First UAE Astronaut to Fly to ISS Next Year

The Soyuz MS-08 rocket is launched with Expedition 55 Soyuz Commander Oleg Artemyev of Roscosmos and flight engineers Ricky Arnold and Drew Feustel of NASA, Wednesday, March 21, 2018 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Artemyev, Arnold, and Feustel will spend the next five months living and working aboard the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky)

DUBAI (Dubai Media Office PR) — Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum said that sending the first Emirati astronaut to space will herald the beginning of a new era for the UAE and represents another step towards achieving the country’s vision and aspirations for the space sector.

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The Future Just Ain’t What It Used To Be: Space Tourism Edition

White Knight taxis with SpaceShipOne on June 21, 2004. (Credit: John Criswick)

On this date in 2004, Mike Melvill lit the candle on SpaceShipOne as soared into history as the first astronaut to fly a privately-built spacecraft to space.

Fourteen years. It seems like only a lifetime ago.

I was on the flight line that day (I’m the guy with the video camera) not far from where I write this today.  The excitement and optimism of that day — that feeling that a new era of spaceflight would soon be upon us — was palpable. The future was within our grasp.

The last 14 years have been a lot like the movie, “Groundhog Day.” Not in the sense of the same day being repeated endlessly, but the same old promises being made over and over. And still, space tourism remains just out of our grasp.

What went wrong? It’s a question I’ve pondered as I’ve watched the setbacks and the tragedies unfold here in Mojave. The answer is complex, but in its simplest form it can be summed up as follows:

Although SpaceShipOne winning the Ansari X Prize was an enormously inspiring event, it produced immature and poorly understood technology and bred a dangerous overconfidence in its builders that contributed to two fatal accidents. Government oversight regulations ignored safety lessons learned in decades of human spaceflight.

There are no shortcuts in this business. And the moment you think you’ve got it all figured out is when you need to be most on guard. These are lessons we seem doomed to learn anew over and over again.

As I said, the truth is more complicated. Below are some stories I’ve written over the years exploring what went wrong.

Stories

Finding My Virginity Book Review (Jan. 8-10, 2018)

A Niche in Time Series (Sept. 25 – Oct. 3, 2017)

Sally Ride – First American Woman in Space 35 Years Ago

Left: The launch of Space Shuttle Challenger on STS-7; center: Ride on Challenger’s Flight Deck; right: Challenger as seen from the SPAS-01 satellite. (Credit: NASA)
HOUSTON (NASA PR) — On June 18, 1983, NASA Astronaut Sally K. Ride became the first American woman in space, when she launched with her four crewmates aboard the Space Shuttle Challenger on mission STS-7.  Ride and five other women had been selected in 1978 for NASA Astronaut Group 8, the first American selection class to include females.  With the advent of the space shuttle, NASA expanded astronaut selection from only pilots to scientists and engineers, and women became eligible for selection.  NASA announced Ride and her classmates to the public on Jan. 16, 1978.

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ISS Astronauts Install HD Cameras for Commercial Crew Flights

 
NASA Correction, June 14, 2018
:  This post has been updated to clarify the timing of the first uncrewed test missions, which are planned for later this year.

Editor’s Note: The original post indicated that Boeing and SpaceX would conduct automated flight tests of Starliner and Dragon 2 to the space station at the end of the year. They’re both officially scheduled for August, although the schedule is likely to slip.

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — NASA astronauts Ricky Arnold and Drew Feustel are set to go on their third spacewalk together this year on Thursday at the International Space Station. Their new Expedition 56 crewmates Serena Auñón-Chancellor and Alexander Gerst are training today to support the two spacewalkers.

Arnold and Feustel will begin Thursday’s spacewalk at 8:10 a.m. to install new high definition cameras to support upcoming commercial crew missions from SpaceX and Boeing to the orbital laboratory. The first uncrewed test missions are planned to begin later this year. The cameras will provide improved views of the commercial crew vehicles as they approach and dock to the station. NASA TV will provide complete live coverage of the 211th space station spacewalk starting at 6:30 a.m.

Auñón-Chancellor and Gerst, who just arrived at the station on Friday, will assist the spacewalkers on Thursday. Gerst will help the spacewalkers in and out of their spacesuits. Auñón-Chancellor will operate the Canadarm2 robotic arm. The duo practiced today on a computer the robotics procedures necessary to maneuver a spacewalker to and from the worksite on the starboard side of the station’s truss structure.

Arnold and Feustel had some extra time today to work on science and maintenance activities. Arnold worked with the Microgravity Science Glovebox to troubleshoot a semiconductor crystal growth experiment. Feustel performed some plumbing work in the Tranquility module before relocating a pair of incubator units to support new experiments being delivered on the next SpaceX Dragon cargo mission. Finally, the duo readied the Quest airlock and their spacesuits for Thursday morning’s spacewalk.

Record-Setting NASA Astronaut Peggy Whitson Retires

Peggy Whitson aboard the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson, who holds the U.S. record for most cumulative time in space, is retiring from the agency, effective Friday.

“Peggy Whitson is a testament to the American spirit,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. “Her determination, strength of mind, character, and dedication to science, exploration, and discovery are an inspiration to NASA and America. We owe her a great debt for her service and she will be missed. We thank her for her service to our agency and country.”

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Senate Appropriations Approves Budget Boost for NASA, Cut for NOAA


WASHINGTON, DC – June 14, 2018 (Senate Appropriations Committee PR) — The Senate Committee on Appropriations today approved the FY2019 Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act with funding for programs that support law enforcement, economic prosperity, scientific research, space exploration, and other national priorities….

