Report: SpaceX Dragon Spacecraft Contaminating Space Station

Dragon on the end of Candarm2. (Credit: NASA)

Wired has a fascinating story that details how SpaceX’s cargo Dragon spacecraft have been contaminating the International Space Station during their stays there – and how NASA has tried to hide the fact.

The contamination was discovered by the Stratospheric Aerosol and Gas Experiment (SAGE) III Earth observing instrument, which was launched to the station aboard SpaceX’s CRS-10 resupply mission in February 2017. The instrument has crystals in it capable of detecting contamination at the space station.

The results are preliminary, but Dragon may have deposited, according to this presentation, up to 21 times the allowed amount of contamination on one sensor. The crystals also significantly changed in frequency when the next Dragon docked, and the report estimates that this mission may have left behind up to 32 times the rule-abiding amount of extra matter on one sensor….

During this thirteenth mission, one sensor may have been sprayed with up to 73 times more than what’s allowed during a sojourn. And for the month or so that Dragon was docked at the Station, two of the sensors individually detected more contamination than is allowed—total, from everything on the Station—in a whole year.

Among the space assets at risk from the capsule’s outgassing is the U.S. Laboratory Science Window, a porthole through which astronauts and instruments can gaze out on Earth. On the more scientific side, there’s CATS, an instrument that measures smoke, pollution, dust, and other particles in the planet’s atmosphere. In total, seven sensitive areas or instruments on the ISS, including SAGE, could be contaminated beyond the limit.

“NASA has communicated with the Station payload community its findings, and payload developers have responded either that their instruments have experienced no impact or they have taken precautions to mitigate impacts to their science,” says Space Environments in a statement. The SAGE III team closes the instrument’s “contamination door,” as a standard operating procedure, when any spacecraft visit to protect its optical instrument, although the resulting measurements aren’t as sensitive .

SpaceX said it is working with suppliers to develop low outgassing materials for use in future Dragon spacecraft. It said NASA pre-approved the materials used in the resupply ships. (The story, however, says that it’s possible materials such as paint are not being applied and cured properly.)

The information came from a presentation marked unclassified and unlimited public distribution that was posted on the NASA Technical Reports Server in September. A day after the Wired writer requested an interview about it with NASA officials, the document disappeared from the server. A NASA official said the report is “under review” and told Wired to submit a Freedom of Information Act request for it.

 

SpaceX Dragon Arrives at Space Station

A SpaceX Dragon spacecraft launches to the International Space Station at 1:16 p.m. EST Dec. 5, 2018, on a Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The spacecraft, on its 16th mission for NASA under the agency’s Commercial Resupply Services contract, carries more than 5,600 pounds of research equipment, cargo and supplies. (Credits: NASA Television)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — Three days after its launch from Florida, the SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft was installed on the Earth-facing side of the International Space Station’s Harmony module at 10:36 a.m. EST.

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NASA Sends New Research, Hardware to Space Station on SpaceX Mission

A SpaceX Dragon spacecraft launches to the International Space Station at 1:16 p.m. EST Dec. 5, 2018, on a Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The spacecraft, on its 16th mission for NASA under the agency’s Commercial Resupply Services contract, carries more than 5,600 pounds of research equipment, cargo and supplies. (Credits: NASA Television)

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (NASA PR) — Experiments in forest observation, protein crystal growth and in-space fuel transfer demonstration are heading to the International Space Station following the launch Wednesday of SpaceX’s 16th mission for NASA under the agency’s Commercial Resupply Services contract.

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How SpaceX Will Conduct an Inflight Abort Test for Crew Dragon

Dragon abort test with SuperDraco engines. (Credit: SpaceX)

The FAA has published its draft environmental assessment for issuing a launch license for SpaceX’s upcoming in-flight abort test for the Crew Dragon spacecraft.

The following excerpts describe how Elon Musk’s space company will conduct the test next spring from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A). Some  long paragraphs have been divided into multiple ones to make the material easier to read.
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SpaceX Dragon to Transport More than 20 ISS National Lab Experiments to ISS

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla, November 27, 2018 (SpaceX PR)– SpaceX is targeting no earlier than December 4 at 1:38 p.m. EST for its 16th commercial resupply mission (awarded by NASA) to the International Space Station  from Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft will bring approximately 300 kilograms of research and hardware facilities to the orbiting laboratory under the International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory flight allocation. There are more than 20 payloads included on this mission sponsored by the ISS National Lab.

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NASA to Highlight Science Investigations Launching on Next Dragon Supply Ship

Dragon spacecraft in orbit. (Credit: NASA)

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (NASA PR) — NASA will host a media teleconference at 1 p.m. EST Wednesday, Nov. 28, to discuss select science investigations launching on the next SpaceX commercial resupply flight to the International Space Station.

SpaceX is targeting Dec. 4 for launch of its Dragon spacecraft on a Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS) in Florida.

