Friday, July 26, 2019
SpaceX Dragon on Route to Space Station with NASA Science, Cargo (Press Release - July 25)
A SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft is on its way to deliver the second commercial crew docking port and about 5,000 pounds of science investigations and supplies for the International Space Station after a 6:01 p.m. EDT Thursday launch from Florida.
The spacecraft launched on a Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, and is scheduled to arrive at the orbiting laboratory Saturday, July 27. Coverage of the spacecraft’s approach and arrival will begin at 8:30 a.m. on NASA Television and the agency’s website.
Dragon will join three other spacecraft currently at the space station. Expedition 60 Flight Engineers Nick Hague and Christina Koch of NASA will use the station’s robotic arm, Canadarm2, to grab, or grapple, Dragon around 10 a.m. Coverage of robotic installation to the Earth-facing port of the Harmony module will begin at 12 p.m.
A key item in Dragon’s unpressurized cargo section is International Docking Adapter-3 (IDA-3). Flight controllers at mission control in Houston will use the robotic arm to extract IDA-3 from Dragon and position it over Pressurized Mating Adapter-3, on the space-facing side of the Harmony module. Hague and NASA astronaut Drew Morgan, who arrived at the station Saturday, July 20, will conduct a spacewalk in mid-August to install the docking port, connect power and data cables, and set up a high-definition camera on a boom arm.
Robotics flight control teams from NASA and the Canadian Space Agency will move the docking port into position remotely before the astronauts perform the final installation steps. IDA-3 and IDA-2, which was installed in the summer of 2016, provide a new standardized and automated docking system for future spacecraft, including upcoming commercial spacecraft that will transport astronauts through contracts with NASA.
This delivery, SpaceX’s 18th cargo flight to the space station under a Commercial Resupply Services contract with NASA, will support dozens of new and existing investigations. The space station continues to be a one-of-a-kind laboratory where NASA is conducting world-class research in fields, such as biology, physics, and materials science. NASA’s research and development work aboard the space station contributes to the agency’s deep space exploration plans, including returning astronauts to the Moon’s surface in five years and preparing to send humans to Mars.
Here are details about some of the scientific investigations Dragon is delivering to the space station:
Bio-Mining in Microgravity
The Biorock investigation will provide insight into the physical interactions of liquid, rocks and microorganisms under microgravity conditions and improve the efficiency and understanding of mining materials in space. Bio-mining eventually could help explorers on the Moon or Mars acquire needed materials, lessening the need to use precious resources from Earth and reducing the amount of supplies that explorers must take with them.
Printing Biological Tissues in Space
Using 3D biological printers to produce usable human organs has long been a dream of scientists and doctors around the globe. However, printing the tiny, complex structures found inside human organs, such as capillary structures, has proven difficult to accomplish in Earth’s gravity. To overcome this challenge, Techshot designed their BioFabrication Facility to print organ-like tissues in microgravity – a stepping stone in a long-term plan to manufacture whole human organs in space using refined biological 3D printing techniques.
Improving Tire Manufacturing from Orbit
The Goodyear Tire investigation will use microgravity to push the limits of silica fillers for tire applications. A better understanding of silica morphology and the relationship between silica structure and its properties could improve the silica design process, silica rubber formulation and tire manufacturing and performance. Such improvements could include increased fuel efficiency, which would reduce transportation costs and help to protect Earth’s environment.
Effects of Microgravity on Microglia 3D Models
Induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) – adult cells genetically programmed to return to an embryonic stem cell-like state – have the ability to develop into any cell type in the human body, potentially providing an unlimited source of human cells for therapeutic purposes. Space Tango-Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells examines how specialized white blood cells derived from iPSCs of patients with Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis grow and move in 3D cultures, and any changes in gene expression that occur as a result of exposure to a microgravity environment. Results could lead to the development of potential therapies.
Mechanisms of Moss in Microgravity
Space Moss compares mosses grown aboard the space station with those grown on Earth to determine how microgravity affects its growth, development, and other characteristics. Tiny plants without roots, mosses need only a small area for growth, an advantage for their potential use in space and future bases on the Moon or Mars. This investigation also could yield information that aids in engineering other plants to grow better on the Moon and Mars, as well as on Earth.
