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Discovery To Bring "Plug and Play" Micro-Lab To ISS

CmdrTaco posted more than 4 years ago | from the well-isn't-that-special dept.

Education 43

astroengine writes "In an effort to standardize the way we do microgravity experiments, a Kentucky-based non-profit organization has developed the 'CubeLab' (a modular, miniature laboratory) that can be plugged into a rack of 15 other CubeLabs. The first set of micro-labs will be carried to the space station by the shuttle Discovery on Monday morning's launch. The CubeLab's small design allows it to be easily shipped to and from the space station, providing a faster pace of experimentation. Also, its 'plug and play' interface means installation is a breeze. Even better is the fact the CubeLabs are developed by Kentucky students, university researchers and enthusiasts. Now they've teamed up with the Houston-based NanoRacks LLC; could this be the future of space research collaboration?"

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43 comments

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Interesting... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31732654)

Looks like MS has done some amazing things with Internet Information Systems... it's a shame really. This stuff seems like it's work better on the International Space Station. Oh well!

Re:Interesting... (1)

durrr (1316311) | more than 4 years ago | (#31732972)

As a ipad release event steve jobs bribed enough people to covertly give us the International iStation.
A cash bounty is availible from the Jobs estate to whoever is first to update all wikipedia articles to this change.

What do they do up there? (2, Insightful)

Skarecrow77 (1714214) | more than 4 years ago | (#31732668)

Seriously, I'm curious here. Don't they already have like a dozen modules for doing experiments that they hardly use?

What exactly are they doing up there that they'll need these new cubes for?

Re:What do they do up there? (4, Funny)

djjockey (1301073) | more than 4 years ago | (#31732682)

Don't they already have like a dozen modules for doing experiments that they hardly use?

Seems like IIS and ISS have more in common than you'd think.

Re:What do they do up there? (1)

GPSguy (62002) | more than 4 years ago | (#31732982)

It's been awhile since I've been in the program, but the idea is that racks with experiments come and go via Shuttle. With the demise of Shuttle, they'll bring smaller on-orbit replaceable units. Experiments on ISS have a longer lifetime than a lot of geeks' attention span, so they get lost in the background noise. Also, it's, well, science. Often, they're long-term experiments and have to be allowed to run during the course of the experiment, but don't require a lot of tweaking.

At the cost of space up there, they don't keep something around when another project could better use the space.

Re:What do they do up there? (1)

Jeffrey_Walsh VA (1335967) | more than 4 years ago | (#31733246)

Space junk. Hurl it all into the sun.

Re:What do they do up there? (2, Informative)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 4 years ago | (#31733920)

The existing lab racks are being regularly used, but their schedule is full and thus cannot support rapid turn around experiments which these cubes can do.

Which pretty much is explained right in TFA.

PnP to IIS? (0, Offtopic)

impaledsunset (1337701) | more than 4 years ago | (#31732670)

I thought IIS history had enough security problems, I'm don't think bringing PnP support would be a great idea. What does IIS have to do with hardware support anyway?

ISS or IIS? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31732698)

Seriously, Microsoft is fucking amazing if this is accurate. Can't wait to see the next version of IIS. I wonder what Apache will do to counter this?

Kentucky Fried Science (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31732744)

It's finger-lickin' statistically significant.

Re:Kentucky Fried Science (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31735116)

Mod parent DOWN you anti-Black RACIST who do NOT CARE about the Black man using the internet. SICK and TIRED of this racist comments

Why the tortoise loses in real life (0, Flamebait)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 4 years ago | (#31732798)

You know what's hard to imagine? That the ISS has been orbiting the Earth longer than we've been stewing about how frightfully bad The Phantom Menace is. In fact, George Lucas was able to shit out three terrible movies and that hairy guy was able to make three CGI-rich movies about wizards. Surely we don't need to study again how frogs fuck in zero-g.

