The Pentagon has silently signed a contract with the Sierra Nevada Corporation to transform a cargo space ship, called the Shooting Star, into a small experimental space station. The information is The Drive.
The company has been developing the spacecraft since 2016 and its main objective was to use it to refuel the International Space Station in NASA’s Commercial Refueling Services program. The project measures almost 5 kilometers in length and was created to transport cargo. In addition, it has two arrays of solar panels capable of generating six kilowatts of energy on board and is able to maneuver independently in space using six thrusters.
With these characteristics, the company wants to create a small space station for “space assembly, microgravity, experimentation, logistics, manufacturing, training, testing and evaluation. We are excited about the nature of the Shooting Star. The possible applications of the ship are really endless” , said Fatih Ozmen, CEO of Sierra Nevada Corporation, in a statement.
“We are proud to offer our transport vehicle to the Department of Defense for experimentation and testing, expanding beyond current payload capabilities,” said Steve Lindsey, vice president of Sierra Nevada Corporation.
Although the tests planned for the Shooting Star are not manned, the The Drive suggests that the Pentagon is interested in pursuing the idea of creating a place where astronauts can live while exploring space.
Advances of the International Space Station
While Pentgon works on ways to explore space, there are advances made within the International Space Station (ISS). Oleg Kononenko, a Russian cosmonaut, built the first human cartilage in space.
Using magnetism techniques, it was possible to produce the material without using so-called physical fabric scaffolds. Equipment of this type already exists on Earth, but depends on gravity and structures that guarantee the union of the cartilage cells. The smart part of the new process is to use magnetism as a substitute for gravity.
With the help of the system, the effects of microgravity and acceleration can be neutralized, and objects – such as the cells in these cartilages – can be kept in place, ready for the assembly of the human component.
Before experiments on board the ISS, scientists developed mathematical models and computer simulations to investigate the feasibility of the process, looking at how microgravity could affect the way cells are assembled.