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Category Archives: Space Station
Posted: February 25, 2017 at 2:53 pm
Running a day late because of a navigation glitch, a SpaceX Dragon cargo ship loaded with nearly 5,500 pounds of supplies and equipment was captured by the International Space Stations robot arm early Thursday, four days after launch from the Kennedy Space Center.
With the cargo ship flying in formation 30 feet below the lab complex, European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet, operating the robot arm, locked onto a grapple fixture at 5:44 a.m. EST (GMT-5) to wrap up a picture-perfect automated rendezvous.
Looks like weve got a great capture, Expedition 50 commander Shane Kimbrough called down to mission control in Houston. Thomas did an awesome job flying it in.
Congratulations, Thomas, Shane, Expedition 50, great job with Dragon capture, and sorry about the delays, astronaut Mike Hopkins replied from the control center. Now the real work starts.
SpaceX’s Sunday launch marked a comeback for the private space company, as the rocket booster successfully returned to Earth. Re-use of the rocke…
With the Dragon firmly in hand, flight controllers at the Johnson Space Center in Houston took over arm operations and pulled the spacecraft in for berthing at the forward Harmony modules Earth facing port. Sixteen motorized bolts in the ports common berthing mechanism then drove home, locking the spacecraft in place and clearing the way for hatch opening.
During a rendezvous attempt Wednesday, the Dragons on-board computer aborted the approach because of incorrect navigation data defining its orbit and trajectory. The spacecraft backed off while SpaceX flight controllers in Hawthorne, Calif., assessed the issue, figured out what was wrong and rescheduled a second attempt Thursday. There were no problems the second time around.
Dragon is now officially arrived to ISS, Pesquet radioed. Were very happy indeed to have it on board, and Im very much looking forward to putting to good use the two-and-a-half tons of science and cargo it carries.
Wed like to congratulate all the teams that took part in the mission in Hawthorne, California, Houston, Texas, and all over the world. Such a strong partnership between agencies and commercial entities, together with international partners, is without a doubt the future of space exploration.
A view of the Dragon after capture by the space stations robot arm.
While the Dragon capsule was completing its rendezvous, a Russian Progress supply ship was continuing its own approach to the space station. The Progress MS-05/66P spacecraft was launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Wednesday and if all goes well, it will dock at the Russian Pirs module around 3:34 a.m. Friday.
The Dragon was launched atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket last Sunday from the Kennedy Space Center, the companys first Florida launch since a spectacular explosion Sept. 1 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station that destroyed another Falcon 9 and its communications satellite payload.
The cargo ships pressurized compartment, the section accessible to the crew inside the station, is packed with 3,150 pounds of supplies and equipment, including 580 pounds of food and clothing, 842 pounds of spare parts and other vehicle hardware and more than 1,600 pounds of science gear.
Twenty mice are housed in a rodent habitat, part of research to help scientists learn more about what processes govern bone regeneration and healing. Also on board: methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, in an experiment to learn more about designing more effective drugs by studying how the deadly bacteria mutate.
Mounted in the Dragons unpressurized trunk section are another 2,100 pounds of equipment: a $92 million ozone monitoring instrument, a $7 million sensor to monitor lightning strikes and experimental gear designed to help engineers perfect autonomous rendezvous and docking software.
The stations robot arm will be used by flight controllers to extract the cargo from the trunk so the devices can be mounted on the stations main power truss for long-term operation.
Reloaded with science samples, trash and no-longer-needed equipment, the Dragon is expected to return to Earth in about one month.
See the rest here:
SpaceX cargo ship finally reaches space station – CBS News
Posted: at 2:53 pm
An astronaut administers a shock to an alien life form in a Petri dish aboard the International Space Station, in a scene from the movie Life. Bad idea? (CTMG via YouTube)
A real-life organism provides the inspiration for the alien monster at the center of Life, ahorror movie thats set on the International Space Station. But youd never guess which one.
Would you believe slime mold?
