As we mentioned at the beginning of the month, we have some exciting announcements to make. We would like to continue to extend access to space for students, researchers, and citizen scientists all over the world. Today we are excited to announce ExoLab: NEXT. An open source hardware initiative for anyone that would like to construct their lab to connect with the ExoLab network of science laboratories. The current form factor of ExoLab will still be available, but now you will have a chance to design your own lab to join our network! The program will begin with a few selected designers to ensure that our network security and protocols are established before we open it to everyone. If you have an interest in designing your own lab that connects to the International Space Station (or other really cool initiatives in the works!) this is your opportunity. What does ExoLab NEXT stand for? Novel Exploration and eXperimentation through Technology.
Novel: An innovative approach to develop and employ unconventional or emerging hardware and technologies for space exploration and utilization.
Exploration: To expand the boundaries of human knowledge and presence in space.
eXperimentation: To push the frontiers of space exploration will involve conducting a wide range of experiments, not all of which may succeed, but all of which contribute to the overall body of knowledge.
Technology: We aim to create, adapt, and implement the best possible hardware for space exploration.
As an open initiative, Exolab NEXT will foster collaboration among academic institutions, research organizations, space agencies, private companies, and individual enthusiasts. It will use open source design principles, and allow any interested party to contribute to, modify, or use the hardware designs.
This initiative is designed to accelerate the development of space technology by leveraging the collective intelligence and resources of the global community, making space exploration more accessible and affordable to everyone. To be notified of the official application period which will begin soon, go to https://magnitude.io/hackathon/ to sign up to learn more! More will be revealed about this initiative as welll as another special surprise later this month.
At the start of the pandemic in February 2020, ExoLab-7 was launched aboard Northrup Grumman’s S.S. Robert H. Lawrence (NG-13). We had more than 100 schools around the world looking at the symbiotic relationship between cowpea (Vigna unguiculata) and nitrogen fixing bacteria (R. leguminosarum). We came home on SpaceX-20 that April. While we were in orbit, the pandemic raged on. Wanting students and educators to feel engaged and not locked in or stuck at home the Leguminaut Challenge was born.
The question of what legume should we pick for the next mission became a team building exercise and a bunch of fun for participants. Our core group of Educators really emerged from this experience, with all of them still active today. Check out these pitches. Shall we do something like this again?
A few months earlier, ExoLab-6 took to orbit aboard SpaceX-18 in July 2019. Our quest was to determine which bacteria might be the ideal candidate for these legume missions. Between Azotobacter, and Rhizobia leguminosarum, R. leguminosarum was down selected as our flight candidate for future missions.
Year 7 was a busy and most memorable year for Magnitude. We even got coverage in Make: Magazine’s Issue #69 Space Geek! How cool was that?