These are just a few of the hundreds of investigations providing opportunities for U.S. government agencies, private industry, and academic and research institutions to conduct microgravity research that leads to new technologies, medical treatments, and products that improve life on Earth. Conducting science aboard the orbiting laboratory will help us learn how to keep astronauts healthy during long-duration space travel and demonstrate technologies for future human and robotic exploration beyond low-Earth orbit to the Moon and Mars.
For more than 18 years, humans have lived and worked continuously aboard the International Space Station, advancing scientific knowledge and demonstrating new technologies, making research breakthroughs not possible on Earth that will enable long-duration human and robotic exploration into deep space. A global endeavor, more than 230 people from 18 countries have visited the unique microgravity laboratory that has hosted more than 2,500 research investigations from researchers in 106 countries.
Thursday, July 25, 2019
Artemis 1 Update: The SLS Core Stage Booster Will Stop By Mississippi Before It's Sent to Kennedy Space Center for Launch...
“Green Run” Test Will Pave the Way for Successful NASA Moon Missions (News Release)
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine announced July 25 the agency will conduct a “Green Run” core stage test for the Space Launch System rocket ahead of the upcoming Artemis 1 lunar mission.
.@NASA will do a Green Run test for @NASA_SLS prior to #Artemis 1. Here’s why:— Jim Bridenstine (@JimBridenstine) July 25, 2019
• Astronaut safety is our #1 priority
• Increases probability of a successful Moon landing in 2024
• It’s important to discover issues earlier rather than later
More: https://t.co/yTfRC4D7mq pic.twitter.com/TnTtCSGYI9
This is how the Green Run will work:
The first eight minutes of every Artemis mission with NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket will begin with core stage and solid rocket boosters producing 8.8 million pounds of thrust to launch the agency’s Orion spacecraft to the Moon. NASA will test the rocket’s 212-foot tall core stage—the tallest rocket stage the agency has ever built—with a “Green Run” test on Earth before launch day to help ensure mission success and pave the way for future Artemis missions carrying crew to the Moon. Missions at the Moon will be a stepping stone to prepare for human exploration of Mars.
During the Green Run testing, engineers will install the core stage that will send Orion to the Moon in the B-2 Test Stand at NASA’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi for a series of tests that will build like a crescendo over several months. The term “green” refers to the new hardware that will work together to power the stage, and “run” refers to operating all the components together simultaneously for the first time. Many aspects will be carried out for the first time, such as fueling and pressurizing the stage, and the test series culminates with firing up all four RS-25 engines to demonstrate that the engines, tanks, fuel lines, valves, pressurization system, and software can all perform together just as they will on launch day.
“The SLS core stage is an engineering feat that includes not only the largest rocket propellant tanks ever built but also sophisticated avionics and main propulsion systems,” said Lisa Bates, SLS deputy stages manager. “While the rocket is designed to evolve over time for different mission objectives, the core stage design will remain basically the same. The Green Run acceptance test gives NASA the confidence needed to know the new core stage will perform again and again as it is intended.”
The SLS core stage includes state-of-the-art avionics, miles of cables and propulsion systems and two huge liquid propellant tanks that collectively hold 733,000 gallons of liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen to power the four RS-25 engines. Together, they will produce more than 2 million pounds of thrust to help send Artemis 1 beyond Earth’s orbit to the Moon.
The test program for the core stage at Stennis will begin with installing the stage into the test stand. Then, engineers will turn the components on one by one through a series of initial tests and functional checks designed to identify any issues. Those tests and checks will culminate in an eight-minute-long test fire, mimicking the full duration of the stage’s first flight with ignition, ascent and engine shutdown. The results of this test also will provide important data that will confirm how the system reacts as the fuel is depleted from the propellant tanks.
“With Green Run, we verify each individual component operates well within the core stage system,” said Bates. “It’s more than testing. It’s the first time the stage will come to life and be fully operational from the avionics in the top of the core stage to the engines at the bottom.”
The test series is a collaborative effort between a number of NASA field centers, programs and contractors. The entire stage was built and manufactured at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. The structural test articles, also built at Michoud, were shipped to NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, for structural testing. The work done by Marshall’s test teams certifies the structural integrity of the rocket’s core stage, while Green Run shows that the integrated stage operates correctly. The Stennis teams renovated the historic B-2 Test Stand used to test stages for multiple programs including the Saturn V and the space shuttle propulsion system in the 1970s.
