Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Outer Space Treaty, and considering the InnovaSpace overarching principle that advocates for a Space Without Borders, Vice-President of the Brazilian Association of Aeronautical and Space Law, José Monserrat Filho,* was invited to write a commentary on this topic.
Space Law was born out of the Cold War and lucky that it was! Were this not the case, its beginnings would have been much more complicated. What was discussed before was the warlike power of space. When Space Law was born, with the launch of Sputnik I by the former USSR, on October 4, 1957, the United States had already been developing since 1956 the Corona, the first spy satellite. Just imagine if the Corona had been the first satellite in history.
The Space Age would have begun under the direct impact of the Cold War - ready to boil over. Still, it was the Soviets who launched the first satellite, and the United States had to lower the ball and think of peace, to face the red danger coming from Moscow, who were now owners of the first intercontinental ballistic missile that had launched Sputnik into orbit, and could reach far enough for the USA to feel threatened. However, the USSR had been devastated by the battles throughout Europe from World War II and could not contemplate another major conflict so soon, and the United States, great winners of that War, had to overcome the pioneering space advances of the Soviets, advances that put the American population in fear. All in all, it was a big dogfight.
This proved to be an optimum time to create Space Law in order to prevent the transformation of space into a new battlefield. In 1958, just one year after Sputnik, the United States and the USSR agreed to the United Nations General Assembly resolution 1348 (XIII), recognizing the need to avoid taking terrestrial rivalries into space.
The “peaceful uses of outer space” became the common and dominant expression. In 1958, the USA created the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), which was devoted exclusively to peaceful purposes. That same year also saw the emergence of the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UNCOPUOS), which went on to approve resolutions 1471 (XIV) in 1959; 1721 (XVI) in 1961; and 1802 (XVII) in 1962, all linked to the main theme of “cooperation for peaceful uses of outer space”. Many other resolutions focused on this premise have since been approved and there is no reason to change this in the coming years.
The threat of war in space grows. Today, in 2017, we celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Space Age and the 50th anniversary of the "Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies" - known as the "Outer Space Treaty" and considered to be the major law of space activities.
The Outer Space Treaty states (Article I, § 1º): “The exploration and use of outer space, including the Moon and other celestial bodies, shall be carried out for the benefit and in the interests of all countries, irrespective of their degree of economic or scientific development, and shall be the province of all mankind.” This province is owned by all and for the common good of all.
There are some great powers, mainly those spacefaring nations, who are committed to creating a new law in order to favour their military forces and businesses. Fortunately, most of the UN General Assembly member states support the Outer Space Treaty and have no desire to change the fundamental principles that underpin it. What will Space Law be like in this new and rather more tense 'Cold War' of the 21st century? It will be essential for nations to battle intensively towards the objective of achieving a more humanistic International Law.
Curiously enough, today more than ever, the benefits and services provided by space are indispensable to the whole world. Yet, also more than ever, space has become threatened, especially due to armed conflicts and the growing hazards presented by the ever-increasing mass of space debris orbiting around our planet.
*José Monserrat Filho, Vice-President of the Brazilian Association of Aeronautical and Space Law (SBDA), former Head of the International Cooperation Office of the Ministry of Science and Technology (2007-2011) and the Brazilian Space Agency (AEB) (2011-2015), Honorary Director of the International Institute of Space Law, and Full Member of the International Academy of Astronautics. Ex-Director of the magazine Ciência Hoje and Editor of the Jornal da Ciência, SBPC, author of Politics and Law in the Space Age - Can we be fairer in Space than on Earth? (Vieira & Lent Casa Editorial, 2017). E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Blog written by Dr. Thais Russomano, Scientific Director, InnovaSpace
An interplanetary journey still seems to be a distant dream. Space agencies and private companies seek to solve the problems that still plague scientists on the ground: how to minimize the effects of cosmic radiation and the lack of Earth's gravity on a voyage to Mars?
