Bridenstine Appoints Sirangelo as Special Assistant to Oversee Lunar Plans

Mark Sirangelo (Credit: SNC)

Appointment of Mark Sirangelo
Message from NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine

I am pleased to announce the appointment of Mr. Mark Sirangelo as Special Assistant to the Administrator. In this role, Mark will have broad responsibility to work across the Mission Directorates to further develop the Exploration Campaign. This includes a strategy to meet the Administration’s policy to return astronauts to the lunar surface by 2024. he will also lead the planning for the proposed agency restructuring to creat the Moon to Mars Mission Directorate that will manage the programs to develop the Gateway, human rated lander and surface systems to return to the Moon and establish a permanent presence. The new proposed Directorate will also manage the Exploration Research and Technology programs to enable capabilities for exploration of the Moon, Mars and beyond.

Mark N. Sirangelo has a long history in space and aerospace having lead program teams that participated in over 300 space missions, including over 20 planetary missions and 70 NASA missions. His recent work experience has been as Scholar in Residence for Engineering, Applied Science and Aerospace at the University of Colorado. Formerly, he was the head of Sierra Nevada Corporation’s Space Systems and CEO of SpaceDev, its predecessor company. He also served on the Defense Innovation Board for the Secretary of Defense and as the Chief Innovation Officer of the State of Colorado.

His personal and organizational recognitions include being inducted int the Space Foundation’s Technology Hall of Fame, being an Associate Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, named one of the World’s Top 10 Innovative Space Companies by Fast Company, and recognized as Manufacturer Builder of the the Year by ColoradoBiz, The Best Place to Work by the Business Journals, and part of Inc. Magazine’s top 200 companies.

Mr. Sirangelo was a founding member of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation and the founder and Chairman of eSpace, the Center for Space Entrepreneurship. He has been working to make the world a safer place for children as a foundational Board member of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

He holds Doctorate, MBA and Bachelor of Science degrees, is a long-term licensed pilot, and has served his country proudly as a U.S. Army officer.

Please join me in welcoming Mark to the NASA leadership team.

Counting the Many Ways the International Space Station Benefits Humanity

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — The third edition of NASA’s “International Space Station Benefits for Humanity” book now is available. The new edition fills more than 200 pages with the many benefits of conducting research on the orbiting microgravity laboratory and includes new assessments of the economic value — as well as greater detail about the scientific value — of the International Space Station.

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Veteran NASA Astronauts Inducted into US Astronaut Hall of Fame

Former NASA astronauts Jim Buchli and Janet Kavandi are inducted into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame Class of 2019 during a ceremony on April 6, 2019, inside the Space Shuttle Atlantis attraction at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida. They unveiled their plaques, which will be placed in the Hall of Fame at the visitor complex. (Credits: NASA/Cory Huston)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — Janet Kavandi, director of NASA’s Glenn Research Center, and James Buchli are the latest veteran NASA astronauts to join the ranks of the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame.

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NanoRacks Joins With MBRSC to Fly Student Research in Emirati Astronaut Mission

DUBAI, UAE, 3 April 2019 (NanoRacks PR) — To support its efforts to empower and encourage youth to take an interest in space science, The Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) launched the ‘Science in Space’ competition, in coordination with NanoRacks  LLC. This initiative is under the umbrella of the UAE Astronaut Programme, where schools can apply to participate in conducting scientific experiments to study the impact of microgravity.

MBRSC will choose 15 schools based on their efforts to promote the study of STEM fields and the reasons for participating in this competition. The winning schools will be able to nominate students to attend and participate in workshops organised by MBRSC to conduct 15 scientific experiences, where students can learn how to prepare scientific experiments and its phases.

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Indian Officials Dismiss NASA’s Concern Over Debris from ASAT Test

Jim Bridenstine (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

Indian officials are dismissing concerns expressed by NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine about debris in low Earth orbit from an Indian anti-satellite (ASAT) test that could threaten the International Space Station (ISS) and other spacecraft.

The Hindustan Times reports that an official from the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) as downplaying the dangers.

The DRDO chief and a spokesperson did not comment. An official of the agency, while asking not to be named, said the debris will disappear in 45 days. “The test was calibrated keeping in mind the debris issue. The world should know that debris from two Chinese tests is still floating whereas those created by the Indian test will disappear,” he added.

An Indian expert said that India conducted the anti-satellite test responsibly but agreed it could have raised risks for the ISS. “I would say India conducted the test responsibly. At 300km, the altitude is lower than that of the ISS and most of the other satellites and the debris will come back to the atmosphere of the earth eventually. That said, there is a possibility that some debris might enter the apogee of the space station; the risk of collision increases as it does with any object sent to space ,” said Rajeswari Rajagopalan, head of nuclear and space initiative, Observer Research Foundation (ORF).

