Five Space Station Research Results Contributing to Deep Space Exploration

European Space Agency astronaut Alexander Gerst works on the MICS experiment aboard the International Space Station. Observations of how cement reacts in space during the hardening process may help engineers better understand its microstructure and material properties, which could improve cement processing techniques on Earth and lead to the design of safe, lightweight space habitats. (Credits: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — More than 3,000 experiments have been conducted aboard the  International Space Station during the 21 years humans have been living and working in space. These experiments have provided insights helping improve life back on Earth and explore farther into the solar system. Researchers have shared these results in thousands of scientific publications.

Over the past few months, scientists shared the outcomes of space station studies that could help us recover more water from life support systems, construct Moon bases, grow plants in space, and more.

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Axiom Space’s Private Flight to Space Station Delayed to End of March

Pilot Larry Connor, mission commander Michael López-Alegría, mission specialist Mark Pathy, and mission specialist Eytan Stibbe. (Credit: Axiom Space)

Axiom Space’s plan to send four private astronauts to the International Space Station has been delayed from Feb. 21 to March 31, NASA announced last week.

“Axiom Mission 1, the first private astronaut mission to the International Space Station, is now targeting to launch March 31 to account for additional spacecraft preparations and space station traffic,” NASA said in a blog post. “Once aboard the orbiting laboratory, the four-person Axiom Space crew will conduct science, outreach, and commercial activities for eight days before their return to Earth.”

Former NASA astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegria, who is an Axiom vice president, will command the SpaceX Crew Dragon mission known as Ax-1. The spacecraft will be launched aboard a Falcon 9 rocket from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Lopez-Alegria will be joined by: American Larry Connor, who will serve as pilot; Israeli mission specialist Eytan Stibbe; and Canadian mission specialist Mark Pathy. Stibbe will be the second Israeli to fly to space.

NASA Offers $1 Million for Innovative Systems to Feed Tomorrow’s Astronauts

NASA and the Canadian Space Agency have coordinated to open Phase 2 of the Deep Space Food Challenge, targeted at developing novel food production system technologies for long-duration deep space missions. (Credits: NASA)

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (NASA PR) — As NASA prepares to send astronauts further into the cosmos than ever before, the agency aims to upgrade production of a critical fuel source: food. Giving future explorers the technology to produce nutritious, tasty, and satisfying meals on long-duration space missions will give them the energy required to uncover the great unknown.

In coordination with the Canadian Space Agency, NASA is calling on the public to help develop innovative and sustainable food production technologies or systems that require minimal resources and produce minimal waste. Dubbed the Deep Space Food Challenge, the competition calls on teams to design, build, and demonstrate prototypes of food production technologies that provide tangible nutritional products – or food.

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Scientific Hardware, Experiments Return to Earth on SpaceX CRS-24 Dragon

Cargo Dragon docked at the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA)

Editor’s Note: Do to adverse weather in the recovery zone, SpaceX and NASA are now targeting 10:40 a.m. EST on Sunday, Jan. 23 for undocking from the International Space Station of a SpaceX Dragon resupply spacecraft filled with more than 4,900 pounds of valuable scientific experiments and other cargo. NASA Television and the agency’s website will broadcast its departure live beginning at 10:15 a.m. EST.

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — A retired microscope and samples from studies on colloids and cellular signaling are among the cargo returning from the International Space Station aboard the 24th SpaceX commercial resupply services mission. The Dragon craft, which arrived at the station Dec. 22, 2021, is scheduled to undock Jan. 22 with splashdown the next afternoon off the coast of Florida.

These quick return flights allow scientists to make additional observations and analyses of their experiments at Kennedy Space Center, minimizing the effects of gravity on samples. Investigators then can conduct more in-depth analyses back at their home labs.