The designer Thomas Missé, however, is not concerned about the health of the astronauts on a mission to the red planet - this worry he will leave to the space physicians. For Missé, what matters are the furniture and decoration of the houses on Mars, when one day human beings inhabit our cosmic neighbour.
One of the most recent works of Missé is a Martian chair. Made of carbon fibre, it is lightweight and compact. The idea is based on a simple calculation. It costs around 5 thousand euros to transport 1 kg of weight into space, therefore, a chair weighing just 500 grams unquestionably presents a great advantage.
Missé also took into account the Martian hypogravity environment. Mars has a lower mass than our planet, which generates a smaller gravitational force than found on Earth. Anyone who weighs 90kg here will weigh just 34kg on Martian soil. Considering this, Missé offset the legs off his chair design by 8 degrees, claiming this will give greater stability in reduced gravity.
The areas of space architecture and design have seen increasing growth as greater thought goes into how to create space environments for Lunar and Mars habitats. Extraterrestrial homes and furniture will need to combine strength, functionality, comfort, low weight and small size - quite a challenge!
And there is yet another key ingredient that must be added. These dwellings will need to be more than just houses - they will need to be homes - cosmic homes for astronauts!
(English translation of an article originally published in Portuguese in the newspaper Diário Popular Pelotas)
Blog written by Gustavo Dalmarco PhD, Technology Management and Innovation Specialist
The space sector is well known for having spin-in and spin-off technologies resulting from the need to develop materials and equipment that can operate in the hostile space environment. On the one hand, space missions may adapt technologies already available in other terrestrial sectors, while on the other hand different industries may absorb space technologies for various applications on Earth.
Or indeed that ESA’s satellite navigation technologies could be used to help blind people navigate using a map? Space start-ups are recognising and exploring new opportunities, such as the ability to create an on-demand meteor shower or developing new control room systems based on technology developed in space operations centres controlling satellites.
Space is no longer about rockets, satellites and probes only. There is a new space system emerging aimed at creating data, services and out-of-this-world business models. As expressed by the appropriately named Richard Rocket, founder of US-based space data provider NewSpace Global, "New Space is entrepreneurial, it's about reducing costs and trying to do things in a more enterprising fashion - it requires innovative thinking".
Blog written by Joan Vernikos PhD, Thirdage llc, Culpeper VA, USA
While teaching Pharmacology at Ohio State University (OSU), I was lured to NASA Ames Research Center in 1964 by Dr.Eric Ogden, the Chair in Physiology at OSU and a cardiovascular physiologist, to join him in a small unit of five research scientists. My background had been in brain/stress regulation; there was also a microbiologist, an exercise physiologist, a metabolism and a biological rhythm scientist. Very little was known about what happens to humans in space; our observations from one flight to the next slowly enabled us to form a picture of what might be happening, but progress was gradual. We had to find a way to at least simulate the effects of space flight on the ground and facilitate research that would complement and help us understand what the consequences of living in the microgravity of space might be.
Eventually, the optimal model adopted by the space science research community as a means for studying the physiological changes occurring in weightlessness during spaceflight was 6˚ Head Down Bed Rest (HDBR) or variations of this. In essence, by lying down continuously, the maximum influence of the force of gravity pulling down on us, Gz (head-to-toe), is minimised to Gx (across the chest). It was from such studies in healthy volunteers that I first noticed the similarity in changes seen in astronauts in space to those of people ageing on Earth. Muscle and bone wasting, reduced blood volume, a type of anemia, fluid and electrolyte shifts, cardiovascular deficits, and reduced aerobic capacity alterations in space all resulted on return to Earth in the astronauts experiencing fainting, and disturbed balance and coordination. These changes are also known to be the underlying causes of falls in the elderly. However, this conclusion was met with disbelief, including my own, since healthy young astronauts and HDBR volunteers recovered soon after returning to Earth or on becoming ambulatory. As knowledge accumulated and the duration of space missions grew longer, it has become clear that both the physiological response to spending time in space, as well as the ageing process on Earth, are gravity-dependent conditions.
