Sunday September 23, 2018
Home Science & Technology US Space Comp...

US Space Company ‘NanoRacks’ Teams Up with Chinese Client to Make History

For a price, NanoRacks can help almost anyone, anywhere send an experiment or small satellite to the International Space Station in orbit around the Earth

0
//
63
NanoRacks
Astronaut Jack Fischer on the International Space Station with the experiment from the Beijing Institute of Technology. VOA
Republish
Reprint
  • NanoRack is a Space Company in Houston, United States
  • The company helps in sending other experiments to the International Space Center (ISC)
  • NanoRacks teamed up with a client from China who were the first from the country to send an experiment to ISC

Houston, August 25, 2017: Imagine a post office for space. That is the job of U.S. space company NanoRacks. Just down the street from NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, NanoRacks is one of many companies benefiting from the U.S. space program’s support for a broader range of commercial interests.

“There has been a shift in federal funding into more of this commercial space transportation program,” said David Alexander, director of the Rice Space Institute and professor of physics and astronomy at Rice University in Houston.

“What that has allowed these companies to do is essentially have an anchor client, an anchor customer and then build up their manifest and build up their client base and think of lots of new ways of accessing space for many different purposes,” Alexander added.

The space business

For a price, NanoRacks can help almost anyone, anywhere send an experiment or small satellite to the International Space Station in orbit around the Earth. The company made history this summer with a client from China.

“We’re all about democratizing access to space. It’s really important to me that we involve as many nations as possible,” NanoRacks Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Manber said.

The company has helped deliver space experiments and satellites of customers from 30 countries, including academic institutions in Eastern Europe, Peru and Vietnam.

The Beijing Institute of Technology, one of NanoRacks’ latest customers, became the first from China to have an experiment brought onboard the International Space station.

“They’re doing an experiment on DNA and how it mutates in microgravity,” Michael Lewis, chief technology officer of NanoRacks, said.

The research operation in China did not respond to VOA’s request for an interview, but NanoRacks’ Manber said findings from the Chinese experiment could have groundbreaking implications.

“They’ve shown abnormal results when DNA is subjected to space. That could mean, we can’t travel to Mars,” Manber said.

Getting Chinese experiment to ISS

Getting the Chinese experiment to the International Space Station was complicated because U.S. federal law prohibits NASA from working directly with China because of fears the Chinese could steal U.S. technology.

“First we brought it to the Obama administration. They were very concerned there was no ties to the People’s Liberation Army,” Manber said.

After two years, NanoRacks received approval from U.S. lawmakers.

A statement from NASA said, “NASA complied with all legal requirements to notify the Congress of this activity, and all of the ISS (International Space Station) partners approved the inclusion of the experiment from the Beijing Institute of Technology.”

However, there was one stipulation.

“We had to make sure that there was no technology transfer. No IT connection to the space station,” Lewis said. “We had a creative solution. We said, ‘OK, we’ll make sure that we plug in the experiment, and it’s not even connected data wise,’” he added.

Lewis said the self-contained autonomous Chinese experiment flew to the International Space Station on the SpaceX CRS-11 Dragon spacecraft. The experiment received only power from the space station and spent about three weeks there before returning to Earth.

“On the science side, a lot of us scientists would welcome the partnerships. There are other issues we don’t think about. Much of the Chinese space program is done through the military and the technology development they have gone through in the last few years, again, have been very successful,” Alexander said.

Aside from national security concerns, scientists and businesses are pushing for more international collaboration in space.

“You can’t do deep space exploration alone. The American government cannot do it without the American private sector, and America cannot do it without international colleagues. It’s too expensive. It’s too long term,” Alexander said. (VOA)

Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2017 NewsGram

Next Story

US Immigration Agency Opens up on Female Mutilation

Female Mutilation should be stopped, opens up US Immigration Agency

0
FILE - A man's T-shirt reads
FILE - A man's T-shirt reads "Stop the Cut," referring to female genital cutting or mutilation, during a social event advocating against the practice at the Imbirikani Girls High School in Imbirikani. VOA

On a few days over the last year, federal agents approached travellers at several U.S. airports — flights bound for or connecting to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Frankfurt, Germany, and Dakar, Senegal.