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Space Entertainment Enterprise Announces World’s First Entertainment Arena and Content Studios in Space, Built by Axiom Space

SEE-1 module attached to the International Space Station. (Credit: Space Entertainment Enterprise)

LONDON, 20 January 2022 (S.E.E. PR) — Space Entertainment Enterprise (S.E.E.) the UK-based media company developing multi-platform, space-based entertainment today announces a ground-breaking new venture – SEE-1 – the world’s first content and entertainment studios and multi-purpose arena in space. The space station module will be built by Axiom Space, the leader in human spaceflight services and human-rated space infrastructure.

SEE-1 is planned to launch in late 2024 and dock with Axiom’s world’s-first commercial space station, Axiom Station, while it is connected to the International Space Station. The module will allow artists, producers, and creatives to develop, produce, record, and live stream content which maximizes the Space Station’s low-orbit micro-gravity environment, including films, television, music and sports events.

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Qualification Testing of Vikas Engine for Gaganyaan Human Spaceflight Program

Vikas engine test on Jan. 20, 2022 (Credit: ISRO)

MAHENDRAGIRI, India (ISRO PR) — Today, January 20, 2022, High Thrust VIKAS Engine for Gaganyaan programme has successfully undergone qualification test for a duration of 25 seconds at ISRO Propulsion Complex (IPRC), Mahendragiri, Tamil Nadu.

With regard to the Vikas engine qualification for the Gaganyaan Programme, two engines have already undergone tests under nominal operating conditions for a total duration of 480 seconds.

Vikas engine test on Jan. 20, 2022. (Credit: ISRO)

The test carried out today is to verify the robustness of the engine by operating beyond its nominal operating conditions (fuel-oxidiser ratio and chamber pressure). The performance of the engine met the test objectives and the engine parameters were closely matching with the predictions during the entire duration of the test.

Further, three more tests are planned for a cumulative duration of 75 seconds under varying operating conditions. Subsequently, another high thrust Vikas engine will undergo a long-duration test for 240 seconds to complete the Vikas engine qualification for Gaganyaan Programme.

Being in Space Destroys More Red Blood Cells

Astronaut Tim Peake’s first blood draw completed in space. The sample was taken as part of the MARROW experiment. (Credit: NASA)

OTTAWA, Ont. (The Ottawa Hospital PR) — A world-first study has revealed how space travel can cause lower red blood cell counts, known as space anemia. Analysis of 14 astronauts showed their bodies destroyed 54 percent more red blood cells in space than they normally would on Earth, according to a study published in Nature Medicine.

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Paragon and Northrop Grumman Finalize HALO Life Support Contract Valued in Excess of $100 Million

Artist illustration of Northrop Grumman’s HALO module and the Power Propulsion Element which form the first critical component of NASA’s Gateway. (Credit: Northrop Grumman)

TUCSON, Ariz., Jan. 17, 2022 (Paragon SDC PR) — Paragon Space Development Corporation (Paragon) is proud to announce that Northrop Grumman has finalized its contract with Paragon valued in excess of $100 million for the life support system of the Habitation and Logistics Outpost (HALO) program. HALO will be deployed in lunar orbit as the first crew module of NASA’s Lunar Gateway. HALO will serve as both a crew habitat and docking station for spacecraft that will routinely travel between the Earth and the moon.

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New Chairman Takes Charge as India Space Agency Struggles to Launch Satellites and Begin Human Spaceflight

New ISRO Chairman Shri. S. Somanath (left) takes over from K. Sivan. (Credit: ISRO)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

A new chairman has taken over the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) at a crucial time as the space agency continues to struggles with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the challenge of becoming only the fourth nation capable of launching astronauts into orbit.

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NASA Sets Coverage for Russian Spacewalk Outside Space Station

Pictured from left are the Soyuz MS-19 crew spacecraft and the Nauka Multipurpose Laboratory Module with the Prichal docking module attached as the International Space Station orbited 266 miles above the Indian Ocean off the western coast of Australia. (Credits: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — Two Russian cosmonauts will venture outside the International Space Station at about 7 a.m. EST Wednesday, Jan. 19, to conduct a spacewalk to ready the new Prichal module for future Russian visiting spacecraft.

