Tag Archives: Satellite & Aerospace Engineering

NASA bets the farm on the long-term viability of space agriculture

Old MacDonald had a space farm.

Applied Technology Institute (ATI Courses) offers a variety of courses on Space, Satellite & Aerospace Engineering.

Also, our president, Jim Jenkins, is an avid gardener who grows a garden full of tomatoes, peppers, squash, peas.


If you give an astronaut a packet of food, she’ll eat for a day. If you teach an astronaut how to farm in space, she’ll eat for a lifetime—or at least for a 6-month-long expedition on the International Space Station.

Since its earliest missions, NASA has been focused on food, something astronauts need whether they’re at home on Earth or orbiting 250-odd miles above it. Over the years, the administration has tried a series of solutions: John Glenn had pureed beef and veggie paste, other flight crews used new-age freeze drying technology. More recently, NASA’s been trying to enable its astronauts to grow their own food in orbit.

Bryan Onate, an engineer stationed at the Kennedy Space Center, is on the forefront of this technology. He helped lead the team that built Veggie, NASA’s first plant growth system, and next month he’s sending up Veggie’s new and improved brother, the Advanced Plant Habitat.

The habitat is the size of a mini-fridge. But instead of storing soda, it will carefully record every step in the growth of plants aboard the space station. This will allow researchers on the ground unprecedented insight into how plants are shaped by microgravity and other forces at work in outer space. And, Onate says, “astronauts may get to enjoy the fruit of our labor.”

Read more here.

NASA’s Second Space Apps Challenge: 2 Days Left To Register!

Applied Technology Institute (ATICourses) offers a variety of courses on Space, Satellite & Aerospace Engineering.  We think the news below would be of interest to our visitors.

Calling all space geeks: The hackathon is on!

Bring your dreams, your drink (the caffeinated kind, of course) and your skills to any one of 75 locations in 41 countries around this world – or the whole Blue Marble if you choose to join virtually – to the second annual International Space Apps Challenge, April 20-21.

For 48 hours, some of the most active minds on the planet will come together to crowdsource fun and maybe even life-sustaining solutions to some of the most complex space exploration problems:



  • Gotta eat: Develop a deployable greenhouse that could be used for an M&M mission (Moon or Mars).
  • Bootstrap space: Develop the game Moonvilleto and virtually build a self-sustaining lunar industry.
  • Seven minutes of sheer science: Conceive of how to make use of 150 kilograms of ejectable mass that also achieves a scientific or technical objective during the entry and landing phase of a Mars mission.
  • Diggin’ dirt: Using soil testing approaches, develop “a simple means for users to feedback their soil measurements using web/phone technology.”
  • Duck, duck, goose: Create a poultry management system for backyard farmers. Hey – whether you’re on the Moon, Mars, or Macedonia (yes, that’s one of the locations this year), you gotta what? Eat.
  • Meteor, meteor, duck: Create an app to use during meteor showers that allows observers to trace the location, color and size of the shooting stars.

Those are just some of the more than 50 space challenges posed for the 2013 event, and the invitation is open to all to bring their own.

Organized by NASA, with support from the space agencies of Europe, Canada and others, the idea behind the challenge is to create teams with an eye on human exploration that can “do something better than any of us can do on our own.”

For a comprehensive explanation of how it will work, where to go, and how to register, go the space apps challenge website. Note: you’ll have to be a registered participant to submit a project for judging.

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