We used that as a model, working with the effects team, but ramped it up enormously, said Adam Rutherford, who served as a science consultant for the film. Moviegoers can get a glimpse at the results in the online trailers for Life, which opens in theaters on March 24.
Rutherford didnt just throw a dart at the tree of life to select slime mold. Its a weird kind of fungus-like critter that can be considered a one-celled or multicellular organism. Studies have shown that although it doesnt have a brain, it seems to be capable of learning and even figuring out railway routes.
Thats not a bad model for a fictional organism from Mars that combines neural and muscular functions in one cell. And its not a bad pick for Rutherford, a geneticist who also helped out with the AI movie Ex Machina and wrote a book titled Creation about the origin and future of life.
No one goes to a space horror flick for a science lecture, but the producers of Life took pains to throw in some real-life background about astrobiology, the challenges of studying samples from an alien world, and how to deal with a medical emergency on the space station.
One of the reasons it works so well is because its set in the near future, Rutherford told GeekWire.
China is already gearing up to bring samples back from the moon, as early as this year, and NASAs 2020 Mars rover is expected to lay the groundwork for an eventual Mars sample return mission.
Scientistsare thinking through all the protocols that will be needed to keep Martian samples from getting contaminated by terrestrial life forms, and to keep any potential life forms from getting into earthly environments.
The most likely scenario calls for sending a sealed sample canister directly back to Earth, for study in a specially built containment facility. In contrast, the movie plot is built around the idea that astronauts will study the sample on the space station, supposedly for safetys sake. Of course, something goes wrong.
In real life, the space stations crew would stick to very rigorous protocols to absolutely minimize risk of contamination, Rutherford said. But it wouldnt be much of a space horror thriller, he added.
Dealing with an alien outbreak isnt exactly on NASAs list of potential medical emergencies. But the films producers did want to stick as close to the space stations medical procedures as they could. So, they called in Kevin Fong, an expert on space medicine from University College London, to help keep the plot on the right side of plausibility.
They invented some capabilities that dont exist on the current International Space Station, Fong told GeekWire. I was really gobsmacked by just how much effort they put into creating these fictional modules.
Fong pointed out that the real space station has nothing like the capabilities of a hospital. The average medical astronaut is not thinking about doing open-heart surgery, he said.
Crew memberscan handle minor medical upsets, and theyre trained to deal with the two big emergency scenarios that is, explosive decompression or fire. But if an astronaut is facing a life-threatening medical condition such as acute appendicitis or a heart attack, youd be looking to come home fairly sharpish on a Russian Soyuz spacecraft, Fong said.
The filmmakers turned things up a couple of notches for Life, andFong is happy with the results.
I cant speak for the whole film, he said, but for the bits that were medical it was all pretty close to the bone of what reality would be.
For the bits that were physical, the filmmakers turned to Rudi Schmidt, an Austrian scientist who has worked on a long string of space missions for the European Space Agency and served as a consultant for The Martian, one of moviedoms most successful hard-sci-fisagas.
Schmidt advised the actors on how to move in zero gravity, even when they were harnessed in ropes and wires that had to be digitally removed during post-production.
The result, he told GeekWire, is probably as realistic as you can get on the ground.
Schmidt also dealt with questions from filmmakers and actors about life in space. He recalled that Russian actress Olga Dihovichnaya whoplays the space stations commander asked him what it was like to cry in space.
Its different from crying on Earth, because theres no gravity, Schmidt explained. The tears just stick to your eyes. They do not roll down on the cheek. They just stay in the eyes, getting bigger and bigger and bigger. So in the end, the idea of crying [in the movie] was not a really good one. (Check out Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfields video demonstrating the real-life effect.)
As a scientist whos actually managed a mission to Mars, Schmidt is also well-placed to weigh in on whether samples from the Red Planet would carry anything like the monster that gets loose in Life.
Schmidt said that samples of Martian rock and soil couldhold evidence for fossilized ancient life, but almost certainly nothing dangerous. Nobody, including myself, would expect that well bring back a living organism from Mars, he said.
