Connect with us


LIVE: Astronauts spacewalk to fix space station

NASA astronauts are undertaking a spacewalk lasting more than six hours today to repair the International Space Station.

Drew Feustel and Ricky Arnold are going to replace a failed cooling component and install a camera system and communications receiver on the outside of the craft.

The pair previously completed another six-hour walk on 29 March to install wireless communications antennas and fix a buggy cooling system.

It will be the 210th spacewalk at the ISS since 1998, and the fourth so far this calendar year.

Specifically, the pair will be swapping out thermal control gear that circulates ammonia to keep the station's systems cool.

Image: There have been 209 spacewalks at the ISS. Pic: NASA

Any time an astronaut gets out of a vehicle while in space it's called a spacewalk.

The first ever spacewalk was conducted by Russian cosmonaut Alexei Leonov on 18 March 1965 and lasted for 10 minutes.

American astronaut Ed White followed on 3 June 1965 and lasted 23 minutes.

The typical spacewalk today takes place outside of the ISS and lasts between five and eight hours, depending on the job.

The astronauts wear spacesuits which provide them with the oxygen they need to breathe and the water they need to drink, and put these on several hours before the walk.

In February 1984, astronaut Bruce McCandless became the first astronaut to move about in space without being connected to a spacecraft. He used a jet-propelled backpack to move around.
Image: In 1984, Bruce McCandless became the first astronaut to move about in space without a tether. Pic: NASA

While in their suits they breathe pure oxygen for a few hours, getting rid of all the nitrogen in their body to avoid getting the bends – also common among divers.

When on a spacewalk, the astronauts are tethered to their spacecraft to stop them floating off into space and their tools are tethered to their suits to stop them from floating off as well.

The real safety mechanism for astronauts is their SAFER backpack, which stands for Simplified Aid for Extra-vehicular activity Resure".

SAFER uses small jet thrusters to let the astronauts move around in space and is controlled with a small joystick.

IN SPACE - AUGUST 3: In this NASA handout, mission specialist, Astronaut Stephen K. Robinson, is anchored to a foot restraint on the International Space Station's Canadarm2 robotic arm, during his space walk to repair the underside of the space shutttle Discovery August 3, 2005. Space shuttle Discovery is scheduled to return to Earth August 8. (Photo by NASA via Getty Images)
Image: Astronaut Stephen Robinson anchored to a foot restraint during a spacewalk. Pic: NASA

Before going into space, the astronauts train for spacewalks by swimming.

Astronauts practice spacewalks underwater in a large swimming pool called the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory, or NBL near NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.

The pool holds 6.2 million gallons of water and astronauts spend seven hours training in the pool for every single hour they will spend on a spacewalk.

More from International Space Station

  • Russia to offer tourists spacewalks on International Space Station

  • Japanese astronaut worried after growing 9cm in space

  • Astronauts have pizza party on the International Space Station

  • Stray plane delays rocket launch to International Space Station

  • Faulty jetpack forces ISS astronaut to abandon spacewalk

  • 'Shape-shifting' bacteria spotted on International Space Station

They also train by using virtual reality, wearing a helmet with a video screen inside and special gloves.

A video of what they will see during a spacewalk is shown on the screen inside the helmet and when the astronaut moves, the special gloves allow the movements to be shown with the video.

Continue Reading


How to track product recalls


One stop for all the things you wish you hadn’t shopped.

When it comes to product recall watch lists, there’s something for everything.

Continue Reading


Sky and Netflix combine to create ‘ultimate’ package

Sky and Netflix have announced details of their partnership, creating what they say will be the UK's "biggest on demand TV service".

The deal, first announced earlier this year, will see subscribers to Sky Q – Sky's premium TV box – able to access an 'Ultimate On Demand' pack for £10 extra per month.

It will allow customers of Sky, the owner of Sky News, full access to the Netflix app through their single Sky subscription, rather than having to pay Netflix separately.

Existing Sky Q customers with Netflix would be able to "easily move their account to the new pack or sign in to the Netflix app on Sky Q using their existing Netflix account details," Sky said.

