Tag: human spaceflight

Bolden Urges ESA to Extend Participation in Space Station

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NASA Administrator Charles Bolden

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden

“Seeing the potential of ISS to help solve terrestrial problems and to support our journey to Mars, in January 2014, the Obama Administration announced its commitment to extend the ISS through at least 2024. Despite tight budgets and competing domestic priorities, Russia, Japan and Canada have all also made the decision to commit to supporting ISS operations through at least 2024.

“I know that ESA ministers will be considering extending participation in the ISS at the upcoming Ministerial in the midst of competing institutional needs and while dealing with social, political and financial challenges back home. Still, I urge all of you, whether your nation is subscribed to the ISS or not, to advocate with your ministers about the importance of the Space Station for not only our near-term objectives, but also for our long-term future. By committing to extend ISS operations to at least 2024, you will help ensure our ability as a Partnership to maximize the scientific and technical return of our substantial investment.”

— NASA Administrator Charles Bolden

Bolden addressed the ESA Council last week to update it on NASA’s and to make an appeal for the space agency to remain as a partner in the International Space Station through 2024.

Bolden’s full address to the ESA Council is below.

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China, United Nations Sign Cooperation Agreement on Space Station

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Artist's conception of China's Tianhe-1 space station. (Credit: China Manned Space Engineering)

Artist’s conception of China’s Tianhe-1 space station. (Credit: China Manned Space Engineering)

VIENNA, 16 June (UN Information Service PR) – The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) and the China Manned Space Agency (CMSA) have agreed to work together to develop the space capabilities of United Nations Member States via opportunities on-board China’s future space station.

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Space Station Crew Lands Safely

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HOUSTON (NASA PR) — Three crew members from the International Space Station returned to Earth at 5:15 a.m. EDT (3:15 p.m. Kazakhstan time) Saturday after wrapping up 186 days in space and several NASA research studies in human health.

Expedition 47 Commander Tim Kopra of NASA, flight engineer Tim Peake of ESA (European Space Agency) and Soyuz Commander Yuri Malenchenko of Roscosmos touched down southeast of the remote town of Dzhezkazgan in Kazakhstan.

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Historic Pad 39A Being Transformed for Falcon Launches

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Pad 39A (Credit: NASA/Dimitri Gerondidakis)

Pad 39A Credit: NASA/Dimitri Gerondidakis

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — Removing hundreds of thousands of pounds of steel and adding robust, new fixtures, SpaceX is steadily transforming Launch Pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida for use as a launch pad for its Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets. The launchers will lift numerous payloads into orbit, including the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft with astronauts aboard bound for the International Space Station.

Pad 39A is being modified for Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy launches (Credit: NASA/Dimitri Gerondidakis)

Pad 39A is being modified for Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy launches (Credit: NASA/Dimitri Gerondidakis)

A horizontal integration facility was built at the base of the pad and rails installed running up the incline to the flame trench. Instead of arriving to the pad on the back of the crawler-transporters, SpaceX rockets will roll on a custom-built transporter-erector that will carry them up the hill and then stand the rocket up for liftoff. The fixed service structure at the pad deck will remain, although more than 500,000 pounds of steel has already been removed from it. SpaceX has already started removing the rotating service structure, which is attached to the fixed structure. Built for the need to load a shuttle’s cargo bay at the pad, it does not serve a purpose for Falcon launchers whose payloads are mounted on the top of the rocket.

Pad 39A  (Credit: NASA/Dimitri Gerondidakis)

Pad 39A (Credit: NASA/Dimitri Gerondidakis)

SpaceX leased the historic launch pad from NASA in April 2014 and has been steadily remaking it from a space shuttle launch facility into one suited for the needs of the Falcon rockets and their payloads. It is the same launch pad where Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins lifted off on July 16, 1969, to begin their Apollo 11 flight that would make history as the first to land people on the moon. Almost all signs of Apollo-era hardware were removed from the launch pad when it was rebuilt for the shuttle.

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Canada Recruiting New Astronauts

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CSALONGUEUIL, Quebec (CSA PR) — Have you ever wanted to go to space? The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) wants you!

Today, the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, and the Minister responsible for the CSA, launched Canada’s fourth astronaut recruitment campaign. The CSA is seeking the next generation of space explorers to pave the way for potential future space missions.

The Agency is accepting applications from June 17 to August 15, and expects to announce selected candidates in Summer 2017. This next class of Canadian astronaut candidates will start their training at NASA in August 2017.

