‘Made in space!’ Astronaut sews dinosaur toy from space station scraps

Karen Nyberg dinosaur toy
NASA astronaut Karen Nyberg’s stuffed toy dinosaur floats on the International Space Station. She made the doll for her son using materials she found on the orbiting outpost. (NASA)
There is a dinosaur on board the International Space Station where there wasn’t one before.

NASA astronaut Karen Nyberg, who since May has been working as a flight engineer as a member of the orbiting outpost’s resident crew, revealed the toy dinosaur floating on the space station on September 26.

“Made in space!” Nyberg, an Expedition 37 crewmember, exclaimed in her caption for a photo of the toy giant lizard she uploaded to the pinboard-style photo-sharing website Pinterest. “I made this dinosaur for my son last Sunday, September 22.”

The dinosaur, which resembles a Tyrannosaurus Rex, has an olive green back and a lighter green belly. It is stitched together with white thread.

Nyberg, a self-described crafter whose hobbies including quilting and sewing, packed threads, sewing needles and small fabric samples for her trip to space. But to make the dinosaur, she scavenged materials that she found around her orbital home.

“It is made out of velcro-like fabric that lines the Russian food containers [that are] found here on the International Space Station,” Nyberg wrote about the doll. “It is lightly stuffed with scraps from a used t-shirt.”

Astronauts have carried stuffed dolls to space before, and cosmonauts have a tradition of launching with small plush toys as talismans and “zero-g indicators.” When the dolls, which are suspended from the Soyuz spacecraft’s control panel, begin to float, the crew can tell they have entered orbit.

Nyberg’s crew launched with a plush white dog her Soyuz commander, Fyodor Yurchikhin, had received as a gift 30 years ago and had flown into space twice before. A small black cat doll, named “Dimlar,” served as the zero-gravity indicator for the crew that arrived September 26, named after cosmonaut Oleg Kotov’s children, Dima and Lara.

Karen Nyberg sewing
Expedition 37 flight engineer Karen Nyberg devotes some of her down time creating crafts in her “sewing space.” (NASA)


Nyberg’s dinosaur however, may be a new breed of space toy. It may be the first stuffed animal created in space.

In addition to sewing stuffed toys for him, Nyberg keeps in daily contact with her 3-year-old son Jack, sending down short videos for him every day. Nyberg’s husband, who is also an astronaut who last flew on the final space shuttle mission in 2011, sends up photos and videos of their son.

A photo Nyberg earlier shared on Pinterest revealed that Jack has his own handiwork in space, too. Hanging on the wall of her quarters is an orange and pink painting labeled “For Mommy.”

Nyberg is slated to return to Earth on Nov. 11, presumably with the toy dinosaur in tow.

Beloved ISS Commander Chris Hadfield Is Retiring

Chris Hadfield on the ISS with water bubble

By Robert T. Gonzalez from io9.com:

So long, Commander Hadfield – and thanks for all the awesome!

Tonight at 7:08 ET, Commander Chris Hadfield – one of the most charismatic Commanders in the history of the International Space Station – will return … Read…

Chris Hadfield – Canadian astronaut (the first to ever serve as Commander of the International Space Station), space-musician (the first to record a music video in space), social media powerhouse, inspirational whirlwind and professional blower-of-minds – is retiring.

At a press conference held yesterday at the Canadian Space Agency’s headquarters, Hadfield told a standing-room only audience: “I’m making good on a promise I made to [my] wife nearly 30 years ago — that yes, eventually, we would be moving back to Canada.” His retirement is effective July 3rd.

Beloved ISS Commander Chris Hadfield Is Retiring

Chris-Hadfield-Tweet“To say goodbye to these good people today,” Hadfield later tweeted, in reference to the crowd of CSA employees gathered to see him off, “was much harder than I expected”:

“I’ve had such an interesting career and after 35 years it’s time to step down,” Commander Hadfield was quoted as saying by the CBC. “I’m the last astronaut of my class that’s still around.”

Beloved ISS Commander Chris Hadfield Is Retiring

“Chris Hadfield has inspired all Canadians, especially our next-generation of scientists and engineers,” Chris Alexander, parliamentary secretary for defense, said in a statement.

Beloved ISS Commander Chris Hadfield Is Retiring

“His exceptional career achievements make him a true Canadian hero and icon.”

Hear, hear.

