Russian Cargo Ship Leaves, Crew Tests Dragon’s Comfort Factors

The Expedition 63 crew has expanded to five members with the arrival of the SpaceX Crew Dragon. (From left) Anatoly Ivanishin, Ivan Vagner, Chris Cassidy, Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley. (Credit: NASA TV)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — Russia’s Progress 74 (74P) cargo craft departed the International Space Station today leaving four spaceships from the U.S., Russia and Japan parked at the orbital lab. It will be replaced in two weeks when the Progress 76 arrives to replenish the crew.

The 74P undocked today at 2:23 p.m. EDT after seven months attached to the Pirs docking compartment. The trash-packed resupply ship will descend into Earth’s atmosphere above the South Pacific for a fiery but safe demise. The 76P will take its place when it launches on July 23 at 10:26 a.m. and docks just three-and-a-half hours later to Pirs.

Four out of the five Expedition 63 crew members assessed comfort factors inside the docked SpaceX Crew Dragon today. This is a demonstration of the Crew Dragon’s habitability ahead of the SpaceX Crew-1 mission planned for later this year.

NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken, who piloted the Crew Dragon, will be joined by station Commander Chris Cassidy and Flight Engineer Anatoly Ivanishin for the one-hour habitability test. The crew will arrange the cabin to suit the four space residents and report their comfort levels to engineers on the ground.

While they were setting up Crew Dragon for the test, the three NASA astronauts also had time for ultrasound eye scans, microfluid studies and orbital plumbing work. The two cosmonauts, including Flight Engineer Ivan Vagner, juggled a variety of Russian space research and tested Soyuz crew ship communications gear.

Heat Shield Milestone Complete for First Orion Mission with Crew

Orion heat shield for the Artemis II mission. (Credit: NASA/Isaac Watson)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — Technicians at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida recently finished meticulously applying more than 180 blocks of ablative material to the heat shield for the Orion  spacecraft set to carry astronauts around the Moon on Artemis II.

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NASA Selects 10 Small Business Proposals for Lunar ISRU

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

As NASA prepares to send astronauts back to the moon in the Artemis program, the space agency is increasingly eyeing the use of lunar resources to reduce the expense of launching everything from Earth.

NASA recently selected 10 proposals to develop technologies for in-situ resource utilization (ISRU) under its Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs.

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NASA Selects 4 Small Businesses to Mature Technology for Artemis Program

Artist’s conception of astronaut in an advanced spacesuit working on the moon. (Credit; NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA has selected four U.S. small businesses to mature a range of technologies for sustainable exploration of the Moon under the Artemis program. Through Artemis, the first woman and next man will land on the Moon in 2024. Later in the decade, NASA and its partners will establish a sustainable presence on the Moon.

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House Subcommittee Sticks a Fork in Trump’s 2024 Moon Landing Plan

Illustration of Artemis astronauts on the Moon. (Credits: NASA)

A House subcommittee has rejected the 12 percent increase in NASA’s budget that the Trump Administration says is necessary to send astronauts back to the surface of the moon in 2024 as part of the Artemis program.

The House Appropriations Commerce-Justice-Science Subcommittee approved a bill today that would keep the space agency’s budget flat at $22.6 billion. The Trump Administration has requested a 12 percent increase to $25.2 billion.

The subcommittee approved only $628.2 million of the $3.37 billion requested for the crucial Human Landing System needed to take astronauts to the surface.

In a statement, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine tried to look on the bright side and said he would take the fight for Artemis to the Senate.

“I want to thank the House Commerce-Justice-Science subcommittee for the bipartisan support they have show NASA’s Artemis program. The $628.2 million in funding for the human landing system (HLS) is an important first step in this year’s appropriations process. We still have more to do and I look forward to working with the Senate to ensure America has the resources to land the first woman and the next man on the Moon in 2024.”

The Republican-led Senate has been more supportive of Trump’s 2024 landing date. Democrats who control the House favor a return to the moon in 2028.

If the recent past is any guide, NASA will enter the 2021 fiscal year on Oct. 1 without new budget. Instead, the agency and the rest of the government will operate for months on a continuous resolution that keeps spending at FY 2020 levels.

