NASA astronaut: Space toilet inspires ‘sheer terror’

Forget motion sickness and adjusting to microgravity. Astronaut Jack Fischer is most worried about facing the space station’s intimidating bathroom facilities. On Thursday, NASA astronaut Jack Fischer is scheduled to embark on his first voyage to the International Space Station. He’s excited to be working on a variety of experiments, including ones dealing with plant […]
Forget motion sickness and adjusting to microgravity. Astronaut Jack Fischer is most worried about facing the space station’s intimidating bathroom facilities. On Thursday, NASA astronaut Jack Fischer is scheduled to embark on his first voyage to the International Space Station. He’s excited to be working on a variety of experiments, including ones dealing with plant growth and bone growth, but he’s less than thrilled about the prospect of using the loo in microgravity. In a NASA Q&A, Fischer reveals what he expects his greatest challenge will be. He says it’s the toilet. “It’s all about suction, it’s really difficult, and I’m a bit terrified,” Fischer says. In case you think Fischer is exaggerating his toilet trepidation, here’s NASA description of how the commode functions: “The toilet basically works like a vacuum cleaner with fans that suck air and waste into the commode.” It also requires the use of leg restraints. “Unlike most things, you just can’t train for that on the ground,” Fischer says, “so I approach my space-toilet activities with respect, preparation and a healthy dose of sheer terror.”  

Bounce House For The Astronauts!

Applied Technology Institute offers a variety of course on Space, Satellite & Aerospace Engineering. When Elon Musk’s SpaceX Dragon cargo ship lifts off from Cape Canaveral on April 8, there’ll be a little treat for the astronauts on the International Space Station nestled among all the supplies and consumables: a whole new room for the […]
Applied Technology Institute offers a variety of course on Space, Satellite & Aerospace Engineering. When Elon Musk’s SpaceX Dragon cargo ship lifts off from Cape Canaveral on April 8, there’ll be a little treat for the astronauts on the International Space Station nestled among all the supplies and consumables: a whole new room for the ISS! How’d NASA fit an entire room onto a space craft with only as much cargo room as a small U-Haul? The same way you squeeze a camping mattress into the trunk of your car: make it inflatable. The Bigelow Expandable Activity Module, or BEAM, is about 8 feet in diameter in its compacted state. Once it reaches the ISS and is attached to the wing known as the Tranquility Node, it’ll be filled with air until the aluminum-and-fabric structure swells to 565 cubic feet. It will then spend the next two years attached to the ISS, before being jettisoned and left to burn up in the atmosphere. As NASA says it has no plans to store equipment inside the module, astronauts will presumably use it as a tiny, zero-g bounce house. BEAM, which was developed in conjunction with Bigelow Aerospace, isn’t going into orbit simply so the astronauts can have a place to let loose their inner child. The module’s main purpose is to serve as a test bed for inflatable space habitats. Astronauts will measure how much radiation is entering the chamber, how much heat is leaking out, and how well it holds air, among other factors. If the BEAM proves successful at holding its shape and deflecting nasty radiation and micrometeoroids, the basic concept could be a huge breakthrough for future deep-space missions. As anyone who’s read “The Martian” knows, inflatable habitats would be ideal for the lunar or Martian surface; they could be transported and air-dropped in compact form, then blown up to create living space. NASA has released a quick video showing the basics of how the BEAM will be installed. Don’t worry about pausing that playlist for it, though; there’s no sound. In space, no one can hear you inflate your bounce house.


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In Space, Yesterday’s Coffee is Today’s Coffee

Do you still wish you could be an astronaut after watching the lung-flattening launches and bone-crunching landings? Has the eyeball-oscillating gimbal failed to dampen your spirits? What if we told you that coffee, the most precious of nectars essential for civilized behavior, will be brewed from your own pee? When every gram lifted into orbit […]
Do you still wish you could be an astronaut after watching the lung-flattening launches and bone-crunching landings? Has the eyeball-oscillating gimbal failed to dampen your spirits? What if we told you that coffee, the most precious of nectars essential for civilized behavior, will be brewed from your own pee? When every gram lifted into orbit costs a fortune, “Reduce, reuse, and recycle” becomes more than just a trite saying. That covers everything, up to and including purifying liquid waste (ie, urine) into a more palatable beverage. Or, to put it more bluntly: yesterday’s coffee is today’s coffee. Suddenly that coffee spot with the greatest view imaginable is looking a bit less appealing, even if the mechanics of making it happen is impressive engineering. But recycling pee into water in space isn’t as easy as it is here on Earth. When the original Urine Processor Assembly went to the space station, it developed a “pee pancake,” a precipitate of that clogged up the system. The system needed to be modified to filter additional calcium ions: all that bone loss in microgravity resulted in astronauts peeing out double the normal concentration of calcium ions!