In the time since we first started sending astronauts to their fiery dooms on return from the ISS, private enterprise has developed a prototype space vehicle. The allegory goes that the hare loses the race because he sleeps while the slow and steady tortoise never stops. The real moral of the story is not that slow and steady wins the race, it's "don't sleep". And private enterprise has shown that it can develop this technology faster than NASA.

NASA needs to shit or get off the pot. They've spent too long funding experiments to literally watch grass grow and paint dry when we could have been sending more probes across the solar system. The ISS isn't a supply depot, it's a nice shady patch which lulls any passerby into taking a long nap.

Re:Why the tortoise loses in real life (5, Insightful)

cyber-vandal (148830) | more than 4 years ago | (#31732836)

Yes it's amazing how private enterprise, only 50 years after NASA first put someone in space has managed to build a spaceship that hasn't actually put anyone in space yet. Hooray for the free market!

Re:Why the tortoise loses in real life (4, Informative)

grimJester (890090) | more than 4 years ago | (#31732990)

In addition, the first man in space was Juri Gagarin, put there by the communist Soviet Union. Private enterprise may be the future of space travel, but it has little to do with the history.

Re:Why the tortoise loses in real life (1)

PerfectionLost (1004287) | more than 4 years ago | (#31735184)

In Soviet Russian, space travels to you!

Re:Why the tortoise loses in real life (1)

troll8901 (1397145) | more than 4 years ago | (#31734186)

Yes it's amazing how private enterprise, only 50 years after NASA first put someone in space has managed to build a spaceship that hasn't actually put anyone in space yet.

The Apollo 11 project [wikipedia.org] costed $355 million (1969).
The SpaceShipOne project [wikipedia.org] costed $25 million (2004).

What's your point?

Re:Why the tortoise loses in real life (1)

vbraga (228124) | more than 4 years ago | (#31734934)

One goes to the Moon and the other is sub orbital.

What's your point?

Re:Why the tortoise loses in real life (1)

troll8901 (1397145) | more than 4 years ago | (#31746972)

Ah, my apologies. I misread PP.

Technology Levels and Breaking Barriers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31736146)

Please, adjust your figures for 1960s US currency.

And please remember that the Apollo project researched and created the technologies needed to achieve SpaceShipOne... it's easy to copy!

Never mind that it's a whole lot cheaper to design using modern COMPUTERS (in case you're stupid, which is very likely, they weren't even close to present day levels).

Re:Technology Levels and Breaking Barriers (1)

troll8901 (1397145) | more than 4 years ago | (#31746982)

Thanks for your reply.

Re:Why the tortoise loses in real life (1)

pearl298 (1585049) | more than 4 years ago | (#31734664)

Of course the difference is between a one shot effort that costs billions per launch and a 747 that lets you fly around the world for under $1000!

Biggest problem with the shuttle is that by commercial airline standards there are so few flights they are still in about the third month of prototype testing - the two mishaps showed that quite well!

Any commercial spacecraft is going to have to do much more extensive testing than the shuttle has received even at "end of life".

Re:Why the tortoise loses in real life (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31737288)

Why do you expect private enterprise to attempt to compete with a government-backed organization such as NASA? I'm not arguing against NASA, just saying the incentive for private innovation is reduced when there is such a large public "competitor".

Sheer madness (1)

amightywind (691887) | more than 4 years ago | (#31743756)

To throw this marvelous STS capability away and all of the 1000's of skilled NASA engineers with no replacement in sight is sheer madness. But the government will be hiring 16000 new IRS agents to make sure I buy state approved health insurance. My God this country has fallen low.

Re:Sheer madness (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31745400)

We're letting our nuclear expertise die off as well. Our industrial expertise will disappear soon, too.

Re:Why the tortoise loses in real life (1)

troll8901 (1397145) | more than 4 years ago | (#31747008)

My apologies. I mis-read your post. You're right.

