The conception of outer space as a peaceful, cooperative, and collaborative domain is one that has persisted within the international community over the past half-century. The United Nations (UN) has continuously emphasized that the benefits tied to the exploration and use of outer space must collectively benefit the international community as a whole and not just those countries with space programs. Here, lawyer Jonathan Lim discusses the importance of human rights in space and how the maintenance of space as a peaceful and cooperative domain can be supported by established international law principles and agreements, including the international human rights law (IHRL) framework.
The extension of international human rights into the domain of outer space represents a necessary and foundational measure, conducive to supporting the exponential pace of humanity’s development and presence in outer space, and in reinforcing and maintaining the longstanding recognition of outer space as a “shared international commons” and the “province of all mankind”.
The intersection of human rights and space can be interpreted through two means. Firstly, the use of space technologies and applications to support the realization and maintenance of human rights obligations terrestrially, such as the use of remote sensing and Earth observation satellites for monitoring humanitarian developments in Burma. Secondly, the extension of terrestrial human rights into space, as a means of regulating and guiding human activities in outer space. It is this second intersection which will bear significance in shaping the ethical, moral, and philosophical character of humanity’s advance into space over the coming decades.
Introducing the contemporary IHRL framework into the domain of space gives rise to several noted benefits. First, it provides an agreed standard of norms for assessing and addressing the impact of human activities in space. Second, it facilitates understanding and engagement through shared language and values. Third, it provides an architecture to convene, deliberate, and enforce such standards. Finally, it provides a positive roadmap to guide decision making, and a moral compass necessary for promoting good governance and advancing the notion of inter-generational equity.
The capabilities of future spacecraft will be driven by the electrical power available for them, but the generation of this power is only one part of the overall challenge facing the advancement of spacecraft capabilities. The question of how this power can be managed and utilized must also be considered. Superconductors have long been regarded as a potential solution to these problems but their need for low temperatures and their relative technological immaturity have prevented their adoption in space. Now, however, high-temperature superconductors (HTS) offer a new compelling alternative, with much higher operating temperatures and an unprecedented level of industrial maturity.
Traditionally, superconductors have required cooling to extremely low temperatures (<20 K) for their operation. In 1986, a superconducting material at 35 K was discovered, and since 1997, superconductors have been discovered with critical temperatures above 77 K, the boiling point of liquid Nitrogen. Such superconductors are termed ‘high-temperature superconductors’ (HTS), and their ability to operate at such temperatures drastically reduces the challenges and requirements of the cryogenic systems needed to keep them at operational temperatures. Furthermore, HTS has achieved a degree of technological maturity that makes them suitable to become game-changers for space applications.
Space start-up Neutron Star Systems is leading efforts to promote the uptake of superconductor technology within the space industry through the development of superconducting-based subsystems for spacecraft applications. Together with its key partners, the Institute of Space Systems (IRS) at the University of Stuttgart and Krisol AG, Neutron Star Systems plans to develop the key enabling technologies needed to unlock high power space missions.
NASA astronaut Victor Glover shares his first video from SPACE of him looking through the SpaceX Crew capsule down at Earth
Astronaut Victor Glover is one of three members of the Crew-1 mission
The team launched to the ISS on November 15 and Glover captured a video of it
Glover shared a clip of Earth from the view of the capsule while in space
NASA astronaut Victor Glover shared his first video from space as he and three other astronauts soared above the Earth while traveling to the International Space Station.
Glover is part of the Crew-1 mission that launched aboard the SpaceX‘s Crew Dragon capsule, nicknamed ‘Dragon Resilience,’ on November 15.
This is Glover’s first trip to space and the video shares the excitement – ‘the video doesn’t do it justice,’ Glover says wide-eyed and smiling as he looked down at Earth.
The short clip, shared on Twitter, is just a few seconds long but shows the curve of our planet, the stunning blue sky, and thing clouds spread out in the atmosphere.
