ISS Partners Pitch Research Capabilities to UN States

International Space Station

NASA PROGRAM UPDATE

NASA participated today in a seminar to create awareness among United Nations member states on potential uses of the International Space Station. At the request of the U.N.’s Office for Outer Space Affairs, NASA and its international partner agencies attended the outreach seminar in Vienna.

Representatives from NASA; the Canadian Space Agency; the European Space Agency; the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency; and the Russian Federal Space Agency presented information on their respective capabilities available on the orbiting outpost. They discussed the station’s management structure, research facilities, research accomplishments, education outreach activities and mechanisms for cooperation.
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Garver Views Commercial Space Hardware at Bigelow, Sierra Nevada Facilities

NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver is given a tour of the Bigelow Aerospace facilities by the company's President Robert Bigelow on Friday, Feb. 4, 2011, in Las Vegas. (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver visited Bigelow Aerospace and Sierra Nevada Corporation this week to see commercial human spaceflight hardware that to two companies are developing. The following report is based on NASA press releases.

Inflatable Space Stations

In Las Vegas, Garver toured the facilities of Bigelow Aerospace, a company that has been developing expandable space habitats. NASA is evaluating Bigelow’s concept for an expandable module for the International Space Station. If approved, the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module, or BEAM, could be launched to the station using a commercial cargo flight and robotically attached to the orbiting laboratory.

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Kelly Resumes Training for Space Shuttle Flight

NASA MISSION UPDATE

NASA astronaut Mark Kelly will resume training as commander of the STS-134 space shuttle mission on Monday, Feb. 7. With the exception of some proficiency training, Kelly has been on personal leave since Jan. 8 to care for his wife, congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who was critically wounded in a Tucson, Ariz. shooting.

“I am looking forward to rejoining my STS-134 crew members and finishing our training for the mission,” Kelly said. “We have been preparing for more than 18 months, and we will be ready to deliver the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS) to the International Space Station and complete the other objectives of the flight. I appreciate the confidence that my NASA management has in me and the rest of my space shuttle crew.”

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Partners Meet to Coordinate Increased Use of ISS for Research

International Space Station

NASA PROGRAM UPDATE

The International Space Station partner agencies met Thursday, Feb. 3, by video conference to discuss coordinating the increased use of the space station as a research laboratory. The agencies want to continue using the station as a test-bed for exploration and find innovative ways to reduce costs while increasing use.

The Multilateral Coordination Board (MCB) meeting included senior representatives from NASA; the Canadian Space Agency (CSA); the European Space Agency (ESA); the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos); and the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT). As the senior management board, the MCB meets periodically to ensure coordination of station operations and activities among the partners.

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Bigelow Partnership is Potentially Quite Lucrative for Florida

A Boeing CST-100 crew module docks at a Bigelow Aerospace space station. (Credit: Boeing)

A bit more on the Bigelow-Space Florida MOU, which was signed at an event yesterday at Cape Canaveral. It looks as if the actual cooperative venture is relatively modest in the near term, but potentially quite lucrative in the long run — providing state officials play their cards right and ante up.

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Bigelow and Space Florida Sign MOU

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

Bigelow Aerospace and Space Florida signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) today at Cape Canaveral. Robert Bigelow and Frank DiBello signed the MOU on behalf of their respective organizations. The event, attended by about 100 people, also featured Dr. George Sowers, Vice President of Business Development and Advanced Programs at United Launch Alliance.

Bigelow is planning to orbit two space stations later in the decade, a project that would use ULA’s rockets for some of the launches. The Las Vegas company wants to launch from Cape Canaveral and other locations, including Wallops Island in Virginia.

Edward Ellegood posted Tweets on the event. Below are the highlights:

Bigelow and Space Florida will collaborate on various activities. Bigelow expects to require 156-186 total launches between 2015-2023.

No facility development is planned under this MOU. Space Florida will seek suitable location for exhibits. Bigelow would open small office.

Bigelow would work with Central Florida’s simulation industry/institute to develop and test concepts. Exhibits would be 1/3 scale.

Bigelow plans two operational space stations: “Alpha” and “Bravo”.

Bigelow looking at 2011-2014 as preparatory time for designing and developing space hardware. He wants FAA AST to be the regulator.

Bigelow would have to build a third mfg facility to develop their third and largest station modules. Would need to be near launch site.

DiBello: Space Florida goal is to increase the state’s launch rate. ULA says its EELV sites are operating below capacity.

