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Biotech Earth NASA Space Science

NASA Expands Role of International Space Station 153

Posted by kdawson
from the come-play-in-our-lab dept.
coondoggie writes "NASA is looking for a few good experiments to run in space. The space agency this week said it was seeking research ideas (PDF) from private entities who want to do research on board the International Space Station. NASA said it was looking to expand the use of the ISS by providing access to the lab for the conduct of basic and applied research, technology development, and industrial processing to private entities — including commercial firms, non-profit institutions, and academic institutions. NASA said using the ISS as a national lab could help develop a number of applications in areas such as biotechnology, energy, engineering, and remote sensing."
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NASA Expands Role of International Space Station

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  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Tuesday April 27, 2010 @01:14PM (#32002524)
    It worked for me when I was renting out a room.
    • by natehoy (1608657) on Tuesday April 27, 2010 @01:37PM (#32002852) Journal

      Penthouse apt for rent. Very cozy efficiency. Fully furnished. Magnificent view. Reserved parking for your vehicle. Onsite gymnasium. Great weight loss program (disclaimer: weight is not the same as mass). Exclusive community in a unique private out-of-the-way setting. Heat and utilities included. No pets. $40,000,000 a week.

      • by Tablizer (95088)

        Sounds like typical California real-estate prices

      • Hmm... sounds like the Super Adventure Club [wikipedia.org] from South Park...
        No thanks. ^^

    • One good experiment would be to drop a rope and see if an astronaut could climb back to terra firma.

      Whoops!

  • Art Bell? (Score:3, Funny)

    by XanC (644172) on Tuesday April 27, 2010 @01:16PM (#32002562)

    Tell me we're not doing remote sensing experiments on the ISS!

    • What else can they do? It's just a bunch of folks floating around with clipboards doing what machines could do better, faster, and cheaper. It reminds me of those minimum wage workers who stand around on street corners waving signs, a job done just as well by a wooden post.
  • Plane on a giant treadmill... in space!
    • by Lumpy (12016) on Tuesday April 27, 2010 @02:13PM (#32003374) Homepage

      Oh come on a LOT better idea list.....

      1 - how long do lawyers last in space without a space suit.
      2 - effects on lawyers when exposed to explosive decompression.
      3 - effects of solar radiation on a lawyer in a space suit.
      4 - effects of solar radation on a lawyer without a space suit.
      5 - effects of amoebic dysentery on a lawyer in micro-gravity.
      6 - how long do lawyers last as an ablative shield during re-entry.
      7 - what is the maximum ballistic speed a lawyer can reach.

      etc...

      Oh and as a control do the same experiments on MPAA and RIAA executives.

      • Two great things about using Lawyers for research are:
        1. The researchers don't begin to feel attached to the lawyers.
        2. The SPCA and PETA won't bother you.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 27, 2010 @01:23PM (#32002644)

    Come on, we all want to know how sex in space works. Its probably the simplest experiment that would generate tons of interest.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Locke2005 (849178)
      Do you have any idea how difficult it is to clean "bodily fluids" out of the air in zero-g?

      Yes, "zero-g sex!" was my immediate reaction to this article as well.
      • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Do you have any idea how difficult it is to clean "bodily fluids" out of the air in zero-g?

        No. And neither do you, but I bet there's anime that has already solved this problem for us.

      • by Lumpy (12016)

        actually quite easy. all you need is a rapid air turnover in that area with an absorbent air filter. all the floating "goo" will travel to the filter and stick.

        • Or your mom. Breathing in and farting at the same time. Nothing ever gets out of that black hole again. /ducks :D

      • Swallow. /problem
    • That has already happened and it works so move on to something that hasn't been done.

    • by Kjella (173770)

      Already been done on a plane like they use for astronaut training I think, but from what I gather it was more like floating together because the motions of sex lead them to drift apart. I'm sure you could make it happen by pinning against a wall but then it'd probably be like on earth except much more awkward. And even if they hadn't, I think this generation has seen too much porn to care about porn in space. At least moviesex in space, if not the real kind.

  • Case in point (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Un pobre guey (593801)
    NASA emphasizes the utter uselessness of the ISS by asking people what interesting things can be done with it. This after spending billions of dollars and over a decade of work. This money should have been spent exclusively on robotic probes. There is no compelling case here for manned exploration.

