Video: YouTube Space Lab Competition Launched

Video Caption: We’re excited to announce YouTube Space Lab, launching with Lenovo and Space Adventures in cooperation with NASA, ESA and JAXA. Watch amazing space and science videos and, if you’re 14 to 18 years old, submit a space experiment idea for your chance to win out-of-this-world prizes. Find out more at Music composed by Aurotone.

Space Adventures, NASA Launch Student ISS Experiments Contest

Astronaut Shannon Walker activates NanoRacks experiments. Image credit: NASA
WASHINGTON — NASA announced it will provide support to Space Adventures, Ltd. of Vienna, Va., to conduct a global competition for students to design experiments that will be performed in space and broadcast around the world.

NASA entered into a non-reimbursable Space Act Agreement with Space Adventures for astronauts aboard the International Space Station 250 miles above Earth to conduct the winning experiments on the orbiting outpost. The experiments will be performed on the U.S. portion of the space station that has been designated as a national laboratory.

The National Laboratory Education Initiative seeks innovative ways to use the unique microgravity environment of the space station to promote science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education. The contest is designed to encourage students from 14 to 18 years old to develop STEM skills through practical experience. The goal is to develop creative and analytical abilities by working on teams to solve problems using the latest information technology and tools.


Awesome Video: The Earth Seen From ISS

A time-lapse taken from the front of the International Space Station as it orbits our planet at night. This movie begins over the Pacific Ocean and continues over North and South America before entering daylight near Antarctica. Visible cities, countries and landmarks include (in order) Vancouver Island, Victoria, Vancouver, Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles. Phoenix. Multiple cities in Texas, New Mexico and Mexico. Mexico City, the Gulf of Mexico, the Yucatan Peninsula, El Salvador, Lightning in the Pacific Ocean, Guatemala, Panama, Columbia, Ecuador, Peru, Chile, Lake Titicaca, and the Amazon. Also visible is the earths ionosphere (thin yellow line), a satellite (55sec) and the stars of our galaxy.

China to Launch First Space Station Next Week

China's Tiangong-1 space laboratory with a Shenzhou spacecraft approaching it. (Credit: CNSA)

The Chinese Xinhua news agency reports that the nation will launch its first space station between Sept. 27 and 30.

The 8.5-metric ton Tiangong-1 (Heavenly Palace 1) is about half the size of the early Soviet Salyut space stations that were launched in the 1970s.  It will serve as docking target for three Shenzhou spacecraft. The first will dock unmanned to demonstrate that capability.  If that mission is successful, two crews will dock at the station and conduct experiments.

The launch of the station was delayed from early September because of a failure of a Long March rocket. Additional checks were required.

NASA: ISS Might Need to Be Temporarily Abandoned in November

Russia has until late November to determine a fix for the problem that caused a Soyuz rocket and Progress freighter to crash last week or the crew will have to temporarily abandon the International Space Station, a NASA official has told Spaceflight Now. The problem, ironically, involves not station operations but rather harsh winter weather at the Soyuz landing site in Kazakhstan.


Japanese Eye Bigelow Module for Station Expansion

Bigelow's space station would have space to accommodate up to 12 people. (Photo: Douglas Messier)

NewScientist reports that NASA isn’t the only space agency interested in attaching a Bigelow module to the International Space Station:

Bigelow Aerospace of Las Vegas, Nevada, which has built an expandable Kevlar-based space station module, is currently working on two ISS-related deals. Bigelow director Mike Gold, a member of the Federal Aviation Administration’s Commercial Space Transportation Advisory Committee, says the firm is in “advanced discussions” with the commercial Japanese Manned Space Systems Corporation (JAMSS) – which operates the Kibo module on the ISS for the Japanese Space Agency JAXA – to provide it with an orbiting habitat.

The module could be rented out as an ISS storage unit, making the station less dependent on frequent resupply flights, says Hiroshi Kikuchi of JAMSS. To show that the modules are capable of safe, crewed operation, Bigelow is also negotiating with NASA to attach one to a US-owned ISS module.

Thanks to Clark Lindsey of HobbySpace for finding this gem.

SpaceX, OSC on Track for COTS Flights By End of Year

Illustration of SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft arriving at the International Space Station. Credit: NASA
December is going to be a busy month for NASA’s COTS program.  If all goes well, a SpaceX Dragon will be berthed with the International Space Station (ISS) on Dec. 9.  Also in December, Orbital Sciences Corporation’s new Taurus II rocket will soar into space from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) on Wallops Island, Virginia.