‘Looking at the Earth through the window of Dragon Resilience,’ Glover wrote in the tweet. ‘The scale of detail and sensory inputs made this a breathtaking perspective!’
Glover fell in love with space when he was in middle school and decades later is living out that dream 250 miles above Earth’s surface.
Crew-1 mission docked with the ISS around 11 pm ET Monday, November 16, and emerged from the capsule about two hours after completing necessary checks to ensure the capsule and the ISS had an air-tight seal – and were greeted by the other residents of the ship.
Glover took the 240 mile trip with his commander Michael Hopkins and fellow astronauts Shannon Walker and Soichi Noguchi from the Japanese space agency, JAXA.
Along with reaching his personal dream, Glover has also hit a milestone in history for being the first black person to live on the orbiting lab for an extended stay – he will call the massive ship home for the next six months.
NASA has sent more than 300 American astronauts into space, but only 14 of them been black, The New York Times reports.
Glover joined NASA’s ranks in 2013 and is a commander in the US Navy, but is now the 14th black astronaut to venture into space.
‘Flying has been such an important part of my professional life and I love to do it,’ Glover said in a NASA video.
‘6,400 feet, that’s the highest up I’ve ever been above the ground and so to get to a point beyond that, that’ll be a little special moment.’
It seems Glover is having that special little moment, as he is now 1,161,600 feet above Earth’s surface.
‘I’m a rookie astronaut, I’m the pilot and going to be learning the ropes from a very experienced crew,’ said Glover.
Guin S. Bluford Jr. was the first black astronaut in space and traveled aboard the Challenger space shuttle in 1983.
Mae Jamison became the first black woman to take the journey in 1992 – neither were aboard the ISS, as it was not built until 1998.
NASA astronaut Jeanette Epps will become the first black woman to board the ISS in 2021.
Epps was set to be the first black astronaut to complete an extended stay on a mission in 2018, but was unexpectedly pulled from her June flight, The Washington Post reports.
NASA announced Serena Auñón-Chancellor, who previously was assigned to Expedition 58/59, has been reassigned to the Expedition 56/57 crew, taking the place of Epps.
The American space agency did not provide an explanation as to why there was a crew change, but Epp’s brother pointed to racism.
‘My sister Dr. Jeannette Epps has been fighting against oppressive racism and misogynist in NASA and now they are holding her back and allowing a Caucasian Astronaut to take her place!’ Henry Epps wrote in a Facebook post in 2018.
Although Glover’s adventure is a major milestone in history, he said it is ‘bittersweet.’
Speaking with The Christian Chronicle, he said: ‘I’ve had some amazing colleagues before me that really could have done it, and there are some amazing folks that will go behind me.’
‘I wish it would have already been done, but I try not to draw too much attention to it.’
Glover is married to Dionna Odom, and they have four children.
He was born in Pomona, California and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in general engineering from California Polytechnic State University in 1999.
Those closest to Glover refer to him as ‘Ike,’ as a nod to a call sign a former commanding officer gave him that stands for ‘I know everything.’
Researchers at the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) are working on a novel approach for collecting samples from an asteroid – a Clockwork Starfish that turns itself inside out to gobble up rocky debris.
The prototype sampling device was tested this week in a low gravity environment during a flight aboard Blue Origin’s New Shepard suborbital rocket, which launched from Van Horn, Texas.
While the machine might look more like a pointed mussel shell in its folded-up position when in action, it mimics the behavior of a starfish, which feeds by first extending its stomach out of its mouth and over the digestible parts of its prey.
The tetrahedron Clockwork Starfish on the other hand “feeds” by first luring asteroid fragments to its surfaces with magnets.
Most asteroid surfaces are strewn with material that contains magnetic compounds, so the “starfish” is able to attract the rubble with its magnetized panels. It then stores the samples for transport by turning itself entirely inside-out.
