Posted by on March 31, 2020

Space Fair Announcement

We are pleased to announce that we will be hosting a space fair on the weekend of October 24-25, 2020 at Bushkill Park in Easton, PA. We are still in the planning stages and are looking for volunteers to make this a special two days for everyone!

If you are interested in getting involved please send us an email.

Because of the coronavirus crisis we are temporarily cancelling all in-person meetings. Please keep in touch with us through our organizational emails.

We are still maintaining our schedule for the space fair. The weekend of October 24th and 25th is far enough in the future that we hope for the restrictions to have been lifted. We will keep our members informed as new information becomes available.

Stay healthy. Stay safe.

Johan Andrade
Technical Lead
johan@highfrontieroutpost.org


President’s Column

Big changes are coming to High Frontier Outpost. 

Our intention from the beginning has been to help encourage the design and development of large habitats in space. In the last few years we have seen progress on many fronts, reusable boosters developed by both Blue Origin and SpaceX will dramatically lower launch costs. 3D printing has been used on the ISS, and new food sources such as lab-grown meat have been developed. These are just a few examples of the exciting progress taking place, but we need more than just the technology. We need the people, the designers, the researchers, the technicians. We need people to design the social systems of the habitats, their government, their schools, hospitals, and transportation. Where will they come from, the skilled people who believe in the dream of a spacefaring civilization? Ensuring that they will be there when needed, this too, is part of our mission.  

To further that goal we have taken several steps:

  • On the weekend of October 24-25, 2020 we will be holding a space fair at Bushkill Park in Easton, Pennsylvania, with a focus on Space habitats. As part of the fair we will sponsor a science fair with an emphasis on habitat based projects for local students.
  • We will be creating a database on our website which will give teachers and students a source of STEM projects and information related to space habitats.
  • To oversee our STEM related educational programs we now have an Educational Director, Anyi Wen, who will be bringing her teaching experience and background in education into our organization. We welcome her expertise and input.
  • There has also been considerable progress on our long-term project of bringing the design concept of the huge habitat called Island 3, originally designed by doctor Gerard O’Neill, into the 21st century. More on that in a future column.

These are exciting times. We are finally moving forward in space again, hopefully, this time to stay.

Nearly a billion years ago, when the first daring fish lay gasping on the hard shore, it could not begin to imagine where its painful struggle into a harsh, alien environment would lead.

Now we begin again. The first steps have already been taken. Our unimaginable future waits for us out among the stars.

Barry Greene
President
barry@highfrontieroutpost.org


Educational Corner

Dear parents, guardians, and educators,

Thank you for opening this first 2020 issue of our newsletter. We at High Frontier Outpost are excited to become a partner and resource to educators who are looking for supplementary materials for their science lessons, and youth who have a special interest in space habitats. Included in each of our newsletters, we will have a section just for you and your students. Feel free to print out copies of these pages to share with them! We have also updated our website with a dedicated page on educational resources.

We are looking forward to featuring educational articles and activities written and created by our staff in these pages with our younger readers in mind. We also welcome readers of all ages to e-mail us with feedback and suggestions for material and topics we can include in future issues. At times, we may ask for student submissions of writing or art that we can feature in our newsletter as well!

Thank you for leading and inspiring another generation of young people, who are the future of our world. We are looking forward to becoming part of this journey with you.

Anyi Wen
Educational Director
anyi@highfrontieroutpost.org


Farming in Space
by Anyi Wen

 

What do people eat in space? You may have heard that astronauts eat freeze-dried foods. Freeze-dried foods are a great option for those traveling through and working in space because they are “light-weight, compact, tasty, and nutritious” (Smithsonian). They don’t need refrigeration, either! You can read more about freeze-dried foods at the link in the “For More Information” section at the end of our column. 

Pre-packaged foods would be sufficient if you were only visiting space for a short time, but what if you were planning to settle down and live up there? Most people who will be living in space habitats in the future have to be ready to stay there for years, or even decades. Bringing a lifetime’s supply of packaged foods for every person or setting up regular deliveries of those from Earth will not be a practical solution. Instead, there will have to be ways to produce food within the space habitats for the communities that call them home.

Producing fresh fruits and vegetables would add a good variety to healthy and nutritious space meals. NASA has had to think of creative methods for maintaining “space gardens” in locations without the conditions of sunlight or Earth’s gravity (NASA), and we can certainly learn from their research thus far to consider how fresh fruits and vegetables would be grown in our space habitats of the future. Although space habitats would depend on artificial light for growing plants as well, the gravity within the space habitats as we envision them would be comparable to Earth’s. Therefore, that would be one less factor to worry about when setting up “gardens” in these unique environments.

One of our primary questions would then be: What would be the best plants to cultivate in the space habitats? Fruits and vegetables that can be easily grown and propagated indoors would be good candidates, especially if they grow well from seeds. This is important because the amount of space available for bringing plant materials to space will be limited. We would want to bring as many different specimens as we can within those limits. Plants that fare well hydroponically (in a water-based system) would also be ideal because of the many advantages hydroponics gardening has over traditional soil-based setups. Among them are that they require less space and water, while producing higher harvest yields (National Park Service). An alternative system that has similar advantages is aeroponics, which utilizes a mist-based system. Check out how Aerofarms uses aeroponics at the link provided in “For More Information.”