Prime Minister Narendra Damodardas Modi hailed the test, saying it made India a space power.

During a NASA all-hands meeting on Monday, Bridenstine said the test created 400 pieces of debris, including 24 that went above the apogee of the International Space Station (ISS).

“That is a terrible, terrible thing, to create an event that sends debris into an apogee that goes above the International Space Station,” he said. “And that kind of activity is not compatible with the future of human spaceflight. It’s unacceptable, and NASA needs to be very clear about what its impact to us is….

“While the risk went up 44 percent, our astronauts are still safe. The International Space Station is still safe. If we need to maneuver it, we will. The probability of that, I think, is low,” Bridenstine added.

The space station has maneuvered on many occasions to avoid potential debris strikes.

Bridenstine expressed concerns that the Indian ASAT test will inspire other nations to conduct similar ones, thus increasing the debris in orbit.

Designing a Key to Unlock Parkinson’s Disease

HOUSTON (NASA PR)  — Parkinson’s disease affects more than 5 million people on Earth. Research on the International Space Station could provide insight into this chronic neurodegenerative disease and help scientists find ways to treat and prevent it.

The investigation, Crystallization of LRRK2 Under Microgravity Conditions-2 (CASIS PCG 16), grows protein crystals of Leucine-rich repeat kinase 2 (LRRK2) on the space station. A kinase is an enzyme that adds phosphate groups to other molecules as part of the body’s metabolic processes. People with Parkinson’s disease experience increased function of LLRK2, and genetic studies link mutations in the LRRK2 gene to an increased risk of developing Parkinson’s disease. Medications that inhibit LRRK2 are in development, but without knowing the precise structure of this enzyme, such work is like making a key without knowing the shape of the keyhole it must fit.

Growing LRRK2 crystals on Earth is difficult and does not produce samples with high enough quality for researchers to determine the protein’s shape and structure –the keyhole. Protein crystals grow larger and more uniformly in space, though. Scientists can analyze the larger space-grown crystals to get a better idea of how the disease works and develop drugs – or keys – that target the condition more effectively and with fewer side effects.

This investigation builds on a previous experiment, CASIS PCG 7. For CASIS PCG 16, the crew used larger sample wells, filled the wells during flight, and monitored the LRRK2 crystals as they grew. In this video, NASA astronaut Serena Auñon-Chancellor narrates as European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Alexander Gerst uses a microscope to examine and photograph the LRRK2 crystals. Gerst interacted in real time with investigators on the ground, including scientists at the Michael J. Fox Foundation, Goethe University Frankfurt in Germany, and University of California San Diego in La Jolla, California.

This space station research may bring those working to treat and prevent Parkinson’s disease one step closer to finding the right key.

This investigation was sponsored by the International Space Station U.S. National Laboratory. For daily updates on the science happening aboard the space station, follow @ISS_ResearchSpace Station Research and Technology News, or our Facebook. For opportunities to see the space station pass over your town, check out Spot the Station.

Boeing Delays Starliner Flight Tests

Boeing technicians meticulously lower the Starliner upper dome to the lower dome before bolting and sealing the pressure vessel. (Credits: Boeing)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — NASA and Boeing have agreed to extend the duration of the company’s first crewed flight test to the International Space Station after completing an in-depth technical assessment of the CST-100 Starliner systems. NASA found the long-duration flight to be technically feasible and in the best interest of the agency’s needs to ensure continued access and better utilization of the orbiting laboratory.

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NASA to Update Schedule for Crew Dragon Test Soon

Completing an end-to-end uncrewed flight test, Demo-1, SpaceX’s Crew Dragon departed the International Space Station at 2:32 a.m. EST Friday, March 8, 2019, and splashed down at 8:45 a.m. in the Atlantic Ocean about 200 nautical miles off the Florida coast. (Credits: NASA Television)

A Crew Dragon with two astronauts aboard will then conduct a flight test to the space station. The planning date for that flight is July.

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — NASA is working with SpaceX to return human spaceflight launches to American soil. The company completed an uncrewed flight test, known as Demo-1, to the space station in March.

SpaceX now is processing the same Crew Dragon spacececraft for an in-flight abort test. The company then will fly a test flight with a crew, known as Demo-2, to the station.

NASA’s Commercial Crew Program and SpaceX are expected to reevaluate its target test dates in the next couple weeks.

Editor’s Note: Current target test dates are June for the in-flight abort test and July for the crew test to the space station.

