Starliner Arrives Back in Florida

The Orbital Flight Test Starliner being processed by technicians after return from White Sands Missile Range. (Credit: Boeing)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (Boeing PR) — On Wednesday, January 8, the Starliner that flew the uncrewed Orbital Flight Test returned safely to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.  After launching from Cape Canaveral on December 20, 2019, and landing at the White Sands Missile Range on December 22, the Starliner was recovered and prepared for shipment across the country, and then left the desert on January 3.

In general, the plan for post-flight processing of this spacecraft is as follows:

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NASA to Provide Live Coverage of SpaceX Crew Dragon In-flight Abort Test

Crew Dragon abort static test (Credit: NASA)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — NASA will provide coverage of the upcoming prelaunch and launch activities for the SpaceX Crew Dragon launch escape demonstration, as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program, which is working with U.S. companies to launch American astronauts on American rockets and spacecraft from American soil.

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Video: Back to the Moon with ESA

Video Caption: The first flight of the Artemis programme, which will see humans return to the Moon, is scheduled to begin soon.

The lunar spacecraft consists of NASA’s Orion crew module and the European Service Module, or ESM. Developed by ESA and building on technology from its Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV), the ESM will provide propulsion, life support, environmental control and electrical power to Orion.

The Artemis 1 spacecraft modules are undergoing thermal vacuum and electromagnetic interference tests in the world’s largest space simulation vacuum chamber at the Glenn Research Centre’s Plum Brook Station in Sandusky, Ohio, USA.

Learn more about Orion: http://bit.ly/ESAOrion

Roscosmos Allocates More Funding for Oryol Spacecraft Development

Ergonomic testing has been conducted for the new Oryol spacecraft. (Credit: RSC Energia)

Sputnik reports that Roscosmos will devote more than 8 billion rubles ($130.7 million) in additional funding for development of the Oryol (Eagle) beginning next year.

The contract with Energia would fund the construction of two Oryol spacecraft. They are designed to replace the Soyuz transport that has been in use since 1967 and allow cosmonauts to perform lunar and deep space missions. The spacecraft was formerly known as Federatsiya (Federation).

An Oryol mockup would be launched on the Angara A5 heavy booster in 2023, Sputnik reported. A flight test to the International Space Station is planned for 2025, followed by a lunar flyby in 2029 and a landing on the surface the following year.

The additional funding will also be used for the testing of the Yenisei super-heavy booster in 2028, Sputnik said.

Canada’s Newest Astronauts Complete Basic Training

Canadian astronaut recruits Joshua Kutryk Jennifer_Sidey. (Credit: CSA)

Longueuil, Quebec, January 10, 2020 (CSA PR) – Today, Canadian Space Agency (CSA) astronauts Jenni Sidey-Gibbons and Joshua Kutryk celebrated the end of their basic training, along with their NASA classmates, during a ceremony at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. Their class was the first to be supervised by a Canadian astronaut, Jeremy Hansen.

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Record Setting Astronaut Christina Koch Marks 300 Days in Space

Video Caption: January 9th, 2020 marks 300 days aboard the International Space Station for NASA Astronaut Christina Koch.

In December, Christina Koch set a record for the longest single spaceflight by a woman, eclipsing the record of 288 days set by former NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson in 2016-17. Koch will have been part of three expeditions – 59, 60 and 61 – during her first spaceflight. Her mission is planned to be just shy of the longest spaceflight by a NASA astronaut – 340 days, set by former NASA astronaut Scot Kelly during his one-year mission in 2015-16.

NASA has gathered vast amounts of data on astronaut health and performance over the past 50 years and has focused recently on extended durations up to one year with the dedicated mission of Scott Kelly and extended mission of Peggy Whitson. These opportunities have also demonstrated that there is a significant degree of variability in human response to spaceflight and it’s important to determine the acceptable degree of change for both men and women.

NASA to Honor New Astronauts on Friday

A new class of astronauts will graduate basic training on Jan. 10, 2020. They will join the active astronaut corps, beginning careers in exploration that may take them to the International Space Station, on missions to the Moon under the Artemis program, or someday, Mars. The 2017 class includes (top row) Matthew Dominick of NASA, Kayla Barron of NASA, Warren Hoburg of NASA, and Joshua Kutryk of CSA, (middle row) Bob Hines of NASA, Frank Rubio of NASA, Jennifer Sidey-Gibbons of CSA, Jasmin Moghbeli of NASA, and Jessica Watkins of NASA, (bottom row) Raja Chari of NASA, Jonny Kim of NASA, Zena Cardman of NASA, and Loral O’Hara of NASA. (Credits: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — NASA will honor the first class of astronaut candidates to graduate under the Artemis program at 10:30 a.m. EST Friday, Jan. 10, at the agency’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. After completing more than two years of basic training, these candidates will become eligible for spaceflight, including assignments to the International Space Station, Artemis missions to the Moon, and ultimately, missions to Mars.

