Tag: human spaceflight

I Will Launch America: Brittani Sims

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i_will_launch_brittani_simsBy Joshua Finch,
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Florida

Brittani Sims is one of the many dedicated employees supporting NASA’s Commercial Crew Program at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

An electrical engineer by education, Sims developed a passion for safety and human spaceflight in high school after watching the space shuttle on TV.

“I was just sitting on the couch watching TV and the news was covering the return of the space shuttle,” said Sims. “I wasn’t even aware what NASA did at the time. I remember asking my mom, ‘Did you know that we put people into space?’ When I went to school the next week, I told people that I wanted to work for NASA, and a lot of them didn’t really believe me.”

Sims says those doubts only served as additional motivation for her to achieve her goals.

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Latest Virgin Galactic Video: Tour Inside of FAITH

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This is kind of cool because it goes inside the hangar and let’s you use navigation buttons to spin yourself around to get an 180 degree view.

UPDATE: The video has been removed by the user.  I’ll repost it here if it reappears.

Lots and Lots of Concerns About SLS & Orion

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Artist concept of the Block I configuration of NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS). The SLS Program has completed its critical design review, and the program has concluded that the core stage of the rocket will remain orange along with the Launch Vehicle Stage Adapter, which is the natural color of the insulation that will cover those elements. (Credit: NASA)

Artist concept of the Block I configuration of NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS). The SLS Program has completed its critical design review, and the program has concluded that the core stage of the rocket will remain orange along with the Launch Vehicle Stage Adapter, which is the natural color of the insulation that will cover those elements. (Credit: NASA)

The NASA Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel (ASAP) held a meeting on July 21 at NASA Headquarters in Washington, DC. Below is the section of the meeting minutes that deals with the space agency’s Exploration Systems Development, which includes the Space Launch System (SLS), Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle and related ground systems.
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Boeing CST-100 Conducts Touchdown Tests at NASA Langley

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Dirt flies out as the mock-up of a Boeing CST-100 Starliner lands as part of testing on the spacecraft's landing system including airbags designed to absorb the shock of impact. (Credit: NASA/Langley Research Center)

Dirt flies out as the mock-up of a Boeing CST-100 Starliner lands as part of testing on the spacecraft’s landing system including airbags designed to absorb the shock of impact. (Credit: NASA/Langley Research Center)

By Sasha Ellis,
NASA’s Langley Research Center, Virginia

Hoisted about 30 feet in the air, a mockup of Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft awaits its encounter with a pad full of dirt.

“Three, two, one” projects over the loud speaker just before the spacecraft is released and makes a loud thud when meeting the dirt. Six attached airbags absorb much of the landing impact and stabilize the spacecraft.

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ASAP Update on NASA’s Commercial Crew Program

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The Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel (ASAP) held a meeting on July 21, 2016 at NASA’s headquarters in Washington, DC. Below is a summary of the status of the  Commercial Crew program and the Boeing and SpaceX vehicles, including top programmatic risks.

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FAA Officials Stress Need for Liability Law in Georgia

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georgia_state_sealFAA officials were in Georgia this week telling lawmakers the state needs to pass liability laws shielding spaceflight companies from lawsuits from injured passengers and their heirs if it wants to compete with other states.

“In states like Florida and Texas that have a law, that is the statute a federal judge is going to look at,” Dan Murray, a manager with the FAA’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation, told members of a Georgia House subcommittee exploring a planned commercial spaceport in southeastern Georgia.

The Georgia House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed legislation this year aimed at shielding spaceport operators from civil lawsuits stemming from injuries to civilians who participate in a space flight. But the bill died in the Georgia Senate amid concerns expressed primarily by Georgians with second homes on nearby Cumberland Island and Little Cumberland Island worried about the noise from commercial launches and their potential to pose a safety hazard.

Tuesday’s testimony from Murray and the FAA’s Jared Stout made it clear Georgia needs a liability shield law if the proposed Spaceport Camden is to compete with spaceports in Texas and Florida, said Rep. Jason Spencer, R-Woodbine, the House bill’s chief sponsor and chairman of the subcommittee.

