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That Leak on The ISS Was Made by a Person. Here’s What We Know So Far

Last week astronauts on board the International Space Station (ISS) awoke to a worrying message from flight control.

Hidden somewhere on board the ISS was a tiny pressure leak that was slowly allowing air to seep out of the spacecraft and into the abyss.

The six astronauts on board were not in any imminent danger, although locating the leak was their top priority for the day. The US crew hunkered down in the Russian segment and sealed off all the compartments one by one.

A two millimetre hole was at last discovered in the Russian segment itself. And while that hole may not seem very big, if nothing had been done to fix it, it would have deprived the ISS of air in just 18 days.

The hole was immediately sealed over with a special type of tape to buy the astronauts some time for a permanent solution.

Meanwhile, a special commission was set up by the Russian State Space Corporation Roscosmos to investigate the cause of the rupture. What they found was unexpected.

At first it seemed likely that the tiny hole had come from a micrometeoroid impact – one of the many bullets of debris that whizz around in space.

The theory was even supported by former astronaut Scott Kelly, who explained that this sort of thing happens all the time.

“We’ve dodged a lot of bullets over the past 20 years,” he tweeted.

But as the inquiry progressed, the hole began to look more and more like it came not from the outside, but from the inside.

“We are considering all the theories,” said Dmitry Rogozin, head of Roscosmos, according to the Russian news agency Tass.

“The one about a meteorite impact has been rejected because the spaceship’s hull was evidently impacted from inside”.

Then, things began to get shadier. A photo, released by NASA and then mysteriously deleted, reveals what looks strangely like a drill hole.

“It was done by a human hand – there are traces of a drill sliding along the surface,” confirmed Rogozin.

Rogozin assured the media and the public that the Russian space agency was doing everything it could to find the culprit.

“It is a matter of honour for Energia Rocket and Space Corporation to find the one responsible for that, to find out whether it was an accidental defect or a deliberate spoilage and where it was done – either on Earth or in space,” he said, referring to the Russian manufacturer of the space craft.

Right now, the leading theory comes from an unnamed source at Energia, which told the Russian news agency RIA Novosti that “[t]he hole was made on the ground” and that “[t]he person responsible for the act of negligence has been identified”.

Another anonymous source confirmed that the hole was accidentally drilled by a worker at Energia, who decided to hide their mistake with a seal and decorative fabric instead of reporting it.

For two months, the gamble paid off. Their patchy solution even managed to pass the spacecraft’s pressurisation tests before it was launched into space to meet up with the ISS. But then, the seal began to leak.

“[Once in orbit], the glue dried and was squeezed out, opening the hole,” the second source told RIA Novosti.

Repairing the hole has been neither simple nor straightforward, and the problem may have even caused a few cracks between Moscow and Houston.

It appears that the Russian space agency wanted to immediately and permanently seal the breach with a special glue, adding insulation and medical gauze on top.

But NASA astronaut Andrew Feustel, who is currently in charge of the 56th ISS mission, was uncomfortable with the plan. In audio from the event, Feustel asks flight control in Houston if the proposed glue has any expanding properties to it.

“Andrew, right now, we are not completely sure all the properties that that sealant that Moscow is talking about. We’re discussing with them right now,” flight control replies.

Not satisfied with the answer, Feustel can be heard requesting 24 hours of extra time so that the procedure can be tested on Earth.

“I would really like to see a test of that, somehow, on the ground before we do a test up here and see if it’s going to work,” Feustel says.

“We sort of feel like we’ve got one shot at it and if we screw it up, then the implications are one of these vehicles is going home, or that vehicle is going home, sooner than later”.

But without another option on the table, Moscow insisted on their plan. After just an hour or so, the decision was made to go ahead with their proposed solution. A second patch was added the next day, and pressure in the ISS now appears to be stable.

Rogozin told reporters that they were looking into whether the hole was made because of negligence, or if it was made deliberately.

“Now it is essential to see the reason, to learn the name of the one responsible for that,” he said.

“And we will find out, without fail”.

There has been no further statement from Roscocosmos about the latest allegations that a worker at Energia is responsible.

Read More On This At ScienceAlert – Latest

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Von Braun Station: the first space hotel would be ready by 2025

Inspired by the concepts of a Nazi rocket scientist, Wernher von Braun, this station-hotel Von Braun Station will have its own gravity, kitchen, bars and interiors made with natural materials, and will be able to accommodate up to 400 people.

Von Braun Station

“The station could receive the first tourists in a few years,” said Tim Alatorre, senior architect of the Gateway Foundation , the company responsible for the station’s design.

“The goal of the Gateway Foundation is that in 2025 Von Braun already works and 100 tourists visit it per week,” he said.

According to the designer, the station, which will have the shape of a huge 190-meter diameter wheel, will turn constantly, creating an artificial gravitation comparable to that of the Moon and making the stay in it much more comfortable than in the ISS, where it is not possible to have a sense of direction.

