NASA to Announce America’s Next Class of Astronaut Candidates

Illustration of Artemis astronauts on the Moon. NASA’s Artemis mission will establish a sustainable presence on the Moon to prepare for missions to Mars. (Credits: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — After evaluating more than 12,000 applications, NASA will introduce its 2021 astronaut candidates at 12:30 p.m. EST Monday, Dec. 6, from Ellington Field near NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. After completing training, these individuals could be eligible for a variety of flight assignments including missions on and around the Moon under Artemis.

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NASA, SpaceX Launch DART: First Test Mission to Defend Planet Earth

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. DART is the world’s first full-scale planetary defense test, demonstrating one method of asteroid deflection technology. The mission was built and is managed by Johns Hopkins APL for NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office. (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

VANDENBERG SPACE FORCE BASE, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART), the world’s first full-scale mission to test technology for defending Earth against potential asteroid or comet hazards, launched Wednesday at 1:21 a.m. EST on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 4 East at Vandenberg Space Force Base in California.

Just one part of NASA’s larger planetary defense strategy, DART – built and managed by the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Maryland – will impact a known asteroid that is not a threat to Earth. Its goal is to slightly change the asteroid’s motion in a way that can be accurately measured using ground-based telescopes.

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NASA Awards Contract for Bed Rest Studies

Volunteer participates in a bed rest study at the :envihab analog in Cologne, Germany. Bed rest studies like AGBRESA have a downward-tilt protocol. The six-degree downward tilt of each bed mimics the weightlessness of the spaceflight environment. (Credits: DLR)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — NASA has selected Deutsches Zentrum fur Luft-und Raumfahrt (DLR) of Cologne, Germany, to provide use of its facility to support long-duration bed rest research.

The $49.9 million Bedrest Studies Contract will support a series of bed rest studies at the company’s facility in Cologne, Germany. Services also may be required at other NASA centers, contractor or subcontractor locations, or vendor facilities.

The contract provides support services for the Human Health and Performance Directorate and Human Research Program (HRP) at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. However, NASA does not anticipate any need to call for study volunteers in the U.S.

The HRP-sponsored studies will use strict head-down tilt bed rest as an analog for some of the physiological adaptations experienced by astronauts during spaceflight. The research aims to better understand and evaluate countermeasures for the risks associated with long-duration spaceflight missions including the International Space Station, Artemis and Gateway programs.

“Major research themes for this year are how crews perform when operating autonomously from Mission Control as well as other Earth-based support and the effectiveness of different advanced systems for supporting these types of autonomous operations,” said Brandon Vessey, the element scientist for research operations and integration within HRP. “Results from these studies will help to inform how NASA plans for future exploration missions when astronaut crews will need to operate more independently from Earth than they do in current International Space Station missions in low-Earth orbit.”

The indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract with firm, fixed-price task orders, begins Nov. 23, 2021, and extends through Dec. 31, 2025, with no phase-in period.

Learn more about NASA and its programs at:

https://www.nasa.gov

DART on Target – Six Questions with Mission Manager Clayton Kachele

DART mission (Credit: Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory)

Editor’s Note: DART is scheduled to launch from Vandenberg on Nov. 23 at 10:21 p.m. PST (Nov. 24 at 1:21 a.m. EST). NASA will stream the launch live on its website. 

By Wayne Smith
NASA Marshall Space Flight Center

It sounds like a plot for a movie but protecting Earth from a potential impact by a hazardous asteroid is the objective of an upcoming NASA mission.

The Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission is a planetary defense-driven test of technologies for mitigating such a threat. DART’s target asteroid is not a threat to Earth. The DART spacecraft launch window opens Nov. 24. It will launch aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

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NASA Selects Intuitive Machines for New Lunar Science Delivery

Nova-C lander for the IM-3 mission taking four NASA investigations to Reiner Gamma. (Credit: Intuitive Machines)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — NASA has awarded Intuitive Machines of Houston a contract to deliver research, including science investigations and a technology demonstration, to the Moon in 2024. The commercial delivery is part of NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) initiative and the Artemis program.

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NASA TV to Air DART Prelaunch Activities, Launch

Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) spacecraft at Didymos. (Credit: NASA)

VANDENBERG SPACE FORCE BASE, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA will provide coverage of the upcoming prelaunch and launch activities for the agency’s first planetary defense test mission, the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART). The mission will help determine if intentionally crashing a spacecraft into an asteroid is an effective way to change its course. DART’s target asteroid is not a threat to Earth.

DART is scheduled to launch no earlier than 1:20 a.m. EST Wednesday, Nov. 24 (10:20 p.m. PST Tuesday, Nov. 23) on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California.

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NASA Administrator Nelson Condemns Russian ASAT Test, Decries Danger to ISS Crew

Bill Nelson

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — On Monday Moscow Standard Time, the International Space Station (ISS) Flight Control team was notified of indications of a satellite breakup that may create sufficient debris to pose a conjunction threat to the station. NASA Administrator Bill Nelson released the following statement about the incident:

“Earlier today, due to the debris generated by the destructive Russian Anti-Satellite (ASAT) test, ISS astronauts and cosmonauts undertook emergency procedures for safety.