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Astronauts, Mission Control Simulate Starliner Commercial Crew Flight

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Commerical Crew Program astronauts Bob Behnken and Eric Boe perfoming and on-console simulation of Boeing's CST-100 Starliner at Johnson Space Center. (Credit: NASA)

Commerical Crew Program astronauts Bob Behnken and Eric Boe perfoming and on-console simulation of Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner at Johnson Space Center. (Credit: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — Commercial Crew Program astronauts Bob Behnken and Eric Boe joined flight director Richard Jones and his NASA/Boeing flight control team in the first Mission Control Center, Houston, on-console simulation of Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner launch, climb to orbit and post-orbital insertion timeline.

The ascent simulation included a training team inserting problems remotely from a nearby building, which allowed the team to follow checklists and procedures to solve issues that could arise during a dynamic, real-flight situation.

Boeing has an agreement in place with NASA’s Johnson Space Center to provide flight control and facility expertise in managing missions of the Starliner and United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket. Simulations covering all aspects of human space flight control have been conducted for every human space flight and prepare the astronauts and flight controllers for the real flights.

Behnken and Boe along with Doug Hurley and Suni Williams are integrated as a group with Boeing and SpaceX on its Dragon crew vehicle through the development phase and first test flights. Specific crew assignments have not yet been announced. Read more about the advances NASA’s Commercial Crew Program have made in 2016: http://go.nasa.gov/24QDPuA

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The Long, Sad History of Excalibur Almaz

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Excalibur Almaz's space tourism vehicle concept. (Credit: Excalibur Almaz)

Excalibur Almaz’s space tourism vehicle concept. (Credit: Excalibur Almaz)

Houston Press has a long, sad look at one of the more curious NewSpace projects, Excalibur Almaz, and the man behind it, Art Dula.

Excalbur Almaz is a company based in the Isle of Man whose goal is to refurbish a couple of Soviet-era Almaz space stations and four crew return capsule for some type of space mission. The company has gone through numerous iterations, from space tourism to commercial space station to NASA commercial crew to deep space mining facility.

So far they haven’t raised enough money for any of these ideas, although the company has generated a couple of investor lawsuits alleging fraud, one dismissed and the other still pending.

There are a couple very troubling allegations that are chronicled in the story. One is that the sales agreement between Excalbur Almaz and the Russian seller stipulated that the technology was not to be modified for space flight. This is alleged in a lawsuit filed by Japanese investor Takafumi Horie.

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House Space Subcommittee Holds Hearing on Astronaut Health Care

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Working outside the International Space Station on the second spacewalk of Expedition 45, Nov. 6, 2015. (Credits: NASA)

Working outside the International Space Station on the second spacewalk of Expedition 45, Nov. 6, 2015. (Credits: NASA)

WASHINGTON (House Space Subcommittee PRs) — On Wednesday, the House Subcommittee on Space  on held a hearing titled Human Spaceflight Ethics and Obligations: Options for Monitoring, Diagnosing, and Treating Former Astronauts. The hearing examined NASA’s existing health care program for current and former astronauts.

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SpaceShipTwo Update Video

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Readers on Lynx: It’s Dead, Jim

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Lynx_suspended_pollParabolic Arc readers are not real optimistic about the future of the Lynx, the suborbital space plane that XCOR suspended work on recently when it laid off most of the staff working on it.

Sixty-nine percent of voters believe that Lynx is as dead as a door nail despite XCOR’s pledge to revive work on the program at a future date. Only 13 percent of voters believe Lynx will fly at some point in the future.

The remaining 18 percent of voters just didn’t care, viewing suborbital space travel as being about a dozen years past its prime.

We’ve got a new poll up on the site asking whether you would like to go to Mars on one of the human missions Elon Musk is planning to launch beginning in 2024.

As I’ve said before: vote early, vote often. Just vote, dammit! Vote! And remember, no wagering.

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Commercial Crew Manufacturing Gains Momentum Coast to Coast

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Technicians lower the upper dome of a Boeing Starliner spacecraft onto a work stand inside the company’s Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The upper dome is part of Spacecraft 1, a Starliner that will perform a pad abort flight test as part of the development process of the spacecraft in partnership with NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.  (Credit: NASA/Dimitri Gerondidakis)

Technicians lower the upper dome of a Boeing Starliner spacecraft onto a work stand inside the company’s Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The upper dome is part of Spacecraft 1, a Starliner that will perform a pad abort flight test as part of the development process of the spacecraft in partnership with NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. (Credit: NASA/Dimitri Gerondidakis)

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

Manufacturing facilities are in operation on the east and west coasts to build the next generation of spacecraft to return human launch capability to American soil. Over the past six months, Boeing and SpaceX – the companies partnered with NASA to transport astronauts to and from the International Space Station – each have begun producing the first in a series of spacecraft.

