Success: 3D Bioprinter in Space Prints With Human Heart Cells

The 3D BioFabrication Facility (BFF) is the first 3D printer capable of manufacturing human tissue (including, someday, organs) in the microgravity condition of space. (Credit: Techshot)

GREENVILLE, Ind., January 7, 2020 (Techshot PR) — A 3D bioprinter privately owned by an American company has successfully printed with a large volume of human heart cells aboard the International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory. Owned by Techshot Inc., a commercial operator of microgravity research and manufacturing equipment, the 3D BioFabrication Facility (BFF) was developed in partnership with nScrypt, a manufacturer of industrial 3D bioprinters and electronics printers. The tissue-like constructs return to Earth this week inside a SpaceX capsule.

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ISS National Lab Announces Annual Public Meeting Set for Feb. 7

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla., January 9, 2020 (ISS U.S. National Laboratory PR) – The board of directors and executive management for the International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory have announced that the 2020 Public Meeting will take place on February 7, 2020 at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida.

This annual event provides an opportunity for organizational leadership to brief the public on the progress of the ISS National Lab, hear from research partners leveraging the orbiting laboratory, and field questions from meeting attendees and the public. Additionally, organizational leadership will provide a prospective look at the long-term goals for enhancing the research and technology development portfolio of the ISS National Lab.

The meeting is open to the public and will be held at the Center for Space Education at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. EST. Seating will be available to the public on a first-come, first-served basis.

For those not able to attend in person, a live webcast of the meeting will also be available. Those interested in attending the meeting in person or via the webcast are required to preregister. In-person attendees are required to register no later than close of business on February 4 to ensure free parking and access to the Center for Space Education at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. To preregister, please visit the 2020 Public Meeting website.

During the meeting, time will be allotted for public comment and questions to the ISS National Lab board of directors and executive management. Those physically in attendance will have the opportunity to provide direct questions and/or comments.

Those unable to attend in person may submit questions and/or comments prior to the Public Meeting by emailing PMQuestions@issnationallab.org. Submitted questions may be addressed during the meeting. Questions and/or comments must be submitted no later than close of business on February 3. All submitted questions will be posted on the Public Meeting website and will receive an answer in a timely manner.

Following the Public Meeting on February 7, the ISS National Lab will also host an Implementation Partner and Commercial Service Provider Workshop. This workshop is open to all companies currently conducting business on the space station.

About the International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory

In 2005, Congress designated the U.S. portion of the ISS as the nation’s newest national laboratory to optimize its use for improving quality of life on Earth, promoting collaboration among diverse users, and advancing science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education. This unique laboratory environment is available for use by non-NASA U.S. government agencies, academic institutions, and the private sector. The ISS National Lab manages access to the permanent microgravity research environment, a powerful vantage point in low Earth orbit, and the extreme and varied conditions of space.

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 TV Coverage Set for Three Spacewalks in January

Astronauts Luca Parmitano and Andrew Morgan are pictured during a spacewalk to continue upgrading the station’s cosmic particle detector, the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer. (Credit: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — Four astronauts will venture outside the International Space Station for three spacewalks in January to complete battery upgrades and finalize repairs to an invaluable cosmic ray detector.

Expedition 61 Flight Engineers Jessica Meir and Christina Koch of NASA are scheduled to conduct spacewalks Wednesday, Jan. 15, and Monday, Jan. 20, to finish replacing nickel-hydrogen batteries with new lithium-ion batteries that store power generated by the station’s solar arrays on the station’s port truss.

Assuming the battery work goes as planned, NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan and space station Commander Luca Parmitano of ESA (European Space Agency) will exit the station Saturday, Jan. 25, to finish installing the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer’s (AMS) new cooling apparatus and lines begun in November and December, and verify they are ready for use.

Live coverage of all three spacewalks will begin at 5:30 a.m. EST on NASA Television and the agency’s website.

These will be the second and third spacewalks for Meir, who will be extravehicular crew member 1 (EV1) for both spacewalks. Koch, who will be extravehicular crew member 2 (EV2), will perform the fifth and sixth spacewalks of her career.

Morgan, who will be EV1 for the AMS spacewalk, and Parmitano, who will be EV2, performed the three previous spacewalks to repair the spectrometer, which is searching for dark matter and antimatter in the universe using the station’s unique location and capabilities for scientific research.

The spacewalks will be the 225th, 226th and 227th in support of space station assembly and maintenance.

For NASA TV streaming video, schedule and downlink information, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/nasatv

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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Dragon Returns Research from Space Station

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER (FL), January 7, 2020 – Earlier today, the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft successfully splashed down off the coast of California, bringing with it more than 500 pounds of research investigations sponsored by the International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory.

This successful splashdown and transfer of investigations completes SpaceX’s 19th commercial resupply services (CRS) mission to the space station (contracted by NASA) to send critical research and supplies to the orbiting laboratory.

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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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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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Animation of Crewed Dragon Flight to Space Station

Video Caption: SpaceX will soon demonstrate Crew Dragon’s ability to safely and reliably carry astronauts to and from the International Space Station.

Editor’s Note: Musk tweeted the following concerning the schedule for the actual flight:

“Crew Dragon should be physically ready & at the Cape in Feb, but completing all safety reviews will probably take a few more months”

That would place the flight sometime in the second quarter of 2020. That fits with what I reportedly previously. Keep in mind that Musk’s predictions have been optimistic in the past.

So, why wold it take that long. The story is more complicated than one might think.

When the capsule destined for the in-flight abort test exploded earlier this year, SpaceX spent months investigating the cause and devising a fix for the anomaly. NASA had to review all the data those efforts generated and sign off on the modifications.

Musk’s company needed to modify the capsule it was building for the Crew Dragon mission with astronauts to fly on the in-flight abort test, which is currently scheduled for Jan. 11.

The test will require extensive data analysis to determine how well it went. The spacecraft will be subjected to severe stresses, so it won’t be recycled for another flight.

Meanwhile, SpaceX has had to build a brand spacecraft incorporating the modifications for the Crew Dragon flight test. That process can typically take six months to a year.

Contrary to a popular impression that seems to be out there, SpaceX didn’t have a Crew Dragon in any advanced state of development that could have been easily slid into the flight rotation. And since this mission will be the first to carry a crew, it will undergo a lot of additional checks.

Video: ESA’s Highlights of 2019

Video Caption: As the year comes to a close, it is once again time to look back and reflect on some of the achievements and highlights of European spaceflight.

The new Gaia star catalogue and the launch of Cheops are keeping ESA at the forefront of space science, as will Solar Orbiter, being prepared for launch next year.

The Copernicus programme continues to be the largest Earth observation programme in the world, with ESA preparing even more missions.

On the Space Station, Luca Parmitano became the third European to command an ISS expedition. During his second mission, he made some of the space programme’s most complex and demanding spacewalks.

At the end of 2019, the ESA Space19+ ministerial conference agreed to give ESA its largest budget ever and expressed continued support for Europe’s independent access to space with Ariane 6 and Vega-C.

What We Learned From the Space Station in 2019

Space station cupola view (Credit: ESA/NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — Dozens of experiments are going on at any given time aboard the International Space Station. We are advancing our understanding of everything from Parkinson’s disease to combustion thanks to this research. This information is benefiting us on Earth, as well as preparing us for missions to the Moon and Mars.

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