Some Strange Science Will Launch Into Space This Week for NASA

This Thursday, crystallizing proteins from the Michael J. Fox Foundation, a dizzying virtual- reality system, ultratiny membranes and the “Refabricator” — a device that turns waste into 3D-printing filament, will all be shooting into space.

This weird science and so much more will launch Thursday (Nov. 15) at 4:49 a.m. EST (0949 GMT) on Northrop Grumman’s (formerly Orbital ATK) 10th commercial resupply mission to the International Space Station. The company’s Cygnus spacecraft will lift off on its Antares rocket from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at the Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia, carrying about 882 pounds (400 kilograms) of research and hardware for these experiments, NASA officials said in a statement. In total, the rocket will launch about 7,500 pounds (3,402 kg) of scientific equipment and crew supplies like food and clothing to the International Space Station.

These experiments will be among the hundreds of scientific investigations currently happening aboard the space station. The launch will be visible along parts of the U.S. East Ccoast, and you can watch it live online here at, courtesy of NASA TV. [Launch Photo: Orbital ATK’s Antares Rocket & Cygnus OA-9 Soar to Space Station]

Northrop Grumman's Antares rocket, preparing for Northrop Grumman's 10th commercial resupply mission to the International Space Station, is seen on the left in the Horizontal Integration Facility at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.

Northrop Grumman’s Antares rocket, preparing for Northrop Grumman’s 10th commercial resupply mission to the International Space Station, is seen on the left in the Horizontal Integration Facility at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.

Credit: Patrick Black/NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility

Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus vehicle has been named in honor of NASA astronaut and U.S. Navy officer John Young. Young spent 835 hours in space over six missions as a NASA astronaut.

Aboard the Cygnus vehicle will be a device called the Refabricator as part of the In-Space Manufacturing Refabricator project. This is the first integrated 3D printer and recycler that will turn waste plastic into filament for 3D-printing aboard the space station. The filament will be used for repairs aboard the space station and also as a means of recycling waste. The device could also be used to fabricate things on board the space station.

Refabricator flight hardware as seen from the front, similar to how it will look when installed in the EXPRESS Rack on the International Space Station.

Refabricator flight hardware as seen from the front, similar to how it will look when installed in the EXPRESS Rack on the International Space Station.

Credit: Allison Porter, Tethers Unlimited Inc.

This technology could be very useful for long-term deep-space missions where astronauts will have to deal with waste, repair and resource issues on a regular basis. As the investigation’s research overview states, “Without a recycling capability, a large supply of feedstock would need to be stowed on board for long-duration exploration missions.” This investigation is sponsored by NASA’s Technology Demonstration Office.

The Effect of Long Duration Hypogravity on the Perception of Self-Motion (VECTION) study, another investigation launching to the space station, will explore how a microgravity environment might affect an astronaut’s ability to visually interpret motion, orientation and distance.

Here on Earth, our senses work together to let us know how far away we are from things, how fast they are moving, and how they are oriented. In space, gravity no longer plays a part in our vestibular system, a system that contributes to our sense of balance and orientation. The VECTION study aims to better understand how microgravity affects these senses using virtual reality.

In this study, astronauts will wear a virtual-reality (VR) system that will provide computer-generated visual clues to try to create artificial gravity using visual acceleration, Laurence Harris, a professor at York University in Toronto and principal investigator in this research, said at a news conference on Thursday, Nov. 8. After the VR simulation, the astronauts will report how far they perceive that they moved, how far away things were from them, etc.

“Many astronauts do feel disoriented or suffer from space sickness when they first arrive at the space station,” Harris said. So, to understand how a microgravity environment might affect astronauts at multiple points in their trip, they will participate in the VR simulation as soon as they arrive in space, once they’ve gotten used to the environment and once they’ve returned to Earth.


