Apollo 12 & Skylab Astronaut Alan Bean Passes Away at 86

Alan Bean (Credit: NASA)

Astronaut Alan Bean has passed away at the age of 86. Bean walked on the moon and commanded a Skylab crew before becoming an accomplished painter.

Below is a NASA biography of him.


Alan Bean walked on the moon on Apollo 12, commanded the second Skylab crew and then resigned after 18 years as an astronaut to paint the remarkable worlds and sights he had seen.

Bean was lunar module pilot on the November 1969 Apollo 12 mission, the second moon landing.  He and mission commander Pete Conrad explored on the lunar Ocean of Storms and set up several experiments powered by a small nuclear generator.

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Putin Appoints Mr. Trampoline Man to Head Roscosmos

Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin. (Credit: A. Savin)

Well, it’s official.

Dmitry Rogozin, who presided over a sharp decline in Russia’s space program for seven years as deputy prime minister, has been named as head state corporation Roscomos.

Putin said Rogozin knows the industry and would strengthen the space company’s leadership. The Russian president also said the new Roscosmos head would have the opportunity to implement a number of good ideas and reforms.

Others, however, see potential trouble ahead.

“Everything he says is silly from a technical point of view,” independent space expert Vadim Lukashevich told AFP.

Lukashevich said Rogozin, 54, was an outsider and lacked the necessary education and expertise to head the space agency.

“He is the head of the industry’s burial party.”

Another independent space expert, Vitaly Yegorov, said he was concerned about the prospects for international cooperation.

Space exploration is one of the few areas where cooperation between Russia and the United States has not been wrecked by tensions over Ukraine, Syria and elsewhere.

Putin appointed Rogozin to oversee the space program in 2011 amid a series of launch failures. (He also oversaw the defense sector.) The failures continued throughout his tenure as the number of Russian launches declined in the face of competition from SpaceX.

In 2014, the United States placed Rogozin under sanctions as a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and annexation of Crimea. In response, he suggested American astronauts reach the International Space Station using a trampoline instead of Soyuz Russian spacecraft.

NASA, Space Station Partners Announce Future Mission Crew Members

Christina Hammock Koch (Credit: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — NASA astronauts Christina Hammock Koch and Andrew Morgan have been assigned to spaceflights scheduled to launch in 2019. Both Koch and Morgan were selected as NASA astronauts in 2013.

Koch has been assigned to Expedition 59/60, which is set to launch to the  International Space Station in April 2019. Morgan will follow as a member of the Expedition 60/61 crew in July 2019.

Koch, who grew up in Jacksonville, North Carolina, earned bachelor’s degrees in electrical engineering and physics, and a master’s degree in electrical engineering from North Carolina State University in Raleigh.

Koch started her career as an electrical engineer focusing on space science instrument design at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. She went on to work as a research associate with the United States Antarctic Program, completing several deployments including spending the winter at the South Pole. She returned to space science instrument design at the Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Laboratory, contributing to such missions as the Juno probe to Jupiter. She then returned to her work at remote scientific research stations, including sessions as a field engineer in the Arctic and as station chief with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in American Samoa. Her extracurricular pursuits include running and other outdoor sports.

Andrew Morgan (Credit: NASA)

Morgan, who considers New Castle, Pennsylvania, his hometown, earned a bachelor’s degree in environmental engineering at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York, as well as a doctorate of medicine from the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland, before completing his residency in emergency medicine at Madigan Army Medical Center-University of Washington.

Morgan began his career in military medicine by volunteering for U.S. Army special operations forces. He served as a medical team member in the Joint Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and went on to become the battalion surgeon for the 1st Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group, where he served for three years.  Following this, Morgan served on a strategic special operations assignment in Washington, D.C., before completing a fellowship in primary care sports medicine. Over the course of his special operations assignments, Morgan deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan and Africa in support of combat operations.

Follow Koch on social media at:

https://twitter.com/Astro_Christina

https://www.facebook.com/AstroChristina/

and

https://www.instagram.com/astro_christina/

Follow Morgan on social media at:

https://twitter.com/AstroDrewMorgan/

https://www.facebook.com/AstroDrewMorgan/

and

https://www.instagram.com/AstroDrewMorgan/

U.S. Postal Services Releases Sally Ride Stamp

SAN DIEGO (USPS PR) — Sally Ride, America’s first woman in space, a pioneering astronaut, brilliant physicist and dedicated educator who inspired the nation, will be commemorated on a Forever stamp tomorrow.

The Sally Ride Forever stamp 5 p.m. PDT dedication ceremony, free and open to the public, will take place at the Price Center, University of California San Diego. Ride served as a professor of physics at the university, which also is home to Sally Ride Science @ U C San Diego, a non-profit organization she co-founded to inspire young people in science, engineering, technology and math (STEM) and to promote STEM literacy.

