Starliner Parachutes Perform Under Pressure

Two drogue parachutes successfully deploy from a Boeing Starliner test article during a landing system reliability test conducted on June 21 above White Sands Space Harbor in New Mexico. (Credit: Boeing)

WHITE SANDS, NM (NASA PR) — Boeing put Starliner’s parachutes to the test again on June 21 as part of a supplemental reliability campaign designed to further validate the system’s capabilities under an adverse set of environmental factors.

Boeing is developing the Starliner spacecraft to take astronauts to and from the International Space Station in partnership with NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

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Working Remotely at the German Space Operations Center – New Plasma Crystal Experiments on ISS

PK-4 – a neon tube as an experimental reactor (Credit: MPE)
  • Important milestone – successful completion of the 10th measurement campaign with the PK-4 plasma crystal laboratory on the ISS.
  • For the first time, the German Space Operations Center has taken over the scientific support of the PK experiments.
  • COVID-19 protection measures – DLR scientists from Oberpfaffenhofen maintain contact with the PK-4 Control Centre in Toulouse and the ISS.
  • Unique insights using PK-4 – plasma crystals can form in microgravity. The plasma particles behave like atoms and can be observed individually with the naked eye.

OBERFAFFENHOFEN, Germany (DLR PR) — Under normal circumstances, the researchers would have gone to Toulouse, as only from there can they control the PK-4 plasma crystal laboratory, which has been on board the International Space Station (ISS) since 2015. However, the Coronavirus pandemic has made travelling from Oberpfaffenhofen to the CADMOS Control Centre in France impossible. The experiments under microgravity conditions, which had taken months of preparation, were at risk of being cancelled.

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Canadarm, Canadarm2, and Canadarm3 – A Comparative Table

Canadarm, Canadarm2 and Canadarm3. (Credit: Canadian Space Agency/NASA)

Canadian Space Agency Fact Sheet

Canadarm
The first Canadian robotic arm to go to space
Canadarm2
Servicing the International Space Station since 2001
Canadarm3Footnote1
An artificial intelligence-based robotic system designed for the Lunar Gateway
LocationInstalled on each Space Shuttle and returned to Earth. Now retired, the Canadarm is on display at the Canada Aviation and Space Museum in Ottawa, Ontario.Stays permanently in space on board the International Space Station.Will stay permanently in space on board the Lunar Gateway.
Range of motionReach limited to length of arm.Moves end-over-end to reach many parts of the International Space Station, where its anchoring “hand” plugs into a power, data, and video outlet. Because it is mounted on the Mobile Base, the arm can travel the entire length of the Space Station.Will move end-over-end to reach many parts of the Lunar Gateway, where its anchoring “hand” will plug into a power, data, and video outlet. The arm will be able to travel and bring tools to the entire length of the Lunar Gateway.
Fixed jointFixed to the shuttle by one end.No fixed end.No fixed end.
Degrees of freedomSix degrees of freedom. Similar to a human arm: Two joints in the shoulder One joint in the elbow Three joints in the wristSeven degrees of freedom. Very similar to a human arm: Three joints in the shoulderOne joint in the elbow Three joints in the wristSeven degrees of freedom. Very similar to a human arm: Three joints in the shoulder One joint in the elbow Three joints in the wrist
Joint rotationElbow rotation limited to 160 degrees.Each of Canadarm2’s joints rotate 270 degrees in each direction, a total of 540 degrees. This range of motion is greater than that of a human arm.Each joint will be able to rotate almost 360 degrees.
SensesNo sense of touch.Force-moment sensors provide a sense of “touch”. Automatic collision avoidance.Force-moment sensors provide a sense of “touch”. Automatic collision avoidance. 3D Vision Sensor Tool that maps objects around it.
Length15 m17 m8.5 m
Mass410 kg1,497 kg715 kg (estimation)
Diameter33 cm (exterior diameter of composite boom)35 cm (exterior diameter of composite boom)23 cm (exterior diameter of composite boom)
Speed of operationUnloaded: 60 cm/s Loaded: 6 cm/sUnloaded: 37 cm/s Loaded: 2 cm/s (during ground control) 15 cm/s (support during spacewalks)Unloaded: 10 cm/s Loaded: to be determined
Composition16 layers of high-modulus carbon fibre epoxy19 layers of high-strength carbon fibre thermoplasticCarbon fibre composite.
RepairsRepaired on Earth.Designed to be repaired in space. Composed of removable sections that can be individually replaced in space.Designed to self-detach sections that can be repaired inside the Lunar Gateway.
ControlControlled by astronauts on the Space Shuttle.Controlled from the ground or by astronauts on the International Space Station.Primarily controlled autonomously. Can also be controlled from the ground or by astronauts on the Lunar Gateway.
CamerasTwo cameras: One on the elbowOne on the wristFour colour cameras:One on each side of the elbow The other two on the “hands”Six colour 4K cameras: One 360-degree camera on each side of the elbow One on each boom on swivel mounts The other two on the “hands”
OperatorUnited StatesCanada and United StatesCanada

