Wednesday, December 23, 2015
Zinnia Flowers Starting to Grow on the International Space Station (Press Release)
Zinnia flowers are starting to grow in the International Space Station's Veggie facility as part of the VEG-01 investigation. Veggie provides lighting and nutrient supply for plants in the form of a low-cost growth chamber and planting "pillows” to provide nutrients for the root system. These plants appear larger than their ground-based counterparts and scientists expect buds to form on the larger plants soon.
The Veggie facility supports a variety of plant species that can be cultivated for educational outreach, fresh food and even recreation for crew members on long-duration missions. Previously, the facility has grown lettuce -- which was consumed by the crew earlier this year -- and now investigators are attempting to grow Zinnia flowers. Understanding how flowering plants grow in microgravity can be applied to growing other edible flowering plants, such as tomatoes.
Tuesday, December 22, 2015
Comments by JAXA President on Japan's Decision to Participate in Extended ISS Operations (Press Release)
On December 22, 2015, the Japanese and U.S. governments agreed on a new cooperation framework for the International Space Station (ISS) Program and, accordingly, Japan decided to extend its participation in the ISS operations until 2024. Through operations and utilizations of the Japanese Experiment Module Kibo and the cargo transporter to the ISS KOUNOTORI, JAXA will responsibly produce commensurate achievements from the extended operations.
The Japan-U.S. Open Platform Partnership Program (Japan-U.S. OP3) newly agreed today will step-up the relationship between both countries to the next phase. In order to realize Japan's space policy, JAXA will produce desirable outcomes by promoting unprecedented utilization of the Kibo and the KOUNOTORI effectively and efficiently leveraging the new framework.
Continuous support and cooperation with the ISS Program from Japanese people and ISS partner countries will be very much appreciated.
Thank you very much.
December 22, 2015
National Research and Development Agency
Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)
Source: Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency
Friday, December 18, 2015
NASA Orders Second Boeing Crew Mission to International Space Station (Press Release)
NASA took an important step Friday to establish regular crew missions that will launch from the United States to the International Space Station with the order of its second post-certification mission from Boeing Space Exploration of Houston.
"Once certified by NASA, the Boeing CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX Crew Dragon each will be capable of two crew launches to the station per year," said Kathy Lueders, manager of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. "Placing orders for those missions now really sets us up for a sustainable future aboard the International Space Station."
This is the third in a series of four guaranteed orders NASA will make under the Commercial Crew Transportation Capability (CCtCap) contracts. Boeing and SpaceX received their first orders in May and November, respectively, and have started planning for, building and procuring the necessary hardware and assets to carry out their first missions for the agency. NASA will identify at a later time which company will fly a mission to the station first.
Boeing met the criteria for NASA to award the company its second mission with the successful completion of interim developmental milestones and internal design reviews for its Starliner spacecraft, United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket and associated ground system.
Boeing’s Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility at Kennedy Space Center in Florida is seeing the buildup of the Starliner structural test article, and nearby, the main column of the crew access tower is in place at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Space Launch Complex 41. Flight trainers are nearing completion in Boeing’s St. Louis facility and rocket parts are starting to come together in Huntsville, Alabama.
“As our company begins its second century, our Starliner program continues Boeing’s tradition of space industry innovation with commercial service to the space station,” said John Mulholland, vice president and manager of Boeing’s commercial crew program. “We value NASA’s confidence in the Starliner system to keep their crews safe.”
Commercial crew missions to the space station will restore America’s human spaceflight capabilities and increase the amount of time dedicated to scientific research off the Earth, for the Earth and beyond. A standard commercial crew mission to the station will carry up to four NASA or NASA-sponsored crew members and about 220 pounds of pressurized cargo. The spacecraft will remain at the station for up to 210 days, available as an emergency lifeboat during that time.
“With the commercial crew vehicles from Boeing and SpaceX, we will soon add a seventh crew member to International Space Station missions, which will significantly increase the amount of crew time to conduct research,” said Kirk Shireman, manager for the International Space Station Program. “This will enable NASA and our partners to ramp up the important research being done every day for the benefit of all humanity.”
Orders under the CCtCap contracts are made two to three years prior to actual mission dates in order to provide time for each company to manufacture and assemble the launch vehicle and spacecraft. Each company also must successfully complete a certification process before NASA will give the final approval for flight. Each provider’s contract includes a minimum of two and a maximum potential of six missions.
