Monday, 4 November 2019

Baked in space: Oven dispatched to International Space Station so astronauts can make chocolate chip 'space cookies' in zero gravity

A supply ship carrying a special oven designed for use in microgravity is on its way to the International Space Station.
The welcome delivery, contained in a Cygnus capsule, was launched on Saturday from Allops Island, Virginia, U.S., by aerospace company Northrop Grumman, and is expected to arrive today. 
Astronauts aboard the ISS will test the 'Zero-G' oven by baking chocolate chip cookies from dough that was sent unto space by Hilton Double Tree earlier this year. 
A Zero G Kitchen Space Oven. The next delivery of supplies for the International Space Station
A Zero G Kitchen Space Oven. The next delivery of supplies for the International Space Station
Astronauts have never baked before aboard the ISS, only warming food with an existing 'oven' - they usually avoid food that produces crumbs that may float around the cabin and cause problems.  
Typical ovens rely on the convection of hot air to evenly warm the food, meaning adaptations must be made for the ISS's microgravity kitchen.
Northrop Grumman's Antares rocket lift off the launch pad at NASA Wallops Flight facility in Wallops Island, Virginia, U.S.
Northrop Grumman's Antares rocket lift off the launch pad at NASA Wallops Flight facility in Wallops Island, Virginia, U.S.
Hilton, which created the oven in partnership with New York company Zero G Kitchen, said: 'In a typical convection oven on Earth, there is a continuous cycle of hot air rising and cool air moving in to replace it, setting up a constant flow of air in the oven called a convection current that allows for even cooking.
'However, the International Space Station (and space in general) is a microgravity environment, so there is no "up" direction for the hot air to float towards – meaning, we can only depend on heat being conducted through the air.'  
Weighing around 4 tons (3,700 kilograms) the care package also contains sports car parts and a vest to protect against radiation.   
Astronauts will also try out the new safety anti-radiation vest to gauge its comfort. 
Both experiments are seen as precursors to moon and Mars journeys. 
A NASA ground controller called it a 'good launch all the way around' on Saturday.
Other newly arriving equipment will be used in a series of NASA spacewalks later this month to fix a key particle physics detector.
Take those crumbs outside! An artists impression of an astronaut holding a cookie in outer space - not something planned for the ISS astronauts
Take those crumbs outside! An artists impression of an astronaut holding a cookie in outer space - not something planned for the ISS astronauts
Baked in space: Zero-G oven makes 'space cookies' on space station
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Parked outside the space station since 2011, the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer needs new cooling pumps to continue its search for elusive dark matter and antimatter.
Italy's Lamborghini is also along for the ride. It's sending up samples of carbon fiber used in its sports cars for six months of direct space exposure. 
Researchers are considering the materials for medical implants.
Like space, the insides of a person's body are an extreme environment, explained Houston Methodist's Alessandro Grattoni, who is collaborating with Lamborghini on the experiment.
The rocket is carrying a Cygnus spacecraft carrying supplies to the International Space Station
The rocket is carrying a Cygnus spacecraft carrying supplies to the International Space Station 
Northrop Grumman's Antares rocket leaves a con trail after it lifted off the launch pad at NASA Wallops Flight facility in Wallops Island, Virginia, U.S.
Northrop Grumman's Antares rocket leaves a con trail after it lifted off the launch pad at NASA Wallops Flight facility in Wallops Island, Virginia, U.S.
As a nanomedicine specialist, he said Friday he's continuously on the lookout for new materials for devices that are inserted beneath the skin.
These minuscule implants release therapeutic drugs to treat cancer, hormone deficiencies and other illnesses.
Northrop Grumman is now controlling two Cygnus capsules in orbit, a first for the Virginia-based company.
Named for the swan constellation, the Cygnus launched last spring is flying free of the 250-mile-high (400-kilometer-high) space station, after completing its grocery run.

Spectators watch as Northrop Grumman's Antares rocket lifts off the launch pad at NASA Wallops Flight facility in Wallops Island, Va., Saturday, Nov. 2, 2019. The rocket is carrying a Cygnus spacecraft carrying supplies to the International Space Station. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
Spectators watch as Northrop Grumman's Antares rocket lifts off the launch pad at NASA Wallops Flight facility in Wallops Island, Va., Saturday, Nov. 2, 2019. The rocket is carrying a Cygnus spacecraft carrying supplies to the International Space Station. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

It will be directed to a fiery re-entry sometime in the near future, taking station trash down with it, according to company officials.
The newest Cygnus is officially called the S.S. Alan Bean after the Apollo 12 astronaut who became the fourth man to walk on the moon 50 years ago this month.
He later commanded NASA's first space station, Skylab, and became known for his cosmic-themed paintings. He died last year.
The crescent Moon is seen above the Northrop Grumman Antares rocket at launch Pad-0A, Friday, Nov. 1, 2019
The crescent Moon is seen above the Northrop Grumman Antares rocket at launch Pad-0A, Friday, Nov. 1, 2019
NASA has contracted with Northrop Grumman and SpaceX to keep the space station stocked.
This is Northrop Grumman's 12th successful Cygnus flight since 2013. The company has upgraded both its Cygnus and Antares rocket to haul more cargo from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility on the eastern Virginia shore.
The space station is currently home to three Americans, two Russians and one Italian.

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