Here’s Boeing’s Teaser for Their First Commercial Starliner

American astronauts have depended on Russia to send crews to the International Space Station since the Space Shuttle was retired in 2011. NASA hopes to usher in a new golden age of space exploration with commercial flight, starting with Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner.

The air travel company just released a teaser for what’s set to be the first commercial starliner launched from U.S. soil. The CST-100 (Crew Space Transportation) will be designed to hold four crew members plus cargo and will be assembled at the Kennedy Space Center. NASA is also collaborating with Elon Musk’s company SpaceX to modify their Dragon cargo ship for manned flights. Dragon made history in 2012 when it became the first commercial ship to deliver cargo to the ISS and successfully return cargo to earth. 

The CST-100 Starliner’s first test flight is scheduled for 2017, with Dragon’s first manned test flight predicted to launch in two to three years. Boeing claims their effort will allow research on the ISS to double, which could in turn bring astronauts that much closer to setting foot on Mars. Check out the teaser above for a virtual look inside the starliner. 

[h/t: Sploid]

The Fascinating Device Astronauts Use to Weigh Themselves in Space

Most every scale on Earth, from the kind bakers use to measure ingredients to those doctors use to weigh patients, depends on gravity to function. Weight, after all, is just the mass of an object times the acceleration of gravity that’s pushing it toward Earth. That means astronauts have to use unconventional tools when recording changes to their bodies in space, as SciShow explains in the video below.

While weight as we know it technically doesn’t exist in zero-gravity conditions, mass does. Living in space can have drastic effects on a person’s body, and measuring mass is one way to keep track of these changes.

In place of a scale, NASA astronauts use something called a Space Linear Acceleration Mass Measurement Device (SLAMMD) to “weigh” themselves. Once they mount the pogo stick-like contraption it moves them a meter using a built-in spring. Heavier passengers take longer to drag, while a SLAMMD with no passenger at all takes the least time to move. Using the amount of time it takes to cover a meter, the machine can calculate the mass of the person riding it.

Measuring weight isn’t the only everyday activity that’s complicated in space. Astronauts have been forced to develop clever ways to brush their teeth, clip their nails, and even sleep without gravity.

[h/t SciShow]

Watch Astronauts Assemble Pizza in Space

Most everyone enjoys a good pizza party: Even astronauts living aboard the International Space Station.

As this video from NASA shows, assembling pizza in zero gravity is not only possible, it also has delicious results. The inspiration for the pizza feast came from Paolo Nespoli, an Italian astronaut who was craving one of his home country’s national dishes while working on the ISS. NASA’s program manager for the space station, Kirk Shireman, sympathized with his colleague and ordered pizzas to be delivered to the station.

NASA took a little longer responding to the request than your typical corner pizzeria might. The pizzas were delivered via the Orbital ATK capsule, and once they arrived, the ingredients had to be assembled by hand. The components didn’t differ too much from regular pizzas on Earth: Flatbread, tomato sauce, and cheese served as the base, and pepperoni, pesto, olives, and anchovy paste made up the toppings. Before heating them up, the astronauts had some fun with their creations, twirling them around like "flying saucers of the edible kind,” according to astronaut Randy Bresnik.

In case the pizza party wasn’t already a success, it also coincided with movie night on the International Space Station.

[h/t KHQ Q6]


More from mental floss studios