“Green Run is a historic moment for NASA and Stennis for a number of reasons,” said Dr. Richard Gilbrech, Director, Stennis Space Center. “For the first time in NASA’s history, a launch vehicle will use flight hardware for its first test, and the Stennis test stands will once again test the core stage for Moon missions.”
Historically, other NASA rockets built to carry astronauts have used main propulsion test articles to test the integrated engines and main propulsion system. The SLS program is performing the stage testing with flight hardware. Once the validation of the stage is complete, the entire stage will be checked out, refurbished as needed, and then shipped to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida for the Artemis 1 launch. The next time the core stage engines roar to life will be on the launch pad at Kennedy.
NASA is working to land the first woman and next man on the Moon by 2024. SLS and Orion, along with the Gateway in orbit around the Moon, are NASA’s backbone for deep space exploration. SLS is the only rocket that can send Orion, astronauts and supplies to the Moon on a single mission.
Saturday, July 20, 2019
The Next Orion Spacecraft Is Declared Complete on the 50th Anniversary of Apollo 11's Moon Landing...
NASA / Mark Kirasich
Vice President Unveils NASA Spacecraft for Artemis 1 Lunar Mission on Moon Landing Anniversary (Press Release)
Vice President Mike Pence visited and gave remarks in the Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Saturday to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the agency’s Apollo 11 Moon landing and announce to America the completion of NASA’s Orion crew capsule for the first Artemis lunar mission.
“Thanks to the hard work of the men and women of NASA, and of American industry, the Orion crew vehicle for the Artemis 1 mission is complete and ready to begin preparations for its historic first flight,” said Vice President Pence.
He was joined on stage by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, Apollo 11 Lunar Module Pilot Buzz Aldrin, Kennedy Center Director Robert Cabana, Lockheed Martin Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer Marillyn Hewson, and Rick Armstrong, son of Apollo 11 Commander Neil Armstrong. Before going to the Operations and Checkout Building, the Vice President, Aldrin and Armstrong visited Kennedy’s historic launch pad, 39A, where the Apollo 11 mission lifted off.
NASA’s goal 50 years ago was to prove the agency could land humans on the Moon and return them safely to Earth. The goal now is to return to the Moon in a sustainable way to prepare for the next giant leap – sending astronauts to Mars for the first time ever.
Artemis 1 will launch NASA’s Orion spacecraft and Space Launch System (SLS) rocket around the Moon to test the system and pave the way for landing the first woman and the next man on the Moon in five years, as well as future missions to Mars.
“Similar to the 1960s, we too have an opportunity to take a giant leap forward for all of humanity,” said Bridenstine. “President Trump and Vice President Pence have given us a bold direction to return to the Moon by 2024 and then go forward to Mars. Their direction is not empty rhetoric. They have backed up their vision with the budget requests need to accomplish this objective. NASA is calling this the Artemis program in honor of Apollo’s twin sister in Greek mythology, the goddess of the Moon. And we are well on our way to getting this done.”
Engineers recently completed building and outfitting the Orion crew module at Kennedy. The underlying structure of the crew module, known as the pressure vessel, was manufactured at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans and shipped to Kennedy, where teams have integrated thousands of parts into the crew module and conducted tests to certify all of its systems for flight.
Orion’s European Service Module, which will provide the power and propulsion for Orion during the mission, also is complete. Contributed by ESA (European Space Agency), the service module was manufactured by Airbus in Bremen, Germany, and shipped to Kennedy in November 2018 for final assembly and integration. Engineers have begun operations to join the crew module to the service module, and teams are connecting power and fluid lines to complete hardware attachment.
Once the two modules are joined, engineers will install a heatshield backshell panel on the spacecraft and prepare it for a September flight inside the agency’s Super Guppy aircraft to NASA’s Plum Brook Station in Sandusky, Ohio. Testing at Plum Brook will ensure the joined modules can withstand the deep space environment.
When testing in Ohio is complete, the spacecraft will return to Kennedy for final processing and inspections. Teams then will fuel the spacecraft and transport it to Kennedy’s iconic Vehicle Assembly Building for integration with the SLS rocket before it is rolled out to Launch Pad 39B for the launch of Artemis 1.
Orion is part of NASA’s backbone for deep space exploration, along with SLS and the lunar Gateway. During Artemis 1, SLS will send the uncrewed spacecraft – consisting of the crew and service modules – thousands of miles past the Moon for the first in a series of increasingly complex missions. Artemis 2 will be the first of these new missions to the Moon with astronauts on board, followed by Artemis 3, which will launch the next American moonwalkers into a new era of exploration.
