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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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.

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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NASA’s Moon to Mars Plans, Artemis Lunar Program Gets Fast Tracked in 2019

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — In 2019, NASA celebrated the 50th anniversary of the agency’s Apollo 11 Moon landing, the most historic moment in space exploration, while also making significant progress toward putting the first woman and next man on the Moon by 2024 under the Artemis  program.

Through America’s Moon to Mars exploration approach, Artemis gained bipartisan support this year among members of Congress, the U.S aerospace industry, as well as with international partners, including Canada, Australia, and Japan, and member states of the European Space Agency.

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Starliner Reaches Orbit, Can’t Dock with Station

Atlas V lifts off with Starliner spacecraft on Orbital Flight Test 1. (Credit: NASA webcast)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft suffered an anomaly after reaching space during its maiden flight test on Friday morning, resulting in the abandonment of plans for a rendezvous and docking with the International Space Station (ISS).

Boeing and NASA officials said the spacecraft is in a good orbit and performing well. They are planning an abbreviated two-day flight test before bringing the spacecraft down for a landing on Sunday morning at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico.

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