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BOOZE IN SPACE! SUNTORY SENDING WHISKEY INTO ORBIT, IN SEARCH OF A SMOOTHER PRODUCT

Suntory is possibly best known to moviegoers as the client that brought “Bob Harris” to Japan to film a commercial, in Sofia Coppola’s 2003 gem Lost in Translation. It’s Japan’s oldest whisky distillery, and if that makes you think that it is in any way dusty or not keeping up with the current trends in […]

Suntory is possibly best known to moviegoers as the client that brought “Bob Harris” to Japan to film a commercial, in Sofia Coppola’s 2003 gem Lost in Translation. It’s Japan’s oldest whisky distillery, and if that makes you think that it is in any way dusty or not keeping up with the current trends in whiskeyology, note that just last year its Yamazaki Single Malt Sherry Cask 2013 secured the award for “Best Whisky in the World.” Not only that, Suntory recently announced that it intends to send some of its delightful spirits to age in outer space. They suspect that the zero-gravity environment may result in nothing less than the smoothest whiskey ever produced. Suntory will be sending six varieties of whiskey, aged for 10, 18, and 21 years, along with recently distilled beverages, to outer space as part of an experiment. Their theory is that the weightlessness of space will result in a smoother aged whiskey than is possible to attain on Earth. Employees at JAXA’s Tsukuba City Space Center in Ibaraki Prefecture recently prepared glass flasks that will be used to transport the spirits when Konotori Vehicle 5 (HTV-5) launches from JAXA’s Tanegashima Space Center on August 16. The whiskey samples will be left on the International Space Station for an unspecified number of years before being brought home to be inspected. Unfortunately for drink connoisseurs, Suntory has already stated that they have no plans to sell space whiskey as a product to the general public. Take that, Wild Turkey!


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Name NASA New Free-Flying Robot and Win $1,000!

Applied Technology Institute (ATICourses) offers a variety of courses on Space, Satellite & Aerospace Engineering. We think the news below will be of interest to our readers. NASA has a new “free-flying robot” they’ll be sending up to help out the International Space Station crew in 2017. But let’s be honest: “free-flying robot” is kind of […]
Applied Technology Institute (ATICourses) offers a variety of courses on Space, Satellite & Aerospace Engineering. We think the news below will be of interest to our readers. NASA has a new “free-flying robot” they’ll be sending up to help out the International Space Station crew in 2017. But let’s be honest: “free-flying robot” is kind of a mouthful. That’s why the space agency wants help creating a name for the little guy, as well as a new mission patch design! Of course, this robot isn’t the first free-flyer to hop aboard the ISS—NASA has a whole fleet of “SPHERES” (Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites, a clever acronym that would make Marvel jealous) which assist the crew in a myriad of ways. All of them are able to move autonomously throughout the outpost, but can also be controlled remotely by crew members; the new fleet, according to Topcoder, “will eventually extend the research and exploration capabilities of astronauts, as they are capable of working during off-hours and (eventually) in extreme environments.”” The full guidelines for the contest can be found at Topcoder, but here’s the main gist: to enter the contest, all you have to do is sign up and then create a name and custom graphic for the mission patch, which also needs to have the name of the space mission on it somewhere. Preliminary feedback on the initial designs will be given out on October 22nd, and the contest ends on the 27th. Oh, and there’s also cash prizes for winning, in case the thought of naming a robot wasn’t a cool enough draw for you. So start designing, team! To participate in the challenge and learn more about it, go to http://www.topcoder.com/challenge-details/30046039/?type=design&noncache=true.


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Space Taxis by 2017-Compliments of Boeing & SpaceX

Applied Technology Institute (ATICorses) offers a variety of courses on Space, Satellite & Aerospace Engineering. We think the news below would be of interest to our readers. NASA has selected Boeing and SpaceX to resume U.S. human spaceflight. The two companies are newly contracted to become NASA’s space taxis, flying American astronauts to and from the […]
Applied Technology Institute (ATICorses) offers a variety of courses on Space, Satellite & Aerospace Engineering. We think the news below would be of interest to our readers. NASA has selected Boeing and SpaceX to resume U.S. human spaceflight. The two companies are newly contracted to become NASA’s space taxis, flying American astronauts to and from the International Space Station, and eventually ending the county’s reliance on Russia for transport. Since the shuttle program was retired [in 2011], NASA crew members have been hitching rides on Russian Soyuz spacecraft, at a cost of $70 million per seat.  The agency typically purchases six seats per year. NASA’s partnership with the companies is part of the Commercial Crew Program. The program is intended to help private companies develop spacecraft to carry astronauts into low Earth orbit by 2017. Once built, the seven passenger shuttle capsules will be owned by the private companies, not NASA. Both companies will design crafts and undergo safety testing before manned flights are booked. Once certified, each company will launched an estimated two to six missions. Boeing is set to build three of its CST-100 — seven passenger — crafts at Florida’s Kennedy Space Center. Space X will build its first passenger craft, since its existing SpaceX Dragon delivers only cargo to the space station currently. Space X Dragon became the first commercial spacecraft for cargo in 2012. The contracts with NASA are worth $6.8 billion. Boeing has the larger share with $4.2 billion, and Space X receives $2.6 billion.


