Japanese Astronaut to Fly Aboard SpaceX Crew-5 Spacecraft

Koichi Wakata

TOKYO (JAXA PR) — JAXA astronaut, Koichi Wakata, currently preparing and training for the ISS Expedition, has been decided to board the fifth operational Crew Dragon developed by SpaceX. The launch is scheduled for autumn 2022 or later.

This is his fifth Space flight, marking the highest number of flights as a Japanese astronaut. The flight schedule will be announced when more details are available.

Comment From Astronaut Wakata

“It has been decided that I will be boarding the SpaceX’s fifth Crew Dragon. I have been training for a long duration mission aboard the ISS and it is an honor to board this new space vehicle for three consecutive years for JAXA Astronauts, succeeding Soichi Noguchi and Akihiko Hoshide.

“It will be my fifth flight to space, following three U.S. Space Shuttle fights in 1996, 2000, and 2009, and a Russian Soyuz flight in 2013. This coming flight is going to be my first flight onboard a commercialsSpace vehicle. I recognize remarkable developments in the space field and acknowledge dynamic activities by the private sector on the low Earth orbit.

“As the world is still coping with COVID-19, I will continue my focus on training and ask you for continued support.”

U.S. Mint Announces Official Designs of Quarters to Honor Sally Ride, 4 Other Trailblazing Women

Credit: U.S. Mint

WASHINGTON (U.S. Mint PR) – The United States Mint (Mint) is pleased to announce the official designs for the first five coins in the American Women Quarters Program. Authorized by Public Law 116-330, this four-year program features coins with reverse (tails) designs emblematic of the accomplishments and contributions of trailblazing American women. Beginning in 2022 and continuing through 2025, the Mint will issue five quarters in each of these years.

The ethnically, racially, and geographically diverse group of individuals honored through this program reflects a wide range of accomplishments and fields, including suffrage, civil rights, abolition, government, humanities, science, space, and the arts. The 2022 coins recognize the achievements of Maya Angelou, Dr. Sally Ride, Wilma Mankiller, Nina Otero-Warren, and Anna May Wong.

“These inspiring coin designs tell the stories of five extraordinary women whose contributions are indelibly etched in American culture,” said United States Mint Acting Director Alison L. Doone. “Generations to come will look at coins bearing these designs and be reminded of what can be accomplished with vision, determination and a desire to improve opportunities for all.”

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FAA Examination of Blue Origin Safety Issues Likely to be Very Narrow

New Shepard launch (Credit: Blue Origin webcast)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has said it will examine safety issues about Blue Origin’s crewed suborbital New Shepard vehicle raised by a group of current and former employees in an open letter published on Thursday.

The announcement comes 11 days before four paying customers, one reported to be Star Trek star William Shatner, are scheduled to board New Shepard for a trip to space. While a federal safety review might sound reassuring to these ticket holders, what does it actually mean in practice?

Probably not much.

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Launch 2020: A Year of Transition for Japan

The United Arab Emirates’ Hope Probe took off at 2:58 p.m. PDT on July 19 from a launch site in Japan, headed for Mars to study its atmosphere. (Credit: MHI Launch Services via YouTube)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

It was a typical year for Japan with four successful launches and no failures. Japan has averaged 3.8 launches annually over the past decade. Last year also saw a Japanese astronaut become the first foreigner to fly aboard SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft.

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Launch 2020: U.S. Reclaimed Top Spot, Flew Astronauts Again from American Soil

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft is launched from Launch Complex 39A on NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 mission to the International Space Station with NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley aboard, Saturday, May 30, 2020, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls & Joel Kowsky)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The United States reclaimed the top spot in launches from China last year as NASA astronauts flew into orbit from American soil for the first time in nearly nine years, SpaceX deployed the world’s first satellite mega-constellation with reused rockets, and two new launchers debuted with less than stellar results.

American companies conducted 44 launches in 2020, with 40 successes and four failures. Bryce Tech reports that U.S. companies accounted for 32 of the 41 commercial launches conducted last year. The majority of those flights were conducted by SpaceX, which launched 25 orbital missions.

China came in second with a record of 35 successful launches and four failures. The 39 launch attempts tied that nation’s previous record for flights during a calendar year.

Let’s take a closer look at what U.S. companies achieved last year.

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A Look Back at Space Tourism Version 1.0 as New Gaggle of Millionauts Prepares to Fly

The first space tourist, Dennis Tito, poses with Soyuz TM-32 crew mates Talgat Musabayev, and Yuri Baturin in 2001. (Credit: NASA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

For eight years, they thundered aloft in cramped Russian spacecraft from a former Soviet spaceport in Kazakhstan, battling bureaucracy and gravity to blaze a trail across the heavens and redefine what it meant to be a space traveler. No longer would access to orbit be limited to highly trained astronauts chosen on merit and working on behalf of their nations; instead, space would be open to any sufficiently healthy people with enough money and moxie to qualify.

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Senate Unanimously Approves Bill Nelson as NASA Administrator

Bill Nelson

The U.S. Senate has unanimously approved the nomination of former Sen. Bill Nelson to be NASA Administrator.