“Like Secretary Blinken, I’m outraged by this irresponsible and destabilizing action. With its long and storied history in human spaceflight, it is unthinkable that Russia would endanger not only the American and international partner astronauts on the ISS, but also their own cosmonauts. Their actions are reckless and dangerous, threatening as well the Chinese space station and the taikonauts on board.

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NASA to Air Spacewalk to Swap Communications Antenna on Space Station

Spacewalkers Victor Glover and Kate Rubins are pictured at the mast canister, installing bracket support struts to the base of the solar array on Feb, 28th 2021. (Credit: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — Two NASA astronauts will venture outside the International Space Station on Tuesday, Nov. 30, for a spacewalk to replace a faulty antenna system. NASA officials will describe the upcoming spacewalk during a news conference on Wednesday, Nov. 17.

NASA will provide live coverage of the news conference and spacewalk on NASA Television, the agency’s website, and the NASA app.

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New Roles, Combined Offices for NASA Administrator Leadership Team

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA Administrator Bill Nelson is announcing new leadership roles, as well as the merging of two offices into the Office of Technology, Policy, and Strategy (OTPS), in support of Biden-Harris Administration priorities and the focus on space strategy.

  • Dr. Bhavya Lal will serve as the associate administrator for OTPS
  • Melanie Saunders will serve as the agency’s new chief resilience officer
  • Casey Swails will serve as the deputy associate administrator for business operations
  • Tom Cremins will serve as the associate administrator for space security interests
  • Douglas Terrier, the agency’s current chief technologist, will serve in a new position as the associate director for vision and strategy at NASA’s Johnson Space Center (JSC) in Houston. In the interim, Lal will serve as acting chief technologist

All appointments are effective immediately.

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Upgrading the Space Station’s Cold Atom Lab With Mixed Reality

NASA is looking into whether mixed reality technology could help with repairs and upgrades on the cutting-edge Cold Atom Lab aboard the space station.

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA’s Cold Atom Lab is a first-of-its-kind physics laboratory operating in Earth orbit. About the size of a mini-fridge, it hosts multiple experiments that explore the fundamental nature of atoms by cooling them down to nearly absolute zero (the coldest temperature matter can reach). The ultracold atoms provide a window into the quantum realm, where matter exhibits strange behaviors that underpin many modern technologies.

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DART Arrives at Vandenberg Space Force Base, Its Final Stop Before Launch

Inside a cleanroom at Johns Hopkins APL, the DART spacecraft being moved into a specialized shipping container that headed across the country to Vandenberg Space Force Base near Lompoc, California, where DART is scheduled to launch from late next month. (Credits: NASA/Johns Hopkins APL/Ed Whitman)

VANDENBERG SPACE FORCE BASE, Calif. (NASA PR) — Just two days after leaving the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Maryland, in a specialized container carefully strapped to the deck of a semi-trailer truck, NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) spacecraft arrived in California — its final stop here on Earth. 

The truck, spacecraft and a small motorcade of APL engineers and technicians pulled into Vandenberg Space Force Base near Lompoc, California, on Saturday, Oct. 2, in the early afternoon local time. 

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NASA Sets Coverage for SpaceX Crew-3 Briefings, Events, Broadcasts

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 will provide coverage of the upcoming prelaunch and launch activities for the agency’s SpaceX Crew-3 mission with astronauts to the International Space Station. This is the third crew rotation mission with astronauts on the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft and the fourth flight with astronauts, including the Demo-2 test flight, as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program.

The launch is targeted for 2:21 a.m. EDT Sunday, Oct. 31, on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The Crew Dragon Endurance is scheduled to dock to the space station at 12:10 a.m. Monday, Nov. 1. Prelaunch activities, launch, and docking will air live on NASA Television, the NASA app, and the agency’s website.

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NASA Announces Winners of Deep Space Food Challenge

NASA and the Canadian Space Agency have coordinated to open the Deep Space Food Challenge, targeted at developing novel food system technologies for long-duration deep space missions. (Credits: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — Variety, nutrition, and taste are some considerations when developing food for astronauts. For NASA’s Deep Space Food Challenge, students, chefs, small businesses, and others whipped up novel food technology designs to bring new solutions to the table.

NASA has selected 18 U.S. teams to receive a total of $450,000 for ideas that could feed astronauts on future missions. Each team will receive $25,000. Additionally, NASA and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) jointly recognized 10 international submissions.

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NASA Seeks Commercial Spacesuit Services Proposals

Illustration of Artemis astronauts on the Moon. NASA’s Artemis mission will establish a sustainable presence on the Moon to prepare for missions to Mars. (Credits: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — Artemis moonwalkers exploring the lunar South Pole will wear revolutionary spacesuits that stand up to the Moon’s harsh environment and keep them safe. NASA is embracing commercial partnerships to optimize spacesuit technology and inspire pioneering in the space market.

NASA published a request for proposal (RFP) Sept. 29  for companies to compete for the agency’s future purchase of spacesuits and support services for spacewalks on the International Space Station, during Artemis lunar surface missions, and as needed on Gateway in lunar orbit. 

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