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UKRAINE CRISIS: There is At Least One Place the U.S. and Russia Are Still Getting Along. It’s Not on Earth

International Space Station (ISS)  is jointly operated by the U.S., Russia, Europe, Canada and Japan. Currently, there are three Russians, two Americans, and one Japanese astronaut on board the station currently orbiting earth. Roughly 250 miles below, however, the relationship between the two superpowers is a good deal different, with Vladimir Putin refusing to rule […]
Expedition 38 crew members proudly sport their national flags in this March 2014 picture from the International Space Station. Pictured (clockwise from top center) are Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kotov, commander; Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Koichi Wakata, Russian cosmonaut Sergey Ryazanskiy, NASA astronauts Rick Mastracchio and Mike Hopkins, and Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Tyurin, all flight engineers. Credit: NASA Read more: http://www.universetoday.com/110010/budget-2015-ukraine-crisis-not-disrupting-russian-soyuz-flights-nasa-admin-says/#ixzz2vCxFYTDY
International Space Station (ISS)  is jointly operated by the U.S., Russia, Europe, Canada and Japan. Currently, there are three Russians, two Americans, and one Japanese astronaut on board the station currently orbiting earth. Roughly 250 miles below, however, the relationship between the two superpowers is a good deal different, with Vladimir Putin refusing to rule out using military force in Ukraine and the Obama administration accusing the Russians of creating a “pretext to invade.” The ever-increasing tension between the United States and Russia does not, according to NASA, extend to outer space, via the Washington Post:
“Everything is nominal right now with our relationship with the Russians,” said NASA administrator Charles Bolden during a teleconference Tuesday. With the space shuttle retired, the U.S. relies on Russia’s Soyuz spacecraft to get to and from the space station. Russia charges about $71 million per seat. There is no other way for American astronauts to get back to Earth.
Tuesday’s teleconference was set up to allow Bolden to discuss the White House’s Fiscal Year 2015 budget request, but he wound up fielding numerous inquiries from reporters about whether the Ukraine crisis has affected NASA’s strategic planning. No, Bolden said repeatedly. He noted that past flare-ups between the U.S. and Russia have not affected operations in space. “We have weathered the storm through lots of contingencies here,” Bolden said.


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How will Japanese robot provide emotional support to the astronauts?

The world’s first robot astronaut is pining for a conversation partner as he waits for Japanese spaceman Koichi Wakata aboard the International Space Station. “Mr. Wakata, are you not here yet? I really want to see you soon,” the pint-sized android said in a message released by its project team in Japan Wednesday. The wide-eyed […]
The world’s first robot astronaut is pining for a conversation partner as he waits for Japanese spaceman Koichi Wakata aboard the International Space Station. “Mr. Wakata, are you not here yet? I really want to see you soon,” the pint-sized android said in a message released by its project team in Japan Wednesday. The wide-eyed and bootie-wearing “Kirobo” — roughly the size of a chihuahua — left Earth on a cargo-carrying rocket and reached the space station on August 10. Wakata along with Mikhail Tyurin of Russia and NASA astronaut Rick Mastracchio will be aboard the Soyuz-FG rocket which set off from Kazakhstan at 0414 GMT on Thursday for a six-hour journey to the ISS. Kirobo, which stands just 13.4 inches tall and weighs about 2.2 pounds, is programmed to communicate in Japanese and keep records of its conversations with Wakata, the first Japanese astronaut to command the ISS. The robot is part of a study aimed at seeing how a non-human companion can provide emotional support for people isolated over long periods.


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The New Age 3D Printer To Be Sent To International Space Station By NASA

It is no secret that 3D printers are the new fab. Everybody is interested in them. As a matter of fact, one of our friends has recently purchased one and gave us a demonstration. We were floored! 3D printing is a process of melting plastic filament and creating solid objects by building them up in […]
It is no secret that 3D printers are the new fab. Everybody is interested in them. As a matter of fact, one of our friends has recently purchased one and gave us a demonstration. We were floored!
3D printing is a process of melting plastic filament and creating solid objects by building them up in very thin layers.
The technology is used in a wide range of industries from construction to aerospace, and is now starting to make its way into space.
It is well known that NASA wants to take 3D printers into space. The technology would be highly useful to the men and women on the International Space Station as they would be able to quickly repair components with plastic replacements. There is a problem though – how do you 3D print something in a zero gravity environment? In a video released by NASA, the agency goes into how its experimenting with 3D printers here on earth to ensure that the technology will be able to function in zero gravity environments. Here’s what NASA has to say about its latest endeavor:The goal of 3-D printing is to take this capability to microgravity for use on the International Space Station. In space, whatever astronauts have available on orbit is what they have to use — but just like on Earth, parts break or get lost. When that happens, there’s a wait for replacement parts, or the need to have multiple spares that have to be launched. The ability to conduct 3-D printing in space could change all of that. NASA plans to launch the first 3D printer into space in June of next year. It will hopefully be the first of many as the space agency plans to use 3D printers in a number of space missions over the next few years and decades. In fact, one of its most ambitious plans is to create a 3D printer that extrudes food to make pizzas for long manned space flights.