Working with U.S. companies and international partners, NASA will push the boundaries of human exploration forward to the Moon. Through Artemis, the agency will establish a sustainable human presence at the Moon by 2028 to continue scientific research and discovery, demonstrate new technologies, and lay the foundation for future missions to Mars.
NASA / Neil Armstrong
Tuesday, July 16, 2019
Tuesday, July 2, 2019
The Last Major Flight Test for Orion Is Achieved Before It Flies on the Artemis 1 Mission to the Moon...
NASA / Tony Gray and Kevin O’Connell
Successful Orion Test Brings NASA Closer to Moon, Mars Missions (Press Release)
NASA successfully demonstrated Tuesday the Orion spacecraft’s launch abort system can outrun a speeding rocket and pull astronauts to safety during an emergency during launch. The test is another milestone in the agency’s preparation for Artemis missions to the Moon that will lead to astronaut missions to Mars.
During the approximately three-minute test, called Ascent Abort-2, a test version of the Orion crew module launched at 7 a.m. EDT from Space Launch Complex 46 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on a modified Peacekeeper missile procured through the U.S. Air Force and built by Northrop Grumman.
The Orion test spacecraft traveled to an altitude of about six miles, at which point it experienced high-stress aerodynamic conditions expected during ascent. The abort sequence triggered and, within milliseconds, the abort motor fired to pull the crew module away from the rocket. Its attitude control motor flipped the capsule end-over-end to properly orient it, and then the jettison motor fired, releasing the crew module for splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean.
A team is collecting the 12 data recorders that were ejected during the test capsule’s descent. Analysis of the information will provide insight into the abort system’s performance.
“We're building the most powerful rocket in the world to send astronauts to the Moon in the Orion spacecraft for Artemis missions,” said Bill Hill, deputy associate administrator for Exploration Systems Development at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “With this exploration system designed to safely carry humans farther into space than ever before, we'll also have an equally powerful launch abort system that will pull the crew away if there is a problem with the rocket during the early portion of ascent.”
The tower-like abort structure consists of two parts: the fairing assembly, which is a shell composed of a lightweight composite material that protects the capsule from the heat, air flow and acoustics of the launch, ascent, and abort environments; and the launch abort tower, which includes the abort motor, attitude control motor, and jettison motor. The system is built specifically for deep space missions and to ride on NASA’s powerful Space Launch System (SLS) rocket.
“Launching into space is one of the most difficult and dangerous parts of going to the Moon,” said Mark Kirasich, Orion program manager at Johnson Space Center in Houston. “This test mimicked some of the most challenging conditions Orion will ever face should an emergency develop during the ascent phase of flight. Today, the team demonstrated our abort capabilities under these demanding conditions and put us one huge step closer to the first Artemis flight carrying people to the Moon.”
NASA was able to accelerate the test schedule and lower costs by simplifying the test spacecraft and eliminating parachutes and related systems. NASA already qualified the parachute system for crewed flights through an extensive series of 17 developmental tests and eight qualification tests completed at the end of 2018.
Engineers are making progress building and testing the Orion spacecraft for Artemis 1, the first uncrewed mission with the SLS rocket – an integrated system traveling thousands of miles beyond the Moon – and for Artemis 2, the first mission with astronauts.
At NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, technicians are preparing to attach the Orion crew and service modules before testing at the agency’s Plum Brook Station in Sandusky, Ohio, later this year. The crew module for Artemis 2 is being outfitted with thousands of elements – from bolts and strain gauges to parachutes and propulsion lines.
The agency recently reached major milestones for the SLS rocket, assembling four of the five parts that make up the massive core stage that will launch Artemis 1 and delivering the four engines that will be integrated into the core stage, along with the engine section, later this summer. When completed, the entire core stage will be the largest rocket stage NASA has built since manufacturing the Saturn V stages for NASA’s Apollo lunar missions in the 1960s.
Orion is part of NASA’s backbone for deep space exploration, along with the SLS and Gateway, that will land the first woman and next man on the Moon by 2024. Through the Artemis program, the next American Moon walkers will depart Earth aboard Orion and begin a new era of exploration.
NASA / Kim Shiflett