Russia Plans Ambitious Year in Space

Soyuz rocket

Speaking to media editors-in-chief today, Roscosmos Head Antaoly Perminov laid out plans for a very busy year in space that includes four dozen launches, Russia’s first interplanetary probe in 15 years, a greater role in the International Space Station, and the development of new rockets and infrastructure.

During an appearance at the Club of the Leading Russian Media Editors-in-Chief in Itar-Tass, Perminov discussed the country’s space plans, which include:

  • 48 launches, an increase from 31 last year
  • October launch for Phobos-Grunt, an ambitious mission to return samples from the Martian moon Phobos
  • assumption of the sole role in transporting crews to and from the International Space Station once the American space shuttle retires
  • construction of roads, railways and worker housing for Russia’s new Vostochny spaceport in the Amur Region
  • completion of the GLONASS navigational satellite constellation
  • debut of the Soyuz launcher in French Guiana
  • development work on the Angara and Rus-M launchers
  • launch of the Resource-P remote sensing spacecraft, which will have  0.4-0.6 meter resolution
  • operation of the Electro-L satellite launched earlier this year
  • design work on the Arctica space system.

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Bigelow Signs MOU to Create Human Spaceflight Program for Dubai, UAE

Bigelow Aerospace's planned Sundancer space station

EIAST PRESS RELEASE

The Emirates Institution for Advanced Science and Technology (EIAST) and Bigelow Aerospace LLC, an organisation dedicated to providing affordable options for spaceflight to national space agencies and corporate clients, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to drive joint efforts to usher in a new era in human spaceflight based on innovative technologies, affordability, commercial sustainability, and strong international partnerships.

As per the MoU, EIAST and Bigelow Aerospace will explore joint efforts to establish a next-generation commercial human spaceflight programme for Dubai and the UAE, leveraging recent advances in human spaceflight. They will work to create a world-class microgravity research and development programme with a potential focus on advanced biotechnology applications, and a variety of other commercial space-related activities.

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Jeff Manber: Hire Capt. Kirk as Space Adventures’ Spokesman

Jeff Manber isn’t very impressed with Space Adventures’ plan to send humans around the moon. He’s skeptical about whether the company has actually sold a $150 million ticket, thinks their promo video has crappy production values, and says they should hire James Tiberius Priceline (William Shatner) as a spokesman. He also questions the wisdom of spending $150 million to be a guinea pig on Russia’s first ever lunar human flight. (A good question, actually.)

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Dextre Ready for its Closeup Aboard ISS

CSA PRESS RELEASE

Much like his Earth-based counterparts, the Space Station’s robotic handyman, Dextre is on call for any situation that may arise. But Dextre also has a “to-do” list. His first official task will take place on February 2-4, 2011 when he unpacks the Japanese Kounotori2 HTV-2 cargo spaceship as it makes its second visit to the International Space Station (ISS). It will also mark the first time that the mobile base carries Canadarm2 with Dextre on the end.

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Roscosmos: No Contracts Signed Yet With Space Adventures for Billionaut Flights

A Russian Soyuz spacecraft in orbit

An interesting notice from the Roscosmos website:

Space Adventures, which had announced the conclusion of an agreement with Russian Federal Space Agency and Rocket Space Corporation Energia (RSC Energia) to commercially offer three seats on the Soyuz spacecraft bound for the International Space Station (ISS), beginning in 2013, has not signed any contract neither with Roscosmos, nor with RSC-E, Roscosmos Human Spaceflight Directorate Head Alexey Krasnov told Marker.

According to Krasnov, the a.m. negotiations may commence in spring, provided that Space Adventures finds funding for increasing of Soyuz production, from four to five space vehicles per year.

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MDA to Provide Solutions for Cygnus Capture and Mating

Artist's conception of Orbital Sciences Corporation's Cygnus freighter approaching the International Space Station.

MDA PRESS RELEASE

MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. (TSX: MDA), a provider of essential information solutions, announced today that it has signed a multi-million dollar contract amendment exercising an option on the contract announced January 19, 2010. MDA will provide Orbital Sciences Corporation (Orbital) with solutions to enable capture and mating of the Cygnus(TM) cargo delivery spacecraft to the International Space Station.

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International Flotilla of Cargo Ships Heads for ISS

International Space Station

NASA Program Update

A quick succession of international space supply trucks will arrive on the International Space Station’s loading docks early in 2011, dropping off more than 11 tons (10,000 kilograms) of food, computers, medical equipment and supplies, spare parts and experiment gear – not to mention the necessities of everyday human life in orbit.

Demonstrating a multinational commitment to supporting life, work and research on the station at the start of its second decade, space trucks from Japan, Europe and Russia will launch to the station in January and February, followed quickly by the space shuttle Discovery.

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