Beloved ISS Commander Chris Hadfield Is Retiring

We wish Hadfield all the best – and while we know we shouldn’t expect him to maintain his impressive social media presence, we’re optimistic that he’ll stick around in some capacity. On a related note, we hope that more astronauts, moving forward, will take a page or two from Hadfield’s playbook when it comes to engaging with the public about science and space.

When Hadfield returned to Earth from the ISS in May, we put together a roundup of our favorite moments from his time aboard humanity’s orbital outpost. In light of his impending retirement, it seems fitting to post it here again. So long, Commander Hadfield – and, as always, thanks for all the awesome.

All images via NASA

[Full article]

Astronaut Chris Hadfield Returns to Earth

Chris Hadfield

By Kate Lunau from Macleans.com:

Hadfield saw space and Earth as if they were brand-new and shared his experience aboard the ISS with millions.

The wonder of Chris Hadfield

James Blair/NASA

On May 13, as the Toronto Maple Leafs faced off against the Boston Bruins in Game 7 of their Stanley Cup playoff series, the Russian Soyuz spacecraft was undocking from the International Space Station (ISS). Crammed inside like sardines were Chris Hadfield and his crewmates, American Tom Marshburn and Russian Roman Romanenko, returning home after five months in space. Underneath his spacesuit, Hadfield was wearing a Leafs T-shirt to support his favourite team. The Soyuz sliced down into the atmosphere and began to slow, subjecting the astronauts to a punishing 4 Gs—four times Earth’s gravity—and making their limbs feel leaden, their breathing laboured: a harsh reintroduction to gravity after the weightlessness of space. As the Soyuz dropped to its landing site on a Kazakhstan plain, search-and-rescue helicopters were circling.

The capsule hit the ground with the force of a car crash, tipping over onto its side. “I was hanging from the ceiling,” Hadfield says. “Roman was in the middle, and Tom was lying on the floor.” Marshburn looked out the window, and saw “dirt and grass where space had been just moments before.” The search-and-rescue team pried open the hatch and Hadfield and his crew were greeted by the scent of springtime, mixed with the burnt smell of their charred spaceship.

Dr. Raffi Kuyumjian, Hadfield’s flight surgeon, was one of three Canadian Space Agency (CSA) people in Kazakhstan. (Hadfield’s wife, Helene, was watching from mission control in Houston.) After the astronauts had been lifted from the spacecraft and were seated, draped in blankets, Kuyumjian said, “The first thing I did was dial Helene on my cell and give it to Chris.” He and Helene assured each other they were fine, then Hadfield asked: “How’d the Leafs do?” She broke the news that his team had lost in overtime. With that, Canada’s first space commander was truly brought back to Earth.

Since blasting off to the ISS on Dec. 19, Hadfield has become the most celebrated astronaut alive, one destined for a spot alongside his hero, Neil Armstrong, whose 1969 moon landing inspired his own career. But while half a billion people watched Armstrong climb out of the lunar lander and set foot on the moon, this is a more cynical time—one less impressed by technological achievement. People have lived and worked aboard the ISS continuously since 2000, and visiting low-Earth orbit isn’t as exotic as walking on the moon, let alone Mars or beyond. It’s a wonder that a Canadian astronaut like Hadfield could catch anyone’s attention, let alone captivate millions around the world. Yet, however improbably, that’s what he did.

[Full article]

The International Space Station will get its own 3D printer next year

Made in Space team members with 3D printer
Made in Space team members with their 3D printer hang on during a zero-g test flight.
CREDIT: Made in Space

Two of my favorite things! Space and 3D printing!

By Mike Wall from SPACE.com:

A 3D printer is slated to arrive at the International Space Station next year, where it will crank out the first parts ever manufactured off planet Earth.

The company Made in Space is partnering with NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center on the 3D Printing in Zero G Experiment (or 3D Print for short), which aims to jump-start an off-planet manufacturing capability that could aid humanity’s push out into the solar system.

“The 3D Print experiment with NASA is a step towards the future. The ability to 3D-print parts and tools on demand greatly increases the reliability and safety of space missions while also dropping the cost by orders of magnitude,” Made in Space CEO Aaron Kemmer said in a statement. [10 Amazing 3D-Printed Objects]

“The first printers will start by building test coupons, and will then build a broad range of parts, such as tools and science equipment,” he added.