Nelson, 78, served three terms in the U.S. Senate from 2001-2019, where he was a strong backer of NASA and the U.S. space program. He served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1979-2001. Nelson is considered to be a moderate Democrat.

In January 1986, Nelson flew aboard the space shuttle Columbia as a payload specialist while serving in the House. This was the flight immediately prior to the loss of the space shuttle Challenger later that month.

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NASA Statement on Nomination of Pam Melroy for Agency Deputy Administrator

The following is a statement from Acting NASA Administrator Steve Jurczyk on Friday’s announcement of the intended nomination by President Joe Biden of former NASA astronaut Pam Melroy to serve as the agency’s deputy administrator:

“Pam’s experience as an astronaut, space shuttle commander, and U.S. Air Force test pilot would bring to NASA a unique perspective on the opportunities and challenges facing the agency. Pam is driven by a desire to solve the biggest issues here on Earth, throughout the solar system, and beyond. She is a proven leader with bold vision and, if confirmed by the Senate, I look forward to working with her and Sen. Nelson to ensure NASA’s future success.”

One of only two women to command a space shuttle, Melroy logged more than 38 days in space. All three of her missions were assembly missions to build the International Space Station. After serving more than two decades in the Air Force and as a NASA astronaut, Melroy took on a number of leadership roles, including at Lockheed Martin, the Federal Aviation Administration, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, Nova Systems Pty, Australia, and as an advisor to the Australian Space Agency. She currently is an independent consultant and a member of the National Space Council’s Users Advisory Group.

Melroy’s agency bio is available at:

https://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/atoms/files/melroy_pamela.pdf

For information about NASA’s missions, discoveries, and activities, visit:

https://www.nasa.gov

Retired Astronaut Bob Crippen on the 40th Anniversary of STS-1 and the Beginning of the Shuttle Program

These two astronauts were the prime crewmen for the first flight in the Space Transportation System (STS-1) program. Astronauts John W. Young, left, commander, and Robert L. Crippen, pilot, manned the space shuttle orbiter 102 Columbia for the first orbital flight test on April 12, 1981. (Credit: NASA)

KENNED SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — The Space Shuttle Columbia began a new era of human spaceflight when STS-1 lifted off from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on April 12, 1981, for the inaugural flight of the nation’s Space Shuttle Program. To mark the occasion, NASA is providing historical b-roll footage of the launch and landing as well as recently recorded soundbites from retired astronaut Bob Crippen.

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NASA, SpaceX to Launch Second Commercial Crew Rotation Mission to International Space Station

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

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — NASA and SpaceX are continuing a regular cadence of missions with astronauts launching on an American rocket from American soil to the International Space Station as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. NASA’s SpaceX Crew-2 is the second crew rotation mission with four astronauts flying on a commercial spacecraft, and the first with two international partner astronauts.

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Artificial Intelligence Behind 21st Century Spaceflight

Credit: ESA
  • Maintaining safety of operations and maximising scientific return are key concerns as satellites increase in number and complexity
  • Artificial intelligence offers promising solutions to modern spaceflight challenges
  • ESA and Germany’s DFKI institute have launched a new lab ‘ESA_Lab@DFKI’ for artificial intelligence research

KAISERLAUTERN, Germany (ESA PR) — It’s 4 October 1957, and the Soviet Union has just lofted humanity’s first satellite – Sputnik 1 – into the pristine orbital environment around Earth, marking the start of the Space Age.

Throughout 1960s and 70s, launches quickly increase, as the USA, Soviet Union and other countries race for space, discovering and utilising the immense value of the ‘orbital pathways’ above us – a precious, limited natural resource.

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Rocket Roundup: NASA Doesn’t Get What It Wanted or Needed

The core stage for the first flight of NASA’s Space Launch System rocket is seen in the B-2 Test Stand during a scheduled eight minute duration hot fire test, Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021, at NASA’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. The four RS-25 engines fired for a little more than one minute. The hot fire test is the final stage of the Green Run test series, a comprehensive assessment of the Space Launch System’s core stage prior to launching the Artemis I mission to the Moon. (Credit: NASA/Robert Markowitz)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

There’s an old saying that I made up just the other day. You can’t always get what you want, but if you test enough times, you get what you need.

Yes, I know. It’s unwieldy. And I expect a copyright infringement letter from the Rolling Stones’ shortly. Forgive me; it’s really hard to come up with a brand new saying that sounds old on short notice.

While we wait for the lawyers to weigh in, let’s talk about what happened over the weekend.

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Trudeau Names New Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry

Justin Trudeau

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has replaced the minister who oversees the nation’s space program as part of a shakeup of his cabinet that also involved the first Canadian to travel to space.

Trudeau named minister of Foreign Affairs François-Philippe Champagne to replace Navdeep Bains as minister of Innovation, Science and Industry. The position involves overseeing the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) among other duties.

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Canada’s Top Space Highlights of 2020

Credit: Canadian Space Agency

LONGUEUIL, Que. (CSA PR) — It’s an understatement to say that 2020 was an exceptional year. As the year draws to a close, here’s a look at some of the most compelling, inspirational and incredible moments for Canada in space. Happy New Year!

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