Re:Why the tortoise loses in real life (3, Interesting)

icebrain (944107) | more than 4 years ago | (#31733444)

I think you're on to something there.

The problem is the current focus of non-commercial spaceflight--science. That is, pure science for its own sake. We spend billions of dollars on flights (manned and not) for the sake of "Doing Science and Research". Now, I like science as much as the next guy--its a great thing. But spending our billions of spaceflight dollars to launch a mission just so we can watch worms wriggle around in zero gravity is a waste. It's one thing to run such experiments in the course of something larger, but as an end in themselves, they're a terrible idea.

We need to drop all the BS about "science" and "exploration" and "discoveries". The only goal of the public space program should be establishing as many permanent, self-sustaining stations and settlements as we can. Moon, Mars, asteroids, Jovian moons, 2001-style "wheel" stations, generation ships. Either we expand, or we die.

The efforts to support this should be national level, right up there with fixing the national infrastructure and transitioning to nuclear/renewable power. I'm talking bigger than Apollo, bigger than the bailouts or the stimulus package. These ought to be the national domestic priorities, not shoveling billions of dollars down the drain for useless, ineffective social programs we've already wasted trillions on, only to pay trillions more because the first 20 years of payments were pissed away.

The first goal should be the development of a high flight rate, low-cost, robust orbital launch vehicle, because without affordable space access, you can't do anything else up there. This is what the shuttle was supposed to be, but wound up failing miserably at. Yes, it will be expensive to develop. It will probably take a few generations of vehicles and two or three decades to get it right. We're certainly going to see a couple of designs that turn out to be failures, or at least more expensive to operate than we thought. But that's how you learn, by doing not by making endless paper studies. Offer it out to Lockheed, Boeing, EADS, N-G, SpaceX, Scaled, Dassault, even Sukhoi, to get some competition going.

Supporting this and the future goals will take lots of engineers, scientists, and mathematicians. Add funding to existing educational money so that school systems can afford to hire existing engineers, scientists, and mathematicians at wages they will be willing to work for, and have them teach. Cut administrative and school board positions (and their pay) by at least two thirds, get rid of the do-nothing, know-nothing "education" majors that merely pretend to teach, and hire some retired drill sargeants to straighten up the schools with discipline problems. Give the kids a chance to work towards something worthwhile instead of glamorizing entertainers.

Once the reliable launch vehicle is in service, then you start the colonization and utilization push. Mine some asteroids, put bases on the moon and Mars, build thousand-person stations in low orbit. Set up space-based solar collectors and beam energy down to remote areas.

It comes down to this: we can sit here staring at our belly button lint for the next fifty years, or we can actually go and do something worthwhile with our lives. Doing it will be hard, it will be expensive... but sitting on our collective ass waiting for things to happen just leaves us sitting on our collective ass. New technology doesn't jsut materialize out of thin air; someone needs to work on it. Pure science can be done on the side, as leftover funds allow.

Re:Why the tortoise loses in real life (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31733994)

Uh oh, a full blown Space Nutter. There is no way any of this adolescent sci-fi jizz is going to happen in the next hundred years, if at all. We don't have the energy to do it. Plus the fact that humans just aren't meant to be in space. End of story.

You really, and I mean REALLY need to sit down and do some basic math. Space is BIG. There is NO ROOM for failure, AT ALL. You can't just "mine the asteroids". Figure out how much energy you'd need to do so. And remember, it's all oil-based energy, and we'd need to haul it all with us, including air, food and water.

There is PLENTY of room right here on Earth. Politics, selfishness and greed are the problems. And this is what you want to colonize space with? Short-lived monkeys?

Not much choice but to go small (4, Informative)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#31732802)

The Shuttle is going away, and with it one of the very few ways of transporting big equipment racks up & down.

All current vehicles servicing ISS don't have the large berthing ports; Shuttle also doesn't have one...but it could carry multipurpose cargo module (equipped in one) in its bay. Soyuz, Progress, ATV, upcoming Orion...their docking ports are small. Japanese transport vehicle does have the big berthing port (and also upcoming Dragon & Cygnus), but it's good to have options...

