JAXA & Sony Sign Agreement for Laser Link Communications on ISS

Small Exposed Experiment Platform (i-SEEP) with optical communications module (Credit: JAXA)

TOKYO (JAXA PR) — National Research and Development Agency Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (hereafter known as JAXA, President: Naoki Okumura), Sony Computer Science Laboratories, Inc. (hereafter known as Sony CSL, President and Chief Executive Officer: Hiroaki Kitano) and Sony Corporation (hereafter known as Sony: President and Chief Executive Officer: Kazuo Hirai) made a cooperative research agreement with respect to conducting the on-orbit demonstrations of laser communications system. This research to be executed in the Kibo module on the International Space Station (ISS) aims at establishing a communications system of mass data between spacecraft and that which connects Earth and Space.


Canadarm2 Spinoff Technology Transforming Surgery on Earth

Operating room (Credit: Synaptive Medical/Cicada Design Inc.)

LONGUEUIL, Quebec (CSA PR) — Since its space debut in 1981, Canadarm has made its mark on the world stage. In exchange for Canadarm’s vital contributions to NASA‘s space shuttle program, Marc Garneau was granted a seat aboard Space Shuttle Challenger as part of Mission STS-41-G in 1984, making him the first Canadian astronaut to launch to space.


Bigelow Aerospace Announces the Creation of Bigelow Space Operations

LAS VEGAS, NV, February 20, 2018 (Bigelow Aerospace PR) – Bigelow Aerospace is excited to introduce Bigelow Space Operations (BSO), a new commercial space company that is the sales, operational and customer service company that manages and operates space stations developed by Bigelow Aerospace.

With the two launches of B330-1 and B330-2 expected in 2021, the time is now in 2018 to begin BSO activity. These single structures that house humans on a permanent basis will be the largest, most complex structures ever known as stations for human use in space.


CASIS President to Step Down

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FL, February 16, 2018 (CASIS PR) – The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) today announced that President and Executive Director Gregory H. Johnson plans to leave the nonprofit organization effective March 10, 2018, after serving in that position for nearly five years.


Mixed Reactions to Plans End Direct Federal Funding to ISS in 2025

This artist’s concept shows how a future robot called LEMUR (Limbed Excursion Mechanical Utility Robot) could inspect and maintain installations on the International Space Station. The robot would stick to the outside using a gecko-inspired gripping system. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

There have been some varied reactions to the Trump Administration’s proposal to end direct federal funding to the International Space Station (ISS) in 2025 in favor of commercial ventures in low Earth orbit and a focus on returning astronauts to the moon.

Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL)

“The administration’s budget for NASA is a nonstarter. If we’re ever going to get to Mars with humans on board and return them safely, then we need a larger funding increase for NASA. The proposal would also end support for the International Space Station in 2025 and make deep cuts to popular education and science programs. Turning off the lights and walking away from our sole outpost in space at a time when we’re pushing the frontiers of exploration makes no sense.”

Progress 69P Arrives at Space Station

The Progress 69 resupply ship is pictured just moments from docking to the space station. (Credit: NASA)

Traveling about 250 miles over the east of the Philippines, the Progress 69 Russian cargo spacecraft docked to the aft end of the service module of the International Space Station at 5:38 a.m. EST.

For more information about the space station and its crew, visit: https://www.nasa.gov/station.

Russia Launches Progress Resupply Ship to Space Station

A Soyuz rocket with Progress 69P lifts off. (Credit: Roscosmos)

BAIKONUR COSMODROME, Kazakhstan (NASA PR) — Carrying more than three tons of food, fuel and supplies for the International Space Station Expedition 54 crew, the Progress 69 cargo spacecraft launched at 3:13 a.m. EST (2:13 p.m. local time) from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

At the time of launch, the International Space Station was flying over the south Atlantic north of the Falkland Islands at an altitude of 252 miles. Less than 10 minutes after launch, the resupply ship reached preliminary orbit and deployed its solar arrays and navigational antennas as planned.

The Progress 69 cargo vehicle will dock automatically to the aft port of the Zvezda service module of the station at 5:43 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 15. Watch live coverage beginning at 5 a.m. on NASA Television and the agency’s website: www.nasa.gov/live

The new Progress spacecraft will remain at the orbiting laboratory until late August.

To join the online conversation about the International Space Station and Progress 69, follow @Space_Station. To learn more about the space station and its crew, visit https://www.nasa.gov/station.

Falcon Heavy: A Multi-User Spaceport Success Story

A SpaceX Falcon Heavy begins its first flight. (Credit: NASA)

By Bob Granath
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center

The launch of a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket on its demonstration flight is another sign that NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida is continuing to grow as the nation’s premier, multi-user spaceport. The new vehicle lifted off from NASA’s historic Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy at 3:45 p.m. EST on Feb. 6.


Europe’s Columbus Module Turns 10

External view of Columbus module. (Credit: NASA)

COLOGNE, Germany (DLR PR) — The Columbus space laboratory began its journey into space on 7 February 2008 and has now been the scientific heart of European research on the International Space Station (ISS) for ten years. In microgravity, researchers gain unique insights from a wide range of disciplines from astrophysics, through materials research, to psychology and medical treatment options. The German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) supervised the development and construction of the ISS module on behalf of the European Space Agency (ESA), is involved with experiments at a research level and runs the operation from its Columbus Control Center in Oberpfaffenhofen.