Just keep telling yourself that after youve seen Life.
Posted: at 2:53 pm
Space Matter is a weekly column that delves into space science and the mechanics of spaceflight. From the latest discoveries in the universe around us to the fits and starts of rocket test flights, youll find analysis, discussion, and an eternal optimism about space and launching ourselves into the cosmos.
We all are aware that the International Space Station is out there, in low Earth orbitbut did you know that there are two other space stations up there as well? Or that the first private space station is currently in development? We have a rich history of space stations, from Skylab to Mir and beyond.
Americas first space station was Skylabwhich was never actually intended or built for that use. Skylab was actually the unused upper stage of a Saturn IVB rocket. It launched in 1973 aboard the last Saturn V rocket and hosted three manned missions before falling back to Earth in 1979. The retrofitted rocket stage was never intended to be a long-term space station, but it proved to Americans that humans can live and work in space. It also advanced space science considerably through its onboard workshop and solar observatory.
The Skylab space station. Photo courtesy of NASA
After Skylab, attention turned to the Space Shuttle program, which was launched on April 12, 1981. The orbiter fleet boasted a large payload bay that was perfect for conducting experiments in space. While we were focusing on a reusable space vehicle, the Russians were still using their trusty Soyuz capsules (still in use today) and instead turned their focus to building a space station.
Between 1971 and 1982, the Russians successfully launched six Salyut space stations. (Salyut 2 was unable to achieve a stable orbit, falling back into the atmosphere two weeks after launch). The last of these, Salyut 7 was in orbit from 1982 through 1991, with 10 manned visits over its lifetime. Through their experience with these space stations, the Russians became experts at living and working in space.
In 1986, the Russians launched Mir, the worlds first modular space station. This means that, much like the ISS, the station consisted of a core that was launched first. Over time, a total of six additional modules were launched and assembled in space, expanding the station over the years. It was on Mir that extended spaceflight became normal; expeditions generally lasted around six months (the same as the ISS).
The United States had plans to build a Mir counterpart: the Freedom space station. In the early 1980s, it was envisioned as a space-based destination at which orbiters could dock. Its cancellation (due to budget and design issues) was part of the reason the shuttle program came under such heavy fire: we spent an extraordinary amount of money to build a reusable space vehicle, but in the end, we had nowhere to actually send it.
The United States wasnt the only country with a desire to launch a space station; the European space agency was also interested in such an endeavor. Russia, in addition, was planning on launching Mir 2 to replace its aging space station. However, a space station is an expensive and difficult proposition, which led to the cooperative development of the International Space Station (among the United States, Russia, Japan, Canada, and the European Space Agency) in 1993, using Freedom and Mir 2 concepts as its core modules.
The International Space Station. Photo courtesy of NASA
The ISS has been in orbit since its launch in 1998; it has been continuously occupied since its first long duration crew arrived on Expedition 1 in November 2000. The station is funded through 2024 by both the U.S. and Russia (though that may be extended to 2028). Its unclear what will come next; Roscosmos (Russias space agency counterpart to NASA) made a statement in early 2015 that the U.S. and Russia had agreed to work on a follow-up space station, but NASA hasnt confirmed that statement.
Regardless of what happens with the future of the International Space Station, its clear that space stations are here to stay. China has launched two space stations: Tiangong-1 and Tiangong-2, which are both currently in orbit. Tiangong-1, designed as a prototype to test the rendezvous and docking of Chinese spacecraft, was only in use for two years. Its orbit is decaying, and it will reenter the atmosphere later this year.
Tiangong-2 is another test space station launched in late 2016, as China plans to launch a larger modular space station to rival the ISS in 2022 (in mission, if probably not in sizethe International Space Station is the most expensive object ever constructed). Tiangong-2 has only been visited oncea two-person crew stayed aboard the station for 30 days.
But its not China or Russia or the United States who are making headlines about space stationsits private companies. Could a private company launch a space station by the end of the decade? Its absolutely possible. Axiom Space, a company youve likely never heard of, is aiming to be the first company to build a private space station.