Re:Not much choice but to go small (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 4 years ago | (#31732992)

but it's good to have options...

Sure, but the Shuttle is too expensive. At two launches a year (which would be the frequency that the Shuttle would launch at), you're looking at costs somewhere above a billion dollars a launch. That can buy a lot of shiny.

Re:Not much choice but to go small (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#31733118)

Uhm, in above case "good to have options" was meant to relate to smaller lab modules, which can be transferred through the hatch of all (hence giving more options) vehicles docking with ISS.

Re:Not much choice but to go small (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 4 years ago | (#31733252)

Sorry, I misread your post.

MOD PARENT DOWN (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31735258)

Nice, but no dice.
 
Moderators, this user is a troll. Please mod accordingly so that we can all have a little sanity on Slashdot. Thanks! :)

Re:MOD PARENT DOWN (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 4 years ago | (#31739512)

Moderators, this user is a troll. Please mod accordingly so that we can all have a little sanity on Slashdot. Thanks! :)

Oh dear, people calling me names on the internet! What will I do? What will I do?

Re:Not much choice but to go small (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 4 years ago | (#31733220)

The Shuttle is going away, and with it one of the very few ways of transporting big equipment racks up & down.

Up, not much of a problem. Progress hauls 2400 Kg up per shot (plus or minus a Raduga capsule, depending on particular variation launched, etc). That's enough for a rack full of stuff.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Progress_(spacecraft) [wikipedia.org]

Down, BIG problem. Raduga hauls 150 Kg per shot and is physically much smaller. Also, despite being a simple reentry vehicle, vaporizes on re-entry about 1/4 of the time. Makes you wonder how reliable are soviet ICBMs.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/VBK-Raduga [wikipedia.org]

Re:Not much choice but to go small (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#31733570)

Yes, it can haul the weight - but you can't fit standard ISS cargo rack through it's docking port!

And Raduga seems to had better odds than you claim. Also, remember it started from higher, almost orbital, velocity; plus depended on proper ejection from Progress.

Re:Not much choice but to go small (1)

Yoozer (1055188) | more than 4 years ago | (#31733288)

Soyuz, Progress, ATV, upcoming Orion...their docking ports are small.

"But... it's not the size of the port, it's the force of the thruster!"

Re:Not much choice but to go small (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 4 years ago | (#31735968)

upcoming Orion...

There is no upcoming Orion. Obama cancelled it along with the rest of the Constellation program. NASA, and with it the US space program, is adrift and will be gutted - unless congress opposes him and reinstates things.

Re:Not much choice but to go small (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#31736908)

If this indeed will prove to be the case (not that Constellation is in trouble; that Orion will never fly), there's still the possibility of Orion Lite.

The real question is... (1, Offtopic)

fortapocalypse (1231686) | more than 4 years ago | (#31732902)

why not apache or nginx?

Re:The real question is... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31733044)

Heh... Yeah, I was wondering the same thing.

Slashdot editors: It's ISS , which stands for International Space Station . This is not to be confused with IIS, which stands for Internet Information Server/Services.

Homeworld2 (1)

mehemiah (971799) | more than 4 years ago | (#31733794)

Plugable space ships? We're one step closer to Homeworld 2 [rakrent.com] like space exploration

Headline Pedanticism (1)

PurpleCarrot (892888) | more than 4 years ago | (#31734192)

Am I the only one who, after reading the headline, wondered why a space shuttle was bringing "plug-and-play" to a web server? It's the International Space Station, a.k.a. ISS. Not the Internet Information Services, a.k.a. IIS. Yes, I am that pedantic. Eats, Shoots & Leaves.

Better Than Me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31734640)

At least you didn't think Discovery Channel was bringing plug-and-play to a web server.

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