Followers of the U.S. Postal Service’s Facebook page can view the ceremony live at Facebook.com/USPS. The stamps may be pre-ordered now at this link for delivery shortly after tomorrow’s issuance.

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Video: Take a 360 Tour inside Boeing’s Starliner Factory

Video Caption: One, two, three Boeing CST-100 Starliners are coming together inside this historic spacecraft factory at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The goal of the commercially developed and operating spacecraft is to return crew launch capabilities to NASA and the United States.

NASA’s ISS Transition Report — Executive Summary

The International Space Station is featured in this image photographed by an STS-133 crew member on space shuttle Discovery. (Credit: NASA)

International Space Station Transition Report
NASA
March 30, 2018

Full Report (PDF)

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

The NASA Transition Authorization Act of 2017 (P.L. 115-10) provided for an ISS Transition Report under section 303:

The Administrator, in coordination with the ISS management entity (as defined in section 2 of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Transition Authorization Act of 2017), ISS partners, the scientific user community, and the commercial space sector, shall develop a plan to transition in a step-wise approach from the current regime that relies heavily on NASA sponsorship to a regime where NASA could be one of many customers of a low-Earth orbit non-governmental human space flight enterprise.

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Cruz, Nelson Criticize Plan to End Direct ISS Funding in 2025

International Space Station (Credit: NASA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Sharply conflicting opinions about the future of the International Space Station (ISS) and America’s path forward in space were on view last week in a Senate hearing room turned boxing ring.

In one corner was NASA Associate Administrator Bill Gerstenamier, representing a Trump Administration that wants to end direct federal funding for ISS in 2025 in order to pursue an aggressive campaign of sending astronauts back to the moon. NASA would maintain a presence in Earth orbit, becoming one of multiple users aboard a privatized ISS or privately-owned stations.

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SpaceX Dragon 2 Making Progress

Elon Musk has taken a break from digging holes in the ground to tweet a bit on SpaceX and the Dragon 2 crew vehicle the company is building for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

Earlier this month, Musk tweeted that the first Dragon 2 would be shipped to Cape Canaveral in about three months. If the prediction is accurate, that would be mean sometime in August. If his previous schedule predictions are anything to go by, delivery will occur later than that. Unless, of course, SpaceX ships the spacecraft earlier than Musk is predicting.

In any event, the spacecraft will likely require a lot of prep work at the Cape before it makes an automated flight test to the International Space Station. A second flight to ISS with a crew would follow before Dragon 2 would be certified to carry NASA astronauts on a commercial basis.

Mars Needs Women — NASA Needs Everybody

Credit: American International Television

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

In the 1967 film, Mars Needs Women, a team of martians invades Earth to kidnap women to help repopulate their dying species. Shot over two weeks on a minuscule budget and padded out with stock footage, the movie obtained cult status as one of those cinematic disasters that was so bad it was unintentionally hilarious.

A half century later, NASA finds itself in a not entirely dissimilar situation. Only this problem is not nearly as funny.

The space agency lacks sufficient personnel with the proper skill sets to undertake its complex missions to the moon, Mars and beyond. A number of key programs have been affected by the shortfall already.

NASA’s workforce is also aging. More than half the agency’s employees are 50 years and older, with one-fifth  currently eligible for retirement. Finding replacement workers with the right mix of skills is not always easy as NASA faces increased competition from a growing commercial space sector.

The space agency is addressing these challenges, but it’s too early to tell how successful these efforts will be, according to a new Government Accountability Office (GAO) assessment.

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Payload for 2022 SLS Launch Still Up in the Air

Space Launch System and Orion spacecraft on Pad 39B. (Credit: NASA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

NASA has set mid-2022 for the second flight of the Space Launch System (SLS), but it’s not yet known what the massive booster will actually launch.

“Determination as to whether this launch will be SLS/Orion crewed mission (EM-2) or the SLS/Europa Clipper mission will be made based on risk and readiness of the Europa Clipper project,” according to a decision memo signed on Friday by William C. Hill, deputy associate administrator for Exploration Systems Development. Parabolic Arc obtained a copy of the memo.

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Three Launches Scheduled Over Two Days Next Week

ISS with Soyuz and Progress spacecraft docked to it. (Credit: NASA)

There are a dozen orbital launches planned around the world through the end of June.

China will lead off on Sunday as it launches its Chang’e-4 lunar relay satellite from Xichang. A lunar lander and rover targeted for the far side of the moon is scheduled for launch at the end of the year.

Orbital ATK will follow with the launch of a Cygnus resupply ship bound for the International Space Station (ISS) on Monday from Wallops Island. On Tuesday, SpaceX is scheduled to launch 5 Iridium Next satellites and a pair of scientific spacecraft for NASA.

Other notable missions scheduled through June include a Soyuz crew mission and a SpaceX Dragon resupply flight. Rocket Lab is probably going to launch the first commercial flight of its Electron booster from New Zealand. However, the company has not published a launch window for the flight.

