Tag: space station

IG Criticizes NASA’s Decision to Allow SpaceX, Orbital ATK to Conduct Own Accident Investigations

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Dragon capsule separated from Falcon 9 launch vehicle.

Dragon capsule separated from Falcon 9 launch vehicle.

By Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

NASA’s Inspector General (OIG) has criticized the agency’s practice of allowing SpaceX and Orbital ATK to lead investigations into their own launch failures involving commercial cargo ships, citing a lack of independence and the potential for serious conflicts of interest.

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Orbital ATK Delays Antares Return to Flight to August

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Antares rolled out for hot fire in May 2016. (Credit: Orbital ATK)

Antares rolled out for hot fire in May 2016. (Credit: Orbital ATK)

The return to flight of Orbital ATK’s Antares booster will be delayed from July 6 to sometime in August.

An Orbital ATK spokesperson said engineers are analyzing data from last month’s 30-second hotfire test on the Antares launch pad at Wallops Island, Virginia. In conjunction with the data crunching, the company’s engineers are also adjusting the trajectory the two-stage rocket will fly after blastoff from its seaside launch complex.

“Our Antares team recently completed a successful stage test and is wrapping up the test data analysis,” the company said in a statement. “Final trajectory shaping work is also currently underway, which is likely to result in an updated launch schedule in the August timeframe.”

The 139-foot-tall (42.5-meter) rocket, propelled by two RD-181 engines on its first stage and a solid-fueled Castor 30XL upper stage, will deliver Orbital ATK’s Cygnus cargo craft to orbit. The automated supply freighter, named the SS Alan Poindexter after the late space shuttle astronaut, will carry approximately 5,290 pounds (2,400 kilograms) of provisions, experiments and other cargo to the International Space Station.

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Bolden Urges ESA to Extend Participation in Space Station

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NASA Administrator Charles Bolden

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden

“Seeing the potential of ISS to help solve terrestrial problems and to support our journey to Mars, in January 2014, the Obama Administration announced its commitment to extend the ISS through at least 2024. Despite tight budgets and competing domestic priorities, Russia, Japan and Canada have all also made the decision to commit to supporting ISS operations through at least 2024.

“I know that ESA ministers will be considering extending participation in the ISS at the upcoming Ministerial in the midst of competing institutional needs and while dealing with social, political and financial challenges back home. Still, I urge all of you, whether your nation is subscribed to the ISS or not, to advocate with your ministers about the importance of the Space Station for not only our near-term objectives, but also for our long-term future. By committing to extend ISS operations to at least 2024, you will help ensure our ability as a Partnership to maximize the scientific and technical return of our substantial investment.”

— NASA Administrator Charles Bolden

Bolden addressed the ESA Council last week to update it on NASA’s and to make an appeal for the space agency to remain as a partner in the International Space Station through 2024.

Bolden’s full address to the ESA Council is below.

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China, United Nations Sign Cooperation Agreement on Space Station

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Artist's conception of China's Tianhe-1 space station. (Credit: China Manned Space Engineering)

Artist’s conception of China’s Tianhe-1 space station. (Credit: China Manned Space Engineering)

VIENNA, 16 June (UN Information Service PR) – The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) and the China Manned Space Agency (CMSA) have agreed to work together to develop the space capabilities of United Nations Member States via opportunities on-board China’s future space station.

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Space Station Crew 3-D Prints First Student-Designed Tool in Space

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The Mulitpurpose Precision Maintenance Tool, created by University of Alabama in Huntsville student Robert Hillan as part of the Future Engineers Space Tool Challenge, was printed on the International Space Station. It is designed to provide astronauts with a single tool that can help with a variety of tasks, including tightening nuts or bolts of different sizes and stripping wires. (Credit: NASA)

The Mulitpurpose Precision Maintenance Tool, created by University of Alabama in Huntsville student Robert Hillan as part of the Future Engineers Space Tool Challenge, was printed on the International Space Station. It is designed to provide astronauts with a single tool that can help with a variety of tasks, including tightening nuts or bolts of different sizes and stripping wires. (Credit: NASA)

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (NASA PR) — When NASA fired up the Additive Manufacturing Facility on the International Space Station to begin more testing of the emerging 3-D printing technology in orbit, one college student in particular watched intently.

In autumn of 2014, a high school senior in Enterprise, Alabama, Robert Hillan entered the Future Engineers Space Tool design competition, which challenged students to create a device astronauts could use in space. The catch was that it must upload electronically and print on the new 3-D printer that was going to be installed on the orbiting laboratory.