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Can You Control A Robot From Space? Yes, you can!

Applied Technology Institute (ATI Courses) offers a variety of short technical training courses on Space, Satellite & Aerospace Engineering.  The news below could be of interest to our readers. An Italian astronaut drove a robot around a California parking lot Friday. He did so from space. As part of a series of tests at NASA’s Ames […]
Applied Technology Institute (ATI Courses) offers a variety of short technical training courses on Space, Satellite & Aerospace Engineering.  The news below could be of interest to our readers. An Italian astronaut drove a robot around a California parking lot Friday. He did so from space. As part of a series of tests at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Mountain View, astronaut Luca Parmitano controlled a K-10 rover from his perch at the International Space Station. Parmitano, who was flying 400 kilometers above the robot, viewed its movements in real time and typed instructions into his space station laptop to direct the rover from one point to another in the Ames parking lot. Telerobotics, the technology tested Friday, may allow astronauts in orbit to guide robots in real time on the surface on another planet. Using telerobotics, astronauts could increase the speed at which rovers explore other planets. NASA astronauts currently must send a complex set of instructions to robots each morning, then wait for the rovers to execute them. “This is a glimpse of the future of space exploration,” University of Colorado astronomer Jack Burns said during the test. Read more here.


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International Space Station and the Power Of Twitter: Stunning Daily Pics from Space Available to All

Images taken from space can take your breath away.  There is something truly amazing in seeing our world from such a distance and understand how beautiful and fragile it is. Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield is a bit of a space celebrity. Some of his hobbies include tweeting back and forth with William Shatner, posting recordings […]
Images taken from space can take your breath away.  There is something truly amazing in seeing our world from such a distance and understand how beautiful and fragile it is. Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield is a bit of a space celebrity. Some of his hobbies include tweeting back and forth with William Shatner, posting recordings from space on SoudCloud, and even beaming down the occasional video of himself playing the guitar. But the best of his messages from space (at least in our humble opinion) have got to be the photos of Earth he tweets daily from the ISS. He shares a little bit of everything: the webbed lights of cities at night, checkerboard farmland covered in snow, swirling currents deep in the ocean, massive river deltas, and much more. It’s all there for you to browse through on his Twitter feed. Here are a few of our favorites: We highly suggest you take some time to look through his photo archive and see more of the spectacular views the ISS astronauts get each and every day. And keep in mind, these are all captured while traveling about 17,500mph at an altitude of about 250 miles.
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Finally! A chance to tour the International Space Station!

We’ve seen some remarkable photos and videos that look out from the International Space Station but not very many that look in. Indian American astronaut Sunita Williams has spent some 321 days aboard the ISS, as a flight engineer and more recently as a commander of an expedition. She has gone for walkabouts outside and […]
We’ve seen some remarkable photos and videos that look out from the International Space Station but not very many that look in. Indian American astronaut Sunita Williams has spent some 321 days aboard the ISS, as a flight engineer and more recently as a commander of an expedition. She has gone for walkabouts outside and is the first person in the world to do a triathlon in space. In this video, Williams takes us on a tour of the space craft that she has called home for almost a year, showing the different modules, sleeping quarters, kitchens, and orbital outhouses from her perspective.


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Three new residents arrive at International Space Station

The Soyuz TMA-06M spacecraft docked at the space station’s rooftop after a two-day orbital chase. Riding on the Soyuz were American astronaut Kevin Ford of NASA and Russian cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Evgeny Tarelkin, who are beginning a five-month mission to the space station. “We can see you, everything looks fine,” Russian cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko, who was […]
The Soyuz TMA-06M spacecraft docked at the space station’s rooftop after a two-day orbital chase. Riding on the Soyuz were American astronaut Kevin Ford of NASA and Russian cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Evgeny Tarelkin, who are beginning a five-month mission to the space station. “We can see you, everything looks fine,” Russian cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko, who was already onboard the station, told the approaching crew before the two spacecraft docked about 230 miles (370 km) over southern Ukraine. Ford, Novitskiy and Tarelkin launched into space on Tuesday (Oct. 23) atop a Soyuz rocket that blasted off from the Central Asian spaceport of Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. They are the second half of the space station’s six-person Expedition 33 crew, which is commanded by NASA astronaut Sunita Williams. Malenchenko and Japanese astronaut Akihiko Hoshide round out the crew. The Soyuz spacecraft is bringing some fishy friends to the space station in addition to its human crew. The spacecraft is ferrying 32 small medaka fish to the space station so they can be placed inside a tank, called the Aquatic Habitat, for an experiment to study how fish adapt to weightlessness. Thursday’s Soyuz docking at the space station kicks off a flurry of arrivals and departures at the International Space Station. A robotic Dragon space capsule built by the private spaceflight company SpaceX will depart the space station on Sunday (Oct. 28) and splash down in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Southern California. The Dragon capsule will return nearly 2,000 pounds (907 kilograms) of science experiment hardware and other gear back to Earth. On Wednesday (Oct. 31), an unmanned Russian Progress spacecraft will launch toward the space station and arrive six hours later to make a Halloween delivery of food, equipment and other Halloween treats. Williams, Hoshide and Malenchenko are in the final weeks of their mission to the space station, and will return to Earth Nov. 12. At that time, Ford will take command of the space station crew to begin the Expedition 34 mission.
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California space law boosts business, not safety