“These states are trying to make themselves competitive by giving some additional layer of [protection from] liability beyond the federal act,” he said.

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SpaceX Tests Crew Dragon Parachutes

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Crew Dragon parachute test (Credit: SpaceX)

Crew Dragon parachute test (Credit: SpaceX)

A Crew Dragon test article successfully deployed its four main parachutes as planned during a test that saw the SpaceX-made test article dropped from a C-130 aircraft 26,000 feet above Delamar Dry Lake, Nevada.

The Crew Dragon, designed to fly astronauts to the International Space Station, will use four parachutes when returning to Earth. SpaceX plans to land the initial flight tests and missions in the Atlantic Ocean. SpaceX is working on a propulsive landing system the company intends to use in the future missions to propulsively land on land using its SuperDraco engines.

The parachute test is just one of an evaluation regimen that is expected to include many additional parachute drops of increasing complexity. SpaceX and NASA engineers will use the results throughout the test program to confirm the system and get it certified for use first on flight tests and then for operational missions.

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Soyuz Mission to the Moon Surfaces — Again

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Space Adventures vehicle for circumlunar flights. (Credit: Space Adventures)

Space Adventures vehicle for circumlunar flights. (Credit: Space Adventures)

Like the elusive Loch Ness Monster, a plan to send a cosmonaut and two tourists looping around the moon in a modified Soyuz transport has once again surfaced in the Russian media.

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RL-10 Engine Tested for Boeing CST-100 Starliner Flight

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Steam billows from the engine test stand as the RL10 engine fires. (Credit: Aerojet Rocketdyne)

Steam billows from the engine test stand as the RL10 engine fires.
(Credit: Aerojet Rocketdyne)

By Steven Siceloff
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Florida

A trio of NASA astronauts watched last Friday as engineers and technicians from Aerojet Rocketdyne fired one of the RL10 engines that will help power the first crewed flight test of Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner as it flies into orbit on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket.

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Astronauts Install International Docking Adapter on Space Station

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Spacewalker Kate Rubins works outside the International Space Station with the SpaceX Dragon space freighter just below her. (Credit: NASA TV)

Spacewalker Kate Rubins works outside the International Space Station with the SpaceX Dragon space freighter just below her. (Credit: NASA TV)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — Expedition 48 Commander Jeff Williams and Flight Engineer Kate Rubins concluded their spacewalk at 2:02 EDT. During the five-hour and 58-minute spacewalk, the two NASA astronauts successfully installed the first of two international docking adapters (IDAs).

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Russia Looking to Reduce ISS Crew Size

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ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Timothy Peake, NASA astronaut Timothy Kopra and Roscosmos cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko (front) are set to depart the International Space Station and return to Earth June 18, 2016. Russian cosmonauts Oleg Skripochka and Alexey Ovchinin and NASA astronaut Jeff Williams (back) will be joined in July by NASA astronaut Kate Rubins, Russian cosmonaut Anatoly Ivanishin and Takuya Onishi of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. (Credit: NASA)

ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Timothy Peake, NASA astronaut Timothy Kopra and Roscosmos cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko (front) are set to depart the International Space Station and return to Earth June 18, 2016. Russian cosmonauts Oleg Skripochka and Alexey Ovchinin and NASA astronaut Jeff Williams (back) will be joined in July by NASA astronaut Kate Rubins, Russian cosmonaut Anatoly Ivanishin and Takuya Onishi of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. (Credit: NASA)

Roscosmos is looking to reduce the size of Russian crew aboard the International Space Station (ISS) from three to two, Izvestiya reports.

“We sent a letter to the participants of the ISS program – we want to hear their views on how we reduce the crew and when, there are nuances,” Sergei Krikalev, director of manned programs of the state corporation Roscosmos told Izvestia. “We are interested in the opinion of the Mission Control Center, the Institute of Biomedical Problems (RAS lead agency on the subject of Human Spaceflight — Izvestiya), our ISS partners. The intention to reduce the crew due to the fact that we have reduced the number of cargo ships sent to the ISS, as well as awareness of the need to increase the effectiveness of the program.”