Participants in the briefing will be:

  • Hsiao Smith, deputy director for technical of the Satellite Servicing Projects Division at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, will discuss the Robotic Refueling Mission-3 to demonstrate the storage and transfer of liquid methane in space for the first time.
  • Timothy Etheridge, principal investigator for the Molecular Muscle investigation, and a professor at University of Exeter, Department of Sport and Health Sciences in the United Kingdom,will discuss research to examine the molecular causes of muscle abnormalities during spaceflight in order to establish effective countermeasures.
  • Ralph Dubayah, principal investigator for Global Ecosystem Dynamics Investigation (GEDI) at the Joint Global Carbon Cycle Center in College Park, Maryland, will discuss an investigation to test high-quality laser ranging observations of the Earth’s forests and topography required to advance the understanding of important carbon and water cycling processes, biodiversity, and habitat.
  • Vic Keasler, Director of Research, Development and Engineering at Nalco Champion, an Ecolab company, will discuss an investigation to examine the rate of corrosion on carbon steel materials caused by films made up of microorganisms on Earth and in space.
  • Jahaun Azadmanesh, a doctoral student at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, Nebraska, will discuss the Perfect Crystals investigation which aims to help understand how an antioxidant protein helps protect the human body from oxidizing radiation and oxidants created as a byproduct of metabolism.

To participate in the teleconference, media must contact Kathryn Hambleton at 202-358-1100 or kathryn.hambleton@nasa.gov by 5 p.m. Tuesday, Nov 27, for dial-in information.

Audio of the teleconference will be streamed live online at:

https://www.nasa.gov/nasalive

SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft will carry crew supplies, scientific research and hardware to the orbiting laboratory to support the Expedition 57 and 58 crews for the 16th contracted mission by SpaceX under NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services contract.

For launch countdown coverage, NASA’s launch blog, and more information about the mission, visit:

https://www.nasa.gov/spacex

Musk: Still Looking to Launch BFR to Mars in 2024

Elon Musk (Credit: SpaceX)

Kara Swisher of Recode posted an interview with Elon Musk last week. Below are lightly edited excepts concerning SpaceX and Musk’s plans for Mars.

Well let’s get to rockets, then. SpaceX. Last time we talked, you said you wanted to die on Mars, just not on landing. Which was a very funny joke, although it’s probably not a joke, it’s probably —

Well, it’d be ironic if that had happened. I have to be careful about tempting fate, because I think often the most ironic outcome is the most probable….

Instead of discussing your death, let’s discuss what’s going on at SpaceX. What are some of the things you’re doing?

We successfully launched the Falcon Heavy rocket, which is the most powerful rocket in the world by a factor of two. So that’s twice the power, twice the thrust of the next biggest rocket. And we actually launched a Tesla — my Tesla Roadster — to Mars orbit. The reason we did that is actually because, normally, when a new rocket is launched, you just put a dummy payload, which is like a block of concrete or something.
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SpaceX Rehearses Helicopter Landing at Sea

GO Searcher ship. (Credit: NASA)

When astronauts splash down into the ocean after their journey to the International Space Station on SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft, recovery teams must be able to transport them to land quickly. In the unlikely event of an astronaut medical emergency, SpaceX has outfitted its recovery ship, GO Searcher, with a medical treatment facility and a helipad in the center of the vessel.

Recently the company completed helicopter landing and patient loading rehearsals on the ship, practicing how the helicopter will pick up astronauts and fly them to a nearby hospital.

GO Searcher rehearsal. (Credit: NASA)

The aircraft will also serve to carry doctors and paramedics to care for the astronauts. This will allow the SpaceX medical team to provide the best possible care to astronauts on the ship, in-flight, and get them safely to a hospital.

In a normal scenario, Crew Dragon will splash down off of Florida’s eastern coast. GO Searcher is equipped with a crane to lift the capsule out of the water and onto the main deck of the ship. NASA and SpaceX doctors will work together to evaluate the crew onboard the vessel. From there, GO Searcher will head for Cape Canaveral, Florida, where SpaceX teams will take the astronauts to a nearby airport for transport back to Houston.

GO Searcher rehearsal (Credit: NASA)

NASA’s Commercial Crew Program is working with Boeing and SpaceX to begin launching astronauts from American soil for the first time since 2011. The goal of the program is safe, reliable and cost-effective transportation to and from the International Space Station from the United States. Commercial transportation to and from the space station will enable expanded station use, additional research time and broader opportunities of discovery aboard the orbiting laboratory.

CASIS Announces Request for Proposals to Access Spaceflight Biospecimens

In association with Taconic Biosciences and BioServe Space Technologies, selected concepts from this Request for Proposals will support Rodent Research Reference Mission-1, a CASIS-sponsored initiative to support biospecimen research onboard the International Space Station U.S. National Laboratory

Kennedy Space Center, Fla, September 11, 2018 (CASIS PR)  The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) today announced a Request for Proposals (RFP) for investigators seeking to access biological specimens from its Rodent Research Reference Mission-1, Applications for Spaceflight Biospecimens, to support fundamental biomedical inquiries sponsored by the International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory.