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NASA Glenn Successfully Ignites Largest Fire Experiment in Space

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Saffire I experiment inside Cygnus. (Credit: NASA)

Saffire I experiment inside Cygnus. (Credit: NASA)

CLEVELAND (NASA PR) — Engineers at NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio and Orbital ATK in Dulles, Virginia successfully conducted the first remote Spacecraft Fire Experiment, or Saffire I, carried inside an Orbital ATK Cygnus cargo vehicle that departed the International Space Station on Tuesday, June 14.  The experiment’s purpose is to learn how a fire might behave in a spacecraft after leaving Earth’s atmosphere. Understanding how fire spreads in a microgravity environment is critical to the safety of astronauts who live and work in space as NASA prepares for long duration missions on the journey to Mars.

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NASA Challenge Aims to Grow Human Tissue to Aid in Deep Space Exploration

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A stack of active tissue culture flasks in a temperature controlled compartment. (Credit: NASA)

A stack of active tissue culture flasks in a temperature controlled compartment. (Credit: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA, in partnership with the nonprofit Methuselah Foundation’s New Organ Alliance, is seeking ways to advance the field of bioengineering through a new prize competition.

The Vascular Tissue Challenge offers a $500,000 prize to be divided among the first three teams that successfully create thick, metabolically-functional human vascularized organ tissue in a controlled laboratory environment.

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NASA TV to Broadcast Crew Return from Space Station

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ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Timothy Peake, NASA astronaut Timothy Kopra and Roscosmos cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko (front) are set to depart the International Space Station and return to Earth June 18, 2016. Russian cosmonauts Oleg Skripochka and Alexey Ovchinin and NASA astronaut Jeff Williams (back) will be joined in July by NASA astronaut Kate Rubins, Russian cosmonaut Anatoly Ivanishin and Takuya Onishi of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. (Credit: NASA)

ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Timothy Peake, NASA astronaut Timothy Kopra and Roscosmos cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko (front) are set to depart the International Space Station and return to Earth June 18, 2016. Russian cosmonauts Oleg Skripochka and Alexey Ovchinin and NASA astronaut Jeff Williams (back) will be joined in July by NASA astronaut Kate Rubins, Russian cosmonaut Anatoly Ivanishin and Takuya Onishi of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. (Credit: NASA)

HOUSTON — Three International Space Station crew members are scheduled to depart the orbiting outpost Saturday, June 18. NASA Television will provide coverage of their preparations for departure and return to Earth, beginning at 9:15 a.m. EDT Friday, June 17.

Expedition 47 Commander Tim Kopra of NASA, Flight Engineer Tim Peake of ESA (European Space Agency) and Soyuz Commander Yuri Malenchenko of the Russian space agency Roscosmos will undock their Soyuz TMA-19M spacecraft from the space station at 1:52 a.m. Saturday and land in Kazakhstan at 5:15 a.m. (3:12 p.m. Kazakhstan time).

Their return will wrap up 186 days in space for the crew since their launch in December 2015. Together, the Expedition 47 crew members contributed to hundreds of experiments in biology, biotechnology, physical science and Earth science aboard humanity’s only orbiting laboratory.

NASA TV will air coverage of the departure and landing activities at the following dates and times:

Friday, June 17

  • 9:15 a.m. — Change of command ceremony in which Kopra hands over station command to NASA astronaut Jeff Williams
  • 10:15 p.m. — Farewell and hatch closure coverage (hatch closure scheduled for 10:35 p.m.)

Saturday, June 18

  • 1:30 a.m. — Undocking coverage (undocking scheduled for 1:52 a.m.)
  • 4 a.m. — Deorbit burn and landing coverage (deorbit burn scheduled for 4:21 a.m., with landing at 5:15 a.m.)
  • 7 a.m. — Video File of hatch closure, undocking and landing activities.
  • 6 p.m. — Video File of landing and post-landing activities and post-landing interviews with Kopra and Peake in Kazakhstan.

At the time of undocking, Expedition 48 will begin aboard the station under Williams’ command. Williams and his crewmates Oleg Skripochka and Alexey Ovchinin of Roscosmos, will operate the station for three weeks until the arrival of three new crew members.

NASA astronaut Kate Rubins, Russian cosmonaut Anatoly Ivanishin and Takuya Onishi of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency are scheduled to launch July 6 (Eastern time) from Baikonur, Kazakhstan.

