Payload competition on a SpaceX Falcon 9, chicken nugget and 4G network also head into space – Physics World


You learn something new every day, goes the old adage – and today was no exception as I gleaned two nuggets of information from the UK-based frozen food retailer Iceland. One is that the chicken nugget was invented in the 1950s by scientists at Cornell University and the other is that Iceland is the biggest seller of chicken nuggets in the UK. To celebrate their market dominance and the 50th anniversary of the chain, Iceland has sent a chicken nugget into space. The morsel was suspended from a balloon and launched from a location in Wales, reaching an altitude of 33.5 km. You can watch its ascent in the above video but being in Wales in October, the view of the Earth is quickly obscured by clouds.

Speaking of sending stuff into space, UK and New Zealand-based Orbital Astronautics has launched two competitions to encourage people to design and build spacecraft payloads. Orbital Start-up is aimed at start-up companies and Orbital Student is aimed at, you guessed it, students. In both cases entries will be judged by industry experts and the top start-up and the two top student entries will be integrated within an Orbital Astronautics satellite and launched into orbit on a SpaceX Falcon 9. The deadline for entries is 15 December.

Not wanting to be upstaged by Iceland or Orbital Astronautics, NASA and Nokia are joining forces to put a 4G mobile phone network on the Moon. Described as “ultra-compact, low-power and space-hardened,” the Guardian reports that the lunar network will be part of NASA’s plan to establish a long-term human presence on the moon by 2030.

The network will be installed remotely using a “lunar hopper” built by US based Intuitive Machines and will be used for navigation and streaming video. The deal is worth $14.1m to Nokia’s US subsidiary.

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