NASA and Boeing Complete Orbital Flight Test Reviews

Starliner OFT-1 capsule after landing at White Sands Missile Range. (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — NASA and Boeing have completed major reviews of the company’s uncrewed Orbital Flight Test in December 2019 and are continuing with preparations to refly the test, designated Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2), to the International Space Station as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

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Astrobotic Project Focuses on Wireless Power Transfer on the Moon

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

NASA will a project by Astrobotic Technology of Pittsburgh to develop wireless transmission for power systems whose mechanical connections would be prone to getting clogged with lunar dust.

The space agency selected the project for funding under its Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program. The phase I grant is worth up to $1250,000 over six months.

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NASA to Provide Boeing Commercial Crew Update on Tuesday

Starliner OFT-1 capsule after landing at White Sands Missile Range. (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA will host a media teleconference at 2:30 p.m. EDT Tuesday, July 7, to discuss the outcome of its High Visibility Close Call review of the December 2019 uncrewed Orbital Flight Test of Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft.

Participants in the briefing will be:

  • Kathy Lueders, associate administrator of NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate 
  • Steve Stich, manager of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program

Audio of the teleconference will stream live online at: 

https://www.nasa.gov/live

Boeing was able to complete a number of test objectives during the December flight, but was unable to reach its planned orbit and dock to the International Space Station. An investigation team was established in March to develop recommendations that could be used to prevent similar scenarios from occurring in the future.

In March, NASA and Boeing completed a joint independent review of the anomalies experienced during the flight test. A summary of recommendations and the action plan already implemented will be available online at:

http://www.nasa.gov/commercialcrew

Boeing’s Orbital Flight Test was an uncrewed test of the company’s Starliner crew spacecraft as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. Learn more about commercial crew at:

https://www.nasa.gov/exploration/commercial/crew/index.html

NASA Awards Small Business Contracts to Manage Lunar Dust

Apollo 17 spacesuits and helmets were covered in abrasive lunar dust after three days of exploring the moon. (Credit: NASA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Lunar dust feels like fine snow, is strangely abrasive, and smells like burnt gun powder when exposed to oxygen.

It was a minor annoyance during the Apollo missions, which lasted a maximum of three days. Now that NASA is planning to send astronauts back to the moon to stay in the Artemis program, the space agency is looking for ways to control lunar dust so it doesn’t clog up spacesuits, spacecraft and habitats.

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Virgin Galactic to Unveil SpaceShipTwo Cabin Design

VSS Unity roll out on Feb. 19, 2016. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

LAS CRUCES, N.M. (Virgin Galactic PR) — Virgin Galactic Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: SPCE) (“Virgin Galactic” or “the Company”), a vertically integrated aerospace company, today announced that SpaceShipTwo’s cabin interior design reveal will take place on July 28, 2020. The virtual event will be streamed live on YouTube. In celebration of this milestone, the Company will also be announcing plans to bring immersive versions of Virgin Galactic’s spaceflight and cabin interior experience, to aspiring astronauts around the world.

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Orion’s ‘Twin’ Completes Structural Testing for Artemis I Mission

The Orion STA, in its “full stack” launch configuration — the crew module, service module and launch abort system, as well as the spacecraft adapter and jettisonable fairings — was lifted into a reverberant acoustic chamber at Lockheed Martin for acoustic testing. (Credit: Lockheed Martin)

DENVER (NASA PR) — Before NASA astronauts fly the Orion spacecraft on Artemis missions to the Moon and back, engineers needed to thoroughly test its ability to withstand the stresses of launch, climb to orbit, the harsh conditions of deep space transit, and return to Earth. NASA designed Orion from the beginning specifically to support astronauts on missions farther from Earth than any other spacecraft built for humans.

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NASA Names Joel Montalbano International Space Station Program Manager

Joel Montalbano (Credit: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — Kathy Lueders, NASA’s associate administrator for Human Exploration and Operations, has named Joel Montalbano as manager of the International Space Station Program. The appointment was effective June 29 following the June 26 retirement of Kirk Shireman, who held the position since 2015.

“Joel has the experience and leadership we need to guide the station program during this exciting and dynamic time of human spaceflight,” said Lueders. “We look forward to seeing Joel continue to make great contributions to the International Space Station and know he’ll do a great job leading the program.”