The officials — part of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement — weren’t searching for contraband, or guiding bag-sniffing dogs. They were part of a smaller office within the agency that doesn’t focus on detaining and deporting people. Instead, they were handing out printed materials. They wanted to talk about female genital cutting.

JFK. Newark. Washington-Dulles. They targeted some of the country’s biggest international airports. In May, they roamed the gates in Atlanta — in the state where an Ethiopian man deported last year was believed to be the first person criminally convicted in the United States for FGC, sometimes referred to as female genital mutilation or FGM.

ICE declined a request to speak with the agents for details about how the initiative is carried out. There are brochures involved and, according to photos attached to the agency’s news releases, male and female agents chat with women about to board flights abroad.

FGC is a federal crime, the agency says it tells travellers. It can have consequences on child custody, and in immigration cases, too, even if the procedure is performed outside the U.S.

FILE - A badge reads "The power of labor aginst FGM" is seen on a volunteer during a conference on International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation in Cairo, Egypt. VOA
FILE – A badge reads “The power of labor aginst FGM” is seen on a volunteer during a conference on International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation in Cairo, Egypt. VOA

An agency spokeswoman told VOA via email that “people were happy to hear that’s why [Homeland Security Investigations, an arm of the Department of Homeland Security] was out there with materials. Some folks have never heard of it; many have but don’t understand it, the extent of the problem and how harmful the procedure and associated complications are. And some women had been subjected themselves to FGM.”

The project is modelled after one in the United Kingdom, an “awareness” campaign designed to talk about the risks of FGC and publicize the criminality of the procedure.

Removing part of the female genitals for nonmedical reasons is a practice concentrated in a few dozen countries, but performed on a smaller scale in many more, including the United States, where cases have been documented dating to as early as the 19th century. Last year, ICE investigators unravelled the Michigan case of a medical doctor performing FGC on young girls.

Reasons given

The justifications can include religious, cultural or pseudomedical rationales, like when U.S. doctors used the procedure to treat “hysteria.” Hundreds of thousands of women and girls in the U.S. are FGC survivors, or are vulnerable to it, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Mariya Taher, head of Sahiyo — a U.S. nongovernmental organization that advocates for an end to FGC — has spoken publicly about her experience surviving the procedure. Now, her organization is spearheading its own effort to publicize the stories of other survivors in the U.S., with a video project due out this month.

FILE - A counselor talks to a group of women to try to convince them that they should not have subject their daughters to female genital mutilation, in Minia, Egypt. VOA
FILE – A counselor talks to a group of women to try to convince them that they should not have subject their daughters to female genital mutilation, in Minia, Egypt. VOA

Does Taher think ICE agents handing out pamphlets and talking to families headed to visit relatives abroad, who are maybe considering having the procedure done on their daughters, or planning to have it done on that summer vacation, is an effective method?

“A large part of prevention is educating that it IS illegal … many people don’t recognize that it IS,” said Taher. She wants to know more about what information is being shared and how the conversations with travellers are happening before passing judgment on the project.

Unintentional effect?

“Any effort about the health, legal consequences, support services, I think is really helpful and beneficial,” Taher said. On the other hand, she noted, “I feel conflict. We’re trying to show that FGC happens across the board, regardless of ethnicity, religion, socioeconomic status. … I’m a little afraid, if we’re just targeting certain countries, that we’re unintentionally misrepresenting whom FGC happens to.”

Also Read: “The Restorers” : Kenyan Girls Use Technology to Combat Female Genital Mutilation

Dozens of U.S. states have passed laws, in addition to the federal legislation, criminalizing FGC. In the Michigan case, doctors who performed the procedure on girls were charged, as well as four mothers who agreed to the medically unnecessary surgeries. (VOA)