Recovery from 6-month stays in space confirm that recovery is difficult, slower or impossible. Though bone density, for instance, may recover its density, its architecture is more like that of an older person and not likely to recover. The rate of change of bone in space is also faster than found on Earth, with around 1% loss of bone density a year on Earth, whereas in space this loss is more like 1% a week or month.
On Earth, gravity has been considered the enemy that drags us down and ages us. But the reverse is true. From birth, from the buoyancy of the womb through peak development, children intuitively learn from the beginning to use gravity in the design and function of their body. They do this by moving and orienting themselves in as many ways as possible, exposing all parts of their body to this universal stimulus. Skeletal, neuro-muscular and cardiovascular stimuli are below threshold in the microgravity of space, which results in a 10-times faster onset of atrophy. On return to Earth functional capacity is equally reduced 10-times faster than in ageing. There are comparable underlying metabolic and morphological disturbances where decreased mechano-transduction is a common factor. As more advances are emerging from the science of ageing, such as the discovery of telomeres, it has become possible to compare these with those in space. Though gravity is ever-present on Earth, it is useless if we do not use it.
Deconditioning in space from gravity deprivation, and reduced gravity influence in bed rest, have drawn attention to the medical hazards of gravity withdrawal in other gravity-related conditions, such as sedentary office work and other ageing lifestyles. Today’s prolonged hours of uninterrupted sitting in both these cases have been linked to atrophic, inflammatory and metabolic conditions, from cancer, diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular changes and ageing. The answer simply lies in relearning to use gravity, much as a child does when playing – moving from dawn to dusk, incorporating multiple changes in posture with intermittent, low intensity, high frequency movement.
Gravity clearly plays a role from cradle to grave. Understanding that role may, in fact, provide sought-after simple and inexpensive solutions to a broad variety of today’s common disorders, all the way to achieving greater independence and longevity.
"The body electric" as Walt Whitman eloquently described the human physique in the full flush of health almost 100 years ago (Forbes, April 2, 1921) "is attainable by all. It is a matter of living sanely, according to the dictates of common sense."
The beginning of September saw InnovaSpace Scientific Director Thais Russomano take part in a scientific meeting and workshop event at Moltrasio, in the beautiful Lake Como region of Italy. The occasion had representatives from 12 different countries, including InnovaSpace Advisory Board member Marlise A dos Santos, the current Coordinator of the MicroG research centre, PUCRS. The event, called Bellagio II, followed on from a previous and similar initiative that happened in Bellagio in 2004, and related to the application of space medicine knowledge and technology on terrestrial medicine, health sciences, human performance and longevity. The ultimate goals were to identify space medicine findings and countermeasures with the highest probability of having future terrestrial application and to develop a roadmap for the translation of these prioritised measures to future health research and intervention development here on Earth.
The invitation-only meeting covered a series of presentations on the latest and most important areas of space life sciences, such as the medical and legal issues of space missions, space travel and genetics, space radiation and pharmacy, nutrition and food systems for health and wellness, physiological fitness and exercise countermeasures, behavioural sciences in space, space physiology and medical emergencies during space missions. Thais and Marlise contributed with presentations in the areas of space pharmacy, astrobiology, space physiology and management of medical emergencies in microgravity and hypogravity environments.
Two NASA astronauts Skyped in from the US during the meeting, and Thais had the opportunity to question them on their views about the best example of technological transfer from Space to Earth. Astronaut Ellen Baker (MD) believes the knowledge gained from experiencing the circadian rhythm alterations that occur on a daily basis during a space mission to be the most interesting contribution to terrestrial medicine, with the International Space Station completing a full orbit of the Earth every 90 min at a speed of 27,000 km/h, which means the astronauts onboard see a sunrise or sunset every 45 min. Astronaut Michael Barratt (MD) considers the knowledge gained regarding human physiology alterations that occur in Space to be the most important example of knowledge transfer from Space to Earth, as it is very difficult to properly simulate through ground-based studies the effect that the removal of gravity has on our physiology.