Private cargo-carrying spacecraft? No problem, but put people on commercial flights and things get messy. Just as NASA set the date for SpaceX’s first official trip to the International Space Station, the firm’s home state of California passed a law lightening company responsibility for the safety of future passengers. No private space firm yet sends crewed flights […]
Private cargo-carrying spacecraft? No problem, but put people on commercial flights and things get messy. Just as NASA set the date for SpaceX’s first official trip to the International Space Station, the firm’s home state of California passed a law lightening company responsibility for the safety of future passengers. No private space firm yet sends crewed flights to space, but that is the plan. The new law treats spaceflight rather like sky-diving, requiring future travellers to give “informed consent”. They agree not to sue the company they fly with if they’re injured or killed in the process. California is the last of the states hosting major contenders in the commercial space race to pass such a law, trailing Virginia, home to Orbital Sciences, New Mexico (Virgin Galactic), and Texas (Blue Origin), which have already done so. The laws may make a state more attractive to space businesses, but without statistics on the safety of commercial flights, travellers sign away their right to sue blindly. However, space tourists may not care: Virgin Galactic, which plans to launch its first crewed flight in 2013, has a roster of passengers who have signed consent agreements. What is your opinion?
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SpaceX Dragon to rendezvous with International Space Station on May 7, 2012

Space Exploration Technologies, better known as SpaceX, has announced plans to launch its Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft on 7 May. SpaceX had originally planned to launch the spacecraft next week, but it postponed the launch to give engineers more time to complete preflight testing and analysis. According to the company, the launch is […]
Space Exploration Technologies, better known as SpaceX, has announced plans to launch its Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft on 7 May. SpaceX had originally planned to launch the spacecraft next week, but it postponed the launch to give engineers more time to complete preflight testing and analysis. According to the company, the launch is set for 6:38am PT, weather permitting, at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. If all goes well, SpaceX’s spacecraft will be the first privately built and funded spacecraft to rendezvous with the International Space Station. The goal is for SpaceX to conduct regular commercial cargo missions to the space station. Read more here.


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SpaceX To Make First Commercial Cargo Run To Space Station April 30

The first commercial cargo to the International Space Station will be shipped by Space Exploration Technologies Corp., better known as SpaceX, starting April 30.  If the company is successful, it will be the first time a private spacecraft docks with the space station. “NASA’s International Space Station program, along with our international partners, will take […]
The first commercial cargo to the International Space Station will be shipped by Space Exploration Technologies Corp., better known as SpaceX, starting April 30.  If the company is successful, it will be the first time a private spacecraft docks with the space station. “NASA’s International Space Station program, along with our international partners, will take a look at the readiness of both station and SpaceX for the mission. If all is go, then SpaceX will be given a green light for an April 30 launch,”NASA officials said. The Dragon capsule will be completely unmanned like the Russian, European and Japanese capsules that currently run supply missions to the space station. SpaceX engineers designed the Dragon capsule to be used multiple times, unlike conventional supply ships which burn up while reentering the atmosphere. Using the Dragon capsule costs NASA per $133 million per delivery, far less than the $300 million it costs just to build a conventional capsule. The Dragon capsule is part of the 2006 Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) directive designed to coordinate supply and passenger delivery by private companies to the International Space Station. NASA signed agreements with three companies, but SpaceX is the closest to reaching the space station. Orbital Sciences, another company that is a part of the COTS program, will launch its unmanned spacecraft for the first time later in 2012. Elon Musk, founder of SpaceX, said he hopes to bring astronauts aboard the Dragon capsule within the next few years, according to Forbes. SpaceX completed its first crew trial on Friday, demonstrating that the capsule could carry either seven crew members or 13,000 pounds (5,900 kilograms) of cargo safely.


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Soyuz Spacecraft Heads For International Space Station