Axiom is planning on launching the Multi-Purpose Module in 2020, designed as an add-on for the International Space Station. Whether it is launched all at once or assembled in orbit remains to be seen; however, when its ready, it will fly to the ISS (yes, it will have its own engines). Their current plan is to dock it to, and therefore expand, the ISS. When the International Space Station eventually deorbits, the Multi-Purpose Module will undock and function as an independent, private space station.
Theres a lot of money in a private space station; the customers wouldnt be private individuals wanting to go to space (though that is an option). There are many countries that aspire to send their astronauts into orbit. The ISSs max capacity is eight astronauts, and because were all currently dependent on Soyuz to get us there, were further constrained. Russian Soyuz capsules can only hold three astronauts each. Once private human spaceflight is off the ground (primarily through SpaceXs Dragon), that will ease the transportation issues, but the destination constraints are still considerable. Thats where Axiom hopes to step in.
Whether public or private, space stations are here to stay. Lets hope that as the ability to get off of our planet and live and work in space becomes easier and more possible, it encourages all of us to set our sights on destinations beyond low Earth orbit.
Top photo courtesy of NASA/ESA
Swapna Krishna is a freelance writer, editor, and giant space/sci-fi geek.
Originally posted here:
Space Matter: Public (and Private) Space Stations – Paste Magazine
Posted: February 24, 2017 at 5:56 pm
The Progress 66 Russian cargo spacecraft, shown here approaching the International Space Station on Feb. 24, 2017.
A robotic Russian cargo ship arrived at the International Space Station early Friday (Feb. 24) to deliver nearly 3 tons of supplies to the orbiting laboratory.
The automatedProgress 66 supply ship docked at the space station at 3:30 a.m. EST (0830 GMT), parking itself at the station’s Russian-built Pirs docking module. It is the second cargo ship to arrive at the station in as many days after aSpaceX Dragon capsule made its own delivery of 5,500 lbs. of supplies on Thursday.
The Progress 66 Russian cargo spacecraft (left) passes by the Soyuz MS03 crew vehicle already attached to the International Space Station, on Feb. 24, 2017.
Russia’s space agency Roscosmos launched Progress 66 into orbit Wednesday (Feb. 22) using a Soyuz rocket that lifted off from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. It was Russia’s first cargo delivery to the space station since the loss of the Progress 65 supply ship on Dec. 1, 2016.
Russia’s Progress vehicles and SpaceX’s Dragon capsules are part ofa fleet of robotic spacecraft that deliver vital supplies to the International Space Station. Cygnus spacecraft built by Orbital ATK and Japanese H-2 Transfer Vehicles round out the current fleet.
Russian cargo craft docks to station at 3:30am ET (8:30am GMT) just one day after @SpaceX #Dragon arrived. https://t.co/mjkChPkNhK pic.twitter.com/49vWxe4cBi
Email Tariq Malik at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him@tariqjmalikandGoogle+.Follow us@Spacedotcom,FacebookandGoogle+. Original article onSpace.com.
Read more from the original source:
Russian Progress 66 Cargo Ship Docks at Space Station – Space.com
Posted: at 5:56 pm
THIS is what Perth looks like at night from the International Space Station.
Italian Astronaut Ignazio Magnani posted the picture of Perth lit up by city lights after the famous space station crossed over the state.
If you were staring up at the stars around 8.20pm Thursday night you may have witnessed the rare event.
The ISS is a large spacecraft in orbit around Earth where astronauts live and conduct research. It has made it possible for people to have an ongoing presence in space since 1998.
Although the ISS has been circling the earth for almost two decades it doesnt often cross Perth at such a convenient time and so bright to see with the naked eye.
The space station was only visible for about five minutes. Mr Magnani alerted Perth to the crossing.
Did you manage to capture a glimpse? Some Perth astrophotgraphers did.