Sunlight glints off the International Space Station, with the blue limb of Earth providing a dramatic backdrop.
In this photo, taken in February 2010, sunlight glints off the International Space Station, with the blue limb of Earth providing a dramatic backdrop. Credit: NASA

The 3D printer is slated to blast off in August 2014, tagging along with a cargo mission private spaceflight company SpaceX is launching to the orbiting lab for NASA.

The device will build objects layer by layer out of polymers and other materials, using a technique called extrusion additive manufacturing. The blueprints for these objects will be pre-loaded onto a computer bound for the orbiting lab or uplinked from Earth, Made in Space officials said.

Advocates say 3D printing can help make living in space easier and cheaper. For example, more than 30 percent of the spare parts currently aboard the International Space Station can be manufactured by Made in Space’s machine, company co-founder and chief technologist Jason Dunn told NASA chief Charles Bolden and congressman Mike Honda (D-Calif.) during a presentation today (May 24) at the agency’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif.

“3D printing is an exciting technology,” Niki Werkheiser, 3D Print project manager at NASA Marshall’s Technology Development and Transfer Office, said in a statement. “It will allow us to live and work in space with the same efficiency and productivity that we do on Earth, with the ultimate objective being to eliminate reliance on materials and parts launched from the ground.”

While off-Earth manufacturing will get its start at the International Space Station, NASA officials say the technology’s potential goes beyond low-Earth orbit. Werkheiser described 3D printing as “absolutely a critical enabler for NASA’s exploration missions.”

Indeed, NASA recently funded the development of a prototype 3D printer designed to make space food products out of cheap raw materials that have a long shelf life. This “3D pizza printer” could help feed astronauts on long space journeys, such as the 500-day trek to Mars, agency officials say.

California-based Made in Space was awarded a Phase 3 Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contract from Marshall for this mission, and the two organizations will work together to make it happen.

3D Print won’t be Made in Space’s first foray into microgravity printing. The company tested out various 3D printing technologies in 2011 on parabolic airplane flights that produced short periods of weightlessness.

While 3D Print is primarily a demonstration mission, Made in Space is also developing a more permanent space-printing capability called the Additive Manufacturing Facility that’s expected to arrive at the orbiting lab in 2016.

The Additive Manufacturing Facility will likely be used to build components for ongoing off-Earth experiments, Made in Space officials said.

David Bowie himself Tweets to Chris Hadfield about his cover of “Space Oddity”

David Bowie

David Bowie Official David Bowie Official@DavidBowieReal  12 May

“Hallo Spaceboy…”

Commander Chris Hadfield, currently on… http://fb.me/24sZNW5ly 

Retweeted by David Bowie Official  View media

Chris Hadfield Chris Hadfield@Cmdr_Hadfield   12 May

With deference to the genius of David Bowie, here’s Space Oddity, recorded on Station. A last glimpse of the World.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KaOC9danxNo …

The New York Times reports on Chris Hadfield’s “Space Oddity” video

ISS against a backdrop of Earth and space

Astronaut Covers ‘Space Oddity’ From Space

By Robert Mackey

The Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield, who has documented his five months in charge of the International Space Station in great detail in Twitter photographs and YouTube videos, celebrated his last day aboard the craft by releasing an elaborately produced cover version of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity.”

Among the many admirers of the astronaut’s remarkable music video, which was viewed more than a million times in the 18 hours after it was posted on YouTube, were the editors of Mr. Bowie’s official Facebook page, who praised the cover as “possibly the most poignant version of the song ever created.” [At 4:34 p.m. on May 13, 2013 there were 2,710,632 views.]

Unlike most 53-year-old Bowie fans who record cover versions of his hits around the office in their spare time, Mr. Hadfield, who is scheduled to return to Earth on Monday in a Russian Soyuz spacecraft, had the benefit of shooting in a zero-gravity work station with stunning views and help from a musician who once toured with Mr. Bowie.

The Canadian musician Emm Gryner, who sang with Mr. Bowie in 2000, explained in a post on her blog that she was happy to collaborate with the astronaut. “Chris is a musician and a pretty damn good one at that,” Ms. Gryner wrote late Sunday. “When Chris brought up collaborating while he was on this current mission I of course said yes with a capital Y-E-S and we went back and forth for a while figuring out what our collaboration might entail. When he told me he wanted to cover ‘Space Oddity’ I was over the moon — pardon the pun.”