Check out the full NASA TV schedule and video streaming information at:

http://www.nasa.gov/nasatv

Keep up with the International Space Station, and its research and crew, at:

http://www.nasa.gov/station

Boeing, SpaceX Continue to Make Progress on Crew Vehicles

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Administrator Charles Bolden stands next to Boeing's CST-100 capsule at Langely Research Center. (Credit: NASA)

Administrator Charles Bolden stands next to Boeing’s CST-100 capsule at Langely Research Center. (Credit: NASA)

By Steven Siceloff,
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Florida

Hundreds of engineers and technicians with NASA, Boeing, and SpaceX have ramped up to complete the final designs, manufacturing, and testing as they continue the vital, but meticulous work to prepare to launch astronauts to the International Space Station.

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BEAM Closed as Crew Packs Spacecraft for Departure

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Astronaut Jeff Williams works inside the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module. (Credit: NASA TV)

Astronaut Jeff Williams works inside the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module. (Credit: NASA TV)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — BEAM’s hatches have been closed completing crew operations for the month. Meanwhile, a pair of spaceships is also being packed for departure this month.

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Astronaut Enters BEAM

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Astronaut Jeff Williams works inside the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module. (Credit: NASA TV)

Astronaut Jeff Williams works inside the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module. (Credit: NASA TV)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — The Bigelow Expandable Activity Module’s (BEAM) hatch was opened up for the first time today. Astronaut Jeff Williams entered BEAM and checked sensors, installed air ducts and reported back to Earth that it was in pristine condition. After Williams completed the BEAM checks he exited and closed the hatch for the day.

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I Will Launch America: Derek Otermat

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Credit: NASA

Credit: NASA

By Steven Siceloff,
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Florida

Years of intense design work on the complex communication systems destined for Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner are about to be put to the test. And the engineer who developed the specialized communication system test equipment that will put those systems through more stress than any real-life situation could present will be right there to see his work in action.

“The challenge will be making sure we covered everything,” said Derek Otermat, an engineer on the integration and test team who was recognized as the company’s Florida “Engineer of the Year” recently. “We have to understand the ins and outs of how our systems work. Testing provides us the opportunity to identify issues early on, which helps mitigate in-flight issues and ensures safe and successful missions.”

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Astronauts to Enter BEAM on Monday

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BEAM module (Credit: NASA TV)

BEAM module (Credit: NASA TV)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — On Monday, June 6, astronaut Jeff Williams will enter the first human-rated expandable module deployed in space, a technology demonstration to investigate the potential challenges and benefits of expandable habitats for deep space exploration and commercial low-Earth orbit applications.

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ISS Update: BEAM Leak Checks While New Crew Preps for Launch

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BEAM module (Credit: NASA TV)

BEAM module (Credit: NASA TV)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — The week’s final set of CubeSats were deployed Wednesday night as the new BEAM goes through a series of leak checks before next week’s entry. Back inside the orbital lab, the six-member Expedition 47 crew conducted advanced space research sponsored by private and public institutions.

A final pair of CubeSats was deployed outside the Kibo lab module Wednesday wrapping up the week’s deployment activities. Since Monday, a total of 16 Dove satellites were released into orbit from a small satellite deployer attached to Kibo. The CubeSats will observe the Earth’s environment helping disaster relief efforts and improving agricultural yields.

The Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) environment continues to be equalized with that of the rest of the International Space Station. Astronaut Jeff Williams is continuing to install components on the BEAM bulkhead and vestibule area before entering the new expandable module early next week.

The rest of the crew explored human research to improve astronaut health on long space journeys possibly benefitting humans on Earth too. Back on Earth, three new Expedition 48-49 crew members, Soyuz Commander Anatoly Ivanishin and Flight Engineers Kate Rubins and Takuya Onishi, are in Russia counting down to a June 24 launch to the space station.

Airbus, ESA to Launch Commercial External Space Station Platform

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International Space Station (Credit: NASA)

International Space Station (Credit: NASA)

Bartolomeo will provide fast, cost-efficient and reliable access to the ISS for private and institutional users on commercial terms
Bartolomeo is to be attached to the European Colombus laboratory in 2018

TOULOUSE, France (Airbus Defence and Space PR) — Airbus Defence and Space, the world’s second largest space company, and the European Space Agency (ESA), agreed today to start a joint pilot project phase to prepare the operation and utilization of a new external payload platform on the European International Space Station (ISS) laboratory Columbus. ESA and Airbus Defence and Space signed the corresponding Memorandum of Understanding on June 2, 2016 at the ILA Airshow in Berlin (Germany).

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