After A Year In Space, The Air Hasn’t Gone Out Of NASA’s Inflated Module

Flight engineer Kate Rubins checks out the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module, which is attached to the International Space Station.

NASA

A prototype of what could be the next generation of space stations is currently in orbit around the Earth.

The prototype is unusual. Instead of arriving in space fully assembled, it was folded up and then expanded to its full size once in orbit.

The module is called BEAM, the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module, and it has been attached to the International Space Station since April last year.

 Beamgif

Expandable modules allow NASA to pack a large volume into a smaller space for launch. They’re not made of metal, but instead use tough materials like the Kevlar found in bulletproof vests.

The station crew used air pressure to unfold and expand the BEAM, but it’s wrong to think about BEAM as expanding like a balloon that could go “pop” if something punctured it.

NASA’s Jason Crusan says there is a better analogy: “It’s much like the tire of your car.”

Even with no air in it, a tire retains its tirelike shape.

When BEAM unfolded in orbit, it adopted its more natural shape, something resembling a stumpy watermelon. Even if it was to lose all its internal air, “it still has structure to it,” says Crusan.

Of course NASA would prefer BEAM not lose all its air, so there are many layers of shielding to prevent things like meteorites or other space debris from poking a hole in BEAM.

“We do believe we’ve taken at least one hit,” says Crusan. “Very small in nature, and actually we can’t even visually see where it’s at.”

Crusan says there was no loss of pressure from the hit.

NASA isn’t actually using BEAM for anything. It’s there just to see how it behaves in space. But Crusan says the space station crew does go inside every once in a while to check sensors inside the module. He says crew members seem to like visiting BEAM.

Astronauts Peggy Whitson and Thomas Pesquet are photographed inside BEAM, which has an interior roughly the size of a medium school bus.

NASA

“We’ve actually had up to six crew members at a time inside of it. It’s about 15 to 16 cubic meters inside,” says Crusan. That translates to something like the interior space of a modest-sized school bus.

The original plan was to detach BEAM after two years and let it burn up as it re-enters Earth’s atmosphere. But there has been a change.

“Because of its performance and it’s doing extremely well, there’s really no reason to throw it away,” says Crusan.

Since storage is at a premium aboard the space station, NASA now plans to use BEAM as a kind of storage shed and to keep it in space as long as the station continues to operate.

The company that made BEAM, Bigelow Aerospace, has big plans for expandable modules, including a stand-alone space station called the B330. The B330 will be 20 times larger than BEAM. But company president Robert Bigelow remains cautious despite the good performance of BEAM.

“No, I worry too much,” says Bigelow. The B330 is much, much more complex than BEAM.

“It has two propulsion systems,” he says. “It has very large solar arrays, a full suite of environmental life-support systems.”

These are all things that have to work flawlessly in order to keep a crew alive and happy in space.

“That’s why I walk around perpetually with a frown. It’s just because there’s so much to think about and be concerned about,” says Bigelow.

Despite his concerns, Bigelow says his new space stations may be in orbit before too long. His company plans to have two B330s ready for launch in 2020.

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Weed Hangovers Are Real & The Worst

Image result for weed smoking alien
 Sarah Jacoby
We tend to think of cannabis as a relatively safe medicine — and it is! But there are some possible side effects that aren’t so nice. For instance, the internet is full of cautionary tales that suggest overdoing it can leave you in a pretty unpleasant state the next day. Termed a “weed hangover,” the condition supposedly comes with feelings of fatigue, lack of appetite, irritability, and an overall sense of grogginess. But how much of this is just stoner legend?

“It’s very real, and it as a lot to do with dosage,” confirms Dustin Sulak, DO, a medical cannabis expert based in Maine. So, smoking a little too much can absolutely make your morning miserable.

Plenty of people who use cannabis, either recreationally or medically, approach it with a “more is better” mentality. In truth, “most people will get relief from symptoms at a dose that’s lower than what would cause intoxication,” Dr. Sulak says. So, if you’re using marijuana to treat a health issue, you don’t necessarily need to feel high to get the benefits. And even if you’re using it specifically to enjoy a high, there’s no real need to go ham — you’ll probably be better off the next day if you, well, chill a little bit.

Any time you’re consuming cannabis, your body’s cannabinoid receptors are being activated and, essentially, overstimulated. To counteract that, the receptors are pulled into the cells and become inactive, Dr. Sulak explains. But that doesn’t just make them inactive to the THC you’re inhaling, it also means the endocannabinoid compounds that naturally occur in your body aren’t going to be able to bind to those receptors, either.

Under normal circumstances, your body can balance this out, and there’s no real harm. But, if you ingest enough, you could wake up in a state of cannabinoid withdrawal, Dr. Sulak says. “By using a high dose late in the night, what we’re left with is a feeling of deficiency.” That, combined with weed’s well-documented dehydrating effects, can make you an extremely unhappy camper the next day.

What can you do about it? Treating a weed hangover is a lot like treating a normal one, it turns out. Your first priority is going to be getting rehydrated. After that, you can either wait your symptoms out or, if your life circumstances allow, consume a small dose of cannabis to counteract your withdrawal symptoms. On the other hand, if you wake up and still feel a bit intoxicated, Dr. Sulak suggests taking a some CBD or consuming a high-CBD cannabis strain to counteract the effects.

Beyond that, though, it’s worth taking a good look at your long-term cannabis habits. “If you’re having a weed hangover, it’s a sign you’re not using cannabis optimally,” Dr. Sulak says. So, he recommends new users try using a dose that produces the most minimal (yet noticeable) effects for about three days before upping their consumption. And, for veteran users, he suggests abstaining from weed for two days before finding their minimal dose. Both of these protocols help your body build up a tolerance to the negative side effects of marijuana while also making you more sensitive to the positive effects, Dr. Sulak explains.

“It’s a very forgiving and sustainable medicine,” he says. So it’s worth taking the time to find the way to use it that works the best for you — without feeling like crap the next day.

 no way are we encouraging illegal activity and would like to remind its readers that marijuana usage continues to be an offense under Federal Law, regardless of state marijuana laws.


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