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Mid-Year Global Launch Report: China & USA Continue to Battle for Lead

A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta IV rocket carrying the NROL-47 mission lifts off from Vandenberg Air Force Base. (Credit: ULA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The world’s launch providers were extremely busy in the first half of 2018, with China and the United States battling for the lead.

There with 55 orbital launches through the end of June, which amounted to a launch every 3.29 days or 79 hours. The total is more than half the 90 launches attempted in 2017. With approximately 42 missions scheduled for the last six months of the year, the total could reach 97. (more…)

NanoRacks Brings 40 Students Experiments to Space Station, New Commercial Customer

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – July 2, 2018 (NanoRacks PR) –  Early this morning, Dragon, the spacecraft from the fifteenth SpaceX contracted resupply mission, berthed with the International Space Station carrying one of NanoRacks’ largest educational missions to date. In addition to launching 40 student experiments, NanoRacks has also introduced a new commercial company and ongoing professional research into the commercial low-Earth orbit ecosystem.

NanoRacks brought the 12th Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP) mission to the Space Station. SSEP Mission 12 received 2,498 proposals from 31 communities. These proposals were narrowed down to 34 flight experiments, and through the whole process, engaged over 12,000 students in the aerospace experiment design process.

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SpaceX Dragon Cargo Ship Arrives at Space Station

Dragon on the end of Candarm2. (Credit: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — Three days after its launch from Florida, the SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft was installed on the Earth-facing side of the International Space Station’s Harmony module at 9:52 a.m. EDT.

The 15th contracted commercial resupply mission from SpaceX (CRS-15) delivers more than 5,900 pounds of research, crew supplies and hardware to the orbiting laboratory.

Among the research arriving to the U.S. National Laboratory is the Space Algae investigation, will discuss research to select algae strains adapted to space and sequence their genomes to identify growth-related genes. Algae consume waste carbon dioxide, can provide basic nutrition and may perceive microgravity as a trigger to produce algae oils rich in antioxidants that may help mitigate the harmful effects of microgravity and cosmic radiation during spaceflight. The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), which manages the U.S. National Laboratory, is sponsoring the investigation.

A technology demonstration arriving is an observational pilot study with the Crew Interactive MObile companioN (CIMON) that aims to provide first insights into the effects of crew support from an artificial intelligence (AI) in terms of efficiency and acceptance during long-term missions in space.

After Dragon spends approximately one month attached to the space station, the spacecraft will return to Earth with about 3,800 pounds of cargo and research, including an investigation to advance DNA sequencing in space and the Angiex cancer therapy investigation to improve understanding of endothelial cells that line the walls of blood vessels.

Keep up to date with the latest news from the crew living in space by following https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation/, @space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter, and the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

Dragon Delivers Some ICE to Space Station

ICE Cubes experiment unit (Credit: ICE Cubes/ISU)

PARIS (ESA PR) — The newly installed International Commercial Experiments service – ICE Cubes for short – facility providing commercial access to microgravity will soon receive the first experiment cubes after today’s successful SpaceX Dragon resupply launch.

The 15th resupply mission lifted off from Cape Canaveral, Florida at 5:42 ET (11:42 CEST) with standard cargo for the International Space Station as well as the first 10 x 10 x 10 cm experiment cubes.

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Falcon 9 Launches Dragon Resupply Ship to Space Station

SpaceX launches its Dragon cargo craft on a Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida at 5:42 a.m. EDT June 29, 2018. The early-morning launch is the company’s 15th resupply mission to the International Space Station under NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services contract. (Credit: NASA TV)

CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla. (NASA PR) — Experiments investigating cellular biology, Earth science and artificial intelligence are among the research heading to the International Space Station following Friday’s launch of a NASA-contracted SpaceX Dragon spacecraft at 5:42 a.m. EDT.

Dragon lifted off on a Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida with more than 5,900 pounds of research, equipment, cargo and supplies that will support dozens of investigations aboard the space station.

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Upcoming SpaceX Mission to the International Space Station Loaded with Research

Dragon spacecraft in orbit. (Credit: NASA)

Kennedy Space Center, Fla. — June 26, 2018 (CASIS PR) SpaceX is targeting its 15th resupply mission (awarded by NASA) to the International Space Station (ISS) for no earlier than 5:42 a.m. EDT on June 29th from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. As part of this mission, SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft will haul approximately 300 kilograms of research and hardware facilities under the ISS U.S. National Laboratory flight allocation. The ISS National Lab is managed by the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS). The research investigations that are part of the ISS National Lab flight manifest represent a diverse mixture of payloads which are intended to benefit life on Earth.

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