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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Honoring Our Fallen Explorers...

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and his wife, Alexis, lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns to commemorate NASA's Day of Remembrance at Arlington National Cemetery...on January 28, 2015.
NASA / Joel Kowsky

NASA's Day of Remembrance 2015 (Press Release)

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and his wife, Alexis, lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns as part of NASA's Day of Remembrance, Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2015, at Arlington National Cemetery. The wreaths were laid in memory of those men and women who lost their lives in the quest for space exploration.

Source: NASA.Gov

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The crew of Apollo 1.

The crew of mission STS-51L.

The crew of mission STS-107.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

ISS Update: Washington Honors an American Explorer...

NASA astronaut Scott Kelly, who will launch to the International Space Station this March to begin a year-long mission aboard the orbital outpost, waves to the crowd at Capitol Hill after President Obama mentioned him during the State of the Union address on January 20, 2015.
NASA / Bill Ingalls

President Obama Recognizes Astronaut Scott Kelly (Press Release)

NASA astronaut Scott Kelly stands as he is recognized by President Barack Obama, while First Lady Michelle Obama (lower left corner) and other guests applaud. The President recognized Kelly during the State of the Union address on Capitol Hill in Washington on Jan. 20, 2015. This March, Kelly and Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko will launch to the International Space Station and become the first crewmembers to live and work aboard the orbiting laboratory for a year-long mission. While living on the International Space Station, Kelly, Kornienko and the rest of the crew will carry out hundreds of research experiments and work on cutting-edge technology development that will inspire students here at home in science, technology, engineering and math.

Source: NASA.Gov

Thursday, January 15, 2015

ISS Update: A Spectacular View Outside the Window(s)...

A view from inside the International Space Station's Cupola...taken on January 4, 2015.
NASA

Interior View From the International Space Station Cupola (Press Release)

This image of the interior view from the International Space Station's Cupola module was taken on Jan. 4, 2015. The large bay windows allows the Expedition 42 crew to see outside. The Cupola houses one of the space station's two robotic work stations used by astronauts to manipulate the large robotic arm seen through the right window. The robotic arm, or Canadarm2, was used throughout the construction of the station and is still used to grapple visiting cargo vehicles and assist astronauts during spacewalks. The Cupola is attached to the nadir side of the space station and also gives a full panoramic view of the Earth.

Source: NASA.Gov

Saturday, January 10, 2015

SpaceX Update: The Dragon Starts the New Year by Embarking on Flight CRS-5...

A Falcon 9 rocket carrying the Dragon spacecraft launches from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on January 10, 2015...beginning the CRS-5 mission.
NASA / Jim Grossman

NASA Cargo Launches to Space Station aboard SpaceX Resupply Mission (Press Release)

More than two tons of supplies and NASA science investigations are on the way to the International Space Station aboard SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft. The spacecraft launched Saturday on the company’s Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida at 4:47 a.m. EST.

The mission is the company's fifth official cargo delivery flight to the station through NASA's Commercial Resupply Services contract. Dragon's cargo will support more than 250 experiments that will be conducted by the station’s Expeditions 42 and 43 crews.

“We are delighted to kick off 2015 with our first commercial cargo launch of the year,” said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. “Thanks to our private sector partners, we've returned space station resupply launches to U.S. soil and are poised to do the same with the transport of our astronauts in the very near future. Today’s launch not only resupplies the station, but also delivers important science experiments and increases the station’s unique capabilities as a platform for Earth science with delivery of the Cloud-Aerosol Transport System, or CATS instrument. I congratulate the SpaceX and NASA teams who have made today’s success possible. We look forward to extending our efforts in commercial space to include commercial crew by 2017 and to more significant milestones this year on our journey to Mars.”

The CATS instrument measures the location, composition and distribution of pollution, dust, smoke, aerosols and other particulates in the atmosphere. CATS will be attached outside the station on the Japanese Experiment Module. By gaining a deeper understanding of cloud and aerosol coverage, scientists can create a better model of their role in Earth's changing global climate.

A new biological study will use flatworms as a model organism to see how gravity affects tissue regeneration and the rebuilding of damaged organs and nerves. Flatworms regenerate their cells, replacing them as they age or are damaged. This investigation studies the cell signaling mechanisms the worms use while regenerating their tissue in microgravity. Its results could provide insight into how wounds heal in space.

Also making the trip as model organisms will be fruit flies (Drosophila melanogaster). Scientists will study the flies’ immune systems as a model for the human immune system, to explore how spaceflight can make organisms more susceptible to disease, especially since microbes can become more virulent in space.

The new Micro-5 investigation aims to understand the risks of in-flight infections in space explorers during long-term spaceflight. It will study the interactions between the host and bacteria, cellular responses and the effectiveness of countermeasures during spaceflight. The model organism Caenorhabditis elegans (roundworm) will be studied along with the microbe Salmonella typhimurium, which is known to cause food poisoning in humans.