NASA Galactica: The Plan

No. 6 with two old model Cylons.

“The Cylons were created by man. They evolved. They rebelled. There are many copies. And they have a plan.”

— Battlestar Galactic

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Watching the re-imagined “Battlestar Galactic,” I was never quite sure exactly what the Cylons’ plan was beyond the whole exterminate all humans with nukes thing. In an apparent nod to this lack of clarity, the producers created a two-hour TV movie called, “Battlestar Galactic: The Plan,” to explain it all.

NASA has suffered from a similar lack of clarity over the past week. At a National Space Council meeting last Tuesday, Vice President Mike Pence announced it was the Trump Administration’s policy to land astronauts on the south pole of the moon by the presidential election year of 2024 — four years ahead of the current schedule.

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Cruz Reintroduces Space Frontier Act

Sen. Ted Cruz

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Ted Cruz PR) — U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), chairman of the Subcommittee on Aviation and Space, along with Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), and Gary Peters (D-Mich.) this week introduced the Space Frontier Act. This bipartisan bill would secure funding to continue operations for the International Space Station (ISS) through 2030, eliminate overreaching regulations to support further development of the commercial space sector, and to strengthen America’s leadership in space exploration. Read the full text of the bill here.

“I am proud of this bipartisan legislation as it will help to fortify America’s leadership in the domain of space,” Sen. Cruz said. “The Space Frontier Act moves our nation forward in taking the critical step of continuing the operations and utilization of the International Space Station through 2030, securing the United States’ competitive edged against China in low-Earth orbit, and enacts meaningful reforms to modernize our nation’s launch and re-entry regulations, and streamlines nongovernmental Earth observation regulations.”

“Arizona is home to a thriving aerospace manufacturing community,” said Senator Sinema. “We’re working across the aisle to cut red tape, support our space industry, and ensure that the United States continues to be a leader in the global space community.”

“Fifty years after the United States first put a man on the moon, we are in the midst of a new and exciting space race,” Wicker said. “This challenge requires policy certainty, partnerships with the private sector and our friends across the globe, and America’s continuing competitive edge and innovative thinking. The Space Frontier Act would ensure American leadership in space for years to come.”

“This bill passed the Senate through unanimous consent last year, and I am glad to continue this bipartisan effort to provide certainty and a firmer launchpad for our commercial space industry,” Sen. Markey said. “Our sky should not be a ceiling for innovation and achievement, and the Space Frontier Act will help the American space industry achieve new heights, all while protecting small businesses and the scientific research that benefits all Americans through innovation and discovery.”

White House Statement on Returning to the Moon by 2024

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Coalition for Deep Space Exploration: Bold Plans Require Bold Resources

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Coalition for Deep Space Exploration PR) — The Coalition for Deep Space Exploration applauds Vice President Pence and members of the National Space Council for their leadership in calling for the return of humans to the surface of the Moon at the South Pole by 2024. We welcome the intention of this White House to accomplish these objectives “by any means necessary” and join with it and with Congress in our support of a robust program in deep space exploration.

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Bridenstine Statement on Returning Astronauts to the Moon by 2024

Jim Bridenstine (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

The following is a statement from NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine on Tuesday’s announcement by Vice President Mike Pence, at the fifth meeting of the National Space Council, about putting American astronauts back on the Moon in the next five years:

“Today, I joined leaders from across the country as Vice President Mike Pence chaired the fifth meeting of the National Space Council. Vice President Pence lauded President Donald J. Trump’s bold vision for space exploration and spoke to NASA’s progress on key elements to accomplish the President’s Space Policy Directives.

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Testing the Value of Artificial Gravity for Astronaut Health

Control room of DLR’s short-arm centrifuge (Credit: ESA)

COLOGNE, Germany, 21 March 2019 (EXSA PR) — Test subjects in Cologne, Germany will take to their beds for 60 days from 25 March as part of a groundbreaking study, funded by European Space Agency ESA and US space agency NASA, into how artificial gravity could help astronauts stay healthy in space.

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Spacewalkers Complete Battery Swaps for Station Power Upgrades

NASA astronauts Nick Hague (top) and Anne McClain work to swap batteries in the Port-4 truss structure during today’s spacewalk. (Credit: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — Expedition 59 Flight Engineers Nick Hague and Anne McClain of NASA concluded their spacewalk at 2:40 p.m. EDT. During the six-hour, 39-minute spacewalk, the two NASA astronauts successfully replaced nickel-hydrogen batteries with newer, more powerful lithium-ion batteries for the power channel on one pair of the station’s solar arrays.

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