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:

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Axiom Space Signs Blockbuster Deal with SpaceX Through 2023 to Fly 3 Additional Axiom Private Crew Missions to ISS

  • A landmark agreement between Axiom Space and SpaceX confirms Axiom’s next three planned missions to the International Space Station will fly on SpaceX’s Dragon, in addition to Ax-1.
     
  • The growing partnership between Axiom and SpaceX – the industry leaders in human spaceflight and in orbital services and launch, respectively – solidifies the nascent commercial human spaceflight market.
     
  • The missions, both managed and launched by private companies, are a validation of NASA’s Commercial Crew strategy to enable a commercial marketplace in low-Earth orbit.

HOUSTON (Axiom Space PR) — Axiom Space revealed Wednesday that it has finalized a deal with SpaceX for three additional Dragon flights, on which Axiom would fly its proposed private crews on its next three fully commercial missions to the International Space Station. The landmark agreement between the industry leaders in human spaceflight as well as launch and orbital services, respectively, ensures the nascent commercial human spaceflight market’s growth will subsist.

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Ex-NASA Astronaut Peggy Whitson to Command Second Axiom Space Mission to ISS

Axiom Space Ax-2 Commander Peggy Whitson and Pilot John Shoffner. (Credit: Axiom Space)

HOUSTON (Axiom Space PR) – Axiom Space on Tuesday revealed the commander and pilot of its second commercial mission proposed to fly to the International Space Station and announced the proposed crew’s intended research while on orbit. Axiom will compete to fly the Ax-2 mission when NASA announces the next private astronaut mission opportunity. If awarded, Ax-2 will further the Houston-based space infrastructure leader’s expansion of the commercial human spaceflight market and cement the research opportunities it can make possible for private industry in low-Earth orbit. 

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NASA, Axiom Agree to First Private Astronaut Mission on Space Station

The Axiom Space Ax-1 crew: former NASA astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegria, Canadian businessman Mark Pathy, American investor Larry Connor, and Israeli businessman Eytan Stibbe. (Credit: Axiom Space)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA and Axiom Space have signed an order for the first private astronaut mission to the International Space Station to take place no earlier than January 2022.

“We are excited to see more people have access to spaceflight through this first private astronaut mission to the space station,” said Kathy Lueders, associate administrator for human exploration and operations at NASA Headquarters. “One of our original goals with the Commercial Crew Program, and again with our Commercial Low-Earth Orbit Development Program, is that our providers have customers other than NASA to grow a commercial economy in low-Earth orbit.”

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Space Station Hardware Developers, Payload Support Teams Celebrate Two Decades of Success, Prepare for Third

NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson conducts a science experiment in the Microgravity Science Glovebox during Expedition 51 in 2017. The glovebox is one of 15 space station science hardware facilities managed for the agency by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. (Credits: NASA)

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (NASA PR) — Ask International Space Station facility engineers and payload operations teams at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, what makes them proudest as they look back on two decades of developing and testing science hardware and providing real-time support for experiments on orbit. Many will instinctively glance upward, as if the source of that pride might be passing overhead at that moment, 250 miles up.

Just as often though, they look to one another.

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Plant Growth on the International Space Station has Global Impacts on Earth

Astronaut Peggy Whitson with the ADVASC soybean plant growth experiment during Expedition 5. (Credits: NASA)

MADISON, WI (NASA PR) — Understanding the effects of gravity on plant life is essential in preparing for human exploration beyond low-Earth orbit. The ability to produce high-energy, low-mass food sources during spaceflight will enable the maintenance of crew health during long-duration missions while having a reduced impact on resources necessary for long-distance travel.

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NASA Extends Christina Koch’s Stay on ISS to 328 Days

Christina Koch (Credit: NASA)

NASA and its International Space Station partners have set a new schedule and new crew assignments that will include the first flight of NASA astronaut Jessica Meir, an extended stay for NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan, and a record-setting flight for NASA astronaut Christina Koch.

Koch, who arrived at the space station March 14, and now is scheduled to remain in orbit until February 2020, will 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. She will be part of three expeditions – 59, 60 and 61 – during her current first spaceflight. Her mission is planned to be just shy of the longest single spaceflight by a NASA astronaut – 340 days, set by former NASA astronaut Scott Kelly during his one-year mission in 2015-16.