That brings us to our next question: How can we optimize the growth of the plants we bring into the space habitats? We at High Frontier Outpost have been experimenting with growing watercress under different conditions. Read the following article for our findings so far.

A fun project you can try at home or in your classrooms is experimenting with different setups to optimize the growth of plants of your choice. We would love to hear about your findings. You can email us at anyi@highfrontieroutpost.org with your experiences with gardening (photos optional), and they may even be published in future issues of our newsletters! 

We would also encourage you to extend your research to how your findings can be applicable for use in a space habitat, if you’re interested in creating a submission to our first annual science fair — stay tuned for details to come.

 


An Experiment to Determine a Possible Crop for Space Habitats
by Barry Greene
I. Planning Process
I determined that any plant would have to fulfill the following conditions:
  • It would have to be fast growing.
  • It would have to be tolerant of varying conditions.
  • It would have to be easy to propagate.
  • It would have to be nutritious.
  • It would have to be able to grow in crowded conditions.
  • It would have to not require a large growth area.
 II. Procedure and Results
One plant that seemed to fulfill the above conditions was watercress. I purchased a small bundle of cut watercress at an Asian food store. Next, I selected about 15 of the healthiest looking stems.  I then trimmed off some of the lower leaves, leaving the growing end intact, and immersed the stems in water.

 

After about a week, roots appeared at the leaf nodes below the water level. At that point, I made a mixture using 1 quart of potting soil and 4 oz of a product called Soil Moist. This is a polymer that absorbs a large amount of water and will slowly release it as the soil dries. I then added 2 quarts of water to the mixture and put it into a large plastic container. 

I took the rooted Watercress cuttings and pushed them into the mixture so that the roots were well below the surface.
 
I did nothing to the container for the next month. I did not water it or perform any maintenance whatsoever. At the end of the month the plants had grown quite a bit. I made several cuttings from them and repeated the process with another container. That container is currently producing an abundant crop.

 

III. Conclusions and Further Steps

I feel that this rather basic study does indicate that Watercress might be a viable food crop in a space habitat. Further experiments that I am considering would reduce the quantity of soil required and determine optimum artificial lighting conditions.

For More Information

 

Aerofarms. (n.d). Our Vertical Farming Technology.
     https://aerofarms.com/technology/

Kumar, Kalyan. (2017, May 2). How NASA’s Inflatable Greenhouse Could Nourish Astronauts On Mars, Other Planets.
     https://www.techtimes.com/articles/206448/20170502/how-nasa-s-inflatable…

NASA. (2020, January 29). Growing Plants in Space.
     https://www.nasa.gov/content/growing-plants-in-space

National Park Service. (2018, May 21). Hydroponics: A Better Way to Grow Food.
     https://www.nps.gov/articles/hydroponics.htm

Smithsonian. (n.d). Food In Space.
     https://airandspace.si.edu/exhibitions/apollo-to-the-moon/online/astronaut…

University of Arizona. (n.d). The Prototype Lunar Greenhouse (LGH).
     https://www.ag.arizona.edu/lunargreenhouse/


Closing Words

In the years since the founding of High Frontier Outpost, we have endeavored to advance the design of large space habitats by investigating applicable developing technologies. We are planning a space fair along with a habitat-based science fair for students. The space fair part of the program is pretty obvious. We want to demonstrate existing and developing technologies that can be utilized in the construction and operation of a large space habitat.

But why a science fair, for students? Surely, young students won’t develop new industrial techniques for the habitat.

They won’t do that, but they can contribute something even more important: enthusiasm. When these habitats are eventually built, we will need engineers, scientists, and people in many different fields, people that have thought about building them for a long time, people that may be willing to dedicate their life to seeing that these dreams become a reality. Our hope is to generate a level of enthusiasm in students that will make these habitats a reality.  

To show just how powerful that drive can become, I will give an example. Many years ago, there was a student at Princeton University at the same time Dr.Gerard O’Neill was teaching there. That student was inspired by Dr. O’Neill’s plans for space habitats and humanity becoming a space-faring civilization.

When the student graduated, he did not go into the Aerospace industry; he went into business, but he carried that dream along with him. Years later, the seed that was planted at Princeton bore fruit. That student became the founder of Blue Origin, Jeff Bezos, who is doing all he possibly can to make that student’s dream a reality.

The child that catches a dream of stars today may become the Jeff Bezos of tomorrow, and no one knows to what heights they may lift us.

“A mind is not a vessel to be filled. It is a fire to be lighted.”
– Plutarch

Barry Greene
President
barry@highfrontieroutpost.org


Around the Cosmos
Opportunities
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Due to the current coronavirus crisis we are temporarily cancelling all in-person meetings. Please keep in touch with us through our contact: mail@highfrontieroutpost.org.
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