NASA’s Commercial Crew Program manages the CCtCap contracts and is working with each company to ensure commercial transportation system designs and post-certification missions will meet the agency’s safety requirements. Activities that follow the award of missions include a series of mission-related reviews and approvals leading to launch. The program also will be involved in all operational phases of missions to ensure crew safety.
Wednesday, December 16, 2015
Expedition 46 Soyuz Approaches Space Station for Docking (Press Release)
Russian cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko manually docked the Soyuz TMA-19M spacecraft on Dec. 15, 2015 to the International Space Station's Rassvet module after an initial automated attempt was aborted. Malenchenko took control of the Soyuz, backed it away from the station to assess the Soyuz' systems, then re-approached the complex for the manual docking. Flight Engineer Tim Kopra of NASA and Flight Engineer Tim Peake of ESA (European Space Agency) flanked Malenchenko as he brought the Soyuz to the Rassvet port for the start of a six-month mission. The solar array from the docked Orbital ATK Cygnus cargo vehicle is also in view at right.
After leak checks were conducted on both sides of the docking interface, hatches were opened and Malenchenko, Kopra and Peake were greeted by Expedition 46 Commander Scott Kelly of NASA and Flight Engineers Mikhail Kornienko and Sergey Volkov of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos). The arrival of Kopra, Malenchenko and Peake returns the station's crew complement to six. The three join Expedition 46 Commander Scott Kelly of NASA and Flight Engineers Sergey Volkov and Mikhail Kornienko of Roscosmos. During more than five months on humanity’s only microgravity laboratory, the Expedition 46 crew members will conduct more than 250 science investigation in fields including biology, Earth science, human research, physical sciences and technology development. Kopra, Malenchenko and Peake will remain aboard the station until early June 2016.
Tuesday, December 15, 2015
NASA / Roscosmos
American, Russian and Briton Join International Space Station Crew (Press Release)
Hatches between the International Space Station and an arriving Soyuz spacecraft opened at 2:58 p.m. EST Tuesday, signaling the arrival of three new crew members, including NASA astronaut Tim Kopra. They will join other residents on the station to continue important research that advances NASA's journey to Mars, while making discoveries that can benefit all of humanity.
Kopra, Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Tim Peake launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 6:03 a.m. (5:03 p.m. in Baikonur) and, after orbiting Earth four times, manually docked to the station at 12:33 p.m.
The arrival of Kopra, Malenchenko and Peake returns the station's crew complement to six. The three join Expedition 46 Commander Scott Kelly of NASA and Flight Engineers Sergey Volkov and Mikhail Kornienko of Roscosmos. During more than five months on humanity’s only microgravity laboratory, the Expedition 46 crew members will conduct more than 250 science investigation in fields including biology, Earth science, human research, physical sciences and technology development.
Kopra, Malenchenko and Peake will remain aboard the station until early June 2016. Kelly and Kornienko will return to Earth at the conclusion of their one-year mission on March 1, 2016, along with Volkov. The pair will have spent 340 consecutive days living and working in space to advance understanding of the medical, psychological and biomedical challenges astronauts face during long duration spaceflight, in addition to developing countermeasures to reverse those effects.
Ongoing station research also includes the Microbial Payload Tracking Series project, which uses microbial analysis techniques to establish a census of the microorganisms living on surfaces and in the atmosphere of the space station. Along with crew members and experimental payloads, the space station is home to a variety of microbes, which are a cleaning nuisance and potentially threatening to crew health and station equipment. Analyzing these microbes can help determine whether some are more virulent in space, and which genetic changes might be involved in this response. Results from the investigation can be used to evaluate cleaning strategies, and to mitigate microbe-related risks to crew health and spacecraft system performance.
The crew members are scheduled to receive several cargo spacecraft -- including multiple U.S. commercial resupply vehicles from SpaceX and Orbital ATK -- each delivering tons of food, fuel, supplies and research.
SpaceX will deliver on its eighth commercial resupply services mission an important technology project that could help drive future exploration. Developed under a public-private partnership, the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) is an expandable habitat technology demonstration for the International Space Station. Expandable habitats can greatly decrease the amount of transport volume for future space missions, weighing less and taking up less room on a rocket. These habitats have the potential to provide a comfortable area for astronauts to live and work, as well as a varying degree of protection from solar and cosmic radiation, space debris and other elements of the space environment. Highly reliable habitation systems will be essential to keep future crews healthy and productive in the deep-space environment during missions in lunar orbit where the systems will be validated for future missions to Mars that could last as long as 1,100 days.