The combined service will see Sky original productions such as Patrick Melrose and US shows such as HBO's Game of Thrones alongside Netflix's content, which includes The Crown and Stranger Things, for the first time.

Tobias Menzies as Prince Philip in The Crown
Image: Tobias Menzies as Prince Philip in The Crown

Chief executive of Sky's UK and Ireland operation, Stephen van Rooyen, said: "We want Sky Q to be the number one destination for TV fans.

"Partnering with Netflix means we will have all the best TV in one great value pack, making it even easier for you to watch all of your favourite shows.

Chris Whiteley, Netflix director of business development for the UK and Ireland, added: "Innovation is at the core of Netflix.

"We are delighted to partner with Sky to offer fans a new and exciting way to access the best of entertainment from around the world."

Despite the gloom, Netflix did add 5.1 million households from April to June
Image: Netflix, like Sky, has millions of subscribers in the UK and Ireland

A cross-company approach to shared content is not new to Sky after it announced late last year that it had done a deal with BT to show each other's channels.

More from Business

  • Shock as inflation jumps to six-month high of 2.7%

  • Sainsbury's-Asda merger referred for 'in-depth investigation'

  • Tesco takes on Aldi and Lidl as first Jack's store opens

  • Orla Kiely fashion label closes down stores

  • Car industry demands 'no-deal' Brexit ruled out by EU and UK

  • Royal Mail chairman Peter Long leaves post after pay rows

The surging growth of streaming services is the core reason Sky is at the centre of an ongoing takeover battle involving 21st Century Fox and Comcast.

Traditional media companies are seeking to bolster their offerings to take on the financial might of the tech firms behind the streaming trends, including Amazon with its Prime service.

Continue Reading


First look: iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and Apple Watch Series 4


Everything you need to know about Apple's latest products.

Hands on with Apple's new iPhones and Apple Watch.

Continue Reading


Satellite net collects space junk for the first time

By Thomas Moore, science correspondent

Debris orbiting the Earth at more than 17000 mph has been snared by a prototype 'junk hunting' satellite for the first time.

The experimental RemoveDebris satellite first released the metal object and then fired a five metre wide net to capture it from a distance of six metres.

The weight of the net will drag the toaster-sized object into the atmosphere over the next few months, where it will burn up.

Image: The techno;logy was developed at the Surrey University Space Centre

The success of the test paves the way for routine missions to clean-up the thousands of redundant satellites currently in orbit.

A NASA graphical representation of space junk orbiting the earth 0:35
Video: NASA animation of orbital space junk

RemoveDebris was designed and built by a consortium led by Surrey Space Centre at the University of Surrey.

Professor Guglielmo Aglietti, director of the centre, told Sky News that he was "delighted" they had overcome the technical challenges involved.

"The difficulty that we have is that you want to capture your piece of debris with the net, you want to envelop the piece of debris, then at the same time you want to draw a string so you actually capture the thing so it can't escape," he said.

"To synchronise all this, as you can imagine, is a bit challenging."

There are thought to be half a million objects larger than a tennis ball orbiting the planet at speeds high enough to destroy satellites and even the space station.

Tracking of the space net as it closes in on the target debris
Image: Tracking of the space net as it closes in on the target debris

Only the largest pieces, mainly defunct satellites and rocket parts, can be tracked by radar.

But even objects as small as a bolt can punch a hole in the honeycomb walls of satellites and their fragile wings of solar panels.

The nightmare scenario is a collision between two satellites in ever more crowded low Earth orbit. The resulting cloud of fragments could start a chain reaction of further collisions, wiping out large numbers of satellites.

The International Space Station could be damaged by debris
Image: The International Space Station could be damaged by debris

Ingo Retat of Airbus, which was part of the project, said: "We spent six years testing in parabolic flights, in special drop towers and also thermal vacuum chambers.

"Our small team of engineers and technicians have done an amazing job moving us one step closer to clearing up low Earth orbit."

