China Launches New Crew to Tiangong Space Station

Shenzhou 13 launches to Tiangong space station. (Credit: CGTN webcast)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

China launched the second three-member crew for a three-month stay aboard the Tiangong space station early Saturday morning local time.

The Shenzhou-13 spacecraft carrying commander Zhai Zhigang and crewmates Wang Yaping and Ye Guangfu lifted off from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center aboard a Long March 2F booster at 12:23 a.m. (12:23 a.m. EDT Friday). The crew is scheduled to dock with the space station about 6.5 hours after launch.

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Europe Delivers Module for First Astronaut Mission to the Moon

An Antonov aircraft sent the second European Service Module for NASA’s Orion spacecraft across the Atlantic in a custom-built container from Bremen, Germany, on 13 October 2021. (Credit: ESA–A. Conigli)

BREMEN (ESA PR) — The second European Service Module for NASA’s Orion spacecraft is on its way to USA. It is the last stopover on Earth before this made-in-Europe powerhouse takes the first astronauts around the Moon on the Artemis II mission.

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Astronauts to Receive Health Boost Thanks to UK Research

Luca Parmitano of ESA (European Space Agency) wears virtual reality goggles for GRIP, an investigation exploring how microgravity affects ability to grip and manipulate objects. (Credits: NASA)

PARIS (ESA PR) — British scientists are set to use the microgravity environment of the International Space Station to investigate the health challenges ESA astronauts could experience on proposed long-duration missions to the Moon and beyond.

The projects will tackle medical issues such as muscle loss, and stress and anxiety caused by isolation.

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A Teary-eyed William Shatner Describes Flying to Space for Real Aboard Blue Origin’s New Shepard

Jeff Bezos pins Blue Origin astronaut wings on actor William Shatner. (Credit: Blue Origin webcast)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Visibly moved to tears, Star Trek actor William Shatner struggled to describe the experience of spaceflight to Amazon founder Jeff Bezos after making a suborbital flight aboard Blue Origin’s New Shepard capsule.

“What you have given me is the most profound experience I can imagine. I am so filled with emotion about what just happened. Just extraordinary. I hope I never recover from this. I hope that I can maintain what I feel now, I don’t wanna lose it,” he said.

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NASA Sets Landing Coverage for Russian Cosmonaut, Actress, Producer

Actress Yulia, Peresild, cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov, director Klim Shipenko and and backup crew member Alena Mordovina. (Credit: Roscosmos)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — NASA will provide complete coverage as three space travelers living aboard the International Space Station, including a Russian actress and her producer-director, return to Earth just after midnight on Sunday, Oct. 17.

Russian cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy of Roscosmos will be at the controls of the Soyuz MS-18 spacecraft, flanked by Russian actress Yulia Peresild and Russian producer-director Klim Shipenko, for the spacecraft’s undocking from the station’s Nauka Multipurpose Laboratory Module Saturday, Oct. 16. The trio will make a parachute-assisted landing on the steppe of Kazakhstan a little more than three hours later, at 12:36 a.m. EDT (10:36 a.m. Kazakhstan time) Sunday, Oct. 17.

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Japanese Astronaut to Fly Aboard SpaceX Crew-5 Spacecraft

Koichi Wakata

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

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

Comment From Astronaut Wakata

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

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

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

Discovery and Science Channel to Broadcast William Shatner Flight To Space

William Shatner in his flight suit (Credit: Blue Origin)

Space Launch LIVE: Shatner in SpaceAiring Live
on Discovery and Science Channel, Wednesday, October 13, 8:30 -10:30 AM

Discovery and Science Channel brings viewers the highly-anticipated launch of Star Trek star William Shatner as he takes his first flight into space — at the age of 90, soon to be the oldest person to fly to space — on Blue Origin’s New Shepard, a cutting-edge suborbital rocket.

Scheduled for Wednesday after weather delays, the mission, known as NS-18, will launch from Blue Origin’s West Texas site. This will be the second-ever crewed spaceflight for Blue Origin after its inaugural crewed flight launched founder Jeff Bezos and three other passengers on a 10-minute trip to space and back in July.

William Shatner Flight to Space Postponed to Wednesday

William Shatner with CrewMember 7 Sarah Knights (left), and Audrey Powers (right). (Credit: Blue Origin)

KENT, Wash. (Blue Origin PR) — Due to forecasted winds on Tuesday, October 12, Blue Origin’s mission operations team has made the decision to delay the launch of NS-18 and is now targeting Wednesday, October 13. Liftoff from Launch Site One is currently targeted for 8:30 am CDT / 13:30 UTC on Wednesday. 

As part of today’s Flight Readiness Review, the mission operations team confirmed the vehicle has  met all mission requirements and astronauts began their training today. Weather is the only gating factor for the launch window.

Passengers will include: Star Trek actor William Shatner; Chris Boshuizen, co-founder of Planet Labs; Glen de Vries, vice-chairman of Licenses & Healthcare, Dassault Systemes and co-founder of Mediadata; and Audrey Powers, Blue Origin VP of Mission and Flight Operations.

Filming for Russian “Challenge” Movie Continues on Space Station

Credit: Roscosmos

MOSCOW (Roscosmos PR) — Usually Saturday and Sunday for the crew of the International Space Station are days off. 

Astronauts can do their own business at their own discretion – read books, watch films, respond to messages from subscribers on social networks or “live” letters delivered on board the International Space Station using “space” mail, communicate with family and friends by calling the Earth, play sports outside of the compulsory physical activity. 