For 15 years, humans have been living continuously aboard the station to advance scientific knowledge and demonstrate new technologies, making research breakthroughs not possible on Earth that also will enable long-duration human and robotic exploration into deep space. A truly global endeavor, more than 200 people from 15 countries have visited the unique microgravity laboratory that has hosted more than 1,700 research investigations from researchers in more than 80 countries.
NASA / Joel Kowsky
Monday, December 14, 2015
Be an Astronaut: NASA Accepting Applications for Future Explorers (Press Release)
Recently named the best place to work in the federal government for the fourth year in a row, NASA is looking for the best candidates to work in the best job on or off the planet. The astronaut candidate application website now is live and accepting submissions through Feb. 18.
Qualifying U.S. citizens may apply at:
NASA astronaut Shannon Walker and astronaut selection manager Anne Roemer will answer questions about the job, and the application and selection processes, on Reddit.com beginning at 4 pm EST today. At that time, anyone may submit questions at:
The agency expects to announce final candidate selections in mid-2017. Those chosen may fly on any of four different U.S. spacecraft during their careers: the International Space Station, two commercial crew spacecraft currently in development by U.S. companies, and NASA’s Orion deep-space exploration vehicle.
“NASA is on an ambitious journey to Mars and we’re looking for talented men and women from diverse backgrounds and every walk of life to help get us there,” said NASA Administrator and former astronaut Charles Bolden. “Today, we opened the application process for our next class of astronauts, extraordinary Americans who will take the next giant leap in exploration. This group will launch to space from U.S. soil on American-made spacecraft and blaze the trail on our journey to the Red Planet.”
NASA astronauts will again launch to the International Space Station from Florida’s Space Coast on American-made commercial spacecraft -- Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner and the SpaceX Crew Dragon. These spacecraft will allow NASA to add a seventh crew member to each station mission, effectively doubling the amount of time astronauts will be able to devote to research in space, expanding scientific knowledge and demonstrating new technologies.
Astronauts also will lift off again from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida aboard the Orion spacecraft, launched on the agency’s Space Launch System rocket, to unprecedented missions in lunar orbit. There, the space agency will learn more about conducting complex operations in a deep space environment before moving on to longer duration missions as it progresses on its journey to Mars.
To help accomplish this work, NASA will select qualified astronaut candidates from a diverse pool of U.S. citizens with a wide variety of backgrounds, including engineers, scientists and physicians. According to the professional networking site LinkedIn, some 3 million of the site’s members working in the United States appear to meet the minimum academic eligibility requirements for the job.
“NASA’s mission, and what we need from the astronauts helping to carry it out, has evolved over the years,” said Brian Kelly, director of Flight Operations at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. “Some people would be surprised to learn they might have what it takes. We want and need a diverse mix of individuals to ensure we have the best astronaut corps possible.”
Astronaut candidates must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution in engineering, biological science, physical science, computer science or mathematics. An advanced degree is desirable. Candidates also must have at least three years of related, progressively responsible professional experience, or at least 1,000 hours of pilot-in-command time in jet aircraft. Astronaut candidates must pass the NASA long-duration astronaut physical.
“The Office of Personnel Management is proud to support NASA’s efforts to recruit our country’s next generation of astronauts,” said Beth Cobert, acting director of OPM. “One of this agency's primary goals is to help attract, recruit, hire and retain the best and most talented workforce to serve the American people. We stand ready to help NASA find and support the talent it needs to fulfill its exciting mission to Mars. I’m proud to help agencies across government shape the federal workforce of the future by providing such tools as USAJOBS, our one-stop source for federal job and employment information.”
Friday, December 11, 2015
GSDO Critical Design Review Marks Progress for NASA's Journey to Mars (Press Release)
NASA's Ground Systems Development and Operations Program (GSDO) has successfully completed its critical design review, on the path to preparing for the agency's journey to Mars.
Members of the review board completed their in-depth assessment of the plans for the facilities and ground support systems at Kennedy Space Center in Florida that will be needed to process NASA's Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion spacecraft for deep-space exploration missions. A Standing Review Board composed of aerospace experts from NASA and industry also will provide an independent assessment. Results of the review process will be briefed to senior agency officials in the coming months as the last step in the process.
