On the Road to Cultured Meat for Astronauts (and Earthlings)

ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet helping grow chilli peppers aboard the International Space Station. The crop made a record for feeding the most astronauts with a crop grown in space, eaten as part of a taco night. (Credit: ESA/NASA–T. Pesquet)

PARIS (ESA PR) — Cultured meat could be a game changer for the environment, food security, human health and animal welfare. But some challenges prevent it from reaching its full potential. Now ESA is supporting researchers to explore the possibility of growing cultured meat to feed astronauts. Overcoming the challenges of growing meat in space could also help us find solutions to produce it sustainably and effectively on Earth.

The idea of feeding astronauts on long-duration missions with cultured meat was initially proposed by ESA engineer Paolo Corradi.

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Five Space Station Research Results Contributing to Deep Space Exploration

European Space Agency astronaut Alexander Gerst works on the MICS experiment aboard the International Space Station. Observations of how cement reacts in space during the hardening process may help engineers better understand its microstructure and material properties, which could improve cement processing techniques on Earth and lead to the design of safe, lightweight space habitats. (Credits: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — More than 3,000 experiments have been conducted aboard the  International Space Station during the 21 years humans have been living and working in space. These experiments have provided insights helping improve life back on Earth and explore farther into the solar system. Researchers have shared these results in thousands of scientific publications.

Over the past few months, scientists shared the outcomes of space station studies that could help us recover more water from life support systems, construct Moon bases, grow plants in space, and more.

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Nine Ways We Use AR and VR on the International Space Station

Credit: NASA

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — Even the most highly trained and experienced person sometimes needs a hand. For astronauts aboard the International Space Station, that helping hand comes from other crew members, experts on the ground, and increasingly, in the form of augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR).

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An Astronaut’s Guide to Out-of-Earth Manufacturing

ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst sawing a stuck bolt used to secure the Electromagnetic Levitator hardware for launch. Alexander managed to saw the bolt out, cleverly using shaving foam to keep any metal debris from floating free. (Credit: ESA/NASA)

PARIS (ESA PR) — Improvising new stuff from the stuff you have is part of an astronaut’s job description – think Apollo 13’s crew refitting CO2 filters to save their own lives, or stranded Mark Watney in The Martian, feeding himself on the Red Planet. Now plans are underway to manufacture items in orbit, and ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst argues this could make a big difference to living and working in space.

Alexander – who has spent just under a year in orbit, becoming the second European to command the International Space Station (ISS) – spoke at ESA’s Workshop on Advanced Manufacturing, which included a special session on out-of-Earth manufacturing.

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New European Drawer Rack Set for Space Station

Image of Europe’s space laboratory Columbus taken by ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano from outside the International Space Station. (Credit: ESA–L. Parmitano, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO)

PARIS (ESA PR) — When the Japanese HTV-9 cargo vehicle launches to the International Space Station on 20 May it will carry a part of Europe in its pressurised module. The second iteration of the European Drawer Rack (EDR-2) is destined for the European Columbus laboratory and will provide even greater opportunities for science in space.

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Video: ESA Astronauts Discuss Landing in Soyuz Spacecraft

Video Caption: Take a break with ESA astronauts Alexander Gerst, Samantha Cristoforetti, Luca Parmitano and Thomas Pesquet as they discuss living and working in space. In this video, our astronauts talk about their experiences of landing in a Russian Soyuz spacecraft upon returning from the International Space Station.

During a shared coffee break, Luca compares his first landing to his most recent landing – the second of which he found much softer than the first. Thomas finds humour in his experience of landing horizontally, while Alex describes a particularly high gravitational load on his return to Earth.

This clip is part of a series of four filmed in February 2020, following Luca’s return from the ISS mission on 6 February. It was filmed in the crew quarters of the German Aerospace Center DLR’s :envihab facility next to ESA’s European Astronaut Centre in Cologne, Germany.

For more about Luca’s Beyond mission and other ESA astronaut-related content, visit the Exploration blog: https://blogs.esa.int/exploration/

Tackling Immune System Dysfunction— from Multiple Angles

European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Alexander Gerst and NASA astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor, perform a Functional Immune Blood Sample Draw at the Human Research Facility (HRF), in the Columbus Module. The Functional Immune investigation analyzes blood and saliva samples to determine the changes taking place in crew members’ immune systems during flight. (Credits: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — Getting sick is no fun for anyone, but it especially taxes crew members aboard the ISS. Protecting crew health is important as NASA prepares for long-duration, deep-space missions. The human immune system is a complex web of biological structures and processes; decreased activity in one piece of it can change overall disease risk. Studies have shown microgravity causes modifications in the human immune system. Figuring out why and how this occurs could help not only astronauts, but people affected by immune dysfunction here on Earth.

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Cleared for Commercialization – Bartolomeo External Platform to Expand ISS Usage

Bartolomeo with laser (Credit: Airbus)
  • Europe’s first commercial external platform on the International Space Station (ISS) is scheduled for launch on 6 March 2020.
  • Built and tested in Germany, the Bartolomeo platform is a major step towards commercial ISS use in Europe.
  • Bartolomeo offers companies and research institutions ideal conditions for exposing their experiments and technological developments to the conditions of space simply and directly.