A Soyuz spacecraft carrying a Russian, an American and a Dutchman to the International Space Station blasted off flawlessly from Russia’s launch facility in Kazakhstan on Wednesday. Mission commander Oleg Kononenko and his colleagues, American Don Pettit and European Space Agency astronaut Andre Kuipers are to dock with the space station on Friday. The blastoff […]
A Soyuz spacecraft carrying a Russian, an American and a Dutchman to the International Space Station blasted off flawlessly from Russia’s launch facility in Kazakhstan on Wednesday. Mission commander Oleg Kononenko and his colleagues, American Don Pettit and European Space Agency astronaut Andre Kuipers are to dock with the space station on Friday. The blastoff from the snowy launchpad in Baikonur, Kazakhstan, took place without a hitch and the spacecraft reached Earth orbit about nine minutes later. Video from inside the craft showed the three crew members gripping each others’ hands in celebration as the final stage of the booster rocket separated. The three aboard the Russian spacecraft will join three others already on the ISS, NASA’s Dan Burbank and Russians Anton Shkaplerov and Anatoly Ivanishin. The six are to work together on the station until March. The launch came amid a period of trouble for Russia’s space program, which provides the only way for crew to reach the space station since the United States retired its space shuttle program in July. The launch of an unmanned supply ship for the space station failed in August and the ship crashed in a Siberian forest. The Soyuz rocket carrying that craft was the same type used to send up Russian manned spacecraft, and the crash prompted officials to postpone the next manned launch while the rockets were examined for flaws. The delayed mission eventually took place on Nov. 14. Just five days before that launch, Russia sent up its ambitious Phobos-Ground unmanned probe, which was to go to the Phobos moon of Mars, take soil samples and return them to Earth. But engineers lost contact with the ship and were unable to propel it out of Earth orbit and toward Mars. The craft is now expected to fall to Earth in mid-January. Last December, Russia lost three navigation satellites when a rocket carrying them failed to reach orbit. A military satellite was lost in February, and the launch of the Express-AM4, described by officials as Russia’s most powerful telecommunications satellite, went awry in August.


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International Space Station Crew Set To Launch To A New Home For The Holidays

Just in time for the holidays, the residents of the International Space Station will welcome three new crew members: Flight Engineer Don Pettit (NASA) Soyuz Commander Oleg Kononenko (Rosscosmos) Flight Engineer Andre Kuipers (European Space Agency) They are set to launch in their Soyuz TMA-03M spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 7:16 a.m. […]
Just in time for the holidays, the residents of the International Space Station will welcome three new crew members: Flight Engineer Don Pettit (NASA) Soyuz Commander Oleg Kononenko (Rosscosmos) Flight Engineer Andre Kuipers (European Space Agency) They are set to launch in their Soyuz TMA-03M spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 7:16 a.m. CST on Wednesday, Dec. 21 (7:16 p.m. local time). NASA Television will air video of prelaunch activities at 5:45 a.m. and provide live coverage of the launch beginning at 6:30 a.m On Dec. 23, the trio will dock to the Rassvet module of the station at 9:22 a.m. The new crew will join station Commander Dan Burbank of NASA and Russian Flight Engineers Anton Shkaplerov and Anatoly Ivanishin, who have been aboard the orbital laboratory since mid-November. NASA TV will provide live coverage beginning at 8:45 a.m. Hatch opening and the holiday welcoming ceremony will occur about three hours later.  

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Lunar Honeymoon: Can NASA Really Take Us There Within The Next 10 Years?

We all wonder where NASA’s new space development program will take us.  What kind of technologies will we employ?  What planets will we visit?  What will happen to the International Space Station (ISS)? All these questions and more where answered by NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver at the International Symposium for Personal and Commercial Spaceflight. […]
We all wonder where NASA’s new space development program will take us.  What kind of technologies will we employ?  What planets will we visit?  What will happen to the International Space Station (ISS)? All these questions and more where answered by NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver at the International Symposium for Personal and Commercial Spaceflight. Here are the key notes.
  • Private researchers and tourists will be able to travel to ISS and other orbital destination (“Vacation All I Ever Wanted!”)
  • An international expedition will set out for a mission to asteroid (earlier plans were used during the filming of “Armageddon”)
  • A new planet containing water, i.e. habitable  will be discovered by The Webb Telescope
  • Every earthquake and tsunami can be predicted way in advance via personal hand held computer device
  • 98 percent of Earth-crossing asteroids are being tracked and cataloged
  • Bases and outposts are being set up on the Moon (Honeymoon anybody?)
You can read more of Ms. Garver’s comments here. How realistic do you think those predictions are?  Please comment below.  

Russia’s Soyuz Crash + US Shuttle Program Retirement= International Space Station Abandoned. How did it come to this?

Last week’s Soyuz crash was just the latest in a series of embarrassing mishaps for Russia’s space industry, which is plagued by quality problems and an ageing workforce. With no other way to get astronauts into orbit, the operation of the International Space Station is now in question. The people in the Altai Mountains of Siberia […]
Last week’s Soyuz crash was just the latest in a series of embarrassing mishaps for Russia’s space industry, which is plagued by quality problems and an ageing workforce. With no other way to get astronauts into orbit, the operation of the International Space Station is now in question. The people in the Altai Mountains of Siberia (where the crash occurred) are regarded as frugal and tough. In late summer, many live from harvesting berries and cedar nuts. They are also used to having burned-out rocket stages crash in the wilderness after spacecraft launches. When, in the middle of last week, a large ball of fire was seen in the sky above the taiga, residents of the village of Karakoksha were not alarmed.  They apparently just went back to sleep. After a malfunction, a Russian Soyuz rocket had crashed along with an unmanned cargo spacecraft named Progress. The explosion was heard even 100 kilometers (62 miles) away. This accident couldn’t have come at a worst time.  It shuttered public confidence in the aging Russian technology which is crucial to the future of manned spaceflight since NASA shut down the Space Shuttle program in July.  Russia remains the only country that is able to regularly put humans into space. Permanent operation of the International Space Station (ISS) is now impossible without the Soyuz rocket, which went into service in its current form in 1973 and had previously been the most reliable rocket of all time. Until officials figure out what went wrong with Russia’s essential Soyuz rockets, there will be no way to launch any more astronauts before the current residents have to leave in mid-November. Abandoning the space station, even for a short period, would be an unpleasant last resort for the world’s five space agencies that have spent decades working on the project. Astronauts have been living aboard the space station since 2000, and the goal is to keep it going until 2020. Even if the space shuttles still were flying, space station crews still would need Soyuz-launched capsules to serve as lifeboats, Suffredini said. The capsules are certified for no more than 6 1/2 months in space, thus the need to regularly rotate crews. Complicating matters is the need to land the capsules during daylight hours in Kazakhstan, resulting in weeks of blackout periods. NASA wants American private companies to take over crew hauls, but that’s three to five years away at best. Until then, Soyuz capsules are the only means of transporting astronauts to the space station. What is your opinion?  Do you think that International Space Station will be abandoned?


