Preparations for Next Moonwalk Simulations Underway (and Underwater)

Teams are evaluating how to train for lunar surface operations during Artemis missions, in the Neutral Buoyancy Lab at Johnson Space Center in Houston. (Credits: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — NASA engineers are laying the foundation for the moonwalks the first woman and next man will conduct when they land on the lunar South Pole in 2024 as part of the Artemis program. At the agency’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, teams are testing the tools and developing training approaches for lunar surface operations.

As part of a test series occurring in the Neutral Buoyancy Lab (NBL) at Johnson, astronauts in a demonstration version of the exploration spacesuit and engineers in “hard hat” dive equipment are simulating several different tasks crew could do on the surface of the Moon.

(more…)

No S—! ISS Astronauts to Boldly Go on New Toilet

Credit: NASA

“Today’s coffee is tomorrow’s coffee!”
— NASA Astronaut Jessica Meir

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — It’s the space-age old question: how do astronauts go to the bathroom in space? The most basic human biological processes becomes challenging off-planet due in part to the lack of gravity. NASA is launching a new space toilet, the Universal Waste Management System (UWMS), to the International Space Station on Northrop Grumman’s 14th contract resupply mission in September. Another UWMS unit will be installed in Orion for the Artemis II flight test that will send astronauts on a 10-day mission beyond the Moon and back.

(more…)

Testing Super Foods for Space and More on Blue Origin Suborbital Flight

The microgravity LilyPond growth chamber uses capillary action to provide a stable water surface on which duckweed (and potentially other veggies, like microgreens) can grow. LED panels provide an efficient light source, and a salad spinner-like sieve helps separate the water from the plants when ready to harvest. (Credits: Space Lab Technologies)

Duckweed: it’s what’s for dinner

by Nicole Quenelle
NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center

EDWARDS, Calif. — It’s no surprise to most of us that regularly eating fresh produce is a great way to support a healthy diet. Fresh fruits and vegetables benefit astronauts on the International Space Station, too – and soon the Moon and beyond. Scientists are investigating sustainable ways to grow highly nutritious foods in microgravity, to give space explorers a readily available supply of daily greens.

(more…)

Shotwell, Koch and Meir Make Time’s 100 Most Influential People List

Gwynne Shotwell

SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell and NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir have made Time magazine’s list of The 100 Most Influential People of 2020.

Shotwell is listed in the Titans category and credited with guiding SpaceX to success.

“She is not only a quintessential engineer with a passion to build things, but also a “people engineer” who thrives on working with colleagues and customers. Gwynne Shotwell is helping to launch our future, and I can’t wait to see what she does next,” former NASA astronaut Kathryn Sullivan wrote.

Koch and Meir were listed together in the Pioneers category for conducting the first all-female spacewalk from the International Space Station in October 2019.

NASA astronauts Jessica Meir (left) and Christina Koch are inside the Quest airlock preparing the U.S. spacesuits and tools they will use on their first spacewalk together. (Credit: NASA)

“I believe that Koch and Meir, by their sheer skill and execution, shift us closer to a template based on intelligence, agility, capability, integrity, courage and excellence,” wrote former NASA astronaut Mae Jemison.

Read Jemison’s tribute to Koch and Meir here.

NASA, U.S. Space Force Sign MOU to Deepen Cooperation

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — While advancing plans for unprecedented lunar exploration under the Artemis program, NASA also is building on a longstanding partnership with the Department of Defense with a new memorandum of understanding announced today by NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine and U.S. Space Force (USSF) Chief of Space Operations Gen. John “Jay” Raymond.

The agreement, discussed during a Sept. 22 Mitchell Institute virtual event, commits the two organizations to broad collaboration in areas including human spaceflight, U.S. space policy, space transportation, standards and best practices for safe operations in space, scientific research, and planetary defense.

(more…)

United Arab Emirates Astronauts to Train at NASA’s Johnson Space Center Under New Agreement

UAE astronauts Sultan AlNeyadi and Hazzaa AlMansoori. (Credits: Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — NASA has signed a Reimbursable Space Act Agreement with the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to train UAE astronauts on International Space Station systems at the agency’s Johnson Space Center in Houston later this year.

(more…)

Artemis: Back to the Future Past?

Astronaut Edwin E. Aldrin Jr., lunar module pilot, deploys two components of the Early Apollo Scientific Experiments Package on the surface of the Moon during the Apollo 11 extravehicular activity in 1969. A seismic experiment is in his left hand, and in his right is a laser-reflecting panel. Astronaut Neil A. Armstrong, mission commander, took this photograph. (Credits: NASA’s Johnson Space Flight Center)

UPDATE: NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine was emphatic today that the first crewed landing and subsequent ones would land at the lunar south pole. He said remarks he made last week were misinterpreted.

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

For 18 months NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, Vice President Mike Pence and other Trump Administration officials have repeatedly promised to land the next man and the first woman at the south pole of the moon in 2024.

Now, that plan has apparently changed.

(more…)

NASA to Host Preview Briefings, Interviews for First Crew Rotation Mission with SpaceX

SpaceX Crew-1 astronauts Shannon Walker, Victor Glover, Michael Hopkins and Soichi Noguchi. (Credits: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — NASA will highlight the first crew rotational flight of a U.S. commercial spacecraft with astronauts to the International Space Station with a trio of news conferences beginning 11 a.m. EDT Tuesday, Sept. 29.

