44 Israeli research projects headed for Rakia space mission
Ultra-fast charging batteries, neurofeedback, space hummus, flexible solar panels, duckweed culture systems and eye-tracking technology to combat micro-gravity-induced disease are among 44 Israeli research projects headed to the International Space Station as part of the Ramon Foundation Rakia mission of the Israeli Ministry of Science and Technology, as announced by the ministry this week.
The Rakia mission includes Israeli businessman and former fighter pilot Eytan Stibbe, who is expected to be the country’s second astronaut after Ilan Ramon, who perished in the Space Shuttle Columbia crash in 2003.
SEE ALSO: Israel to send its second astronaut into space
Stibbe, who is also one of the founders of the Ramon Foundation, is expected to visit the International Space Station (ISS) in early 2022, as part of the Axiom Space Ax-1 mission, pending NASA approvals. and Axiom. This first mission to the Space Station, led entirely by private astronauts – Stibbe, mission commander Michael López-Alegría, investor Larry Connor and philanthropist Mark Pathy – was announced in November last year.
Stibbe is expected to spend 200 hours on the International Space Station and is expected to conduct the locally developed technological experiments.
“If there is one country that is going to be a leader in the burgeoning space market to come, it is only natural that it would be Israel, a country known for its startups, military prowess and space industry,” Glen (Itamar ) Doniger Scientific Director of Myndlift, a company with one of the 44 projects destined for space, tells NoCamels.
It’s “an adrenaline rush – there are no other words to describe what this mission does to the Israeli space community.” This is an extraordinary opportunity at all scales, ”said Professor Moran Bercovici of the Technion Mechanical Engineering Faculty on behalf of the three Technion projects chosen for the assignment.
The Bercovici laboratory hopes to demonstrate the very first fabrication of optical components in space. The experiment aboard the ISS will examine the ability to take advantage of the microgravity environment to produce liquid lenses. If successful, it could pave the way for manufacturing advanced optical components in space, including the creation of very large telescopic lenses.
The Technion’s other projects will test gamma-ray bursts and miniature satellites.
“The schedule is crazy, the challenges are immense, but we will get there; it’s in our Israeli DNA, it’s what we’re good at, ”Bercovici said in a statement from the university. “I would like to thank all the partners: the Ramon Foundation, the Israel Space Agency of the Ministry of Science and Technology and the Rakia Mission science and technology committee. And a very special thank you to Eytan Stibbe for his choice not to be content with personal experience, but to dedicate this incredible journey to science, in which he takes us all.
A majority of research projects could have an impact on the next generation of space travel, and in particular on the health of future astronauts.
Home urinalysis medical device company Healthy.io is on the verge of trying to detect possible kidney dysfunction in real time aboard the ISS. Keeping astronauts on longer space missions is essential, especially as NASA advances with its mission to the Moon in 2024 and its mission to Mars soon after.
Meanwhile, local company Myndlift, which uses neurofeedback – a non-invasive methodology that measures brain wave activity and trains the brain using visual and auditory signals – to measure brain wave activity and train the brain using visual and auditory signals, hopes its software can help Stibbe function. at its best during the mission.
“We believe neurofeedback is an underutilized tool due, in large part, to its expense and cumbersome equipment,” said Aziz Kaddan, CEO of Myndlift. “By creating a remote neurofeedback tool and platform, we have enabled people around the world to use this training methodology from their homes, and now from space.”
If Myndlift proves effective, it could have the potential to help astronauts optimize their performance in space and retain attention during longer expeditionary missions.
In terms of feasibility, “it’s pretty easy to bring the device into space and use it in space,” Doniger tells NoCamels. In addition to the goal of feasibility, there is also “evaluation and neurofeedback. And if all of this turns out to be favorable in this study, then the idea would be that astronauts could potentially take our system with them on expeditionary missions to the Moon, to Mars. NASA is looking for solutions to reduce the risk of unwanted cognitive or behavioral disorders and psychiatric disorders in this context. “
Doniger adds that “astronauts’ time is quite expensive” and commends the Ramon Foundation for allowing local research projects to look beyond the ozone layer.
Separately, Israeli battery technology company StoreDot, a developer of extremely fast charge (XFC) battery technology (the target is five minutes), announced that it has obtained permission from NASA to carry out the first space research and development program on new battery materials. . The company is collaborating with the Israel Electricity Company (IEC) on this mission.
StoreDot’s XFC technology will undergo two weeks of weightless testing and the results should pave the way for a new generation of advanced lithium-ion batteries. The company said it would use the experience to gain new insight into the chemical reactions that cause silicon to expand during the rapid charging process.
“This is an extraordinary opportunity for Israeli researchers and entrepreneurs to examine the feasibility and viability of the initiatives, and to advance space research and products for the aerospace industry in various fields – renewable energy, purification technologies. of water and air, agriculture, medical instruments, astrophysics, materials engineering, biology, psychology, quantum communication, remote sensors and more ”, reads the statement of the Ramon Foundation on the scientific mission .
The vision technology used and modified by Bar-Ilan University to help astronauts fight neuro-ocular syndrome is another project led by the ISS.
With Dr Eran Schenker, Director of Medical Innovation at the Israel Institute of Aerospace Medicine, Professor Uri Polat, Director of the School of Optometry and Vision Sciences and Professor Yossi Mandel, Director of the Laboratory of ophthalmic science and engineering, digital tablet modified software technology to monitor the vision of astronauts during space missions.
“The technology is based on an app that can be downloaded to any tablet. During Eytan Stibbe’s time in space, we will examine his vision from a distance and understand when the changes are occurring. The results will allow us to draw conclusions about neuro-visual damage in space and could represent a breakthrough in treatment, ”Porat said.
“I have no doubt that this research will contribute greatly to understanding microgravity and the function of vision which will be of great use even during long-term missions to Mars and in space,” said Schenker.
Nutrition is also essential for astronauts.
Four local agricultural technology projects will be tested on board the ISS. GreenOnyx is set to grow a water-based lentil plant under microgravity conditions; a multidisciplinary team of plant scientists from numerous institutes will attempt to control and analyze the cultures of the space station; Aleph Farms, in collaboration with SpacePharma, the Indian Center for Space Applications, and European space agencies and high-tech science startup accelerators, will try to grow cow cells for cultured meat in space; and researchers at Stanford University, in collaboration with the Strauss Group, Moon2Mars Ventures, the D-Mars Analog Center, and the Yeruham Science Center, will study extracellular plant optogenetics using light in chickpea plants.
One of the researchers at Stanford University is none other than Yonatan Winetraub, one of the co-founders of SpaceIL, the non-profit organization that attempted to land Israel’s Beresheet, the first interplanetary robotic mission. private, on the Moon on April 11, 2019..
It was no accident that the chickpea plant was chosen – not only is it a hardy plant but chickpea, in Hebrew, is ‘hummus’ and is the main ingredient in the popular hummus dish. nationally eaten by 93% of the population every week, according to 2020 statistics.
Viva Sarah Press is a journalist and speaker. She writes and talks about the creativity and innovation that takes place in Israel and beyond. www.vivaspress.com