Its days on Earth are numbered – the external platform Bartolomeo is currently waiting for its launch to the International Space Station (ISS) at Kennedy Space Center in Florida inside a SpaceX Dragon capsule.

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ESA’s Electromagetic Levitator Used to Melt Metals on Space Station

A free-floating molten metal suspended by electromagnetic force during 20 seconds of weightlessness on a parabolic flight. (Credit: DLR)

PARIS (ESA PR) — The Blue Dot mission saw the installation of the electromagetic levitator on the International Space Station in ESA’s Columbus laboratory. This is a furnace that can heat metals up to 2100°C and then cool them rapidly. Blacksmiths have been using this technique for centuries, creating steel tools and weapons by heating, hammering and quenching in water. This process sets the steels structure and causes it to be hard and stay sharp.

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Concrete Produced on International Space Station

European Space Agency astronaut Alexander Gerst works on the MICS experiment aboard the International Space Station. Observations of how cement reacts in space during the hardening process may help engineers better understand its microstructure and material properties, which could improve cement processing techniques on Earth and lead to the design of safe, lightweight space habitats. (Credits: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — When humans go to the Moon or Mars to stay, they will need to construct safe places in which to live and work. The most widely used building material on Earth, concrete, may be the answer. It is strong and durable enough to provide protection from cosmic radiation and meteorites and it may be possible to make it using materials available on these celestial bodies.

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A New Journey into Earth for Space Exploration

Astronauts from five space agencies around the world take part in ESA’s CAVES training course– Cooperative Adventure for Valuing and Exercising human behaviour and performance Skills. (Credit: ESA – A. Romeo)

PARIS (ESA PR) — Six astronauts, five space agencies and a fresh start into underground worlds to help prepare for living on other planets. ESA’s latest training adventure will equip an international crew with skills to explore uncharted terrains on the Moon and Mars, this time with a focus on the search for water.

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CIMON Mobile Astronaut Assistant Back on Earth After 14 Months on ISS

ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst interacts with the CIMON mobile astronaut assistant aboard the International Space Station. (Credit: ESA)
  • On 27 August 2019, the robotic astronaut assistant CIMON, which was developed and built in Germany, returned from the International Space Station on board the SpaceX CRS-18 spacecraft
  • A successor model of the technology experiment with extended functionality is currently being built and tested by Airbus on behalf of the DLR Space Administration; the ‘second’ CIMON also uses IBM ‘Watson’ artificial intelligence technology and he scientific aspects of the assistance system were co-developed and supervised by a team at Ludwig-Maximilian University Hospital in Munich

COLOGNE, Germany (DLR PR) — The Crew Interactive Mobile CompaniON (CIMON) mobile astronaut assistant, which is equipped with artificial intelligence (AI), returned to Earth on 27 August 2019. The SpaceX CRS-18 Dragon spacecraft carrying CIMON was undocked from the International Space Station (ISS) at 16:59 CEST; the capsule splashed down in the Pacific Ocean approximately 480 kilometres southwest of Los Angeles and was recovered at 22:21 CEST.

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Two Weeks of Science and Beyond

ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano performs a European experiment called GRIP that studies astronauts’ perception of of mass and movement and how they interface with the human body and change in microgravity. (Credit: ESA/NASA)

PARIS (ESA PR) — Over two weeks have flown by since ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano was launched to the International Space Station for his second six-month stay in orbit. His arrival, alongside NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan and Roscosmos Soyuz commander Alexander Skvortsov, boosted the Station’s population to six and the crew has been busy ever since – performing a wide range of science in space.

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Airbus is Developing CIMON Artificial Intelligence Astronaut Assistance System

CIMON (Crew Interactive Mobile CompanioN) is a mobile and autonomous assistance system designed to aid astronauts with their everyday tasks on the ISS. This will be the first form of Artificial Intelligence (AI) on an ISS mission. (Credit: Airbus)

Friedrichshafen/Bremen, Germany (Airbus PR) – Airbus, in cooperation with IBM, is developing CIMON (Crew Interactive MObile CompanioN), an AI-based assistant for astronauts for the DLR Space Administration. The technology demonstrator, which is the size of a medicine ball and weighs around 5 kg, will be tested on the ISS by Alexander Gerst during the European Space Agency’s Horizons mission between June and October 2018.

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Europe’s Columbus Module Turns 10

External view of Columbus module. (Credit: NASA)

COLOGNE, Germany (DLR PR) — The Columbus space laboratory began its journey into space on 7 February 2008 and has now been the scientific heart of European research on the International Space Station (ISS) for ten years. In microgravity, researchers gain unique insights from a wide range of disciplines from astrophysics, through materials research, to psychology and medical treatment options. The German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) supervised the development and construction of the ISS module on behalf of the European Space Agency (ESA), is involved with experiments at a research level and runs the operation from its Columbus Control Center in Oberpfaffenhofen.

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