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Developing Technology to Push Out Into the Solar System to Stay

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Credit: Matt Wade

Credit: Matt Wade

New Space Technology Research Institutes will help NASA develop game changing new materials and bio-manufacturing methods needed for the Journey to Mars

by Thomas Kalil & Lloyd Whitman
White House OSTP

In his 2015 State of the Union Address, President Obama said, “I want Americans to win the race for the kinds of discoveries that unleash new jobs—converting sunlight into liquid fuel; creating revolutionary prosthetics, so that a veteran who gave his arms for his country can play catch with his kids again. Pushing out into the solar system not just to visit, but to stay.”

And NASA is leading the way for this push with plans to send humans to Mars in the 2030s. Recently, NASA announced that they plan to dedicate up to $30 million over the next five years to support university-led research institutes to more rapidly develop two game changing capabilities needed to make this happen: ultra-high strength, lightweight materials and bio-manufacturing for deep space exploration.

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NASA Challenge Aims to Grow Human Tissue to Aid in Deep Space Exploration

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A stack of active tissue culture flasks in a temperature controlled compartment. (Credit: NASA)

A stack of active tissue culture flasks in a temperature controlled compartment. (Credit: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA, in partnership with the nonprofit Methuselah Foundation’s New Organ Alliance, is seeking ways to advance the field of bioengineering through a new prize competition.

The Vascular Tissue Challenge offers a $500,000 prize to be divided among the first three teams that successfully create thick, metabolically-functional human vascularized organ tissue in a controlled laboratory environment.

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NASA TV to Broadcast Crew Return from Space Station

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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)

HOUSTON — Three International Space Station crew members are scheduled to depart the orbiting outpost Saturday, June 18. NASA Television will provide coverage of their preparations for departure and return to Earth, beginning at 9:15 a.m. EDT Friday, June 17.

Expedition 47 Commander Tim Kopra of NASA, Flight Engineer Tim Peake of ESA (European Space Agency) and Soyuz Commander Yuri Malenchenko of the Russian space agency Roscosmos will undock their Soyuz TMA-19M spacecraft from the space station at 1:52 a.m. Saturday and land in Kazakhstan at 5:15 a.m. (3:12 p.m. Kazakhstan time).

Their return will wrap up 186 days in space for the crew since their launch in December 2015. Together, the Expedition 47 crew members contributed to hundreds of experiments in biology, biotechnology, physical science and Earth science aboard humanity’s only orbiting laboratory.

NASA TV will air coverage of the departure and landing activities at the following dates and times:

Friday, June 17

  • 9:15 a.m. — Change of command ceremony in which Kopra hands over station command to NASA astronaut Jeff Williams
  • 10:15 p.m. — Farewell and hatch closure coverage (hatch closure scheduled for 10:35 p.m.)

Saturday, June 18

  • 1:30 a.m. — Undocking coverage (undocking scheduled for 1:52 a.m.)
  • 4 a.m. — Deorbit burn and landing coverage (deorbit burn scheduled for 4:21 a.m., with landing at 5:15 a.m.)
  • 7 a.m. — Video File of hatch closure, undocking and landing activities.
  • 6 p.m. — Video File of landing and post-landing activities and post-landing interviews with Kopra and Peake in Kazakhstan.

At the time of undocking, Expedition 48 will begin aboard the station under Williams’ command. Williams and his crewmates Oleg Skripochka and Alexey Ovchinin of Roscosmos, will operate the station for three weeks until the arrival of three new crew members.

NASA astronaut Kate Rubins, Russian cosmonaut Anatoly Ivanishin and Takuya Onishi of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency are scheduled to launch July 6 (Eastern time) from Baikonur, Kazakhstan.

Check out the full NASA TV schedule and video streaming information at:

http://www.nasa.gov/nasatv

Keep up with the International Space Station, and its research and crew, at:

http://www.nasa.gov/station

Boeing, SpaceX Continue to Make Progress on Crew Vehicles

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Administrator Charles Bolden stands next to Boeing's CST-100 capsule at Langely Research Center. (Credit: NASA)

Administrator Charles Bolden stands next to Boeing’s CST-100 capsule at Langely Research Center. (Credit: NASA)

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

Hundreds of engineers and technicians with NASA, Boeing, and SpaceX have ramped up to complete the final designs, manufacturing, and testing as they continue the vital, but meticulous work to prepare to launch astronauts to the International Space Station.

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