    I know, I know, the "get off this rock" crowd will now inundate us with their magical-religious space adventure cult emotional arguments.
    • by toastar (573882)

      as a "get off this rock"'er, personally it's a logical conclusion to come to, The planet has limited resources. the universe, eh not so much. Robots don't do so well when you leave the solar system, Just try doing surgery across the country more or less send commands that will takes years to get there. sending a person just makes more since, granted it will probably have to be a generation ship. manned exploration is pretty important prereq for building a generation ship.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Un pobre guey (593801)
        With all due respect, "getting off this rock" is a fantasy. Consider this: How much money, time, and resources would it cost to move 10 million people (a miniscule fraction of the earth's population) "off this rock" in a manner that they could survive for 100 years (a miniscule fraction of humanity's longevity up until now)? Put them 1) in earth orbit, 2) on the moon, or 3) on mars. Have them be 1) totally dependent on earth for their consumables and other resources, 2) dependent on earth only for half, and
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by tophermeyer (1573841)

          Creating large scale habitation is also always expensive in direct proportion to the inhospitability of the environment and its distance from vital resources.

          Right. So if we never spend the time and money to learn how to make it work right here in LEO with a small population we will never learn how to make it work on a larger scale. New industrial technologies are expensive. For example: Can you imagine how costly the first functional farm tractors were to small time farmers that hoed their few acres with animal power? But do you see how the development and refinement of those technologies have led to wonderful advances in how farms are managed?

          • by lennier (44736)

            Right. So if we never spend the time and money to learn how to make it work right here in LEO with a small population we will never learn how to make it work on a larger scale. >

            Make what exactly work? Self-sufficient sealed ecologies running on nothing but vacuum, sunlight, radiation and recycled water?

            It seems like it would be a whole lot cheaper to learn to do that right here on earth where we have plenty of all those, plus gravity, plus lots of free rock, plus a huge margin for error if you screw up. All you'd have to do would be build some sealed domes like Biosphere 2 [wikipedia.org]. Build them in the Antarctic or Sahara, and if the technology works, build thousands of them. There's your O'

            • by lennier (44736)

              This observation seems so obvious there must be a formal science-fiction law for this somewhere. But in case there isn't:

              Cull's First Law of Space Colonisation:

              Any conceivable technology capable of making space even marginally self-sustaining is capable of turning Earth into an ecological paradise, for far cheaper.

              So no-one gets to go into space to 'escape the crowded and over-polluted Earth'. We might have outposts in space, but compared to anything reachable out there Earth is already paradise. Those who

        • Re:Case in point (Score:4, Insightful)

          by FSWKU (551325) on Tuesday April 27, 2010 @02:28PM (#32003570)

          With all due respect, "colonizing the New World" is a fantasy. Consider this: How much money, time, and resources would it cost to move 10,000 people (a miniscule fraction of England's population) "to the New World" in a manner that they could survive for 10 years (a miniscule fraction of human life). Put them 1) on a ship, 2) on an island, or 3) on the mainland. Have them 1) be totally dependent on England for equipment, resources and tools, 2) dependent on England for only half, and 3) completely self-sustained. At the end of the 10 year period, they should be completely self-sustained in any scenario you choose.

          Please don't make extensive use of the old "we don't know what advances there will be" trick to pretend that at some point it will all be really cheap and easy. Historically, that has never happened. Larger, more advanced sailing ships have always been expensive, and this particular case will be no exception. Creating large-scale colonies is also always expensive in direct proportion to the inhospitability of the environment and its distance from the resource support of the crown.

          Nobody is saying that it will be cheap or even easy in the remotely near future. But is that really a valid reason to not even make the attempt? You have to start somewhere, and it will NEVER be cheap/routine if we as a society don't start working toward that goal. Along the way, we can use the technological advances derived from such exploration to (hopefully) better life for those here on Earth. Even something unrelated to ship construction or propulsion systems (such as a self-sustaining food/oxygen supply) could be scaled up to benefit people in the more remote regions of the world.

          • You do not provide a valid reason for the attempt. You do not "have to start somewhere" to carry out a pointless project. The technological advances will be few and far between. If you want technological advances, fund them directly. Don't make up a pie-in-the-sky fantasy and hope that something randomly useful comes out.
          • by lennier (44736)

            With all due respect, "colonizing the New World" is a fantasy.

            That's an excellent analogy since the New World didn't have oxygen, water, plant life, gravity or indigenous lifeforms either.

          • And indeed, the same argument can be made for the plan for a Popsicle Skyscraper and Giant Escalator to Nowhere. Nobody is saying that it will be cheap or even easy to freeze a humungous Cordial Skyscraper in the remotely near future. But is that really a valid reason to not even make the attempt? You have to start somewhere, and it will NEVER be cheap/routine if we as a society don't start working toward that goal. Along the way, we can use the technological advances derived from such engineering challenge

        • by elrous0 (869638) *

          Don't bother. Way too many /.ers have been raised on science fiction bullshit to ever really contemplate the scale involved or the challenges involved (or impracticality of) actual space colonization. It doesn't do any good to point out that it would be MUCH easier to build a sustainable colony at the bottom of the deepest ocean on earth than to build one anywhere out in the black.

