Houston: Day 2

Meet Rob. He is the Executive Director of the United Space School. He is also an employee of a company called Nanoracks. Nanoracks basically sells space in space specialising in getting experiments up onto the International Space Station within the very narrow paramaters NASA and the ISS allow.

That thing he is holding is a satellite. I kid you not. A university in Vietnam designed this satellite which is going to be jettisoned from the ISS very shortly. Yes, that is measuring tape sticking out the sides. Yes, the real thing being launched into space has measuring tape for ariels!

This is an example of one of the experiment solutions Nanoracks provides. You place a substance or two into each of the holes in this tray and send it up to the ISS (or get the astronauts to put substance into the trays when they’re up there). For example, bacteria, tissue, and new synthetic substances have been placed in these to see how they react to zero G.

The tray is then placed into this device (which is also on the ISS) which scans the substance, spits of the data which can then be sent back to earth! Pretty cool.

A homemade vacuum chamber they test new products in.

Another cool thing they do is these nifty little self-contained experiments. The tube holds one or two glass ampules that are cracked by a ISS crew member. This may be useful for testing things like new epoxies or other materials to see if being in zero G affects the reaction.

On one of Nanorack’s new rigs going up into the ISS soon will contain this centrifuge which was originally from one of the space shuttles and had been put into a museum!

Nanorack’s tagline is great. They’ve bought the cost of doing experiments down significantly to the point where it is feasible for widespread commerical use.

Photo by Benjamin Billy.

Finally, this is me demonstrating the tubes while Rob takes a video so that the ISS-crew will know how to do it properly! I can now tick off ‘become a Hand Model in space’ from my bucket list.

We did some more things. That’ll be in part two.

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