The story says Roscosmos’ budget for space station operations was reduced as part of a severe cut in the space program’s funding. Russia’s national budget has been under severe pressure due to a reduction in oil revenues and Western sanctions over its annexation of Crimea.

Another factor is that the three cosmonauts aboard the station apparently don’t have enough to do. This problem is a result of the severe quality control problems that  have bedeviled the Russian space program in recent years.

Russia had planned to expand its part of the station by adding the Multipurpose Laboratory Module (MLM) and two related modules to support it between 2013 and 2015. However, Khrunichev botched the job manufacturing the MLM. An inspection of the module after it was completed found debris in pipes and other flaws. Now, the launches are planned for 2018 and 2019.

“If you look at the original plan, we have assumed the launch multipurpose laboratory module for the International Space Station, and only then increase the crew,” Krikalev explained in an interview with Izvestiya. But MLM launch postponed several times, and the crew nevertheless increased. From my point of view, three people in the Russian segment, taking into account a set of equipment, which is now – it’s a bust.”

Reducing the crew size will free up seats on the Soyuz transport to carry space tourists, which would bring in funding for the hard-pressed space program. Russia has not been able to fly tourists since the American space shuttle retired in 2011, forcing the Soyuz to shoulder the entire burden of taking crews to the space station.

At a press conference earlier this week, NASA officials acknowledged they had received Russia’s proposal for the crew reduction.

“At this point it’s strictly a proposal they put on the table, and we’ll look at it,” said Kenny Todd, NASA’s space station operations integration manager. “As we do with all these kinds of things, we’ll trade it against whatever risk it might put into the program. First and foremost, the risk to our crew on board and the station itself. And then from there we start looking at the options and see what we can do as a partnership to try to either accommodate it, or help them realize why that’s a bad thing.”

Video: The Road to the International Docking Adapter

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Video Caption: In 2015, NASA astronauts laid the groundwork for the installation of the first International Docking Adapter, or IDA on the International Space Station.

Sierra Nevada Teams with ORBITEC, Aerojet Rocketdyne on NextSTEP-2 Habitat Work

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Concept image of Sierra Nevada Corporation's habitation prototype, based on its Dream Chaser cargo module. (Credit: Sierra Nevada Corporation)

Concept image of Sierra Nevada Corporation’s habitation prototype, based on its Dream Chaser cargo module. (Credit: Sierra Nevada Corporation)

SPARKS, Nev. (SNC PR) – Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) has been selected to develop a deep space, long-duration, human habitat design and prototype for NASA. The partnership, under NASA’s Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships-2 (NextSTEP-2) Broad Agency Announcement, Appendix A, will allow SNC and its partners to use their experience to design a complete habitat system architecture and build a full-scale prototype for testing and evaluation.

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Starliner Crew Access Arm Installed

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The Crew Access Arm for Commerical Crew Program (CCP) being installed to the tower at Pad 41. (Credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett)

The Crew Access Arm for Commerical Crew Program (CCP) being installed to the tower at Pad 41. (Credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett)

CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla. (NASA PR) — A 50-foot-long, 90,000-pound bridge to space known as the Crew Access Arm was installed today at Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station adjacent to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Workers have been modifying the launch pad so astronauts can climb aboard Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft ahead of NASA Commercial Crew Program missions to the International Space Station.

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NASA Q&A on Commercial Crew Program

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Bob Cabana, Kennedy Space Center director, from left, Kathy Lueders, Commercial Crew Program manager, astronauts Eric Boe and Suni Williams discuss talk about the development of a new generation of human-rated spacecraft. (Credits: NASA/Kim Shiflett)

Bob Cabana, Kennedy Space Center director, from left, Kathy Lueders, Commercial Crew Program manager, astronauts Eric Boe and Suni Williams discuss talk about the development of a new generation of human-rated spacecraft. (Credits: NASA/Kim Shiflett)

By Steven Siceloff,
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Florida

There are few days that are the same for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program astronauts as they train for flight tests aboard the next generation of human-rated spacecraft, astronauts Eric Boe and Suni Williams told an audience at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center on Thursday.

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