          Barring some amazing discoveries, it's pretty unlikely that any other body in our solar system could ever support even a small c

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Nadaka (224565)

            This is actually quite false.

            Building an air tight pressure vessel capable of supporting an internal pressure 1 atmosphere higher than the outside pressure is a solved problem. Hell, we can even make it inflatable and almost but not quite arbitrary size and shape.

            Building an water tight pressure vessel capable of supporting an internal pressure over a thousand atmospheres less than the outside pressure is a ridiculously hard problem that is almost but not quite solved for a 6ft wide sphere with a skin takin

            • Read the parent. Tell us how you can put 10 million people in space for 100 years. You can't. You would have to invoke the old super-powerful future technology trick repeatedly and on a grand scale. Grow up. This is reality, not Battlestar Galactica.
              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by Nadaka (224565)

                I did read the parent post. Did you?

                Tell me how you can put 10 million people at the bottom of 7 miles of ocean for a hundred years (and have them not be dead in a fraction of a second).

                That is a much harder problem to solve that building a space station capable of supporting the same population in orbit for a hundred years.

            • by elrous0 (869638) *

              Pressure is the ONE big problem of colonizing the sea. Colonizing space has *hundreds* of problems, pressure being just one of them (and a minor one at that). The biggest problem of colonizing space is resources. You make the presumption that there are sufficient resources out there to even build an infrastructure in any practical manner, but that's FAR from clear. And even if there were large quantities of water out there somewhere, and it was practical to mine it, and we had a way to convert it efficientl

      • The planet has limited resources.

        Says who? The planet may have "limited resources" the way we are using them now but who says there won't be renew-able energy discovered or developed at some point? Why couldn't we find a super-efficient way to harness the energy from the sun to power everything and stop using the "limited resources", for example? I personally believe we have everything here we need. If we make it to another planet and find a way to make it habitable then cool, but we need to focus on finding a way to survive here indefinit

    • Re:Case in point (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Chris Burke (6130) on Tuesday April 27, 2010 @01:36PM (#32002824) Homepage

      NASA emphasizes the utter uselessness of the ISS by asking people what interesting things can be done with it.

      Yes, and the HiRISE camera on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter is useless as demonstrated by NASA asking people what interesting things could be photographed with it. Manned stations, robotic probes, equally useless!

      P.S. I agree, more robotic probes. But seriously, sending out a call for researchers to propose experiments is not an indication of uselessness.

    • I know, I know, the "get off this rock" crowd will now inundate us with their magical-religious space adventure cult emotional arguments.

      And what is the use of that knowledge to a rock bound species that just sits in its own wastes watching its resources dwindle?

    • by sznupi (719324)

      Sure, construction of the ISS was flawed & expensive (most likely also largely because of the costly mistake which was the Shuttle and the push to save its face...to make it usefull for something; so "hey, why don't we design a space station around modules meant to be launched by Shuttle?!"); could be done much cheaper via autonomous rendezvouz of modules probably. And that's how few upcoming, certinly in some aspects better (and cheaper) space stations will be built. Better also thanks to ISS, our trai

    • by stiggle (649614)

      Its part of Obama's plans to commercialize space.

      Commercialize manned launchers, commercialize the target for those launches.
      If companies start seeing benefits from experiments conducted on their behalf in the ISS, then they will be willing to put more money into extending its life & getting more people up there - which will hopefully bring more money into the space program.

  • lava lamp (Score:4, Funny)

    by rev_sanchez (691443) on Tuesday April 27, 2010 @01:26PM (#32002700)
    I say we send one up there and plug it in and point a webcam at it.
  • . . . in space?

    It might figure out that missing methane mystery.

  • That they are just now doing what they were supposed to be doing since the beginning?

  • What kind of work is useful to experiment on in microgravity?
    I know there's some material science stuff but what else?

  • Suggestions (Score:4, Interesting)

    by kenp2002 (545495) on Tuesday April 27, 2010 @01:40PM (#32002896) Homepage Journal

    Sadly since I pissed off 1 to many NASA engineers in the past (blah blah Crusader project by UDLP, blah blah trying making some money... blah blah blah remote mining and processing project... sub orbital meteor mining is a stupid idea...)

    Anyway they'll no likely to talk to me (ever again) so here are my suggestions. Please feel free to run with them:

    1: Sex (Duh. We all want to know.)
    2: Artifical ring construction via centrifical force =

    Take a spinning sphere and launch a tethered satellite while still spinning. from the teathered satellite launch another teather out such that the secondary teather is long enough to have the circumfrence of the satellite's oribital circumfurance. See if you can get it to hook up back to the original satellite to create an artifical ring on which we can construct stuff. (may required 2 satellites at opposite sides.

