Russians Go 12 Months Without Launch Failure

A Proton takes a nose dive at the Baikonur Cosmodrome. (Credit: Tsenki TV)

It’s been a long road, getting from there to here….

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The Russian space program reached a milestone last week: for the first time in nearly a decade, it went a full 12 months — 365 days — without a single partial or complete launch failure.

On Oct. 11 the program passed the one-year anniversary of the Soyuz MS-10 in-flight abort that sent NASA astronaut Nick Hague and Roscosmos cosmonaut Aleksey Ovchinin on a wild ballistic ride. Neither one was injured; both later flew to the International Space Station.

The last time Russia went more than one year between launch failures was a 14-month stretch between March 14, 2008 and May 21, 2009.

The last calendar year in which the Russian space program had a clean sheet was in 2003. They have 76 days left in 2019 to equal that feat.

The table below shows the program’s 22 failures and six partial failure over the past 15 years.

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Boeing Starliner Commercial Crew Delay: ~3 Years

Boeing’s first crewed Starliner finished initial production at Kennedy Space Center, Fla. and is readied for its cross-country trip. (Credit: Boeing)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

On March 26, Vice President Mike Pence went to Huntsville, Ala., to declare that the Trump Administration would use “any means necessary” to accelerate the return of American astronauts to the surface of the moon by 2024 — four years earlier than planned.

Pence was putting Huntsville-based Marshall Space Flight Center and prime contractor Boeing on notice to get the delayed, over budget Space Launch System (SLS) being built to accomplish that goal back on track. If they didn’t, the administration would find other rockets to do the job.

In his effort to accelerate the Artemis lunar program, however, Pence unintentionally contributed to delays in NASA’s behind schedule effort to launch astronauts to a much closer location: low Earth orbit.

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Nobel-winning Lithium-ion Batteries Powering Space

ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet put his battery-powered spacesuit to the ultimate test on Earth at NASA’s Johnson Space Center: all the air was pumped out from the Space Station Airlock Test Article to create a vacuum like he would encounter in outer space. (Credit: NASA–Bill Stafford)

PARIS (ESA PR) — ESA’s space power experts congratulate the winners of this year’s Nobel Prize for Chemistry, for their invention of lithium-ion batteries. These energy-dense, long-lasting and rechargeable batteries have revolutionised the modern world, found in everything from smartphones to laptops to cars. They have had the same revolutionary effect in space.

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Virtual Field Trips Take Students Inside NASA’s Commercial Crew Program

By Danielle Sempsrott
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center

As NASA begins a new era of space exploration – returning to the Moon and eventually on to Mars – education in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) subjects is increasingly important to the future of our nation’s space program. 

NASA’s Commercial Crew Program (CCP) plays an integral role in the agency’s deep space exploration goals as it works with commercial partners to launch astronauts to the International Space Station from U.S. soil on American-built rockets and spacecraft.

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Video: Designing Flames Aboard the International Space Station

The Flame Design investigation is studying the quantity of soot produced under different flame conditions. The results of this experiment occurring aboard the International Space Station could enable the design of flames that are more sooty or soot-free, and allow for the creation of burner designs which are more efficient and less polluting.

Read more about this and other flame research aboard the International Space Station: https://go.nasa.gov/2LqSzja 

Learn more about the research being conducted on Station: https://www.nasa.gov/iss-science 

Follow Twitter updates on the science conducted aboard the space station: https://twitter.com/iss_research 

HD download link: https://archive.org/details/jsc2019m000710_Designing-Flames-Aboard-ISS

JAXA Call for Participation in Kibo Robot Programming Challenge

Japanese KIBO module

TOKYO (JAXA PR) — The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) will host a programming competition involving free-flying robots1 of JAXA and NASA in ISS/Japanese Experiment Module (JEM) known as “Kibo”.

The preliminary round of this competition will be between April and June 2020, with the final round being around September 2020. Starting today (October 11, 2019) until March 19, 2020 (17:00 JST), JAXA is calling for the participation of students in this competition on the following website.

【Entry details】
http://iss.jaxa.jp/en/kuoa/krpc/

【Entry Qualification2
Students up to graduate school students in Kibo-ABC member countries including Japan.

The participants will create programs to operate free-flying robots in ISS/Kibo and complete a mission.3 The competition will entail a time requirement and problem-solving ability.

This activity is based on Japan-U.S. cooperation through the Japan-US Open Platform Partnership Program (JP-US OP3). In order for JAXA and NASA to expand Kibo utilization in the Asia-Pacific region, an education program for operating robots and computer programming is being offered to students in Japan and the Asia-Pacific region.

1. An autonomous flying robot intended to support astronauts (by taking photos, etc.)

2, Asian Beneficial Collaboration through Kibo Utilization (Kibo-ABC) is a collaborative program aiming to promote Kibo utilization in the Asia-Pacific region. Prospective participants must submit an application form to the space agency of their Kibo-ABC member country participating in the Kibo Robot Programming Challenge. Kibo-ABC; http://www.aprsaf.org/initiatives/kibo_abc/

3, Participants shall create programs to move the free-flying robot autonomously using the virtual simulator provided by JAXA and NASA.

ESA Calls for Industry to Extend ISS Columbus Lab Capabilities

ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano sets up University of Edinburgh experiment Biorock by installing experiment containers in the small temperature-controlled Kubik incubators onboard the International Space Station. (Credit: ESA)

PARIS (ESA PR) — The International Space Station is open for business and ESA is calling on industry to help extend the capabilities of Europe’s Columbus laboratory to support science and technology in space beyond 2024.

