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Astronauts Prepare To Receive Cosmetics And A New Toilet : NPR

Northrup Grumman’s Antares rocket lifts off from the NASA Wallops test flight facility in Virginia on Oct. 2. The rocket was scheduled to deliver supplies to the International Space Station.

Thom Baur/Northrup Grumman /AP


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Thom Baur/Northrup Grumman /AP

Northrup Grumman’s Antares rocket lifts off from the NASA Wallops test flight facility in Virginia on Oct. 2. The rocket was scheduled to deliver supplies to the International Space Station.

Thom Baur/Northrup Grumman /AP

Hygiene and self care are vital — even in zero gravity. Which is why astronauts on the International Space Station are preparing for a fun delivery: a skincare serum from the cosmetics maker Estée Lauder, as well as a new and improved toilet.

Astronauts won’t actually be using the brand’s Advanced Night Repair Synchronized Multi-Recovery Complex, says Robyn Gatens, the acting director of the International Space Station. Instead, the plan is for them to take photos and video in space of the $105 per bottle serum that the company will then be able to use for advertisements across its social media channels. According to ABC News, it will cost Estée Lauder $17,500 per hour.

Estée Lauder will auction off at least one of the 10 bottles they’re flying into space for charity, Gatens said in an interview with NPR’s Weekend Edition Sunday.

Even if the astronauts wanted to record themselves using the product — a la the Get Ready With Me videos that many an influencer has posted to YouTube to show off their beauty routines — they wouldn’t be able to. As government employees, they’re restricted from participating in sponsoring products.

That doesn’t mean they’re strangers to commercial and marketing activities — something NASA has set aside 90 hours of crew time for. In 2019, for example, DoubleTree by Hilton sent their chocolate chip cookies up to the Space Station to be the first food baked in space.

Gatens said NASA is hoping this kind of commercial activity will “open up business opportunities for companies that may never have thought about doing activities in space.”

Eventually, the International Space Station will have to be retired, and NASA hopes to use a prospective private space station in the future as a base in lower Earth orbit.

“We will be a customer, but we need other customers to be able to purchase services on those commercial platforms other than NASA to support their operation,” she said. “Through the Space Station today we’re enabling activities such as this to allow companies to try out performing commercial activities on the Space Station and see if there are businesses that can be enabled.”

One thing NASA won’t be returning, though, are two new toilets. Gatens said the toilets — which cost $23 million together — have special hardware designed to work in microgravity. One will be flown in the Orion spacecraft for the Artemis 2 mission, and the other is heading to the International Space Station.

“It’s very different from a toilet you would go buy at

Military dogs testing AR goggles to receive handlers’ commands

(CNN) — Dogs working in the United States military could in the future wear augmented reality goggles that enable soldiers to give them remote commands.

The goggles are being developed by Command Sight, a Seattle-based company, with US Army research funding, and would allow military dogs to assist in rescue operations and scout potentially dangerous areas for hazards and explosives while their handlers remain at a safe distance.

The technology, which the US Army says is the first of its kind, works by letting a handler see everything the dog can see and then provide specific commands using visual cues that show up in the dog’s line of vision.

Currently, military dogs are most commonly directed with hand signals or laser pointers, which require the handler to be in close proximity. Handlers can also use audio communication, with a camera and radio attached to the dog, but the commands can be confusing for the dog.

The Army said the AR goggles could offer Special Forces dogs and their handlers a new alternative, especially as the animals are already used to wearing protective goggles during operations.

Stephen Lee, a senior scientist from the Army Research Office, said in a statement that the new technology offered the military a “critical tool to better communicate with military working dogs.”

“Augmented reality works differently for dogs than for humans,” Lee said. “AR will be used to provide dogs with commands and cues; it’s not for the dog to interact with it like a human does,” he added.

The prototype design requires a dog to stay on a leash as the goggles have wires. But the researchers are working on making the technology wireless in the next phase of development.

A.J. Peper, the founder of Command Sight, said in the statement that the concept could “fundamentally change how military canines are deployed in the future,” though he said there was still a “long way to go” before the technology could be rolled out to units.

“We are still in the beginning research stages of applying this technology to dogs, but the results from our initial research are extremely promising,” Peper said.

“Much of the research to date has been conducted with my rottweiler, Mater,” he said. “His ability to generalize from other training to working through the AR goggles has been incredible.”

At the next stage in the goggles’ development, researchers will work with US Navy Special Forces to build prototypes to be tested on their military working dogs.

The goggles will all be custom-made, the US Army said, with each dog in the trial scanned in 3D so developers can understand where to position the optics and electrical components.

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