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Starliner Parachutes Perform Under Pressure

Two drogue parachutes successfully deploy from a Boeing Starliner test article during a landing system reliability test conducted on June 21 above White Sands Space Harbor in New Mexico. (Credit: Boeing)

WHITE SANDS, NM (NASA PR) — Boeing put Starliner’s parachutes to the test again on June 21 as part of a supplemental reliability campaign designed to further validate the system’s capabilities under an adverse set of environmental factors.

Boeing is developing the Starliner spacecraft to take astronauts to and from the International Space Station in partnership with NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

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NASA Sinks More Money into SLS

The manufacture and checkout of all 10 motor segments for the first Artemis flight were completed in January at Northrop Grumman’s factory in Promontory, Utah. (Credits: Northrop Grumman)

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (NASA PR) — NASA has taken the next steps toward building Space Launch System (SLS) solid rocket boosters to support as many as six additional flights, for a total of up to nine Artemis missions. The agency is continuing to work with Northrop Grumman of Brigham City, Utah, the current lead contractor for the solid rocket boosters that will launch the first three Artemis missions, including the mission that will land the first woman and next man on the Moon in 2024.

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Canadarm, Canadarm2, and Canadarm3 – A Comparative Table

Canadarm, Canadarm2 and Canadarm3. (Credit: Canadian Space Agency/NASA)

Canadian Space Agency Fact Sheet

Canadarm
The first Canadian robotic arm to go to space
Canadarm2
Servicing the International Space Station since 2001
Canadarm3Footnote1
An artificial intelligence-based robotic system designed for the Lunar Gateway
LocationInstalled on each Space Shuttle and returned to Earth. Now retired, the Canadarm is on display at the Canada Aviation and Space Museum in Ottawa, Ontario.Stays permanently in space on board the International Space Station.Will stay permanently in space on board the Lunar Gateway.
Range of motionReach limited to length of arm.Moves end-over-end to reach many parts of the International Space Station, where its anchoring “hand” plugs into a power, data, and video outlet. Because it is mounted on the Mobile Base, the arm can travel the entire length of the Space Station.Will move end-over-end to reach many parts of the Lunar Gateway, where its anchoring “hand” will plug into a power, data, and video outlet. The arm will be able to travel and bring tools to the entire length of the Lunar Gateway.
Fixed jointFixed to the shuttle by one end.No fixed end.No fixed end.
Degrees of freedomSix degrees of freedom. Similar to a human arm: Two joints in the shoulder One joint in the elbow Three joints in the wristSeven degrees of freedom. Very similar to a human arm: Three joints in the shoulderOne joint in the elbow Three joints in the wristSeven degrees of freedom. Very similar to a human arm: Three joints in the shoulder One joint in the elbow Three joints in the wrist
Joint rotationElbow rotation limited to 160 degrees.Each of Canadarm2’s joints rotate 270 degrees in each direction, a total of 540 degrees. This range of motion is greater than that of a human arm.Each joint will be able to rotate almost 360 degrees.
SensesNo sense of touch.Force-moment sensors provide a sense of “touch”. Automatic collision avoidance.Force-moment sensors provide a sense of “touch”. Automatic collision avoidance. 3D Vision Sensor Tool that maps objects around it.
Length15 m17 m8.5 m
Mass410 kg1,497 kg715 kg (estimation)
Diameter33 cm (exterior diameter of composite boom)35 cm (exterior diameter of composite boom)23 cm (exterior diameter of composite boom)
Speed of operationUnloaded: 60 cm/s Loaded: 6 cm/sUnloaded: 37 cm/s Loaded: 2 cm/s (during ground control) 15 cm/s (support during spacewalks)Unloaded: 10 cm/s Loaded: to be determined
Composition16 layers of high-modulus carbon fibre epoxy19 layers of high-strength carbon fibre thermoplasticCarbon fibre composite.
RepairsRepaired on Earth.Designed to be repaired in space. Composed of removable sections that can be individually replaced in space.Designed to self-detach sections that can be repaired inside the Lunar Gateway.
ControlControlled by astronauts on the Space Shuttle.Controlled from the ground or by astronauts on the International Space Station.Primarily controlled autonomously. Can also be controlled from the ground or by astronauts on the Lunar Gateway.
CamerasTwo cameras: One on the elbowOne on the wristFour colour cameras:One on each side of the elbow The other two on the “hands”Six colour 4K cameras: One 360-degree camera on each side of the elbow One on each boom on swivel mounts The other two on the “hands”
OperatorUnited StatesCanada and United StatesCanada