“While current asteroid sample return missions visit single asteroids and collect samples from one or two locations on their surface, a future mission carrying dozens of micro-sampler landers like these could return samples from various locations on numerous asteroids,” said SwRI Principal Scientist Dr. Alex Parker, who led the development of the Clockwork Starfish device.
“This would be a game-changer for understanding the origin and history of the solar system, as well as providing a valuable glimpse into potential exploration-enabling resources present on these tiny worlds.”
The experiment performed on the New Shepard, which incidentally was the seventh consecutive test flight of this particular rocket booster and the 13th flight for Blue Origin’s New Shepard program, involved placing two Clockwork Starfish inside two separate vacuum-sealed containers, with meteorite-like materials.
A small camera placed in each container then recorded how the technology interacts with the materials in low gravity.
“This could offer a simple but robust alternative to other means of sampling small bodies like drilling,” said SwRI Principal Scientist Dr. Dan Durda, the experiment’s principal investigator. “Instead, it could be as easy as bringing a magnet along.”
The Clockwork Starfish is part of a larger project called the Box of Rocks Experiment II (BORE II) that first began in 2016.
The initial experiment (BORE) was designed as a simple, no-moving-parts experiment to study the settling effects of regolith, as very little is known about the low-gravity geological processes on the surfaces of small bodies, explained Durda at the time.
The improved BORE II experiment built upon the project, by using materials that are much closer in composition and texture to actual meteorites.
When astronauts on the Moon want to talk to one another, the signals that will be relayed around our nearest celestial neighbor will be done so via Nokia, say the telecommunications giant, as the European firm has been selected by NASA to deploy the first LTE/4G communications system in space.
Chosen as part of NASA’s ‘Partners to Advance ‘Tipping Point’ Technologies for the Moon’, the company Nokia Bell Labs division will build a 4G communications system to be deployed on a lunar lander to the Moon’s surface in late 2022, say the firm.
To start with, the initial proposed Nokia network would be restricted to proximity communications on the lunar surface, providing wireless network coverage around the landing module.
This is likely to evolve to providing communications to and from a spacecraft orbiting the Moon.
Nokia was awarded $14.1 million out of a $370 million innovations development award offered by the US space agency to help them forge ahead with their Artemis program.
“Nokia’s LTE network – the precursor to 5G – is ideally suited for providing wireless connectivity for any activity that astronauts need to carry out, enabling voice and video communications capabilities, telemetry, and biometric data exchange, and deployment and control of robotic and sensor payloads,” Nokia said recently in a press release.
Inspired by Earth-based communications technologies, Nokia Bell Labs said they will “space-harden” their communications system and make it ultra-compact and low-power to cope with the extreme conditions faced on the Moon.
Communication is critical for any private company or governmental agency wanting to establish a permanent presence on the Moon, and although television shows and movies can make communicating with people in space look easy, it isn’t.
Interference, latency, bandwidth restrictions, and high data rates must all be overcome by ground networks and space relays in order to communicate effectively.
Technology advancements such as the one proposed by Nokia could make lunar calling plans much easier in the near future.
“Leveraging our rich and successful history in space technologies, from pioneering satellite communication to discovering the cosmic microwave background radiation produced by the Big Bang, we are now building the first-ever cellular communications network on the Moon,” says Marcus Weldon, Chief Technology Officer at Nokia and Nokia Bell Labs President.
The Finnish telecommunications equipment maker has enlisted the help of US-firm Intuitive Machines which NASA chose to build a small “hopper lander” to carry out high-resolution surveys of the lunar surface;
Nokia will use the lander to deliver the communications system to the lunar surface and once deployed the network will “self-configure” to establish the first LTE communications system on the Moon.
“Reliable, resilient, and high-capacity communications networks will be key to supporting sustainable human presence on the lunar surface,” Weldon said. “By building the first high-performance wireless network solution on the Moon, Nokia Bell Labs is once again planting the flag for pioneering innovation beyond the conventional limits.”