost to zillionaires like Amazon founder Jeff Bezos who see the “colonisation” of space as an answer to the Earth’s ever threatened resources.

“If the number of space missions increases in the coming years, and are of longer duration, it is important to study the effects of long-term human exposure to space in order to face them,” said Montserrat Boada from Dexeus Women’s Health in Barcelona, whose group worked with microgravity engineers from the Polytechnic University of Barcelona.

“It’s not unreasonable to start thinking about the possibility of reproduction beyond the Earth,” Boada said.

The study was performed using a small aerobatic training aircraft (CAP10), which can provide short-duration hypogravity exposure.

The plane executed a series of 20 parabolic manoeuvres, providing eight seconds of microgravity for each parabola.

Overall, 10 sperm samples obtained from 10 healthy donors were analysed after exposure to the different microgravities found in space and ground gravity.

To overcome regulatory constraints and increase donor numbers, sperm banks in the UK and Australia began to market the act of donating sperm as a confirmation of masculinity. Pixabay

The sperm analysis comprised a full range of measurements currently performed for fertility testing — concentration, motility, vitality, morphology and DNA fragmentation — and results found no difference whatsoever in any of the parameters between the microgravity space samples and the control group samples from Earth.

Indeed, there was 100 per cent concordance in DNA fragmentation rate and vitality, and 90 per cent concordance in sperm concentration and motility, said Boada.

These minor differences, she added, “were more probably related to heterogeneity of the sperm sample than to the effect of exposure to different gravity conditions”.

Boada described this as a preliminary study and her group will now move on to validate the results and then to larger sperm samples, longer periods of microgravity and even fresh sperm.

Also Read: Xiaomi Confirms First Smartphones Under its New CC Series

One reason for using frozen sperm in this study was the known effect of radiation on fresh sperm, Boada noted.

“Radiation impairs the quality and viability of human sperm, and these effects are expected to be greater on fresh sperm than on frozen samples,” she said.

The study was presented at an annual meeting of European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology in Vienna, Austria. (IANS)