Interestingly, the main goals of the Bellagio II meeting are in harmony with one of the areas that InnovaSpace is currently establishing, namely, the transfer of extraterrestrial technology to terrestrial applications. InnovaSpace Advisory Board member, Gustavo Dalmarco, who is an expert in technological transfer and innovation, will coordinate this new initiative, which will come under the umbrella of the InnovaSpace Space2Earth Hub.
Manned exploration of Mars is really only a matter of time, and some even say it is a necessity that we step foot on Martian soil. Stephen Hawking declared at a lecture in 2008 "If the human race is to continue for another million years, we will have to boldly go where no one has gone before", while SpaceX entrepreneur Elon Musk confirmed his belief that "Humans need to be a multiplanet species" in an interview with website Slate in 2015. Currently there are two operational and mobile US Mars rovers exploring the surface of the planet, Opportunity landed successfully in 2004 and Curiosity in 2012, so there is already much we know about the surface and landscape of the Red Planet.
What awaits any visitors to Mars is a very hostile and harsh environment; its atmosphere is about 100 times thinner than Earth's and is 95% carbon dioxide; temperatures can range from -125°C near the poles in winter to +20°C at midday near the equator; and the surface is covered in a layer of dust containing very fine-grained silicate minerals that tend to stick to surfaces and could be hazardous if breathed in. So the question is how to prepare astronauts for what they are likely to confront on an inhospitable planet that lies at least 55 million kilometres away?
"An ounce of practice is worth more than tons of preaching."
There is undoubtedly no landscape on Earth that can exactly match the harshness of the Mars conditions, however, we can get close, such as on Mauna Loa volcano, Hawaii where Hi-SEAS analogue missions take place, the Atacama desert in Peru/Chile with its Mars-like arid soils where only the most limited of bacteria can survive, and the Dhofar desert in Oman, where in February 2018 the AMADEE-18 Mars analogue will take place. The use of field research in an environment that mimics Mars conditions in some form is an excellent way of gaining experience, practicing for the 'real thing', but more importantly, understanding the advantages and limitations presented by remote science operations where access to and communications with a central control are subject to difficulties and delays.
AMADEE-18 is a simulation mission being conducted by the Austrian Space Forum under the leadership of Forum President Dr. Gernot Grömer, a global partner of InnovaSpace, and in partnership with the Sultanate of Oman. A four-week mission is planned in the Oman desert to serve as an analogue for future manned missions to Mars. This scenario will provide an excellent opportunity for the testing of equipment and procedures in simulated Mars conditions and has the added significance of human involvement, with 6 space-suited 'astronauts' being isolated from the world. Contact with a Mission Control centre in Austria will be possible, but will include a 10-minute signal delay in either direction, as would be the case on Mars.
The AMADEE-18 analogue is certain to receive much coverage as the mission gets underway, and has already featured in the mainstream media. The team at InnovaSpace will await the results produced by this mission with great interest. Whatever the findings are, the media coverage will undoubtedly attract the interest of the future generations of space explorers, perhaps stimulating and drawing them into the STEAM areas of education. Certainly the Austrian Space Forum has provided encouragement through the addition of an AMADEE-18 Junior Researchers Program, opened to students from Europe and Oman.
It is without doubt that Space has a cross-generational and universal appeal, and its beauty lies in it being a truly interdisciplinary area, something that can be used to unite different disciplines. Traditionally, this has often been difficult to achieve within a university context, where individual areas, such as biology, physics, computer science and engineering, follow their own parallel paths. However, learning can undoubtedly be maximised through the use of interdisciplinary teaching and research. The promotion of interdisciplinarity is the core concept of InnovaSpace, with the field of the Space Life Sciences being used as a tool to draw together different subject areas in an interaction that permits new knowledge construction and a deeper understanding of ideas, something that will be vital if Mars analogues are to be translated into the reality of a manned mission to the Red Planet.