Live coverage of the spacewalk will begin at 6 a.m. on NASA Television, the NASA app, and the agency’s website.

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Rep. Randy Weber Introduces U.S. Leadership in Space Act

Randy Weber

WASHINGTON D.C. (Randy Weber PR) – On Thursday,  January 13, 2022, Congressman Randy Weber (R-TX-14), introduced H.R. 6391, the U.S. Leadership in Space Act of 2021.

“We are at a critical juncture in our nation’s history. It is important that Congress does the job it was intended to do: authorize, and then subsequently fund, critical government programs. Especially those that strengthen national security and scientific discovery.

“Space is an important domain for several reasons. As any military leader will tell you, whoever occupies the high ground has the strategic advantage. Continued inaction by Congress to adequately address the growing threats posed by an expanding uncontrolled debris field in earth’s orbit; the irresponsible and reckless anti-satellite missile tests by Russia that recently endangered the lives of astronauts (and cosmonauts) aboard the International Space Station (ISS); and the years of intellectual property theft, critical supply chain control, and other nefarious practices by China, require that Congress and this Administration come together to pass meaningful legislation that will ensure continued American preeminence in space.

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Qualification Testing of Cryogenic Engine for Gaganyaan Programme

Credit: ISRO

MAHENDRAGIRI, India (ISRO PR) — Today, January 12, 2022, ISRO successfully conducted the qualification test of Cryogenic Engine for Gaganyaan programme for a duration of 720 seconds at ISRO Propulsion Complex (IPRC), Mahendragiri, Tamil Nadu.

The performance of the engine met the test objectives and the engine parameters were closely matching with the predictions during the entire duration of the test.

This successful long-duration test is a major milestone for the Human Space Programme – Gaganyaan. It ensures the reliability and robustness of the cryogenic engine for induction into the human-rated launch vehicle for Gaganyaan.

Further, this engine will undergo four more tests for a cumulative duration of 1810 seconds. Subsequently, one more engine will undergo two short-duration tests & one long-duration test to complete the cryogenic engine qualification for Gaganyaan Programme.

Space Tourism Money Pit: Virgin Galactic Stock Plunges Again as Company Plans to Issue Up to $500 Million in Debt

Credit: Google Finance

Parabolic Arc Context Backgrounder

  • $425 million in senior notes due in 2027; initial purchasers have option to buy up to $75 million in notes
  • First issuing of debt; company previously raised money by issuing hundreds of millions in additional stock after going public on Oct. 28, 2019
  • Announcement came as sister company, Virgin Orbit, prepared for a satellite launch later today
  • Stock price well below its NYSE debut price of $12.79 and peak of $62.80
  • Company has lost hundreds of millions of dollars since going public as schedule delays lengthened
  • Space tourism revenue flights not expected until third quarter 2022
  • Plan before going public was to begin tourism flights in June 2020
  • Founder Richard Branson has extracted about $1.4 billion from initial deal to go public and subsequent sales of stock
  • Branson has reduced ownership stake from more than 50 percent in October 2019 to 11.9 percent today

Virgin Galactic’s press release announcing the plan to issue debt follows.

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Axiom Space to Train Italian Air Force’s Col. Walter Villadei as Professional Astronaut for Future Space Mission

Walter Villadei (Credit: Italian Air Force)

HOUSTON, January 11, 2022 (Axiom Space PR) – Axiom Space, Inc., the leader in human spaceflight and human-rated space infrastructure, announced Tuesday it has welcomed Col. Walter Villadei of the Italian Air Force (ItAF) to its headquarters in Houston to begin astronaut training at NASA’s Johnson Space Center (JSC) as part of Axiom’s professional astronaut services.

Through a partnership with KBR and NASA, Axiom, which trains and flies professional and private astronauts, is able to provide potential astronaut candidates access to facilities, instructors, and training at NASA. Candidates for flight complete Axiom’s training curriculum over many months in preparation to live and conduct meaningful work in space.

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