More from Science & Tech

  • Mobile phone customers overcharged by almost half a billion pounds

  • UK 'garden shed' inventors win prize for device to help stroke survivors

  • Twitter to bring back chronological timeline – here's how to get it

  • EU scraps Ireland lawsuit in Apple 'state aid' case

  • Europol warns of 15 ways you could become a cyber crime victim

  • Jellyfish robots to be used to monitor fragile coral reefs

In the coming months RemoveDebris will test navigation systems and special scanners for analysing space junk. It will also fire a harpoon at a target and then reel it in, and deploy a drag sail that could be used to pull objects out of orbit.

The mission was co-funded by the European Union.

Continue Reading


UK inventors win prize for stroke survivor device

By Alexander J Martin, technology reporter

A "revolutionary device" which would help rehabilitate stroke survivors has been declared the winner of a government-supported competition.

It was selected from a shortlist of 10 "garden shed inventions" which could seriously transform people's lives in the competition which was sponsored by innovation foundation Nesta.

Inventor's Prize shortlists the UK's 10 best inventions

Inventor's Prize shortlists the UK's 10 best inventions

A 3D printable prosthetic arm and a "Kindle for blind people" are among the inventions selected by the National Inventor Prize

The winning invention, Neuroball, is a device developed by UK-based company Neurofenix, and it allows people who have suffered a stroke to engage in rehabilitation exercises.

Inspired by relatives of the firm's co-founders who suffered strokes, Neurofenix aims to improve the life of stroke survivors who may not receive enough support after they leave hospital.

By connecting to an online platform, the device enables patients to improve dexterity in their hand and arm in competitive and collaborative training.

The team behind the device have been announced as the winners of the Inventors Prize, launched as part of the government's industrial strategy last year.

They will be given £50,000 to help get their product to market, where it could be used to help the 1.2 million stroke survivors in the UK – with 100,000 more occurring every year.

"We are so excited to be selected as the winners of the Inventor Prize, from the nine other brilliant and inspiring entrepreneurs," said the Neurofenix team.

Urologic's NuCatheter device won second place in the prize
Image: Urologic's NuCatheter device won second prize in the competition

The competition was launched to find "Britain's grassroots and garden shed inventors" and the £15,000 prize for second-place went to Cambridge-based Urologic for their NuCath catheter device.

In the UK over 500,000 serious urinary tract infections per year are contracted as a result of indwelling catheters, and these account for up to 40% of all hospital-acquired infections – with an annual mortality rate of over 2,000.

The estimated cost to the NHS of treating these infections is around £2bn annually.

The third prize of £5,000 was awarded to Edward Rogers for developing the Canute, essentially a "Kindle for blind people", which Bristol Braille have been working on in collaboration with the blind community, including Steph Sergeant, for five years.

The Canute machine designed by Bristol Braille. Pic: Bristol Braille Technology CIC
Image: The Canute 'kindle for Braille' machine scooped the third prize

The business secretary Greg Clark congratulated the three winning inventors, saying: "Britain's makers, innovators and entrepreneurs are a huge asset to our country, adding billions to the UK economy and supporting hundreds of thousands of jobs."

"And the Inventor Prize has uncovered the fact that there are hundreds of people like this, in every corner of our country," added Mr Clark.

"While we wish to encourage every inventor out there, today we're excited to see The Inventor Prize award going to Neurofenix, as we believe this invention has the potential to truly impact society and we cannot wait to see the product enter the market."

Nesta's head of international development, Constance Agyeman, said: "We've certainly witnessed our 10 shortlisted finalists going on incredible journeys as they turn their dreams into reality."

The competitors have received "financial support and professional mentoring helping them develop their prototypes, source invaluable partners and suppliers and [to] create business plans", said Ms Agyeman.

More from Science & Tech

  • Twitter to bring back chronological timeline – here's how to get it

  • EU scraps Ireland lawsuit in Apple 'state aid' case

  • Europol warns of 15 ways you could become a cyber crime victim

  • Jellyfish robots to be used to monitor fragile coral reefs

  • Ofcom joins calls for independent internet regulation

  • Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa to become first moon space tourist

"We now hope all our entrants have been given the confidence and expertise they need to turn their ideas into real products and that they too continue their journeys."

"But we are especially excited to support our three overall winners in getting their products into the hands of consumers," she added.

Continue Reading