About Canadarm3

Canadian Space Agency Fact Sheet

An artist’s concept of Canadarm3’s large arm on the Lunar Gateway. (Credits: Canadian Space Agency, NASA)

Canadarm3 will be Canada’s contribution to the US-led Gateway, a lunar outpost that will enable sustainable human exploration of the Moon. This highly autonomous robotic system will use cutting-edge software to perform tasks around the Moon without human intervention.

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Energia, Space Adventures Sign Contract for Orbital Space Tourist Flight, Space Walk

VIENNA, Va., June 25, 2020 (Space Adventures PR) – S.P. Korolev Rocket and Space Corporation “Energia” and Space Adventures, Inc. signed a contract for a short duration spaceflight of two spaceflight participants on board the same “Soyuz” spacecraft to the Russian segment of the International Space Station (ISS).

One of the mission participants will have an opportunity to conduct a spacewalk outside the space station, becoming the first private citizen in history to experience open space. Accepted and secured candidates will be required to complete specialized training and additional simulations in preparation for the spacewalk attempt.

“A private citizen completing a spacewalk would be another huge step forward in private spaceflight. We appreciate the chance to celebrate two decades of orbital space tourism with our Russian partners by opening up another first-ever experience. We applaud our colleagues at Energia for working with us to create amazing new adventures in space,” said Eric Anderson, Chairman and CEO of Space Adventures, Inc.

About Space Adventures

Space Adventures, the company that organized the flights for the world’s first private space explorers, is headquartered in the Washington, D.C. metro area. It offers a variety of programs available today, including spaceflight missions to the International Space Station, around the Moon, record-breaking orbital missions, and various training and spaceflight qualification programs. The company’s orbital spaceflight clients include Dennis Tito, Mark Shuttleworth, Greg Olsen, Anousheh Ansari, Charles Simonyi, Richard Garriott, and Guy Laliberté.

Space BD to Provide Small Satellite Deployment Service from ISS to ASTROFLASH

TOKYO (Space BD PR) — Space BD Inc., the leading space startup in Japan that provides access to space using the International Space Station Japanese Experiment Module “Kibo” and rideshares on Japan’s flagship launch vehicle “H3,” announced that it will provide SmallSatellite deployment service from the International Space Station to ASTROFLASH Inc. ASTROFLASH is a startup that aims to bring space closer to everyday life through the world’s first satellite platform for visual attraction. The two companies have signed the launch service contract.

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Thales Alenia Space to Provide 2 Key Pressurized Elements for Axiom Commercial Space Station

Axiom space station (Credit: Axiom Space)

TURIN, June 24, 2020 (Thales Alenia Space PR) – Thales Alenia Space, Joint Venture between Thales (67 %) and Leonardo (33 %) announced the signature of an ATP (Authorization To Proceed) with Axiom Space of Houston, Texas to initiate the development of two key pressurized elements dedicated to the world’s first commercial space station.

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NASA Moving Forward to Enable a Low-Earth Orbit Economy

Axiom modules attached to the International Space Station. (Credit: Axiom Space)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — One year ago, NASA announced the agency is opening the space station for business, enabling commercial and marketing opportunities on the station, and the agency has moved forward toward its ultimate goal in low-Earth orbit to partner with industry to achieve a strong ecosystem in which NASA is one of many customers purchasing services and capabilities at lower cost.