NanoRacks Adds Thales Alenia Space to ISS Airlock Module Team

Airlock (Credit: NanoRacks)

TURIN, Italy (NanoRacks PR) – NanoRacks announced today that Thales Alenia Space, the joint venture between Thales (67%) and Leonardo (33%), has been chosen as the latest partner in its commercial airlock program.

Thales Alenia Space will produce and test the critical pressure shell for NanoRacks’ Airlock Module, which is targeting to be launched to the International Space Station late 2019, and will be used to deploy commercial and government payloads. Thales Alenia Space will also manufacture various secondary structures, including the Micrometeoroid Orbital Debris (MMOD) shields with Multi-Layer Isolation (MLI) panels, the power and video grapple fixture support structure and other structural components.


NASA Explores Commercial Crew Contingencies

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA’s Commercial Crew Program and private industry partners, Boeing and SpaceX, continue to develop the systems that will return human spaceflight to the United States. Both commercial partners are undertaking considerable amounts of testing in 2018 to prove space system designs and the ability to meet NASA’s mission and safety requirement for regular crew flights to the International Space Station.


NASA to Air Russian Space Station Cargo Ship Launch, Docking

Progress 60P on approach to ISS. (Ctedit: NASA TV)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — Loaded with three tons of food, fuel and supplies, a Russian Progress cargo spacecraft is scheduled to launch at 3:58 a.m. EST (2:58 p.m. Baikonur time) Sunday, Feb. 11, to resupply the International Space Station.

The launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan and docking to the space station will be carried live on NASA Television the agency’s website beginning at 3:30 a.m.

NASA TV coverage will resume at 6:30 a.m., when the Progress 69 cargo vehicle, planned for a fast-track to the world’s only orbital laboratory, will dock at 7:24 a.m. The three-and-a-half hour trip will demonstrate an expedited capability for potential use on future Russian cargo and crew launches to the complex.

If any technical issues are identified by Russian flight controllers in the early stage of the flight, the spacecraft will be capable of defaulting to a standard two-day rendezvous profile. The new Progress spacecraft will remain at the international outpost until late August.

ESA & Airbus Sign Bartolomeo Commercial Payload Platform Partnership Agreement

bartolomeo platform on ISS. (Credit: Airbus Defence and Space)

NOORDWIJK, Netherlands (Airbus PR) – The European Space Agency (ESA) and Airbus have signed a commercial partnership (PPP) agreement for construction, launch and operations of the commercial “Bartolomeo” platform. Airbus’ new external payload hosting facility will be attached to the European Columbus module of the International Space Station (ISS) from mid-2019.


Sierra Nevada Receives Official NASA Launch Window for Dream Chaser

Dream Chaser lands (Credit: NASA)

SPARKS, Nev. (February, 7, 2018) – Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) received NASA’s Authority to Proceed for the Dream Chaser spacecraft’s first mission, with a launch window for late 2020. The mission will provide cargo resupply to the International Space Station under the Commercial Resupply Services Contract 2 (CRS2).

“SNC has been successfully completing critical design milestones as approved by NASA, and having a timetable for the first launch is another important step achieved for us,” said Fatih Ozmen, owner and CEO of SNC.  “The team has worked so hard to get to this point and we can’t wait to fulfill this mission for NASA.”

Key Mission Capabilities:

  • Delivers up to 5,500 kg (12,125 lb) of pressurized and unpressurized supplies and scientific research payloads
  • Remains attached to the space station for extended periods so crew can transfer cargo and perform science laboratory operations
  • Flying laboratory that allows scientists to send commands, receive data in real-time
  • Powered payload science experiments can operate continuously during the mission
  • Critical science is conducted from the pressurized cabin (crew-tended or autonomous)
  • Unpressurized cargo/experiments are transferred to or from the space station via robotic operations
  • Returns up to 2,000 kg of cargo via pinpoint landing at NASA Kennedy Space Center (KSC) Shuttle Landing Facility (SLF) for immediate post-landing handover to customer, maximizing the integrity of data collected on-orbit

“The Dream Chaser is going to be a tremendous help to the critical science and research happening on the space station,” said Mark Sirangelo, executive vice president of SNC’s Space Systems business area. “Receiving NASA’s Authority to Proceed is a big step for the program. We can’t wait to see the vehicle return to Kennedy Space Center to a runway landing, allowing immediate access to the science payloads being returned from the station.”

Sierra Nevada Contract Continued on Advanced Plant Growth for NASA

Plant growth prototype developed during Phase 1 of the contract. (Credit: SNC)

SPARKS, Nev., February 1, 2017 (SNC PR) – Under a contract modification, Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) will focus on the development of advanced bio-based life support and food production systems for NASA’s Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships (NextSTEP).  SNC will continue its public-private partnership with NASA to develop its Hybrid Life Support System (HLSS) for application in microgravity space environments.