Columbus is Europe’s single largest contribution to the International Space Station. Launched in 2008, it is the first permanent European research facility in space.

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Aleph Farms Completes First Slaughter-free Meat Experiment in Space

REHOVOT, Israel, Oct. 7, 2019 (Aleph Farms) — Aleph Farms, a food company that grows cultivated beef steaks, announces today it has successfully taken “one small step for man and one giant leap for mankind” in producing meat on the International Space Station, 248 miles (339 km) away from any natural resources.

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NASA Developing Next Generation Spacesuit Artemis Moon Program

Artist’s conception of astronaut in an advanced spacesuit working on the moon. (Credit; NASA)

WASHINGTON, DC (NASA PR) — At first glance, NASA’s new spacesuit that will be worn on Artemis missions might look like the suits that astronauts use for spacewalks outside the International Space Station today. However, 21st century moonwalkers will be able to accomplish much more complex tasks than their predecessors, thanks to strides in technological advances that started even before the Apollo program.

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NASA Administrator to Visit SpaceX HQ on Thursday

Jim Bridenstine (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

WASHINGTON, DC (NASA PR) — NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine will tour SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California, on Thursday, Oct. 10, to see the progress the company is making to fly astronauts to and from the International Space Station from American soil as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program.

Following the tour, SpaceX will host a media availability with Bridenstine, SpaceX Chief Engineer Elon Musk, and NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley – the crew for the Demo-2 flight test to the space station.

The media availability will be streamed live on Bridenstine’s Twitter account:

http://www.twitter/com/jimbridenstine.

SpaceX will carry NASA astronauts to the space station on the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft, and help return the ability to fly American astronauts on American rockets and spacecraft from American soil. This is an important step toward sending the first woman and the next man to the Moon by 2024, as part of NASA’s Artemis program.

In March, SpaceX completed Crew Dragon’s first demonstration mission, Demo-1, sending the uncrewed spacecraft to and from the International Space Station. NASA and SpaceX currently are preparing for an upcoming in-flight abort test of Crew Dragon’s launch escape system and the company’s second demonstration mission, Demo-2, which will send NASA astronauts to and from the station aboard Crew Dragon.

SpaceX may not be able to accommodate all who request accreditation, as space is very limited, and outlets may be asked to cap the number of representatives they request to send.

SpaceX will provide additional logistical details for credentialed media closer to the visit.

Multiple Tissue Engineering Payloads Selected Through ISS National Lab & NSF Joint Solicitation

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER (FL), October 7, 2019 – The International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory and the National Science Foundation (NSF) today announced that five research investigations have been selected from a joint solicitation to leverage the microgravity environment of the orbiting laboratory for tissue engineering and mechanobiology research.

The ISS National Lab and NASA will facilitate hardware implementation and in-orbit access to the orbiting laboratory. NSF will fund the selected projects to advance fundamental science and biomedical engineering knowledge (up to $2 million in total). NSF supports transformative research to help drive the U.S. economy, enhance national security, and maintain America’s position as a global leader in innovation.

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China Launch Surge Left U.S., Russia Behind in 2018

Long March 2F rocket in flight carrying Shenzhou-11. (Credit: CCTV)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The year 2018 was the busiest one for launches in decades. There were a total of 111 completely successful launches out of 114 attempts. It was the highest total since 1990, when 124 launches were conducted.

China set a new record for launches in 2018. The nation launched 39 times with 38 successes in a year that saw a private Chinese company fail in the country’s first ever orbital launch attempt.

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Astronauts Wrap Up First of Five Power Upgrade Spacewalks This Month

Astronauts Christina Koch and Andrew Morgan are pictured in their U.S. spacesuits during another spacewalk earlier this year. (Credit NASA)

ISS, October 6, 2019 (NASA PR) — Expedition 61 Flight Engineers Christina Koch and Andrew Morgan of NASA concluded their spacewalk at 2:40 p.m. EDT. During the seven-hour and one minute spacewalk, the two NASA astronauts began the replacement of nickel-hydrogen batteries with newer, more powerful lithium-ion batteries on the far end of the station’s port truss.

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Controlling Robots Across Oceans and Space

A prototype rover is commanded to drive in and sample a quarry resembling a lunar site. The image shows a virtual reality impression of the test. The rover is a key element of the ESA-led Heracles mission in cooperation with the Canadian Space Agency CSA and Japan’s JAXA space agency. (Credit: Canadian Space Agency)

PARIS (ESA PR) — This Autumn is seeing a number of experiments controlling robots from afar, with ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano directing a robot in The Netherlands and engineers in Germany controlling a rover in Canada.

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NASA, CERN Timepix Technology Advances Miniaturized Radiation Detection

Space radiation (Credit: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — As we prepare to send the first woman and next man to the Moon and on to Mars, NASA, with support from the University of Houston, has been working to develop advanced radiation detectors to better protect astronauts and vital spacecraft systems during solar storms. The detectors are based on technology that was originally developed by the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) to detect particle collisions in high-energy physics experiments. Storms emanating from our Sun release invisible, high energy particles, also called ionizing radiation, into space at relativistic speeds that can damage spacecraft electronics and systems, and impact the health of astronauts. 

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