The current global schedule is below. Be sure to check Space Flight Now’s launch schedule for updates.

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With Dragon 2 Still Unfinished, Musk Rolls Out an Even More Ambitious Plan

Dragon Version 2. (Credit: SpaceX)

When on May 29, 2014, Elon Musk unveiled the Dragon 2 spacecraft at a gala ceremony at SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, Calif., the future of American human spaceflight seemed assured and tantalizingly close.

By 2017, the new spacecraft would begin making crewed flights to the International Space Station, restoring a capability that had ended with the last space shuttle mission in 2011. NASA’s dependence on  Russian Soyuz spacecraft would come to an end.

Four years after its unveiling, Dragon 2 is still months away from making an automated flight test to the space station. A test flight with astronauts aboard might not occur until next year. The Government Accountability Office believes additional delays could push certification of the spacecraft to carry NASA astronauts on a commercial basis to December 2019. (Certification of Boeing’s crew vehicle might not occur until February 2020).

It’s good to keep all this in mind as Musk prepares to unveil his latest transportation plan this evening. At 7 p.m. PDT, Musk will hold a town-hall style meeting in Los Angeles to discuss plans by The Boring Company for tunneling under the city. The event will be webcast at https://www.boringcompany.com/.

Musk might have given a preview of the session on Twitter this week when he made a connection between his tunneling work and the mega rocket/spaceship that he is designing to render Dragon 2 and its Falcon 9 booster obsolete.

The spaceport in question is apparently the offshore platform where passengers will board the Big Falcon Rocket (BFR), which Musk says will be capable of going anywhere in the world in about 30 minutes. The rocket is also being designed to launch satellites and transport people and cargo to the moon and Mars.

It sounds as ambitious as anything Musk has attempted to date. If the past is any guide, his estimates on cost and schedules will be extremely optimistic.

Advisory Committee Wants NASA Contingency Plans for Possible Commercial Crew Delays


Space News
reports that a key NASA advisory committee wants the space agency to come up with contingency plans to operate the International Space Station on a reduced U.S. crew should further delays occur in the commercial crew program.

At a May 14 meeting of the ISS Advisory Committee, its chairman, Thomas Stafford, said that NASA should consider training Russian cosmonauts on key systems in what’s known as the U.S. Operating Segment (USOS) portion of the ISS, which includes elements from the U.S., Europe, Japan and Canada, in the event extended commercial crew development delays reduce the size of the station’s crew.

“For years, we have observed delays after delays in the development, flight test and qualification milestones in commercial crew, and therefore we believe the current schedule is optimistic,” Stafford said of schedules that call for flight tests of commercial crew vehicles in the latter half of 2018.

His committee recommended that NASA and the other ISS partners should plan for ways to operate the station with a reduced crew if commercial crew vehicles aren’t ready to enter service by the fall of 2019.

“Given these schedule risks, we recommend the partnership pursue plans to protect for a minimum crew capability to ensure ISS viability during the flight development phase,” he said. “NASA’s biggest priority is maintaining the U.S. presence on the ISS in case the commercial crew launch dates slip.”

Report: Rogozin to Become New Head of Roscosmos

Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin. (Credit: A. Savin)

It appears as those celebrating the dumping of Dmitry Rogozin as overseer of the Russian space program may have been doing their vodka Jell-O shots too soon.

According to the Google Translate version of this article, the bombastic Rogozin — who had been overseeing the space and defense sectors as deputy prime minister — has been offered the opportunity to take over Roscosmos, the government corporation that runs the nation’s space program.

The offer came after he was dumped from the Cabinet for Vladimir Putin’s fourth term as president.

Rogozin would replace Igor Komarov, a former auto industry executive who was brought in as deputy head of Roscosmos in 2013 and placed in charge of consolidating the space industry. Komarov became head of Roscosmos in January 2015.

Rogozin was among a number of high-level government officials placed under sanctions by the United States following the invasion of Ukraine and annexation of Crimea. In response, he tweeted that NASA should send it astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) using trampolines instead of flying aboard Russian Soyuz spacecraft. Rogozin didn’t follow through on the implied threat.

The Roscosmos gig appears to be a pretty lucrative one. The website Crime Russia reports that Komarov’s income totaled almost 109 million rubles ($1.76 million), including 71.5 million rubles ($1.15 million) from his job at Roscosmos. His income from other sources was not disclosed.

“The official owns five plots of land with the total area of almost 12 sq m, a house of 2.5 thousand sq m, an apartment (118 sq m), a gas pipeline section, and non-residential premises,” the website reported. “The Roscosmos head’s car fleet includes LADA Largus and Mercedes-Benz Viano.”

New Virgin Galactic Video

Video Caption: The creation of a hybrid rocket motor system for SpaceShipTwo represented a significant engineering challenge. We are particularly proud that we designed and now test and manufacture this world class motor in house. Come meet the team behind the burn…the Rocket Guys.