The briefings, which will take place at the agency’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, will air live on NASA Television and the agency’s website. The full astronaut crew flying on the mission also will be available for interviews.

(more…)

Report: Space Hero Reality Show to Blast Contestant into Orbit

International Space Station (Credit: NASA/Roscosmos)

There’s yet another plan to send a contestant to space through a reality show. Deadline Hollywood reports:

Space Hero Inc., a U.S.-based production company founded by Thomas Reemer and Deborah Sass and led by former News Corp Europe chief Marty Pompadur, has secured a seat on a 2023 mission to the International Space Station. It will go to a contestant chosen through an unscripted show titled Space Hero. Produced by Ben Silverman and Howard Owens’ Propagate, the series will launch a global search for everyday people from any background who share a deep love for space exploration. They will be vying for the biggest prize ever awarded on TV.

The selected group of contestants will undergo extensive training and face challenges testing their physical, mental and emotional strength, qualities that are essential for an astronaut in space. I hear the idea is for the culmination of the competition to be in a an episode broadcast live around the world where viewers from different countries can vote for the contestant they want to see going to space. The show will then chronicle the winner’s takeoff; their stay at the ISS for 10 days alongside professional astronauts traveling at 17,000 mph, orbiting the Earth 16 times a day; and end with their return to Earth. The Space Hero company is currently in discussions with NASA for a potential partnership on STEM initiatives onboard the ISS.

The trip of the Space Hero winner will be on a SpaceX Dragon rocket. Space Hero, billed as the first space media company, is working with Axiom Space, manufacturer of the world’s first privately funded commercial space station — a module for the ISS where the private astronauts can stay — and full-service human spaceflight mission provider.

This effort seems a bit more solid than previous plans in that there’s an actual spaceship to take them there. Time will tell.

GITAI, JAXA Start Business Concept Co-creation Activities for World’s First Space Work Robot Business

Translated from Japanese with Google Translate

TOKYO (JAXA/GITAI PR) — GITAI Japan Co., Ltd. and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) will identify tasks that require robotics in outer space, and robots that perform these tasks. Aiming to acquire technology and provide services by robots, we will start business concept co-creation activities under the JAXA Space Innovation Partnership and and Co-creation (J-SPARC) initiative.

(more…)

Dynetics Marks Progress with Artemis Human Landing System Test Article Development

Human lander (Credit: Dynetics)

HUNTSVILLE, Ala., Sept. 15, 2020 (Dynetics PR) — Dynetics, a wholly owned subsidiary of Leidos, has completed building a full-scale human landing system (HLS) test article that will be used for initial evaluations for NASA’s Artemis program.

The Dynetics HLS (DHLS) test article, located in Huntsville, Ala., is built to-scale and allows for test and evaluation across the engineering lifecycle. The DHLS team will use the test article for human-in-the-loop (HITL) task identification and analysis, assessing net habitable volume, crew module accommodations, placement and orientation of various components and overall habitability.

(more…)

National Team Completes System Requirements to Define Integrated Human Landing System Design

The National Team’s engineering mockup of the crew lander vehicle at NASA Johnson Space Center’s (JSC) iconic Building  9. (Credit: Blue Origin)

KENT, Wash. (Blue Origin PR) — The Human Landing System (HLS) National Team, led by Blue Origin with partners Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and Draper, has completed its System Requirements Review (SRR). SRR is the first program “gated milestone,” which marks the successful baselining of the requirements for the mission, space vehicles, and ground segment. The design proceeded to the NASA Certification Baseline Review (CBR), followed by the lower-level element SRRs, and the preliminary design phase.

(more…)

SpaceX, Boeing & Firefly File FCC Applications for Fall Flights

Starship hopper under construction at Boca Chica. (Credit: SpaceX)

SpaceX has applied for a temporary Federal Communications Commission (FCC) license to fly its Starship prototype to an altitude of 20 km (12.4 miles) from its Boca Chica test site in Texas.

The approval would be valid for hops from Oct. 11, 2020 to April 11, 2021. Starship prototypes have flown to an altitude of 150 meters from Boca Chica.

Boeing has filed for a FCC license for its second Starliner orbital flight test. The application covers a six-month period from Nov. 1, 2020 to May 1, 2021.

The uncrewed Starliner test is a repeat of a flight that went awry last December. The spacecraft failed to dock with the space station due to software and communications problems.

Firefly Aerospace has filed for approval for the maiden flight of its Firefly Alpha booster from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The approval would be valid from Nov. 21, 2020 until May 21, 2021.

Apha is designed to loft 1 metric ton into low Earth orbit and 630 kg into a 500 km sun synchronous orbit at a dedicated mission cost of $15 million.

Baikonur Continues to Prepare New ISS Module for Launch

BAIKONUR COSMODROME, Kazakhstan (Roscosmos PR) — At the Baikonur Cosmodrome, the next stage of preparation of the “Science” module for launch to the International Space Station has begun.  Preparations for factory proof tests are ongoing. 

After the module arrived at the assembly and testing building of site No. 254 of the Baikonur Cosmodrome, work was carried out to prepare Nauka for reloading and installation at the workplace.

(more…)