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Open Access journal Space: Science & Technology, published in association with BIT, promotes the interplay of science and technology for the benefit of all application domains of space activities. It particularly welcomes articles illustrating successful synergies in space programs and missions.
Space: Science & Technology’s editorial board is led by Peijian Ye (China Academy of Space Technology), and it includes experts who have been carefully selected to include all domains of sciences and technologies covered by space missions of different types.
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Prospects for the Future Development of China’s Space Transportation System
At present, the world has developed to a new stage of large-scale access to space, which has put forward higher requirements for the development of space transportation. Facing the historical mission of building a space power, focusing on the construction of the China’s space transportation system, this paper studied the development situation of the space transportation system in the world, summarized the development status of the China’s space transportation, combined with future development requirements, and put forward prospects for the future development of the China’s space transportation system.
Investigation on P-Glycoprotein Function and Its Interacting Proteins under Simulated Microgravity
P-glycoprotein (P-gp) could maintain stability of the nerve system by effluxing toxins out of the blood-brain barrier. Whether it plays a very important role in drug brain distribution during space travel is not yet known. The present study was aimed at investigating P-gp function, expression, and its interacting proteins in a rat brain under simulated microgravity (SMG) by comparative proteomics approach. Rats were tail-suspended to induce short- (7-day) and long-term (21-day) microgravity. P-gp function was assessed by measuring the P-gp ATPase activity and the brain-to-plasma concentration ratio of rhodamine 123. P-gp expression was evaluated by Western blot. 21d-SMG significantly enhanced P-gp efflux activity and expression in rats. Label-free proteomics strategy identified 26 common differentially expressed proteins (DEPs) interacting with P-gp in 7d- and 21d-SMG groups. Most of the DEPs mainly regulated ATP hydrolysis coupled transmembrane transport and so on. Interaction analysis showed that P-gp might potentially interact with heat shock proteins, sodium/potassium ATP enzyme, ATP synthase, microtubule-associated proteins, and vesicle fusion ATPase. The present study firstly reported P-gp function, expression, and its potentially interacting proteins exposed to simulated microgravity. These findings might be helpful not only for further study on nerve system stability but also for the safe and effective use of P-gp substrate drugs during space travel.
Deep Membrane Proteome Profiling of Rat Hippocampus in Simulated Complex Space Environment by SWATH
Despite the development and great progress in the field of space biology, the astronauts are still facing many challenges in space. The space environment in which astronauts stay includes microgravity, noise, circadian rhythms disorder, and confinement, which has deep effect both on the physiology and psychology of astronauts. It was reported that long-term flight could cause the astronauts’ anxiety and depression. However, the underlying mechanism is not yet fully understood. Therefore, in the present study, the rat tail suspension model with noise, circadian rhythms, and confinement was employed to simulate complex space environment. We found that the rats exhibited the depressive-like behavior by the sucrose preference, forced swimming, and open-field tests. The membrane proteome of the rat hippocampus was investigated by “SWATH quantitation” technology both in control and simulated complex space environment (SCSE) groups. Out of 4520 quantified proteins, 244 differentially expressed membrane proteins were obtained between the SCSE and control rats, which were functionally enriched in a series of biological processes, such as translation, protein phosphorylation, brain development, endocytosis, nervous system development, axonogenesis, and vesicle-mediated transport. We found a reduction level of neurexin-2, the light, medium, heavy polypeptide of neurofilament, rab 18, synaptogyrin 1, and syntaxin-1A and an increase level of neuroligin-1, munc18, snapin, synaptotagmin XII, complexin-1, etc., which may play a key part in the development of depression. Furthermore, GSK-3β protein was upregulated in mass spectrometry, which was further validated by western blotting. The results of the study do the favor in designing the effective countermeasures for the astronauts in the future long-term spaceflight.
Space Traffic Coordination: Developing a Framework for Safety and Security in Satellite Operations
This article investigates the extant normative framework that can be identified around the concept of space traffic management (STM). While much of the STM literature engages with how a future regime might be structured, this article attempts to engage with current processes related to space traffic coordination and give insight as to how normative growth toward space traffic management might occur. Through a survey of current legal and governance mechanisms, this article focuses its attention on open data sharing as an extant and critical coordination process that has potential for normative growth in the development of space traffic management as a formal regime.
Applicability of the Liability Convention for Private Spaceflight
While the era of private spaceflight is coming, it is getting urgent to have common understanding about the existing space legal systems, i.e., the Applicability of the Liability Convention (ALC) in handling with damage which might occur during space tourism. The applicability of the relevant articles about absolute liability, fault liability, and claimant State is systematically analyzed. The paper in turn analyzes the ALC in the situation of the participants suffering damage and in that of the participants causing damage, as a dichotomy methodology. The LC applies to a private spaceflight participant when they suffer damage on board during the spaceflight. As to the eligible claimant State, in the absence of the nationality State, the registry State, or the owner State of the space object may present the claim instead. If damage to the foreign participants on board happened on the surface of the earth, the nationality State of the participant could present claim to the launching State to protect its national’s interests under general international law rather than under LC. If the damage happens to the foreign participants on board happened elsewhere than on the surface of the earth, Article III of the LC could only apply in limited situations. Only when a spacecraft for private spaceflight of/or registered by one State is carried by the launching vehicle of another State, Article III applies. The best solution in such colaunching situation is to settle down the rights, obligations, and liabilities specifically in a binding international agreement between the launching States. The absolute liability should apply when a space object causes damage to a spaceship carried on by an aircraft before it separates from each other. After the separation, fault-based liability applies to the damage happening to spaceship. The registry State of a space object should be responsible for participants thereof who caused damage to the space object of a third-party State. The LC then applies when the damage is caused by the fault of the participant. If the spaceship is not registered, the launching State shall be responsible for the participants involved its “national activities,” no matter if the participant is its nationals or foreigners and the damage caused by them based on their fault, while the nationality State is not supposed to be responsible for its nationals in such case. At last, issuing a space visa to the participant of private spaceflight could be taken as a compliment measure for the State to implement its authorization obligation as to its national space activities, which could bring more legal certainties when defining the fault attribution.
Development and Prospect of Chinese Lunar Relay Communication Satellite
Relay communication satellites play a very important role on the lunar far side and pole areas exploration missions. Queqiao relay communication satellite was developed to provide relay communication support for the lander and the rover of Chang’e-4 mission landing on the far side of the Moon. From entering into the halo mission orbit around Earth-Moon libration point 2 on June 14, 2018, it has operated on the orbit more than thirty months. It worked very well and provided reliable, continuous relay communication support for the lander and the rover to accomplish the goals of Chang’e-4 lunar far side soft landing and patrol exploration mission. Exploration of the lunar south polar regions is of high scientific interest. A new relay communication satellite for Chinese south pole exploration mission is also under study. The system design and on-orbit operation status of Queqiao relay communication satellite were summarized in this paper. The system concept of the relay communication satellite for lunar south pole exploration missions is proposed. Finally, the future development and prospect of the lunar relay communication satellite system are given.