The mission schedule currently is as follows:
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House, Senate Committees Set Dueling Hearings on America’s Future in Space


House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology
America in Space: Future Visions, Current Issues

Date: Wednesday, March 13, 2019 – 10:00 am EST
Location: 2318 Rayburn House Office Building

Witnesses

  • Dr. Ellen Stofan, John and Adrienne Mars Director, Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, Former NASA Chief Scientist
  • Dr. Peggy A. Whitson, Technical Consultant and Former Astronaut
  • Mr. Frank A. Rose, Senior Fellow, Security and Strategy, The Brookings Institution, Former Assistant Secretary of State

Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation
The New Space Race: Ensuring U.S. Global Leadership on the Final Frontier

Date: Wednesday, March 13, 2019 – 10:00 am EST
Location: G50 Dirksen Senate Office Building

U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., chairman of the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, will convene a hearing titled, “The New Space Race: Ensuring U.S. Global Leadership on the Final Frontier,” at 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday, March 13, 2019. The hearing will discuss the U.S. government’s strategy for maintaining leadership in space, ensuring space industry competitiveness, and addressing challenges to spacefaring preeminence.

Witnesses:

  • The Honorable Jim Bridenstine, Administrator, National Aeronautics and Space Administration
  • Mr. Kevin O’Connell, Director, Office of Space Commerce, Department of Commerce

Live video of the hearing will be available on www.commerce.senate.gov.











Record-Setting NASA Astronaut Peggy Whitson Retires

Peggy Whitson aboard the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson, who holds the U.S. record for most cumulative time in space, is retiring from the agency, effective Friday.

“Peggy Whitson is a testament to the American spirit,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. “Her determination, strength of mind, character, and dedication to science, exploration, and discovery are an inspiration to NASA and America. We owe her a great debt for her service and she will be missed. We thank her for her service to our agency and country.”

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A Look Back at the Space Year That Was

Total solar eclipse photographed from NASA Armstrong’s Gulfstream III. (Credit: (NASA/Carla Thomas)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

I realize it’s a bit late, but here’s a look back at the major developments in space in 2017.

I know that I’m probably forgetting something, or several somethings or someones. Fortunately, I have eagle-eyed readers who really seem to enjoy telling me just how much I’ve screwed up. Some of them a little too much….

So, have at it!  Do your worst, eagle-eyed readers!

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President Trump Welcomes Home Record-breaking NASA Astronaut Peggy Whitson

NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson talks on the phone with President Donald Trump as she flew on a NASA plane to Johnson Space Center’s Ellington Field in Houston Sunday, Sept. 3, 2017. (Credits: NASA/D. Huot)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — NASA astronauts Peggy Whitson and Jack Fischer received a special welcome as they were flying home to Houston Sunday evening. President Donald Trump spoke by phone with Whitson and Fischer on a NASA plane following Whitson’s record-breaking mission to the International Space Station.

Whitson, Fischer, and Commander Fyodor Yurchikhin of Roscosmos, landed back on Earth Saturday in Kazakhstan. She and Fischer flew to NASA Johnson Space Center’s Ellington Field Sunday.

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ISS Crew Return Safely to Earth

NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson, Russian cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin of Roscosmos, and NASA astronaut Jack Fischer undergo routine initial medical checks after returning from their mission aboard the International Space Station at 9:21 p.m. EDT Saturday (7:21 a.m. Kazakhstan time, Sunday, Sept. 3), landing southeast of the remote town of Dzhezkazgan in Kazakhstan. (Credits: NASA TV)

DZHEZKAZGAN, Kazakhstan (NASA PR)  — NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson, who set multiple U.S. space records during her mission aboard the International Space Station, along with crewmates Jack Fischer of NASA and Commander Fyodor Yurchikhin of Roscosmos, safely landed on Earth at 9:21 p.m. EDT Saturday (7:21 a.m. Kazakhstan time, Sunday, Sept. 3), southeast of the remote town of Dzhezkazgan in Kazakhstan.

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NASA TV to Air Return of ISS Crew Members on Saturday

Expedition 52 Flight Engineer Peggy Whitson of NASA, Commander Fyodor Yurchikhin of the Russian space agency Roscosmos and Flight Engineer Jack Fischer of NASA float through the Harmony module of the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — Record-breaking NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson and her Expedition 52 crewmates are scheduled to depart the International Space Station and return to Earth Saturday, Sept. 2. NASA Television and the agency’s website will provide complete coverage of their departure and landing.

Whitson, fellow Expedition 52 Flight Engineer Jack Fischer of NASA and Commander Fyodor Yurchikhin of the Russian space agency Roscosmos will undock their Soyuz MS-04 spacecraft from the space station at 5:58 p.m. EDT and land in Kazakhstan at 9:22 p.m. (7:22 a.m. Sept. 3, Kazakhstan time).

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NASA Astronaut Peggy Whitson Shares Thoughts on Extended Mission, Returning to Earth

Peggy Whitson aboard the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — Record-breaking astronaut Peggy Whitson is set to leave the International Space Station – her home of the past nine months – on Saturday, Sept. 2, and return to Earth. Impacts from Hurricane Harvey at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston caused her final in-flight news conference to be canceled, however, she was able to participate via email in the following interview with the Associated Press’s Marcia Dunn, acting as a press pool representative.

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