Dragon will be grappled at 6:12 a.m. Monday, Jan. 12, by Expedition 42 Commander Barry "Butch" Wilmore of NASA, using the space station's robotic arm to take hold of the spacecraft. European Space Agency astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti will support Wilmore in a backup position. Dragon is scheduled to spend about a month attached to the space station before splashing down in the Pacific Ocean, west of Baja California, Mexico, carrying more than 3,800 pounds of cargo, including crew supplies, hardware and computer resources, science experiments, space station hardware and trash.

The International Space Station is a convergence of science, technology and human innovation that demonstrates new technologies and makes research breakthroughs not possible on Earth. The space station has been occupied continuously since November 2000. In that time, more than 200 people and a variety of international and commercial spacecraft have visited the orbiting laboratory. The space station remains the springboard to NASA's next great leap in exploration, including future missions to an asteroid and Mars.

Source: NASA.Gov

Friday, January 9, 2015

SLS Update: A Mega-Rocket's Engine Roars to Life...

An RS-25 engine is test-fired inside the A-1 test stand at NASA's Stennis Space Center in Mississippi...on January 9, 2015.
NASA

RS-25 Engine Testing Blazes Forward for NASA's Space Launch System (Press Release)

The new year is off to a hot start for NASA's Space Launch System (SLS). The engine that will drive America's next great rocket to deep space blazed through its first successful test Jan. 9 at the agency's Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi.

The RS-25, formerly the space shuttle main engine, fired up for 500 seconds on the A-1 test stand at Stennis, providing NASA engineers critical data on the engine controller unit and inlet pressure conditions. This is the first hot fire of an RS-25 engine since the end of space shuttle main engine testing in 2009. Four RS-25 engines will power SLS on future missions, including to an asteroid and Mars.

"We’ve made modifications to the RS-25 to meet SLS specifications and will analyze and test a variety of conditions during the hot fire series,” said Steve Wofford, manager of the SLS Liquid Engines Office at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, where the SLS Program is managed. "The engines for SLS will encounter colder liquid oxygen temperatures than shuttle; greater inlet pressure due to the taller core stage liquid oxygen tank and higher vehicle acceleration; and more nozzle heating due to the four-engine configuration and their position in-plane with the SLS booster exhaust nozzles.”

The engine controller unit, the "brain" of the engine, allows communication between the vehicle and the engine, relaying commands to the engine and transmitting data back to the vehicle. The controller also provides closed-loop management of the engine by regulating the thrust and fuel mixture ratio while monitoring the engine's health and status. The new controller will use updated hardware and software configured to operate with the new SLS avionics architecture.

"This first hot-fire test of the RS-25 engine represents a significant effort on behalf of Stennis Space Center’s A-1 test team," said Ronald Rigney, RS-25 project manager at Stennis. "Our technicians and engineers have been working diligently to design, modify and activate an extremely complex and capable facility in support of RS-25 engine testing."

Testing will resume in April after upgrades are completed on the high pressure industrial water system, which provides cool water for the test facility during a hot fire test. Eight tests, totaling 3,500 seconds, are planned for the current development engine. Another development engine later will undergo 10 tests, totaling 4,500 seconds. The second test series includes the first test of new flight controllers, known as green running.

The first flight test of the SLS will feature a configuration for a 70-metric-ton (77-ton) lift capacity and carry an uncrewed Orion spacecraft beyond low-Earth orbit to test the performance of the integrated system. As the SLS is upgraded, it will provide an unprecedented lift capability of 130 metric tons (143 tons) to enable missions even farther into our solar system.

Source: NASA.Gov

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Wednesday, January 7, 2015

(Post-)EFT-1 Update: Orion Is Back Home in Florida...

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden (third from right) is among a crowd of onlookers who inspect the Orion EFT-1 spacecraft as it is put on display inside the Launch Abort System Facility at Kennedy Space Center in Florida...on January 6, 2015.
NASA / Cory Huston

Orion Spacecraft in Post-Mission Processing at Kennedy Space Center (Press Release)

Bearing the marks of a spacecraft that has returned to Earth through a searing plunge into the atmosphere, NASA's Orion spacecraft is perched on a pedestal inside the Launch Abort System Facility at Kennedy Space Center, where it is going through post-mission processing. NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, third from right, looks over the Orion spacecraft on the morning of Jan. 6, 2015. At far right is Jules Schneider, Lockheed Martin manager. Standing near Bolden is Paul Cooper, a Lockheed Martin manager. At far left is Kennedy Space Center Associate Director Kelvin Manning.

Orion was returned to Kennedy Space Center following a successful Dec. 5, 2014 flight test. Although the spacecraft Bolden looked over did not fly with a crew aboard during the flight test, Orion is designed to carry astronauts into deep space in the future setting NASA and the nation firmly on the journey to Mars.

Source: NASA.Gov