"The completion of this review represents a critical milestone for the GSDO team that clearly demonstrates we are on track with the launch site upgrades required to support SLS and Orion test, checkout and launch in 2018," said Mike Bolger, GSDO program manager.
The SLS will be the most powerful rocket in the world and will launch astronauts in the agency's Orion spacecraft to destinations beyond Earth's orbit. Key elements of Kennedy's launch infrastructure will support a new era of human exploration on the journey to Mars. High Bay 3 of the Vehicle Assembly Building will house the SLS on the mobile launcher before it is rolled out to the launch pad atop the massive crawler-transporter. Engineers will fuel the Orion spacecraft in the Multi-Payload Processing Facility with propellants that astronauts will need to carry out their missions in space. The launch director will prepare for the final countdown with the command and control system in the Launch Control Center firing room before SLS blasts off from Launch Pad 39B on its mission to explore deep space.
Kennedy's Engineering Directorate is responsible for leading the ground system designs. The review of GSDO’s designs will ensure that Kennedy's launch infrastructure will meet the requirements of the SLS and Orion spacecraft when the flight hardware arrives for processing, launch and post-flight recovery of Orion.
"The GSDO critical design review is a key milestone in the engineering design and development process and represents major progress in enabling human exploration hardware to be integrated, processed and launched from Kennedy Space Center," said Pat Simpkins, director of Engineering.
Progress already can be seen around the center with work currently underway to prepare for the arrival of SLS and Orion. Several new work platforms have arrived for the VAB, mobile launcher ground system equipment installation is in progress, re-bricking of the flame trench is underway at Pad 39B, and the Orion Service Module Umbilical, which will attach from the mobile launcher tower to the Orion spacecraft, is being tested at the Launch Equipment Test Facility.
"As I drive around the center, I can see the transformation taking place every day right before my eyes," said Shawn Quinn, Exploration Systems manager. "The work completed by the Kennedy and GSDO team is remarkable and is a reflection of our 'can do' spirit."
This milestone is the final review before moving into fabrication, installation and testing of Kennedy's ground systems.
"I'm really proud of the GSDO team," Bolger said. "We are transforming Kennedy into a multi-user spaceport, and we are preparing for NASA's journey to Mars. The SLS launch will come up fast, and we're going to be ready when the flight hardware begins to arrive."
Wednesday, December 9, 2015
Scott Kelly / NASA and Sergey Volkov / Roscosmos
Just thought I'd share these great hi-res photos that were taken of the Cygnus Orb-4 cargo freighter before it was successfully berthed to the International Space Station (ISS) earlier today. Named the S.S. Deke Slayton II after the late Apollo-Soyuz Test Project astronaut (the first S.S. Deke Slayton craft was destroyed in last year's Antares launch mishap in Virginia), this Cygnus will stay at the ISS through the end of this January...when it will be unberthed from the outpost and then be intentionally incinerated (along with 3,000 pounds of garbage inside it) upon re-entry into Earth's atmosphere.
Scott Kelly / NASA and Sergey Volkov / Roscosmos
Scott Kelly / NASA and Sergey Volkov / Roscosmos
Scott Kelly / NASA and Sergey Volkov / Roscosmos
Scott Kelly / NASA and Sergey Volkov / Roscosmos
Scott Kelly / NASA and Sergey Volkov / Roscosmos
Sunday, December 6, 2015
United Launch Alliance
NASA Cargo Launches to Space Station Aboard Orbital ATK Resupply Mission (Press Release)
New hardware that will support dozens of NASA investigations and other science experiments from around the world is among the more than 7,000 pounds of cargo on the way to the International Space Station aboard Orbital ATK's Cygnus spacecraft. It launched at 4:44:57 p.m. EST Sunday on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
“NASA is delighted at the continued progress made possible by our investment in commercial space,” said NASA Deputy Administrator Dava Newman. “As we celebrate Orbital ATK’s success with its fourth cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station, we look forward to the next milestones of our other commercial partners, including commercial crew launches from American soil in the near future. All these missions are critical to our journey to Mars – a journey we have already begun.”
The mission is Orbital ATK's fourth cargo delivery flight to the station through NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services contract. This is the first flight of an enhanced Cygnus spacecraft to the station. The cargo freighter now features a greater payload capacity, new UltraFlex solar arrays and new fuel tanks. Cygnus’ pressurized cargo module has been extended and increases the spacecraft’s interior volume capacity by 25 percent, allowing more cargo to be delivered with each mission. It’s also the first Cygnus mission using the Atlas V launch system.