    3: Behavior of molten metal in low gravity for crystal structure analysis (see if effect is more brittle or harded.)

    4: Better estimate of open space survival time of a human being.

    5: Field test atmosphering re-entry capable space suit for orbital deployment of troops (GETA LL WARHAMMA 40K ON YA!)

    6: Polymer extrusion and blown film line test in low gravity for polymer chain linkage testing.

    7: Smoking in the cargo bay in low-G (Can you blow smoke rings in low-g)

    8: Will a paper airplain with a weight of less then .5 lbs survive re-entry to Earth?

    9: Subspace structural testing to see if spacial structure exists (e.g. test if space itself has an actual shape, e.g. a quantum of space itself (rather then an infinitly divisible continum))

    10: Test if the bullshit in DC is so thick you can really smell it on the ISS.

    Just a few...

    • by natehoy (1608657) on Tuesday April 27, 2010 @01:49PM (#32003028) Journal

      centrifical

      teather(ed)

      oribital circumfurance

      atmosphering re-entry

      is more brittle or harded

      paper airplain

      infinitly divisible continum

      The first requirement of submitted proposals to NASA is to do so in English. We all know how well foreign languages (or measurement systems) work out. C'mon, this isn't rocket science! :)

      It does lead me to one important question, however...

      Polymer extrusion and blown film line test in low gravity for polymer chain linkage testing.

      How do you spell "polymer", "extrusion", "gravity", and "linkage" correctly and use them in a coherent-sounding sentence, then get "airplane" wrong? ;)

      • by dunezone (899268)
        The first response to some interesting ideas is to insult the writers English skills?
        • Well, this discussion shows what has become of slashdot lately. 74 post as I post this, and basically nothing but spelling nazis wanking of to their assumed wit, libertarian numbnuts wanking off to their supreme "knowledge" of the constitution, general numbnuts wanking off to their own lack of vision. That, and a negligible amount of actually interesting posts. We are at a signal to noise ration of about 1:20 to 1:30 here, guys. Way to go, that's probably a new low.
        • There is a difference between poor English and lazy English. I'm more inclined to be lenient of grammar and flow issues than I am of systemic failure to even begin to care about spelling, especially because I don't know what languages the OP speaks and what their English proficiency is.

          The poster you are replying to has a point in that "The first requirement of submitted proposals to NASA is to do so in English". If the author does not care so much about their ideas to make sure they are spelling words

      • by kenp2002 (545495)

        lack of coffee. I spit out /. posts in the morning while drinking coffee waiting for the wife to get ready (we car pool) so I write in a hurry. No time for spell check.

    • by Lumpy (12016)

      Ohhh I like that idea... a REALLY FRICKING HIGH HALO jump...

      I guarantee they can get a few marines with more balls than brains to try that one.

    • .6: Polymer extrusion and blown film line test in low gravity for polymer chain linkage testing.

      Nanotubes too. We need to figure out about lowering the tether from space.

      • by kenp2002 (545495)

        I used to work for a company that dealt with additives for (Hod help my spelling) Flurothermalploymers. I did computer matenance on a rehometer that they used to see if they got "shark scales" when extruding basically fishing line. The chemist Ludima was always curious on how when pulling the raw line out what extruding in low-g would do.

        I bet there is more then 1 Dyneon employee that would be interested in those results.

    • by lennier (44736)

      4: Better estimate of open space survival time of a human being.

      I think the ethics board might have something to say about that one...

  • Wait, they want to turn the International Space Station into a national lab? What about all the other countries with a stake in this real estate?

    • by natehoy (1608657)

      Same deal as the Russians taking tourists up, I suppose. Many of the support systems are common, but as I understand it each country has some allocated space. The science experiments would probably be subcontracted out to NASA and NASA would do them in its allocated space.

    • by elrous0 (869638) *
      That was just so much NASA PR (about the only thing they do well anymore). NASA has always regarded the ISS as their exclusive territory. Remember how pissy [space.com] they got when the Russians wanted to bring up a tourist (just because they realized it would give the Russians another "first" in space)?
    • by cynyr (703126)
      Why can't we do what ever we want with our part/time/money put into the station. Also, there may be a condition that this gets shared internationally.
  • ...supposed to be proposed before the ISS was launched?

    I'm sorry, but I'm a big fan of NASA and I find this whole effort to be ridiculous. The ISS was sold as a tool that would provide all of these critical capabilities and now, all of a sudden, they have to drum up business.

    Sorry, but the ISS has officially become a Solution In Search Of A Problem.

In seeking the unattainable, simplicity only gets in the way. -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982

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