What We Learned from the Space Station this Past Year

This image shows the planned configuration of six iROSA solar arrays intended to augment power on the International Space Station. The roll-up arrays arrive on the SpaceX-22 resupply mission. (Credits: NASA/Johnson Space Center/Boeing)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — As the International Space Station enters its third decade of continuous human presence, the impact of microgravity research conducted there keeps growing. The months between Nov. 2020 and Nov. 2021 saw publication of more than 400 scientific papers based on studies aboard the orbiting lab.

Here are some highlights of recent results from groundbreaking space station science:

(more…)

NASA Announces Extension of International Space Station to 2030

This image shows the planned configuration of six iROSA solar arrays intended to augment power on the International Space Station. The roll-up arrays arrive on the SpaceX-22 resupply mission. (Credits: NASA/Johnson Space Center/Boeing)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA Administrator Bill Nelson announced today the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to extend International Space Station (ISS) operations through 2030, and to work with our international partners in Europe (ESA, European Space Agency)Japan (JAXA, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency), Canada (CSA, Canadian Space Agency), and Russia (State Space Corporation Roscosmos) to enable continuation of the groundbreaking research being conducted in this unique orbiting laboratory through the rest of this decade.

“The International Space Station is a beacon of peaceful international scientific collaboration and for more than 20 years has returned enormous scientific, educational, and technological developments to benefit humanity. I’m pleased that the Biden-Harris Administration has committed to continuing station operations through 2030,” Nelson said. “The United States’ continued participation on the ISS will enhance innovation and competitiveness, as well as advance the research and technology necessary to send the first woman and first person of color to the Moon under NASA’s Artemis program and pave the way for sending the first humans to Mars. As more and more nations are active in space, it’s more important than ever that the United States continues to lead the world in growing international alliances and modeling rules and norms for the peaceful and responsible use of space.”

Over the past two decades, the United States has maintained a continuous human presence in orbit around the Earth to test technologies, conduct scientific research, and develop skills needed to explore farther than ever before. The unique microgravity laboratory has hosted more than 3,000 research investigations from over 4,200 researchers across the world and is returning enormous scientific, educational, and technological developments to benefit people on Earth. Nearly 110 countries and areas have participated in activities aboard the station, including more than 1,500,000 students per year in STEM activities.

Instruments aboard the ISS, used in concert with free-flying instruments in other orbits, help us measure the stresses of drought and the health of forests to enable improved understanding of the interaction of carbon and climate at different time scales. Operating these and other climate-related instruments through the end of the decade will greatly increase our understanding of the climate cycle.

Extending operations through 2030 will continue another productive decade of research advancement and enable a seamless transition of capabilities in low-Earth orbit to one or more commercially owned and operated destinations in the late 2020s. The decision to extend operations and NASA’s recent awards to develop commercial space stations together ensure uninterrupted, continuous human presence and capabilities; both are critical facets of NASA’s International Space Station transition plan.

NASA Receives Special Cosmic Delivery of Asteroid Sample from Japan

A Hayabusa2 sample canister containing sample fragments of the asteroid Ryugu is transferred from JAXA to NASA. (Credits: NASA/Robert Markowitz)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — Just as fossils hold clues to the history of life, asteroids hold clues to the history of the solar system. Rare samples collected from the surface of an asteroid by NASA and its international partners are helping to decipher these clues.

(more…)

Space BD Signed First contract for 13 Experiments for High-quality Protein Crystal Growth Service

TOKYO (Space BD) — Space BD announces that it has signed contracts for a total of 13 space experiments with two domestic and international companies and one research center for high-quality protein crystal growth experiments utilizing the International Space Station (ISS) Japanese Experiment Module Kibo. Space BD has been appointed as the sole partner by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) for its “Selection of Private business partner in the High-Quality Protein Crystal Growth Experiment Service” in May 2021.

In this experiment, Space BD and the three users agreed to load samples for drug discovery research on new coronaviruses and agricultural drug discovery research.

