8th jul, 2011

Last Space Shuttle Launch – end of innovation?

The last Space Shuttle Atlantis Is scheduled to launch today (Actually it was scheduled to the 28.6 where I was in Florida to watch it …but it got pushed much to my dismay).
During my visit to Kennedy Space Centre our guide actually managed to remove some of my innovation worries. One concern has been that NASA as one of the most innovative places on earth will no longer contribute with inventions that historically has changed the world. Computers, Kevlar, Teflon, GPS – the list goes on.
But our bus driver – the looks of a weather bitten space pilot – told us that the space shuttle retirement is planned and the new mission is to go into deep space while the other space agencies maintain the ISS.
Yesterday I read a story in Wired about a new invention being tested on the upcoming Atlantis mission. A bag that can convert urine into drinkable water. This may seem a bit odd but the current ISS actually is doing this already. The problem is that the machine doing the work is using too much energy. So instead this invention using forward osmosis is used. Very clever. The invention – if successful will make the astronauts more self-sufficient, save energy on the ISS and lots of money. It costs $ 20.000 to ship a liter water in space and recycling water on the ISS could save lifting 7 tons of water each year ($ 140 mio.).
So no worries NASA innovation will bring us countless new inventions that will change our world.

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