Two Americans, one Russian blast off for ISS from Kazakhstan

NASA astronauts Richard Arnold (L), Andrew Feustel (R), and Roscosmos cosmonaut Oleg Artemyev (C) pose for a picture after a press conference at the Russian-leased Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on March 20, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 21 March 2018
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Two Americans, one Russian blast off for ISS from Kazakhstan

BAIKONUR, Kazakhstan: Two astronauts, a cosmonaut and a ball set to be used in the forthcoming football World Cup in Russia blasted off Wednesday for a two-day flight to the International Space Station.
NASA’s Drew Feustel and Richard Arnold lifted off from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan for a five month mission in a Soyuz MS-08 under the command of Russian colleague Oleg Artemyev at the expected time of 1744 GMT.
All three crew members have been in space before although NASA duo Feustel, 52, and Arnold, 54, have never served on a long-duration spaceflight and have just 40 days in orbit between them.
Artemyev, who is commanding a Soyuz craft for the first time, spent 169 days at the International Space Station during his previous mission in 2014.
In the build up to the launch, Russian media coverage homed in on Artemyev taking to the orbital laboratory a football that is expected to kick off the 2018 World Cup the country is hosting this summer.
“We are taking a ball with us,” Artemyev told a pre-flight press conference on Tuesday.
“Possibly the one that will be used in the first game,” said the 47-year-old, who attended school in the steppe town right next to the cosmodrome in central Kazakhstan.
His colleague from the Russian space agency Anton Shkaplerov is expected to take the ball back down to earth less than two weeks before the national team take on Saudi Arabia in the tournament opener on June 14.
The three men will join Expedition 55 commander Shkaplerov NASA’s Scott Tingle and Norishige Kanai of the Japanese space agency at the orbital lab on Friday.
The ISS laboratory, a rare example of American and Russian cooperation, has been orbiting Earth at about 28,000 kilometers per hour since 1998.


Japan to trial ‘world’s first urine test’ to spot cancer

Updated 17 April 2018
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Japan to trial ‘world’s first urine test’ to spot cancer

  • Previous research has shown a new blood test has potential to detect eight different kinds of tumors before they spread
  • The research starts in April and will run until September

TOKYO: A Japanese firm is poised to carry out what it hailed as the world’s first experiment to test for cancer using urine samples, which would greatly facilitate screening for the deadly disease.
Engineering and IT conglomerate Hitachi developed the basic technology to detect breast or colon cancer from urine samples two years ago.
It will now begin testing the method using some 250 urine samples, to see if samples at room temperature are suitable for analysis, Hitachi spokesman Chiharu Odaira told AFP.
“If this method is put to practical use, it will be a lot easier for people to get a cancer test, as there will be no need to go to a medical organization for a blood test,” he said.
It is also intended to be used to detect paediatric cancers.
“That will be especially beneficial in testing for small children” who are often afraid of needles, added Odaira.
Research published earlier this year demonstrated that a new blood test has shown promise toward detecting eight different kinds of tumors before they spread elsewhere in the body.
Usual diagnostic methods for breast cancer consist of a mammogram followed by a biopsy if a risk is detected.
For colon cancer, screening is generally conducted via a stool test and a colonoscopy for patients at high risk.
The Hitachi technology centers around detecting waste materials inside urine samples that act as a “biomarker” — a naturally occurring substance by which a particular disease can be identified, the company said in a statement.
The procedure aims to improve the early detection of cancer, saving lives and reducing the medical and social cost to the country, Odaira explained.
The experiment will start this month until through September in cooperation with Nagoya University in central Japan.
“We aim to put the technology in use in the 2020s, although this depends on various things such as getting approval from the authorities,” Odaira said.