Another interesting photo tonight… The International Space Station flew over Perth from the north-west to the south-east at 8:22PM. I took this photo from Port Coogee, with Leonie. Thanks for the tip Dan! 🙂
Go here to see the original:
International Space Station crosses over Perth | Perth Now – Perth Now
SpaceX Dragon capsule finally arrives at the International Space Station after errors and delays – The Independent
Posted: at 5:56 pm
An important shipment has finally arrived at the International Space Station, after a series of errors, delays and challenges.
The SpaceX capsule smoothly arrived at the station the second time around as astronauts grabbed hold of the cargo ship, as the two of them floated somewhere over Australia.
The capsule had been scheduled to arrive on Wednesday. But a GPS error stopped it from getting too close and the move had to be aborted.
The Dragon – loaded with 5,500lbs of supplies – lifted off on Sunday from Nasa’s historic moon pad at the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida.
Now leased by SpaceX, the pad had been idle since the close of the shuttle programme almost six years ago.
The station’s six crew members will accept another shipment on Friday, this one from the Russians.
Given the Dragon’s delayed arrival – lift-off also occurred a day late – the astronauts were under orders to open the capsule as soon as possible to retrieve sensitive science experiments.
“Sorry about the delays,” Mission Control said. “Now the real work starts.”
“Congratulations Dragon on a successful journey from Earth and now welcome on board,” said French astronaut Thomas Pesquet, who used the station’s big robot arm to grab the capsule.
At the top of the crew’s unloading list: 20 mice that are part of a wound-healing experiment. Another 20 mice are taking part in the study on the ground, as control subjects.
Other newly arrived research: highly infectious MRSA bacteria, triple-contained so it does not get loose; stem cells; and instruments for studying lightning and the Earth’s ozone layer.
Drone captures SpaceX rocket landing in Florida
The Dragon will remain at the space station for a month before it is cut loose to bring back science samples and other items.
It is the only supply ship capable of returning intact to Earth, as all the others burn up during re-entry.
SpaceX is one of two private companies flying up supplies for Nasa.
Besides the French astronaut, the space station is home to two Americans and three Russians.
Additional reporting by Press Association
Posted: at 5:56 pm
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has selected astronaut Jeanette Epps to join the crew of the International Space Station in 2018. Epps will become the first Black crew member to represent the U.S. on the station.
The journey will mark the first time Epps has traveled to orbit, allowing her to follow in the footsteps of the women who, she said, inspired her to become an astronaut.
While other Black astronauts have flown to the Space Station for brief stays during the outposts construction, Epps will be the first Black crew member to live and work on the station for an extended period of time. Her journey aboard the Soyuz spacecraft and stay at the station places her as the only American and female among a crew made up of mostly Russians and men.
Im a person just like they are. I do the same work as they do, Epps told a group of STEM students at her Syracuse alma mater, Danforth Middle School. If something breaks, any one of us will have to be able to go out the door. We have to be jacks of all trades. Its not a job thats like any other.
While working on her doctorate, Epps was a NASA graduate student Researchers Project fellow, authoring several journal and conference articles about her research. After completing her graduate studies, Epps worked in a research lab for more than two years, co-authoring multiple patents, before being recruited by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). She was a CIA technical intelligence officer for about seven years before being selected as a member of the 2009 astronaut class.
Anything you dont know is going to be hard at first, Epps said in a video statement about the launch. But if you stay the course, put the time and effort in, it will become seamless eventually.
Epps, in the NASA video interview, shared when she was first introduced to the idea that she could be an astronaut. It was about 1980, I was nine years old. My brother came home and he looked at my grades and my twin sisters grades and he said, You know, you guys can probably become aerospace engineers or even astronauts, Epps said.
And this was at the time that Sally Ride [the first American woman to fly in space] and a group of women were selected to become astronauts the first time in history. So, he made that comment and I said, Wow, that would be so cool.
Epps will join veteran NASA astronaut Andrew Feustel at the Space Station. On Feustels first long-duration mission, he served as a flight engineer on Expedition 55, and later as commander of Expedition 56.
By Shantella Y. Sherman (AFRO/NNPA Member)