SpaceX Takes Another Step Toward Multi-Planetary Vision

December 18, 2017 | ProgressTH US-based aerospace company SpaceX this month passed another important milestone. It successfully launched one of its Falcon 9 rockets using both a recovered first stage (which successfully landed again) and a recovered Dragon space capsule.

The launch was part of the Commercial Resupply Service mission 13 (CRS-13) bringing supplies to the permanently manned International Space Station (ISS). The SpaceX Dragon capsule is the only other vehicle able to send supplies to the ISS and return payloads back to Earth besides Russia's Soyuz spacecraft which is also currently the only means of sending humans to and from the ISS.

The launch represents expanding Earth to orbit capabilities which are a necessary prerequisite to SpaceX founder Elon Musk's vision of transforming humanity into a multi-planetary species.

The company is already preparing to test launch the much larger and more capable Falcon Heavy launch system which it will be used to send payloads to Mars.

The Importance of Being Multiplanetary 

Contemporary pundits often debate on the future of our planet focused on solving today's and even tomorrow's problems with archaic solutions dependent on current or even antiquated technology. Rarely ever does the debate find itself framed within the context of solving tomorrow's problems with tomorrow's technology.

In reality, tomorrow's problems require tomorrow's solutions. SpaceX is an example of this. The Falcon 9 and Dragon will never succeed by themselves in making humanity multi-planetary, but they are absolute prerequisites toward that end.

Urban Agriculture: DIY Hydroponics Shelf

December 2, 2017 | ProgressTH We have experimented with indoor gardening before. Using 30W and now 50W LED floodlights, and a wide range of grow boxes and grow shelves, the final and most efficient iteration has been our hydroponics shelf.

The original hydroponics shelf (above) used MDF panels covered with aluminium tape and a 5V fan from an old grow box experiment. The red plastic covers were 3D printed, but virtually any sort of opaque plastic can be used as a cover.

The shelf began as a steel STACKO brand heavy duty shelf we attached the MDF panels of an old DIY grow box onto, including a 5V fan for air circulation. We added an aquarium air pump to aerate the AB nutrient solution put into modified 6L plastic water bottles. Foam squares were fitted into 3D printed covers to hold the plants in place.

We managed to grow several salads' worth of greens so far, and there are now many more on the way.

3D Printed DIYbio Opensource Centrifuge

November 21, 2017 | ProgressTH Our 3D printed DIYbio centrifuge v 2.0 is operational. With version 1, we used a brushless motor used on drones which required an electronic speed controller and an Arduino microcontroller just to get it to spin. This version uses a simple 12V DC motor controlled by simply flipping a rocker switch.

A microswitch located near the cover cuts the power when the cover opens, and returns power to the motor when it is closed. It is a common safety feature found on many laboratory micro centrifuges.

Because it is much simpler and because there is a lot of extra space in the housing, a lot of expanded functions can be added later by users. While this version does not require a microcontroller of any king, there is plenty of space to add one (for timers or other functions).

Check out all the files here on Thingiverse:

Check out a quick video demonstration here:

For information on a simple DNA extraction protocol we've used in the past which utilizes a micro centrifuge, see here.