Science payloads will support science and research investigations that will occur during the space station’s Expeditions 45 and 46, including experiments in biology, biotechnology, physical science and Earth science -- research that impacts life on Earth. Investigations will offer a new life science facility that will support studies on cell cultures, bacteria and other microorganisms, a microsatellite deployer and the first microsatellite that will be deployed from the space station, and experiments that will study the behavior of gases and liquids and clarify the thermo-physical properties of molten steel and evaluations of flame-resistant textiles.
The Space Automated Bioproduct Lab is a new space life science facility that is designed to support a wide variety of fundamental, applied and commercial space life sciences research, as well as education-based investigations for students from kindergarten through university. The facility will support research on microorganisms, such as bacteria, yeast, algae, fungi, and viruses, as well as animal cells and tissues and small plant and animal organisms.
NanoRacks-MicroSat-SIMPL is a modular, hyper integrated satellite designed to provide complete satellite functionality in a nanosatellite scale. It will be the first NanoRacks microsatellite deployed from the space station and the first propulsion-capable satellite deployed from the NanoRacks-MicroSat-Deployer known as Kaber. The commercial deployer system aims to address the growing market of customers wanting to deploy microsatellites in orbit.
The Packed Bed Reactor Experiment studies the behavior of gases and liquids when they flow simultaneously through a column filled with fixed porous media, which is of interest in many chemical and biological processing systems, as well as numerous geophysical applications.
BASS-M (Burning and Suppression of Solids – Milliken) will evaluate flame retardant and resistant textiles as a mode of personal protection from fire-related hazards. Studying flame retardant and resistant behavior of different materials in microgravity will aid in better designs for future textiles and benefit those who wear protective clothing, such as military personnel and civilian workers in the electrical and energy industries.
The Nodes satellites, sponsored by NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate and developed by the Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California, consist of two CubeSats weighing 4.5 pounds each and measuring 4 inches by 4 inches by 6.5 inches. They are an example of how technology drives innovation, as they will test new network capabilities for operating swarms of spacecraft in the future.
In addition, Cygnus will deliver replacement cargo items including a set of Microsoft HoloLens devices for use in NASA’s Sidekick project, a safety jet pack astronauts wear during spacewalks known as SAFER, and high pressure nitrogen and oxygen tanks to plug into the station’s air supply network.
Cygnus will be grappled at approximately 6:10 a.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 9, by NASA astronaut Kjell Lindgren, using the space station's Canadarm2 robotic arm to take hold of the spacecraft. Scott Kelly of NASA will support Lindgren in a backup position. The spacecraft will spend more than a month attached to the space station before its destructive re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere, disposing of about 3,000 pounds of 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 continuously occupied since November 2000. In that time, it has been visited by more than 200 people and a variety of international and commercial spacecraft. The space station remains the springboard to NASA's next great leap in exploration, including future missions to an asteroid and Mars.
Thursday, December 3, 2015
United Launch Alliance
ULA Atlas V Rocket With Cygnus Spacecraft at the Launch Pad (Press Release)
A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket with Orbital ATK's Cygnus cargo spacecraft on top stands at the launch pad at Space Launch Complex 41, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida on Dec. 3, 2015. Launch of Cygnus on the CRS-4 resupply mission to the International Space Station is scheduled for 5:55 p.m. EST on Dec. 3, and the weather forecast is 60 percent favorable. A launch today will result in Cygnus arriving at the space station on Sunday, Dec. 6. NASA crew members Kjell Lindgren and Scott Kelly will use the station’s Canadarm2 robotic arm to reach out and capture Cygnus.
Cygnus will deliver samples and equipment to the station for research investigations in the many science disciplines aboard the orbiting multi-disciplinary laboratory. Research equipment includes the Space Automated Bioproduct Lab (SABL), a single locker-sized facility that will enable a wide variety of fundamental, applied and commercial life sciences research, as well as K-16 education-based investigations. CRS-4 will also carry the Packed Bed Reactor Experiment (PBRE), an investigation studying the behavior of gases and liquids when they flow simultaneously through a column filled with fixed porous media. Another investigation launching aboard CRS-4 is the Burning and Suppression of Solids – Milliken (BASS-M) investigation, which examines the extinction characteristics of a variety of flame retardant textiles in microgravity when exposed to a controlled flame.