The concept was taken from nothing less than Wernher von Braun, hence its name. This was a leading Nazi scientist who developed the V2 rocket. After World War II, NASA welcomed him to design, among other things, the Saturn V rocket that would take the human being to the Moon.

How will it be built?

The hotel station will be built by using automated systems, such as drones and robots, while in orbit. It will also use GSAL, special space construction machinery developed by Orbital Construction.

Once completed, some modules will be rented as individual residences, while others will be offered to different governments for scientific purposes. In total, the Gateway Foundation expects the population of the Von Braun wheel to be about 400 people.

In space … at home

Apart from rooms, the hotel part of the wheel will feature many of the things that are seen on cruises, such as restaurants, bars, music concerts, film screenings and educational seminars. Also, the interiors will have nothing to do with the sterility of the space stations of science fiction films.

«As humans, we are innately connected with natural materials and colors. […] The use of fabrics, lighting and warm-colored paints and textured materials help us connect and feel at home, ”said Alatorre, although he admitted that heavy materials, such as wood and stone, will be replaced by“ substitutes for light and easy to clean natural materials ».

The architect said that the project, which presupposes the creation of even larger space hotels, tries to put an end to the current high prices of orbital tourism, making it accessible to broad social sectors and facilitating extraterrestrial exploration.

” Gateway Foundation aims to make space travel open to everyone and this and the company’s next project will be true cities in space that will be ports of call for those who come and go from the Moon and Mars,” he concluded. .

Source: Dezeen

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Ariana Grande Responds to NASA Interns Remixing Her Song

It’s no secret that Ariana Grande is a fan of space and, by extension, the folks over at NASA. And it turns out that the love is reciprocal, seeing as how a group of interns at NASA’s Johnson Space Center have just given her song “NASA” the remix treatment.

An “educational parody” of Grande’s track, the interns created an accompanying video “in order to inform the public about the amazing work going on at NASA and thee Johnson Space Center,” per its description.

Even cooler? The specific project the interns that inspired the interns is NASA’s forthcoming Artemis missions, which aims to send the first woman to the moon by 2024.

Given all of this, Grande was obviously over-the-moon about the parody. No pun intended.

“Oh my. this is so pure and special and insane,” she tweeted in response. “hi everyone over there that is doing such incredible work ! thank u for taking the time to make this ! my heart is ….. bursting.”

Watch the entire remix video for yourself, below.

Source www.papermag.com

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Another Interstellar Comet Has Arrived

“Based on the available observations, the orbit solution for this object has converged to the hyperbolic elements shown below, which would indicate an interstellar origin. A number of other orbit computers have reached similar conclusions, initially D. Farnocchia (JPL), W. Gray, and D. Tholen (UoH).”

Remember ‘Oumuamua, the first interstellar object ever discovered in our solar system? You won’t for long as another one was picked up by multiple observers and reported this week by The Minor Planet Center (MPC) at Harvard University. Unlike ‘Oumuamua, this one is definitely a comet and has been identified earlier enough in its trip through the solar system to be analyzed intensely – possibly revealing where it came from and how astronomers can locate more of them.

‘Oumuamua

“The comet’s current velocity is high, about 93,000 mph [150,000 kph], which is well above the typical velocities of objects orbiting the sun at that distance. The high velocity indicates not only that the object likely originated from outside our solar system, but also that it will leave and head back to interstellar space.”

The BBC reports that object gb00234, now known as Comet C/2019 Q4, was discovered by amateur (but experienced) astronomer Gennady Borisov on August 30th, 2019, at the Crimean Astrophysical Observatory in Bakhchysarai. When he noticed it, C/2019 Q4 was three astronomical units (450 million km) from the Sun. Since then, other astronomers have seen its tail – confirming C/2019 Q4 is a comet – and measured its eccentricity at 3.2, based on current observations. A perfect circle has an eccentricity of 0, while a closed elliptical orbit ranges from 0 to 1. Anything greater than one indicates an arc-shaped trajectory and is likely an interstellar comet or object making a one-time visit. While not confirmed yet, together these make Comet C/2019 Q4 the first ‘true’ comet to visit use from outside our solar system.

Unless it’s a spaceship.

Good point. Anyone?

Karl Battams
@SungrazerComets
Unlike ‘Oumuamua, whose asteroid-or-comet nature still gets debated, this one is definitely a comet. If it is unequivocally interstellar, it’ll be fascinating to see how its composition (spectral properties) compare to the variety we see in comets from our own solar system.

Astrophysicist Karl Battams, from the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington DC, tweeted an end to that comet-asteroid-spaceship-or-what debate which has trailed ‘Oumuamua like a tail (if it had one) since it was discovered hightailing out of here. Comet C/2019 Q4 will have plenty of eyes on it as it will be visible to even low-powered professional telescopes for at least a year, including when it makes its turn around the sun (perihelion) around December 10. However, the MPC leaves an opening for the unusual:

“Absent an unexpected fading or disintegration, [C/2019 Q4] should be observable for at least a year.”

In lieu of seeing windows with aliens waving out of them, an “unexpected disintegration” would be the next coolest thing.

Source: Mysterious Universe

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