Blog written by Mary Upritchard
It was with great pleasure in May this year (2017) that InnovaSpace Scientific Director Thais Russomano met up with students from the Undergraduate Course in Biomedical Informatics of the Federal University of Health Sciences of Porto Alegre (UFCSPA). Thais accepted the invitation of the students and Professor Dr. Juliana Herbert to present the lecture "Life in Microgravity and its Simulations on Earth”, as part of the II Academic Week of Biomedical Informatics at UFCSPA.
The Biomedical Informatics Undergraduate Course first began its activities in 2015 and has two areas of activity: Health Informatics and Bioinformatics. The course curriculum is composed of courses related to Computer Science and to Healthcare, and is very much interdisciplinary in essence. The 3rd year of the course sees students undertake a module in "Human Machine Interface", in which topics such as cognitive and perceptive psychology, ergonomics, semiotic engineering and interface evaluation methods are discussed, considering characteristics such as usability, communicability and accessibility.
As a practical activity, the course students from UFCSPA have been evaluating the usability of interfaces of the InnovaSpace website, based on a set of 10 usability heuristics proposed by Jakob Nielsen. Nine students applied each heuristic, evaluating it with pre-defined severity degrees and also making observations. The jury is still out at the moment and the InnovaSpace team are eagerly awaiting results from the evaluation report, hoping not too many usability issues have been found with the website!
Our thanks go out to the students from the Biomedical Informatics course for taking the time to examine our site with such enthusiasm, and to Dr Juliana Herbert for the interest and support she has shown to InnovaSpace.
Dr. Herbert is a Professor at UFCSPA, teaching and researching in Software Engineering, primarily software testing, software metrics and human computer interaction, in the context of the Biomedical Informatics career. She also coordinates the Internal Quality Nucleus, working with process management. Dr. Herbert holds a doctoral degree in Computer Science, with her dissertation focused on software validation and verification. She is also a Senior Consultant of Herbert Consulting, working in software development and process management projects with companies from Brazil, Uruguay, Spain, Portugal and the United States, and an associate researcher of the Basic Sciences Development Program (PEDEClBA-UdelaR) of the University of the Republic in Montevideo, Uruguay.
Blog written by Mary Upritchard in conjunction with Dr. Juliana Herbert
The entrepreneur, visionary, investor and all-round Space enthusiast Elon Musk recently shared one more of his stellar ideas. Using social media, he unveiled photos of the new design of spacesuits for his Space Exploration Technologies Corporation, a California company better known as SpaceX. Astronauts within the SpaceX Dragon capsule, which will transport crew members on space missions, will use this new model of suit.
It can be seen from Musk's photos that the design of his space clothes is very different from those used since the early 1960s, when Gagarin made the first manned Earth orbit flight. Technology has greatly improved astronaut suits over the decades, making them safer and more functional, however, only now has the heavy and uncomfortable structure given way to a more modern and sleek design. SpaceX has not yet released many details about the outfit, but Musk claims the new spacesuit has been designed to not only look more appealing, but to also associate this elegance with safety.
"Was incredibly hard to balance esthetics and function. Easy to do either separately."
Musk's revelation reminded InnovaSpace Scientific Director Thais Russomano about a course she taught for the Visual Culture and Contemporary Art (ViCCA) Master’s degree, run by Aalto University, Helsinki, Finland, in which she contributed a module on Space & Design. One of her students decided to revisit the concepts of space suits, trying to add some modernity and visual sophistication to them. Interestingly, both the student and Elon Musk shared the same problems and concern, which was the art in finding the right balance between aesthetics, functionality, and strength. It is clear that the task of creating a space boutique will not be easy, nonetheless, it would definitely seem that cosmic fashion design is about to be launched.