Public School System Utilizes Virtual Educators to Fill Foreign Language, Science Needs

Public School System Utilizes Virtual Educators to Fill Foreign Language, Science Needs

It’s well-known that many schools throughout the country are struggling each year to hire enough teachers, particularly in content areas like science and foreign language. One school district is experimenting with finding a solution to this problem through the use of virtual educators. This year, the Northampton County Public Schools (NCPS) in Virginia is partnering with Proximity Learning Inc. (PLI) to utilize three virtual educators to teach in-need subjects. One virtual educator will teach high school Spanish, another will teach Middle School Explorations and the final will teach middle school science. “Through this alliance, NCPS boasts the opportunity to continue meeting exemplary educational goals without any sacrifices to current faculty or resources,” said NCPS and PLI in a joint statement. “PLI’s Virtual Staffing provides a seamless and generally ‘win-win’ solution, providing master educators while still accommodating to each school’s unique schedules, requirements and policies,” PLI said. “PLI’s courses are live and interactive, hosting familiar face-to-face classroom activities such as student participation, group exercises, with the opportunity to ask questions and problem solve with the teacher in real time.” According to PLI’s website, using virtual teachers allows for districts to work within their budget and save on the costs of hiring a full-time teacher. In addition, it says students are ensured access to the best instructors from all over the country. PLI claims that students using its courses have a 93 percent pass rate and an 87 percent completion rate. Read more about PLI here.

Inspire Your Student to Be a Kid Science Advisor to the White House This Summer

Inspire Your Student to Be a Kid Science Advisor to the White House This Summer

Inspired himself by a nine-year-old visitor to the White House, President Barack Obama has decided that having a team of kid science advisors is a good idea to better understand the needs of students learning STEM. Last month, nine-year-old Jacob Leggette asked Obama if he was in need of some kid science advisers, and Obama liked the idea. “We should have a kid’s advisory group that starts explaining to us what’s interesting to them and what’s working, and could help us shape advances in STEM education,” Obama said later on, according to The Washington Post. Today, The Washington Post says Obama is turning the idea into a reality and the result could turn out to be an excellent summer learning idea to inspire students to keep learning STEM throughout the summer months. “Inspired by Jacob’s idea, the White House created a Web page to allow children to share their thoughts and views on science, technology, engineering and math education. The site is set to go live Thursday at,” The Post said. [Note: the website does not appear to be live at the time of this posting]. The Post says the website will prompt children for their ideas on STEM: “If you could pitch the President on one idea on how we could make our country work better using science and technology, what would you say?” Sounds like a good idea for a classroom project or a summer learning opportunity to us! Read the full story

Tech giants push Congress for k-12 computer science education

A coalition of tech enterprise heavy-hitters and scions of corporate the us have joined forces with a bipartisan group of governors and educators to push Congress for federal funding that would provide eachok-12 scholar in the united states of america the chance to discover ways to code. The institution, a partnership among the computer science training Coalition and, is petitioning Congress for $250 million in federal investment for the attempt.

amongst those pledging their aid are Apple CEO Tim cook dinner, facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg,facebook COO (and bestselling author) Sheryl Sandberg, invoice and Melinda Gates, IAC Chairman Barry Diller, Walmart CEO Doug McMillion. The tech names are joined by way of California Governor Jerry Brown, Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson, and 26 different kingdom governors, evenly cut up across birthday celebration traces. The educators on board consist of Oakland schools Superintendent Antwan Wilson, NYC branch of training Chancellor Carmen Fariña, and NAACP President and CEO Cornell Brooks, amongothers.

“The breadth of aid suggests that pc technological know-how isn’t only a tech problem anymore, it’s anthe united states hassle,” founder Hadi Partovi defined to TechCrunch.

“And it is not only a Democrat trouble, it’s the most bipartisan problem inside the U.S.”earlier this yr, President Obama additionally hoped to reignite the united states of america‘s “spirit of innovation,” calling for $four billion to improve pc technology curriculums in each k-12 college across the united states of america. meanwhile, Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos, Microsoft and Google have additionally pledged a combined$48 million for coding training throughout the united states.