She added:

The task was in front of me. I came up with a piano part. I then enlisted my friend, producer and fellow Canadian Joe Corcoran to take my piano idea and Chris’s vocal and blow it up into a fully produced song. Drums! Mellotrons! Fuzz bass! We also incorporated into the track ambient space station noises which Chris had put on his SoundCloud. I was mostly blown away by how pure and earnest Chris’s singing is on this track. Like weightlessness and his voice agreed to agree.

And voila! An astronaut sings “Space Oddity” in space!

As the CBC reports, Mr. Hadfield’s embrace of social networks to post sounds, images and video from space has earned him a huge following:

When he left Earth on Dec. 19, he had 20,000 Twitter followers, a number that has grown to more than 824,000 today. Followers come from around the world, and have been particularly intrigued by his much-praised photos of places on the globe.

Eighty-one videos of his I.S.S. experiences have proved an unexpected hit for the Canadian Space Agency, generating 22 million views.

Before the “Space Oddity” clip, the astronaut’s most popular YouTube clip was a demonstration of what happens when you wring the water out of a washcloth in space.

Among the sounds of the space station Mr. Hadfield recorded for his SoundCloud page was one titled “Spacewalk Pressure Equalization.”

As the Guardian blogger Paul Owen noted, the astronaut was fully aware of the fact that many of the photographs of Earth he posted on his @Cmdr_Hadfield Twitter feed from the space station resembled abstract expressionist paintings.

In his last hours on the station on Monday, Mr. Hadfield continued to share the experience with his Twitter followers.

[Full article with Commander Hadfield’s Tweets and his Twitpics of the Earth from space]

David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” recorded on the International Space Station

Chris Hadfield floating with his guitar in the ISS

This is so beautiful. I am bawling.

By Lauren Davis from io9.com:

Chris Hadfield sings “Space Oddity” in the first music video in space

Tomorrow, Commander Chris Hadfield bids farewell to the International Space Station, meaning we won’t get our usual dose of his tweets and videos sent from space. But he’s signing off with a little David Bowie.
Hadfield’s son Evan writes:

He returns home in Soyuz in the early morning of the 14th, and this is his final video from Station. It is also, coincidentally, the first real music video ever recorded in space.

We’ve seen Hadfield strumming on his guitar up in the ISS, but this is a full music video—”Space Oddity” filmed in the best possible setting. Commander Hadfield, you are a world treasure. We wish you a safe journey back to Earth, but wonder whatever we shall do without your ISS reports to brighten our days.

[Full article]

Graffiti artist Shepard Fairey designs a mission patch for the International Space Station

CASIS patch

CASIS patchFrom Cory Doctorow’s at BoingBoing:

When the feds start commissioning space decor from graffiti artists turned global fashion brands, you know that cyberpunk has arrived:

Artist Shepard Fairey may be best known for Obey Giant and his Barack Obama ‘Hope’ poster, but his latest work will be conquering an entirely different realm: outer space. The artist has designed the patch for an upcoming mission to the International Space Station called ARK1 — Advanced Science and Research — that will run from September 2013 through March 2014. ARK1 will be the first flight managed by the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), a non-profit organization that was set up by the US Congress in order to help promote research aboard the ISS.

Astronaut Karen Nyberg will take art supplies to space

Astronaut Karen Nyberg
Astronaut Karen Nyberg
Astronaut Karen Nyberg looks through a window in the Kibo laboratory of the International Space Station. Photo credit: NASA

Admittedly I’m biased, but there’s not as much division between art and science as this article makes it sound. Nor is art necessarily the less “super-smart” side of a person, but this is nevertheless a good profile of astronaut Karen Nyberg and her artistic interests.

Mention the words ‘NASA Astronaut’ and you’ll usually conjure up the image of a brilliant, number-crunching engineer or a super-smart scientist. Yet, rarely are we given the chance to consider the other dimensions to this elite group of explorers or that they may share some common hobbies many of us more Earth-bound citizens enjoy.

Enter astronaut Karen Nyberg, an accomplished woman preparing for her second mission to space this May. Nyberg holds a doctorate in mechanical engineering, which may lead people to believe she is focused solely on technical matters, but as with many, there’s a softer side to this Midwesterner, one that may catch many by surprise.

[Full article]