Meanwhile, the crew of the scientific and educational project “Challenge” consisting of actress Yulia Peresild and director Klim Shipenko continues to work – it is already the fourth shooting day of the project in near-earth orbit. 

In the evening, October 8, 2021, Dmitry Rogozin, General Director of the State Corporation Roscosmos, held a video session with the crew of the Call project on board the International Space Station. Russian doctors note the good health of the space flight participants. 

As a reminder, Roskosmos cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov, as well as space flight participants – actress Peresild and director Shipenko – went to the ISS on the Soyuz MS-19 manned transport spacecraft from the Baikonur cosmodrome on October 5, 2021. The spacecraft docked to the Dawn module of the International Space Station almost 3.5 hours after launch. The return of the crew to Earth is expected next Sunday.

National Academies Report Identifies New Approach for Some NASA Missions to Prevent Contaminating Mars with Earth-Based Microbes

Séítah From the Air: This image looking west toward the Séítah geologic unit on Mars was taken from the height of 33 feet (10 meters) by NASA’s Ingenuity Mars helicopter during its sixth flight, on May 22, 2021. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

WASHINGTON (National Academies PR) — A new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine identifies criteria that could allow robotic missions to certain locations on Mars to be carried out with less restrictive “bioburden” requirements, which are designed to prevent the unintentional transport of Earth-based microbes to Mars.

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NASA Seeks Commercial Spacesuit Services Proposals

Illustration of Artemis astronauts on the Moon. NASA’s Artemis mission will establish a sustainable presence on the Moon to prepare for missions to Mars. (Credits: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — Artemis moonwalkers exploring the lunar South Pole will wear revolutionary spacesuits that stand up to the Moon’s harsh environment and keep them safe. NASA is embracing commercial partnerships to optimize spacesuit technology and inspire pioneering in the space market.

NASA published a request for proposal (RFP) Sept. 29  for companies to compete for the agency’s future purchase of spacesuits and support services for spacewalks on the International Space Station, during Artemis lunar surface missions, and as needed on Gateway in lunar orbit. 

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Cosmonauts Prepare Soyuz for Return to Earth

The three new residents aboard the station (front row, from left) are Russian actress Yulia Peresild, Roscosmos cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov, and Russian Producer Klim Shipenko. In the back, are Expedition 65 crew members Shane Kimbrough, Oleg Novitskiy, Thomas Pesquet, Megan McArthur, Pyotr Dubrov, Mark Vande Hei, and Akihiko Hoshide. (Credit: NASA TV)

MOSCOW, October 7, 2021 (Roscosmos PR) — Russian crewmembers of the 65th long-term expedition to the International Space Station work in accordance with the flight task. Today, October 7, 2021, in preparation for the upcoming landing, the Soyuz MS-19 spacecraft crew is swapping the Soyuz MS-19 and Soyuz MS-18 seat liners. Return to Earth is scheduled for October 17, 2021.

The crew also continues to work on filming the scientific and educational project ‘Challenge’. The health condition of the cosmonauts and spaceflight participants is good.

The seat liners act as shock absorbers evenly distributing the loads to protect the crew during the landing. Each seat liner is made individually for each cosmonaut as part Kazbek-UM chair shock-absorbing chair of Soyuz MS spacecraft, where the cosmonaut (or spaceflight participant) stays during the flight.

Three times in the history of Russian cosmonautics the seat liners saved the lives of the crews returning from Earth orbit in 1969 (Boris Volynov), in 1980 (Valery Kubasov and Bertalan Farkash), in 1997 (Vasily Tsibliev, Alexander Lazutkin). The impact on the ground was so strong that the astronauts survived largely thanks to the seat liners.

The spaceflight participants Yulia Peresild and Klim Shipenko, who flew to the International Space Station as part of the scientific and educational project ‘Challenge’ will return to Earth on October 17 on the Soyuz MS-18 spacecraft together with Roscosmos cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy, who has been at the ISS since April. Anton Shkaplerov and Pyotr Dubrov will spend another 174 days at the station.

According to preliminary data from the TsNIImash Mission Control Center (part of Roscosmos), the Soyuz MS-18 spacecraft is scheduled to undock at 01:12 UTC on October 17, 2021. The descent capsule is expected to land at 04:36 UTC of the same day, 147 km from the city of Zhezkazgan.

NASA Announces Astronaut Changes for Upcoming Commercial Crew Missions

NASA crew members of the SpaceX Crew-5 mission to the International Space Station. Pictured from left are NASA astronauts Nicole Mann and Josh Cassada. (Credits: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — NASA has reassigned astronauts Nicole Mann and Josh Cassada to the agency’s SpaceX Crew-5 mission to the International Space Station as part of the Commercial Crew Program.

Mann and Cassada will serve as spacecraft commander and pilot, respectively, for the Crew-5 mission. Additional crew members will be announced later.

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William Shatner to Boldly Go Where No Star Trek Captain Has Gone Before on Blue Origin’s New Shepard

William Shatner with CrewMember 7 Sarah Knights (left), and Audrey Powers (right). (Credit: Blue Origin)

KENT, Wash. (Blue Origin PR) — Today, Blue Origin announced actor William Shatner and Audrey Powers, Blue Origin’s Vice President of Mission & Flight Operations, will fly on board New Shepard NS-18. They will join crewmates Chris Boshuizen and Glen de Vries for the flight which lifts off from Launch Site One on October 12.  

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