Tag: ISS

Dragon Returns to Earth

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SpaceX Dragon Splashes Down with Crucial NASA Research Samples

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — SpaceX’s Dragon cargo spacecraft splashed down in the Pacific Ocean at 11:47 a.m. EDT Friday, Aug. 26, southwest of Baja California with more than 3,000 pounds of NASA cargo, science and technology demonstration samples from the International Space Station.

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ASAP Update on NASA’s Commercial Crew Program

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Launch_America_Commercial_Crew
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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Japan to Upgrade HTV Cargo Ship

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HTV in flight (Credit: NASA)

HTV in flight (Credit: NASA)

JAXA is planning enhancements to its next generation HTV freighter, The Yomiuri Shimbun reports.

According to JAXA, the next-generation model currently in design — dubbed HTV-X — will be able to separate control systems units such as engines from its main body after docking at the ISS.

The engines will be equipped with observational devices so the spacecraft can leave the ISS and orbit as a satellite.

After that, the spacecraft itself will be used as an Earth observation satellite or to monitor space debris, which includes pieces of broken satellites. It will also be able to re-dock with the ISS.

JAXA is considering adding other functions, including for returning capsules containing experiment samples to Earth and connecting the spacecraft with a probe device to depart for other astronomical objects.

At the New Space Conference in June, NanoRacks Founder Jeffrey Manber said his company had signed a Space Act Agreement with NASA focused on using cargo ships for experiments and other uses after they leave the space station. I asked it about it after his talk, and he mentioned the HTV as one of the vehicles the company was looking to use.

COTS Hits the Big 1-0

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Cygnus approaches ISS (Credit: NASA)

Cygnus approaches ISS (Credit: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — Ten years ago, on August 18, 2006, NASA announced agreements with two private companies that dramatically changed the way NASA does business and the landscape for the commercial space industry.

The announcement was rooted in long term trends dating back to the 1980s, but the immediate cause of this change can be traced to the report of the President’s Commission on Implementation of United States Space Exploration Policy. In the wake of the Columbia accident in 2003, and the announcement of the Vision for Space Exploration by President Bush in early 2004, the Commission was tasked with coming up with recommendations about future space policy.

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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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Dextre to Assist Astronauts in Installing New Docking Port on Friday

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Dextre at the end of Canadarm2 preparing to remove cargo from Dragon. (Credit: NASA)

Dextre at the end of Canadarm2 preparing to remove cargo from Dragon. (Credit: NASA)

LONGEUIL, QC (CSA PR) — Dextre, the Canadian robotic handyman on board the International Space Station (ISS), will have a very important job to do from August 17 to 19, 2016. Dextre will convert an existing docking port on the ISS into a spaceport able to welcome the upcoming new US commercial crew vehicles. This means that crew vehicles other than the Russian Soyuz will be able to dock to the ISS. An International Docking Adapter (IDA) was designed to convert the port and was shipped to the ISS on board SpaceX’s latest Dragon cargo ship. Next, Canada’s robots are being called in to do the heavy lifting.
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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.

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 to Air Spacewalk to Install New Space Station Docking Port

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Credit: NASA

Credit: NASA

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — NASA Television will bring to viewers around the world live coverage Friday, Aug. 19, as two NASA astronauts install a new gateway for American commercial crew spacecraft at the International Space Station — a significant milestone in NASA’s work to return crew launches to U.S. soil.

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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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ESA Targets Active Tracking of Astronaut Radiation Exposure

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ESA astronaut Andreas Mogensen aboard the International Space Station. (Credit: ESA/NASA)

ESA astronaut Andreas Mogensen aboard the International Space Station. (Credit: ESA)

PARIS (ESA PR) — Radiation is an invisible hazard of spaceflight, but a new monitoring system for ESA astronauts gives a realtime snapshot of their exposure. The results will guide researchers preparing for deep-space missions to come.

A key element of the new system launched to orbit on last month’s Falcon 9 launch to the International Space Station, ensuring it is in place for ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet’s November mission to the Station.

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Orbital ATK Antares-Cygnus Flight Delayed to September

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Antares rolled out for hot fire in May 2016. (Credit: Orbital ATK)

Antares rolled out for hot fire in May 2016. (Credit: Orbital ATK)

Orbital ATK Mission Update
August 10, 2016

Orbital ATK completed a stage test at the end of May and final data review has confirmed the test was successful, clearing the way for the Antares return to flight. Simultaneously, the company has been conducting final integration and check out of the flight vehicle that will launch the OA-5 mission to ensure that all technical, quality and safety standards are met or exceeded.

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Surrey Satellite, NanoRacks Team for 100-kg Satellite Deployments from ISS

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nano_racks_logoENGLEWOOD, Colo., August 9, 2016 (SST-US PR)— Seeking to expand the satellite launching capabilities of the International Space Station, Colorado-based Surrey Satellite Technology US LLC (SST-US) has signed a contract with NanoRacks LLC for future flights of a 100-kilogram-class satellite platform specifically developed by SST-US for deployment from the International Space Station (ISS) using the NanoRacks Kaber deployment system.

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Smallsat 2016: NASA Program & Mission Updates

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Two three-unit (3U) CubeSats. At about a foot in length and four inches wide, these are similar in design to IceCube and the five selected heliophysics CubeSats. (Credit: NASA)

Two three-unit (3U) CubeSats. At about a foot in length and four inches wide, these are similar in design to IceCube and the five selected heliophysics CubeSats. (Credit: NASA)

NASA officials have been providing updates this week on agency programs and missions during the 2016 Small Satellite Conference and the CubeSat Workshop that preceded it. I have pulled together summaries of their presentations drawn from Twitter.  Information has come from the following Tweeters:

  • Jeff Foust ‏@jeff_foust
  • David Hurst ‏@OrbitalDave
  • Hanna Steplewska ‏@spacesurfingirl
  • Augie Allen ‏@AugieAllen
  • RITSpaceExploration ‏@RITSPEX

Enjoy!
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