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) – $21.3 billion for NASA, $587 million above the FY2018 enacted level and $1.43 billion above the budget request, to support the human and robotic exploration of space, to fund science missions that enhance the understanding of the Earth, the solar system, and the universe, and to support fundamental aeronautics research.

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Pew Poll Show Strong Support for U.S. Space Leadership, Little for Returning Astronauts to Moon

The newly-expanded Expedition 54 crew gathers in the Zvezda service module for ceremonila congratulations from family and mission officials. (Credit: NASA TV)

A new poll by the Pew Research Center showed strong support for maintaining U.S. leadership in space, but little interest in returning astronauts to the moon.

“Roughly seven-in-ten Americans (72%) say it is essential for the U.S. to continue to be a world leader in space exploration, and eight-in-ten (80%) say the space station has been a good investment for the country,” the survey found.

However, only 13 percent felt that sending astronauts back to the moon should be a top NASA priority. Mars came in slightly higher at 18 percent.

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Paragon Developing Advanced Radiator for Inflatable Habitats

Paragon Space Development Corporation will develop a flexible radiator for inflatable habitats and an improved condenser for use on human space missions with the help of NASA funding.

The space agency has selected the Tuscon, Ariz.-based company for two contracts under its Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase 1 program. The agreements are worth up to $125,000 apiece over 13 months.

The target market for Paragon’s Flexible Radiator (FlexRAD) is “long duration human spaceflight exploration missions and other spacecraft” that use a single loop  active thermal control system (ATCS).

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New Crew Launches to ISS

The Soyuz MS-09 rocket is launched with Expedition 56 Soyuz Commander Sergey Prokopyev of Roscosmos, flight engineer Serena Auñón-Chancellor of NASA, and flight engineer Alexander Gerst of ESA (European Space Agency), Wednesday, June 6, 2018 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Prokopyev, Auñón-Chancellor, and Gerst will spend the next six months living and working aboard the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky)

BAIKONUR COSMODROME, Kazakhstan (NASA PR) — Three crew members are on their way to the International Space Station after launching from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 7:12 a.m. EDT Wednesday (5:12 p.m. Baikonur time).

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NASA Celebrates 60th Birthday

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — From 2018 through 2022, NASA is marking a series of important milestones – the 60th anniversary of the agency’s founding by Congress in 1958, and the 50th anniversary of the Apollo missions that put a dozen Americans on the Moon between July 1969 and December 1972.

Celebrations already are under way. Some are complete, some are scheduled in the coming months, and some are still being planned.

July 29 will mark 60 years since President Dwight D. Eisenhower established NASA as a U.S. government agency by signing Public Law 58-568, the National Aeronautics and Space Act. The act consolidated several federal and military research organizations, including the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, under one agency.

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NASA Astronaut, Crewmates Safely Return to Earth from Space Station

After 168 days of living and working in low-Earth orbit, three members of the International Space Station Expedition 55 crew – NASA astronaut Scott Tingle, cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov of the Russian space agency Roscosmos and astronaut Norishige Kanai of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency – return to Earth Sunday, June 3, 2018, landing at 8:39 a.m. EDT (6:39 p.m. in Kazakhstan) southeast of the remote town of Dzhezkazgan in Kazakhstan. (Credit: NASA Television)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — Three members of the International Space Station Expedition 55 crew, including NASA astronaut Scott Tingle, returned to Earth Sunday after 168 days of living and working in low-Earth orbit.

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Pictures from SpaceShipTwo Unity’s Powered Flight Test

SpaceShiptwo Unity soars skyward after being dropped from WhiteKnightTwo on May 26, 2018. (Credit: Kenneth Brown)

A picture of Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo’s powered flight from the great Ken Brown. Below is my video of the takeoff from the Mojave Air and Space Port in California.

I was using a new handheld camera so please excuse the shakiness of the video. Below is a picture that Ken snapped of WhiteKnightTwo and SpaceShipTwo as they flew overhead.

WhiteKnightTwo carries SpaceShipTwo Unity to its second powered flight. (Credit: Kenneth Brown)

Had a bit of a malfunction with the camera, so I didn’t get any video of the actual flight. Sorry about that. Given the camera and the distance involved, I’m not sure I would have picked up that much. But, I’ll try again next time.

Team Simulates Commercial Crew Flights to Space Station

On the left, NASA astronaut Suni Williams, fully suited in SpaceX’s spacesuit, interfaces with the display inside a mock-up of the Crew Dragon spacecraft in Hawthorne, California, during a testing exercise on April 3, 2018. On the right, NASA astronauts Bob Behnken, Eric Boe and Doug Hurley conduct a fully-suited exercise in Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner mockup trainer during early May at the agency’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. (Credit: SpaceX — left photo, Boeing — right photo)
HOUSTON (NASA PR) — A joint commercial provider and NASA team will help ensure astronauts will be able to safely travel to and from the International Space Station aboard Boeing and SpaceX spacecraft.

The Joint Test Team for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program pulls expertise from across the key human spaceflight areas to design, test, assess, and plan missions aboard the Starliner and Crew Dragon spacecraft.

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Apollo 12 & Skylab Astronaut Alan Bean Passes Away at 86

Alan Bean (Credit: NASA)

Astronaut Alan Bean has passed away at the age of 86. Bean walked on the moon and commanded a Skylab crew before becoming an accomplished painter.

Below is a NASA biography of him.


Alan Bean walked on the moon on Apollo 12, commanded the second Skylab crew and then resigned after 18 years as an astronaut to paint the remarkable worlds and sights he had seen.

Bean was lunar module pilot on the November 1969 Apollo 12 mission, the second moon landing.  He and mission commander Pete Conrad explored on the lunar Ocean of Storms and set up several experiments powered by a small nuclear generator.

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