Blog written by Mary Upritchard
The next decades will undoubtedly witness greater long-term extraterrestrial space exploration, as mankind endeavours to establish Moon bases for the commercial mining of minerals, and to fulfil dreams of sending manned-missions to Mars. For such plans to be realised, many technological obstacles have yet to be overcome, which will require fresh minds, new ideas and innovation – but where will this new space industry workforce come from? Already there are reported shortages of qualified workers in the US aerospace industry, a situation repeated in the UK with a lack of skills in the STEM areas. This scenario is set to become worse as the space sector grows. For example, according to the UK Space Agency, the industry is growing four times faster than the rest of the economy and will demand many new additions to the current 70,000 strong highly-skilled workforce, as recently confirmed by former NASA astronaut Stephen Frick for City A.M. newspaper. So how will we plug this gap? How can we capture the interest and enthusiasm of the youths who will become the next space generation?
"I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand."
While some may say the answer to these questions lie in the university systems of our societies, as new graduates channel through in the STEM areas, we at InnovaSpace firmly believe the true answer is set much further back in the educational life of a child. Children are born a blank canvas just waiting to soak up knowledge. Their minds are open and eager to learn, as they reach out to the world surrounding them – THIS is the ideal time to light the spark of interest in space through introducing opportunities to interact with the STEM areas at a basic level and in a positive enabling environment. An inspiring demonstration of this is seen in the Lockheed Martin Generation Beyond Challenge, in which technology and education are combined to bring space science into the classrooms of 9-11 year olds in an entertaining way, through the design of a space habitation module for the first crew to Mars.
InnovaSpace also seeks to open up learning opportunities to the young people who will ultimately shape the destiny of space exploration through the provision of educational modules. Very recently, InnovaSpace Scientific Director, Thais Russomano, had the opportunity to put this into practice, spending a week at King’s College London teaching pre-University students. The teenagers, who came from various regions of the UK and some from other countries, learned about manned space flight, the physiological and emotional challenges of a space mission, how astronauts live and work in microgravity, and the ways we can simulate the hostile conditions of space on the ground, and also included a visit to the Space area of the London Science Museum. The course, entitled Into Space, is just one of the modules that form part of the InnovaSpace educational program, taught primarily in English, but also offered in Spanish and Portuguese, in order to open up the modules to a broader audience. This in line with our philosophy of promoting Space Without Borders.
Blog written by Mary Upritchard
Where once there was STEM, there is now STEAM! The classic subject areas of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics have been joined in recent years by Art and design, as educators try to stimulate and encourage young minds to interweave the traditional learning subjects with art elements and practices, in an integrated approach. The imagination of learners can be sparked by giving them the freedom to apply creative thinking and design skills to STEM projects, leading to innovative thought and greater engagement with subjects that can sometimes be seen as intimidating.
In a project lasting over three years, artist Aleksandra Mir has combined art with a focus on Space and scientific discovery to stimulate thought, particularly in regard to satellites and human space flight. Aleksandra and a team of 25 young collaborators have created a 200 metre long hand-drawn Space Tapestry using marker pens on canvas, which reveals an episodic visual story of space travel. In addition, Mir interviewed sixteen professionals from the space industry and academia, as she sought to gain an understanding of the infinite universe (in which we are merely the tiniest dot) and the science that has allowed mankind to travel into Space. One of the sixteen interviewees was our very own Space Doctor, InnovaSpace Director Thais Russomano, who was happy to explain to Aleksandra about microgravity and the human physiology problems that can be caused by exposure to it. Dr. Russomano is no stranger to the world of the arts and firmly believes in the importance of promoting multidisciplinary learning, bringing together different but complementary sets of skills to enhance the learning experience. She believes that art most certainly has a role to play alongside the STEM subjects, reinforcing this idea in the Space & Design workshops she gives at Aalto University, Finland.
Space Tapestry is currently on exhibition for free at two venues in the UK: Tate Liverpool until 15th October 2017; and Modern Art Oxford until 12th November 2017. The book entitled, Can't Stop Thinking About the Future, is available to purchase from Strange Attractor in the UK and MIT Press in the US.
Blog written by Mary Upritchard