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NASA Space Shuttle Ends Its Era – Commercial Space To Take The Future Load

NASA’s Space Shuttle Era officially ended today at 5:57AM with the landing of Space Shuttle Atlantis. NASA’s Space Shuttle program, officially called Space Transportation System(STS), was the United States government’s manned launch vehicle program from 1981 to 2011. The STS-135 crew consisted of Commander Chris Ferguson, Pilot Doug Hurley, Mission Specialists Sandra Magnus and Rex […]
NASA’s Space Shuttle Era officially ended today at 5:57AM with the landing of Space Shuttle Atlantis. NASA’s Space Shuttle program, officially called Space Transportation System(STS), was the United States government’s manned launch vehicle program from 1981 to 2011. The STS-135 crew consisted of Commander Chris Ferguson, Pilot Doug Hurley, Mission Specialists Sandra Magnus and Rex Walheim. They delivered more than 9,400 pounds of spare parts, spare equipment and other supplies in the Raffaello multi-purpose logistics module – including 2,677 pounds of food – that will sustain space station operations for the next year. The 21-foot long, 15-foot diameter Raffaello brought back nearly 5,700 pounds of unneeded materials from the station. There is a lot of debate on whether or not the program was a success but from now the future of the human space travel will belong to the private companies. Who are they? In late May 2011 NASA announced that it awarded $269,3 million to the following companies in order to accelerate human spaceflight capability and commercial crew transportation. The companies were selected for the second round of the Commercial Crew Development (CCDev2). Blue Origin is a privately-funded aerospace company set up by Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos. The company was awarded $3.7 million in funding in 2009 by NASA via a Space Act Agreement under the Commercial Crew Development (CCDev) program for development of concepts and technologies to support future human spaceflight operations. The company’s innovative ‘pusher’ Launch Abort System (LAS) was one of the technologies that was of particular interest to NASA. To date abort systems have been of the tractor variety, which pulls a crew vehicle to safety in case of an emergency. Initially focused on sub-orbital spaceflight, the company has built and flown a testbed of its New Shepard spacecraft design at their Culberson County, Texas facility. According to company statements, it initially planned on placing the New Shepard in commercial suborbital tourist service in 2010 with flights about once a week. However, the most recently publicized timetable states that Blue Origin will fly unmanned in 2011, and manned in 2012.   Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) is an electronic systems provider and systems integrator specializing in microsatellites, energy, telemedicine, nanotechnology, and commercial orbital transportation services. The company contracts with the US military, NASA and private spaceflight companies. The company is headquartered in Sparks, Nevada. SNC employs over 2000 people. SNC has six different business areas, and 35 locations in 16 states along with numerous customer support sites located throughout the world. Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) is an American space transport company founded by PayPal co-founder Elon Musk. It has developed the Falcon 1 and Falcon 9 rockets, both of which are built with a goal of being reusable launch vehicles. SpaceX is also developing the Dragon spacecraft to be carried to orbit by Falcon 9 launch vehicles. SpaceX designs, tests and fabricates the majority of their components in-house, including the Merlin, Kestrel, and Draco rocket engines. In December 2010, SpaceX became the first private company to successfully launch, orbit and recover a spacecraft (a Dragon). Originally based in El Segundo, SpaceX now operates out of Hawthorne, California, USA.   The Boeing Company is an American multinational aerospace and defense corporation, founded in 1916 by William E. Boeing in Seattle, Washington. Boeing has expanded over the years, merging with McDonnell Douglas in 1997. Boeing Corporate headquarters has been in Chicago, Illinois[2] since 2001. Boeing is made up of multiple business units, which are Boeing Commercial Airplanes (BCA); Boeing Defense, Space & Security (BDS); Engineering, Operations & Technology; Boeing Capital; and Boeing Shared Services Group.           There is a viable program that does test flights in 2014 and will be ready to carry crew in 2015.  
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Who Will Carry US Astronauts To International Space Station?