If the flights are successful, they will pave the way for commercial cargo delivery delivery to ISS during the first quarter of next year by Dragon and OSC’s Cygnus freighter.


ISS Partners Discuss How to Use Station as Technology Test Bed

International Space Station

NASA PR — WASHINGTON — The Multilateral Coordination Board (MCB) for the International Space Station partner agencies met Tuesday, July 26, to discuss how to use the space station as a test bed for technologies that will enable missions beyond low Earth orbit.

The board will begin identifying several specific technology collaboration initiatives based on possible future missions suggested by the International Space Exploration Coordination Group. These technology developments and demonstrations on the station could support voyages to an asteroid or Mars or the development of lunar habitats.


NASA to Allow SpaceX to Combine Flights to ISS

Illustration of SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft arriving at the International Space Station. Credit: NASA
Aviation Week
reports that NASA had preliminarily agreed to let SpaceX combine two Dragon test flights to the International Space Station:

With the STS-135 space shuttle supply mission to the International Space Station drawing to a close, agency officials are honing plans for a late November launch of the SpaceX Falcon 9/Dragon on the first U.S. commercial cargo delivery mission to the orbiting science laboratory, NASA ISS program manager Mike Suffredini says.

Agency and company officials reached agreement on planning dates of Nov. 30 for the launch and Dec. 7 for the rendezvous and berthing of the Dragon cargo spacecraft with the station during a July 15 meeting.


NASA Launches Capture the Flag Competition

The crews of STS-135 and Expedition 28 float on the International Space Station with a U.S. flag that was flown on the first space shuttle mission, STS-1, in 1981. The flag returned to orbit on this mission to be presented to the space station crew. It will remain onboard until the next crew launched from the U.S. retrieves it for return to Earth. It will then fly from Earth again, with the crew that launches from the U.S. on a journey of exploration beyond Earth orbit.

The STS-135 crew consists of NASA astronauts Chris Ferguson, Doug Hurley, Sandy Magnus and Rex Walheim; the Expedition 28 crewmembers are JAXA astronaut Satoshi Furukawa, NASA astronauts Ron Garan and Mike Fossum, and Russian cosmonauts Andrey Borisenko, Alexander Samokutyaev and Sergei Volkov. Shuttle and station commanders Ferguson and Borisenko are in the 12 o’clock and six o’clock positions, respectively, on the circle.

Source: NASA

Space Florida Backed Group Snags ISS National Lab Management Deal

Space Florida PR – Kennedy Space Center, Fla – The Center for Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) has been selected to manage the International Space Station US National Laboratory (ISS-NL) and maximize utilization of the orbiting outpost for scientific and technological research and development and the advancement of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education.

Spearheaded by Space Florida, CASIS is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization that will include a consortium of current and future users of the ISS National Lab, including universities and other educational organizations, R&D entities and industry. CASIS will manage the non-NASA scientific research, technology development and STEM education activities on ISS from its headquarters at the Space Life Sciences Lab at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center with broad reach throughout the nation.


NASA Selects Nonprofit to Manage ISS National Lab Research

International Space Station

NASA PR — WASHINGTON — NASA has selected the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space Inc. (CASIS) to develop and manage the U.S. portion of the International Space Station that will be operated as a national laboratory. At the conclusion of successful negotiations, the independent, nonprofit research management organization will help ensure the station’s unique capabilities are available to the broadest possible cross-section of the U.S. scientific, technological and industrial communities.


Chinese Space Station Shipped to Launch Site

The Tiangong-1 space station with a Shenzhou spacecraft. Credit: CNSA

China’s Tiangong 1 space station has passed its factory evaluation and was shipped to the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center on June 29 to be prepped for launch within the next three months, the China National Space Administration announced.

China plans to launch the small space station on a Long March IIF rocket by the end of September. The unmanned Shenzhou VIII vehicle will dock with the facility weeks later to test the rendezvous and docking system. Two human missions will follow.

Nine meters (30 feet) and weighing 9,500 kilograms (19,000 lbs.), Tiangong 1 is roughly half the size of Salyut 1, the first space station sent into orbit by Russia in 1971.

NASA Telecon on Nonprofit Management of International Space Station

International Space Station


WASHINGTON — NASA released a final version of a cooperative agreement notice (CAN) for an independent, nonprofit research management organization to stimulate, develop and manage U.S. use of the International Space Station National Laboratory. The agreement pertains to operations other than NASA’s exploration missions.

The agency will hold a media teleconference at 11 a.m. EST on Tuesday, Feb. 22, to discuss the release.