(more…)

Space BD Raises $9 Million Funding Round

  • Fundraising led by all existing shareholders and new Singapore government-affiliated institutional investor
  • Adding SpaceX Falcon 9 to expanded launch method offerings and strengthening recruitment & organizational capability

TOKYO — Space BD, a leading Japanese space startup, announces that it has raised a total of 1.04 billion JPY [US $9.1 million] through a third-party allotment of new shares to the existing shareholders Incubate Fund, ANNIVERSAIRE HOLDINGS, SMBC Venture Capital, Mizuho Capital, and the new shareholder Pavilion Capital, wholly owned by Temasek Holdings, a Singapore government-affiliated investment company.

(more…)

Space BD to Offer Global Launch Opportunities; 1st Launch is Scheduled for October 2022

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launches with the Double Asteroid Redirection Test, or DART, spacecraft onboard, Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2021, Pacific time (Nov. 24 Eastern time) from Space Launch Complex 4E at Vandenberg Space Force Base in California. (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

TOKYO (Space BD PR) — Space BD, a leading Japanese space startup, announces that in the launch service business, one of its core businesses, Space BD starts handling global launch methods in addition to the traditional Japanese launch methods. As the first launch, Space BD has reserved space aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rideshare mission scheduled for October 2022. The company aims to respond to the rapidly increasing demands which are also diversifying and provide optimum solutions to access to space for every user by expanding the variety of launch methods.

(more…)

Astroscale Closes Its Largest Funding Round to Date, Bringing Total Capital Raised to U.S. $300 Million

Additional U.S. $109 million in capital will accelerate on-orbit services technology development, facility expansion and global hiring.

TOKYO, Nov. 25, 2021 (Astroscale PR) – Astroscale Holdings Inc. (“Astroscale”), the market leader in satellite servicing and long-term orbital sustainability across all orbits, today announced it closed its Series F round with additional funding of U.S. $109 million from a group of new investors led by THE FUND Limited Partnership in Japan, with participation from international investors including Seraphim Space Investment Trust plc (“Seraphim Space”) in the United Kingdom and DNCA Invest Beyond Global Leaders, a sub-fund of the umbrella structured fund “DNCA Invest” incorporated under the laws of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, managed by DNCA Finance, a Limited Partnership in France. This is the largest funding round in the company’s history and brings the total amount raised to U.S. $300 million, affirming investors’ confidence in the rapidly expanding on-orbit servicing market.

(more…)

JAXA to Recruit New Astronauts

Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Akihiko Hoshide poses for a photo after undergoing a generic blood draw in the European Laboratory/Columbus Orbital Facility (COF). (Credits: NASA)

TOKYO (JAXA PR) — The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has announced that the activities of Japanese astronauts will be expanded to the International Space Station (ISS), the Japanese Experiment Module “Kibo”, the lunar orbiting manned base “Gateway”, and the surface of the moon. Assuming, we are looking for new astronaut candidates as follows.

We are waiting for applications from various people who want to contribute to humankind and society through the important role of astronauts who create the future.

Application acceptance periodFrom December 20, 2021 (Monday) to March 4, 2022 (Friday)
Number of hiresMultiple
Application RequirementsPosted on the special site for recruiting astronaut candidates
https://astro-mission.jaxa.jp/astro_selection/item/Application.pdf
Selection result announcementThe final selection results will be announced around February 2023.

Epsilon Launches 9 Japanese Technology Demonstration Satellites

Epsilon launch (Credit: JAXA webcast)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) successfully launched nine technology demonstration satellites on Tuesday, Nov. 9, aboard an Epsilon booster from the Uchinoura Space Center.

The payloads include a small satellite named RApid Innovative payload demonstration SatellitE-2 (RAISE-2), four microsatellites and four CubeSats that will demonstrate 14 technologies. The flight was done under JAXA’s Innovative Satellite Technology Demonstration Program.

(more…)

Crew-2 Returns to Earth After Six Months on Space Station

Crew Dragon Endeavour under parachutes on Nov. 8, 2021. (Credit: NASA webcast)

NASA’s SpaceX Crew-2 astronauts splashed down at 10:33 p.m. EST in the Gulf of Mexico after 200 days in space.

NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, Akihiko Hoshide of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, and Thomas Pesquet of the European Space Agency (ESA) flew home aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour. They launched to the International Space Station on April 23 aboard a Falcon 9 rocket from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Endeavour completed its second trip to space. The spacecraft flew NASA astronauts Douglas Hurley and Robert Behnken to the space station on a demonstration mission in May 2020. The astronauts returned to Earth on Aug. 2, 2020 after a mission lasting 64 days.

SpaceX will launch the Crew-3 mission on Wednesday from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. NASA astronauts Raja Chari, Thomas Marshburn, Kayla Barron and ESA astronaut Matthias Mauer will fly to ISS aboard a SpaceX Crew Dragon. The launch is scheduled for 9:03 EST.

Crew-2 Return Delayed to Monday Due to Weather

The members of the SpaceX Crew-2 mission to the International Space Station. Picture from left are NASA astronauts Megan McArthur and Shane Kimbrough, JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Akihiko Hoshide and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Thomas Pesquet. (Credits: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — NASA’s SpaceX Crew-2 mission now is targeting a return to Earth no earlier than 10:33 p.m. EST Monday, Nov. 8, with a splashdown off the coast of Florida. The Crew Dragon spacecraft, named Endeavour, is scheduled to undock from the International Space Station at 2:05 p.m. Monday, Nov. 8, to begin the journey home. Mission teams decided to adjust the Sunday, Nov. 7, undocking following a planned weather review showing high winds unfavorable for recovery near the splashdown zone in the Gulf of Mexico.

NASA will provide coverage of the mission on NASA Television, the NASA app, and the agency’s website.

(more…)

Coverage Set for NASA’s SpaceX Crew-2 Return to Earth on Sunday

Crew-2 members Megan McArthur, Thomas Pesquet, Akihiko Hoshide and Shane Kimbrough. (Credit: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — NASA’s SpaceX Crew-2 mission now is targeting a return to Earth no earlier than 7:14 a.m. EST Monday, Nov. 8, with a splashdown off the coast of Florida. The Crew Dragon spacecraft, named Endeavour, is scheduled to undock from the International Space Station at 1:05 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 7, to begin the journey home.

NASA will preview the mission on Saturday, Nov. 6 and provide coverage Sunday of the mission on NASA Television, the NASA app, and the agency’s website.

(more…)

NASA, SpaceX Reviewing Commercial Crew Rotation Plans

SpaceX Crew-3 astronauts (from left) Matthias Maurer, Thomas Marshburn, Raja Chari, and Kayla Barron pose for a portrait during preflight training at SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, Calif. (Credit: SpaceX)

HOUSTON, November 4, 2021 (NASA PR) — NASA and SpaceX continue to review launch and return opportunities for the upcoming crew rotation flights to and from the International Space Station as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program.

Mission teams now are considering whether to return the agency’s SpaceX Crew-2 mission from the space station ahead of launching the next crew rotation due to the associated weather considerations for both launch and recovery operations. 

(more…)

CNES, JAXA Sign New Cooperation Agreement on Martian Moons Sample Return Mission

Martian Moons mission approaches Deimos. (Credit: JAXA/NHK)

PARIS (CNES PR) — CNES and JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) have signed an implementation arrangement covering cooperation activities in the field of flight dynamics and geodetic research as well as the French instrument MIRS (an infrared imaging spectrometer) as part of the Japanese MMX (Martian Moons eXploration) mission scheduled for launch in 2024.

(more…)

Crew Dragon Launch Delayed Due to Minor Medical Issue with Crew Member

SpaceX Crew-3 astronauts (from left) Matthias Maurer, Thomas Marshburn, Raja Chari, and Kayla Barron pose for a portrait during preflight training at SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, Calif. (Credit: SpaceX)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — NASA is delaying the upcoming launch of the agency’s SpaceX Crew-3 mission due to a minor medical issue involving one of its crew members. The issue is not a medical emergency and not related to COVID-19. The launch to the International Space Station was planned for Wednesday, Nov. 3.

The agency takes every effort to protect the crew prior to its launch through a health stabilization plan. Crew-3 astronauts will remain in quarantine at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida while preparing for their launch.

(more…)