The retirement of the Space Shuttle Program and lack of its readily available replacement stirred a whirl of criticism of Obama administration’s decision to shut down the program. The main question on everyone’s mind is “How will US astronauts get to Earth’s low orbit and mainly International Space Station?” The only options seemed to be […]
The retirement of the Space Shuttle Program and lack of its readily available replacement stirred a whirl of criticism of Obama administration’s decision to shut down the program. The main question on everyone’s mind is “How will US astronauts get to Earth’s low orbit and mainly International Space Station?” The only options seemed to be to rent the seats on Russian Soyuz spacecrafts that travel to ISS regularly. However, NASA does have a few cards up its sleeve. In late May 2011 NASA announced that it awarded $269,3 million to the following companies in order to accelerate human spaceflight capability and commercial crew transportation.  The companies were selected for the second round of the Commercial Crew Development (CCDev2). Blue Origin is a privately-funded aerospace company set up by Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos. The company was awarded $3.7 million in funding in 2009 by NASA via a Space Act Agreement under the Commercial Crew Development (CCDev) program for development of concepts and technologies to support future human spaceflight operations. The company’s innovative ‘pusher’ Launch Abort System (LAS) was one of the technologies that was of particular interest to NASA. To date abort systems have been of the tractor variety, which pulls a crew vehicle to safety in case of an emergency. Initially focused on sub-orbital spaceflight, the company has built and flown a testbed of its New Shepard spacecraft design at their Culberson County, Texas facility. According to company statements, it initially planned on placing the New Shepard in commercial suborbital tourist service in 2010 with flights about once a week. However, the most recently publicized timetable states that Blue Origin will fly unmanned in 2011, and manned in 2012.   Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) is an electronic systems provider and systems integrator specializing in microsatellites, energy, telemedicine, nanotechnology, and commercial orbital transportation services. The company contracts with the US military, NASA and private spaceflight companies. The company is headquartered in Sparks, Nevada. SNC employs over 2000 people. SNC has six different business areas, and 35 locations in 16 states along with numerous customer support sites located throughout the world. Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) is an American space transport company founded by PayPal co-founder Elon Musk. It has developed the Falcon 1 and Falcon 9 rockets, both of which are built with a goal of being reusable launch vehicles. SpaceX is also developing the Dragon spacecraft to be carried to orbit by Falcon 9 launch vehicles. SpaceX designs, tests and fabricates the majority of their components in-house, including the Merlin, Kestrel, and Draco rocket engines. In December 2010, SpaceX became the first private company to successfully launch, orbit and recover a spacecraft (a Dragon). Originally based in El Segundo, SpaceX now operates out of Hawthorne, California, USA.   The Boeing Company is an American multinational aerospace and defense corporation, founded in 1916 by William E. Boeing in Seattle, Washington. Boeing has expanded over the years, merging with McDonnell Douglas in 1997. Boeing Corporate headquarters has been in Chicago, Illinois[2] since 2001. Boeing is made up of multiple business units, which are Boeing Commercial Airplanes (BCA); Boeing Defense, Space & Security (BDS); Engineering, Operations & Technology; Boeing Capital; and Boeing Shared Services Group.           There is a  viable program that does test flights in 2014 and will be ready to carry crew in 2015.  
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Will NASA Have To Buy Seats On The Russian Soyuz Rocket To Carry Its Astronauts Into Orbit?

The answer is “Yes” according to a lot of experts. The Obama administration has instructed Nasa to hand over to private companies the job of ferrying astronauts to and from the International Space Station. That is supposed to free NASA to focus on more ambitious goals, ultimately to take crews beyond the realm of low […]
The answer is “Yes” according to a lot of experts. The Obama administration has instructed Nasa to hand over to private companies the job of ferrying astronauts to and from the International Space Station. That is supposed to free NASA to focus on more ambitious goals, ultimately to take crews beyond the realm of low Earth orbit. So the thinking goes, anyway… However, it is obvious that the transition will not be swift and the replacement of the shuttle is many years off. So, if NASA still wants to carry its astronauts into orbit, there is only one way to do that: they must buy seats on the Russian Soyuz rocket. What do we know about Soyuz and how does it compare to NASA’s Space Shuttle program?
Soyuz docked to International Space Station
Soyuz (Сою́з) is a series of spacecraft designed for the Soviet space program by the Korolyov Design Bureau in the 1960s.  The Soyuz spacecraft family is still in service today. Soyuz spacecraft were used to carry personnel to and from Salyut and later Mir Soviet space stations, and are now used for transport to and from the International Space Station. The International Space Station maintains a docked Soyuz spacecraft at all times to be used as escape craft in the event of an emergency. How do the costs compare? According to the industry experts, the Soyuz represents the triumph of a low-cost approach to human space exploration. The Russian capsules are launched on massive expendable rockets, carrying astronauts in a kind of guided cannonball to and from orbit. By contrast, the U.S. built its space program around the most complex flying machine ever, the reusable space shuttle. While the U.S. has spent $209.1 billion on the space shuttle since its inception, the entire Russian space program currently costs just $2 billion a year. Do YOU think that reusable ships are not economically justified? Please comment below.
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