Malaysia's National Space Agency is holding a conference to consider Muslim astronauts pray in space as the country prepares to send its first citizen into orbit.

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NASA's first astronauts

Three of the four astronaut candidates selected so far are Muslims. Two will eventually be trained and sent into space by Russia.

Performing ablutions for Muslim prayers with water rationing in space and preparing food according to Islamic standards will be among issues discussed.

The astronaut will also visit the International Space Station, which circles the earth 16 times in 24 hours, so another thorny question is how to pray five times a day as required by Islam. Muslims also have to turn towards Mecca to pray and working out which direction that will be while hovering above the earth might be challenging.

Related: Prayer rug that indicates the direction it should be turned, and some London jail toilets face away from Mecca.

Via Off Center < Space Travel.

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According to Pink Tentacle and NS Technology Blog, Robo-One which organises a remote-controlled robot combat event held in Tokyo every year plans to launch in space a mini-satellite carrying small humanoid robots in October 2010.

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Tokyo will have 10-minute windows of communication with the satellite 4 times per day as it passes overhead. Battles will be conducted in the space surrounding the ROBO-ONE satellite during these 10-minute periods.

A 5-meter long safety line that connects each robot to the satellite will be outfitted with tension sensors that detect when the line is fully extended, determining that the robot is out of the ring.

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Robot developers will have to consider new issues, such as how to deal with the strains of operating in a vacuum under extreme temperatures and high levels of radiation.

ROBO-ONE’s long-term plan is to hold competitions on the surface of the moon, which might not be possible until at least 2030.

Promo video.

Less fun but very Japanese:

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency plans to use robots to explore the moon and planets in the solar system. The robots will be able to operate exploration vehicles and make decisions on their own to build a base on the moon. The exploration vehicles will be sent to the moon within 10 years, and the base completed within 20 years.

Via News3yen < PhysOrg.

NASA plans to crash a space probe into the moon in 2009. The collision, so violent it will be visible on Earth through a telescope, should excavate a hole about a third the size of a football field and hurl a plume of debris into space.

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The moon crash is a quest for ice, as water is the key ingredient for future human outposts on the moon.

After the crash, the mother ship that released the probe will fly through the plume and look for traces of water ice or vapor. The lunar spacecraft will target the south pole, releasing its SUV-sized impactor probe in January 2009 on a suicide plunge at about 5,600 miles per hour toward a frozen crater believed to contain hidden ice.

If ice is found, it could be melted and the water used to help make rocket fuel or oxygen.

Thanks Jonah.

Via CNN.

Now that we got used to the idea of having one day space elevators, Gianmarco Radice and Prof Matthew Cartmell at the University of Glasgow have come up with plans to develop a giant slingshot to replace rockets and catapult material from the earth to the moon.

The study will explore whether it is theoretically possible to create massive cables then use the power of the earth's orbit to catapult raw materials for mining, food, water and aerospace equipment into space.

The cables could be up to 250,000km long and made of extra strong materials.

"These 'tether' systems are an extremely attractive possibility for space transportation as they don't need any fuel. The cargo is transferred from one orbit to the other using the orbital velocity of the system, explained Radice. "There are issues that have to be addressed, as the cables are very long and have to be highly resistant, but this could provide an efficient method of transporting goods between the earth and moon."

Via The Scotsman.

Players of Operation Cntrcpy[tm] have to navigate a space ship to Mars as fast as possible and to land there, by using a web interface and a mobile phone. Throughout the whole mission the pilot is responsible for the space ship and crew.

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The journey is impeded by aliens, black holes and fields of asteroids. When the spaceship heads towards one, the cosmonaut is immediately informed by SMS – at unpredictable times, day or night. The pilot has to log into the "Virtual Mission Control Center" via the internet as fast as he can, and avert the danger. The quickness of reaction and the quality of solving a problem decide the course of the journey.

Another project is also to transfer Operation Cntrcpy[tm] into "real space". In the past a propaganda video and space food were produced, space trainings were realized and a operation headquater was installed in several galleries.

Furthermore, a goal is to criticize efforts pursued by states for spaceflight activities without having any real social benefit. For them, the conquest of space is only part of the game of power between states. This is also stressed in an ironic form by the fact that the traveler enters the cosmos and represents a country which in reality no longer exists, the former Soviet Union.

More images.

A work by Rainer Prohaska together with Martin Sägmüller, Konstantin Demblin and Eva Grumeth.

On Feb. 3rd, astronauts onboard the International Space Station will hurl an empty spacesuit overboard.

The spacesuit is the satellite -- SuitSat for short.

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"Some Russian partners in the ISS program had an idea: Maybe we can turn old spacesuits into useful satellites," explains Frank Bauer of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.

Scientsits have equipped an outdated Russian Orlon spacesuit with three batteries, a radio transmitter, and internal sensors to measure temperature and battery power. As it circles Earth, it will transmit its condition to the ground.

To listen to SuitSat, all you will need is a big antenna and a radio receiver that you can tune to 145.990 MHz FM. "A police band scanner or a hand-talkie ham radio would work just fine," added Bauer.

Use Science@NASA's J-Pass utility to find out when the ISS is going to orbit over your area.

Via Eyeteeth and The Raw Feed. More information and images.

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