The ceremony will air live on NASA Television and the agency’s website. The new graduates also will be available for in-person and remote media interviews following the ceremony.

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China Using Space to Further Geopolitical Goals

Completing our look at the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission’s 2019 Report to Congress, we examine how China is using its space program to achieve the nation’s geopolitical and economic goals. [Full Report]

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

China is using its growing space program to achieve a range of geopolitical and economic goals, including attracting partners for its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), improving economic and political ties with other countries, and deepening others’ reliance on its space systems and data services.

“Beijing views its space program as key to elevating its leadership profile in international space cooperation, including through BRI, and establishing a dominant position in the commercial space industry,” according to the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission’s 2019 Report to Congress.

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NASA, Boeing Forming Investigation Team on Starliner Snafu

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

by Jim Bridenstine
NASA Administrator

NASA and Boeing are in the process of establishing a joint, independent investigation team to examine the primary issues associated with the company’s uncrewed Orbital Flight Test.

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SpaceX Dragon Splashes Down in Pacific Ocean

A camera on the tip of the Canadarm2 robotic arm views the SpaceX Dragon as it separates from the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — The SpaceX Dragon spacecraft splashed down at 10:42 a.m. in the Pacific Ocean about 271 miles southwest of Long Beach, California, marking the end of the company’s 19th contracted cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station for NASA.

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NASA Looks Forward to Busy 2020

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — In 2020, NASA will be taking long strides toward returning astronauts to the Moon, continuing the exploration of Mars and developing new technology to make supersonic aircraft fly more quietly.

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1st Reported Occurrence & Treatment of Spaceflight Medical Risk 200+ Miles Above Earth

Sept. 28, 2019: International Space Station Configuration. Five spaceships are attached to the space station including Japan’s HTV-8 cargo craft with Russia’s Progress 73 resupply ship and Soyuz MS-12, MS-13 and MS-15 crew ships. (Credit: NASA)

NEW ORLEANS (LSU PR) — Serena Auñón-Chancellor, M.D., M.P.H., Clinical Associate Professor of Medicine at LSU Health New Orleans School of Medicine’s branch campus in Baton Rouge, is the lead author of a paper describing a previously unrecognized risk of spaceflight discovered during a study of astronauts involved in long-duration missions.

The paper details a case of stagnant blood flow resulting in a clot in the internal jugular vein of an astronaut stationed on the International Space Station. The paper is published in the January 2, 2020 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, available here.

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India Selects 4 Pilots for First Gaganyaan Space Mission

Capsule descending under parachute (Credit: ISRO)

ISRO says it has selected four pilots from the Indian Air Force to begin training in Russia later this month for the first Gaganyaan orbital mission. The Hindu reports that Chairman K. Sivan made the announcement on New Year’s Day.

The initial tests were conducted in the IAF’s Institute of Aerospace Medicine, Bengaluru, and Russia. The four will leave in the third week of January to be trained at the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Centre in Moscow, as per an agreement signed between the space agencies of the two countries last year.

Gaganyaan, announced by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi in August 2018, is the ₹10,000-crore Indian human space flight scheduled for 2022. It is designed to have 3-7 crew members spend 3-7 days in space in a 400-km orbit.

Dr. Sivan said Gaganyaan activities were on track. However it was not known yet how many astronauts would finally travel to space.

The first of the two pre-Gaganyaan flights with a humanoid will be launched this year-end along with some of the six shortlisted micro-gravity experiments, Dr. Sivan said. 

NASA TV to Air US Cargo Ship Departure from Space Station

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — Filled with almost 3,600 pounds of valuable scientific experiments and other cargo, a SpaceX Dragon resupply spacecraft is set to leave the International Space Station Sunday, Jan. 5. NASA Television and the agency’s website will broadcast its departure live beginning at 9:15 p.m. EST.

Robotic flight controllers at mission control in Houston will issue remote commands at 9:41 p.m. to release Dragon using the station’s Canadarm2 robotic arm. Expedition 61 Station Commander Luca Parmitano of ESA (European Space Agency) will back up the ground controllers and monitor Dragon’s systems as it departs the orbital laboratory.

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