Providing expanded opportunities at the International Space Station to manufacture, market and promote commercial products and services will help catalyze and expand space exploration markets for many businesses.

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Future Space Travelers May Follow Cosmic Lighthouses

An image of NICER on the exterior of the space station with one of the station’s solar panels in the background. (Credits: NASA)

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — For centuries, lighthouses helped sailors navigate safely into harbor. Their lights swept across the water, cutting through fog and darkness, guiding mariners around dangerous obstacles and keeping them on the right path. In the future, space explorers may receive similar guidance from the steady signals created by pulsars.

Scientists and engineers are using the International Space Station to develop pulsar-based navigation using these cosmic lighthouses to assist with wayfinding on trips to the Moon under NASA’s Artemis  program and on future human missions to Mars.

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Crew Dragon Duo Increases Science Tempo on Space Station

The Expedition 63 crew has expanded to five members with the arrival of the SpaceX Crew Dragon. (From left) Anatoly Ivanishin, Ivan Vagner, Chris Cassidy, Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley. (Credit: NASA TV)

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (NASA PR) — The saying “more hands make light work” is rarely more apt than when those hands are 250 miles up on the International Space Station, overseeing research to extend humanity’s reach into the solar system and offer new scientific breakthroughs on Earth.

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Lueders Shakes Up ISS Program Management

Joel Montalbano (Credit: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR — Kathy Lueders, NASA’s associate administrator for Human Exploration and Operations, has named Joel Montalbano as acting manager of the International Space Station Program. The appointment is effective Friday, June 26, the date Kirk Shireman, who has been in the position since 2015, is retiring from the agency to take a position in private industry.

“Kirk has dedicated 35 years of his career advancing and improving human spaceflight, and doing it in a collaborative way,” said Lueders. “The relationships he has fostered within NASA, and with our international and commercial partners, have made the International Space Station a model for the incredible achievements possible through global cooperation. I thank Kirk for his service to America’s space program. I am confident Joel’s leadership of this program will continue to expand the role of the space station as a national asset for exploration, science, and commercial use.”  

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Foam, of Coarse

Foam Coarsening experiment on the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA)

BRUSSELS (ESA PR) — The Foam-Coarsening experiment ran a new batch of cartridges in the Fluid Sciences Laboratory of the European Columbus module.

The experiment began in April to study foams in depth under the more stable conditions afforded by microgravity on the International Space Station.

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The Year of the Four Spaceships: A Progress Report

The Expedition 63 crew welcomes Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the International Space Station. (Credits: NASA / Bill Stafford)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Back in February, I went out on a limb and predicted that 2020 could be the Year of the Four Spaceships, with SpaceX, Boeing, Blue Origin, and Virgin Galactic and reaching major milestones in human spaceflight. (See 2020: Four Spaceships & the End of America’s Cosmic Groundhog Day)

With nearly half the year over, I thought it would be a good time to review the companies’ progress toward those milestones.

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NASA’s Cold Atom Lab Produces Fifth State of Matter on Space Station

This artist’s illustration shows six finely tuned lasers being used to slow down atoms inside NASA’s Cold Atom Lab, which chills atoms to almost absolute zero. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA/JPL-Caltech PR) — This month marks 25 years since scientists first produced a fifth state of matter, which has extraordinary properties totally unlike solids, liquids, gases and plasmas. The achievement garnered a Nobel Prize and changed physics.

A new study in the journal Nature builds on that legacy. In July 2018, NASA’s Cold Atom Lab  became the first facility to produce that fifth state of matter, called a Bose-Einstein condensate (BEC), in Earth orbit.

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Boeing Conducts First-Ever Astronaut Training in Virtual Reality Using Varjo Headsets

Photorealistic VR allows Starliner crew members to experience the most demanding and safety-critical scenarios in all phases of spaceflight

Helsinki, Finland, June 11, 2020 (Varjo PR) – Varjo, the leader in industrial-grade VR/XR headsets, today announced that its virtual reality headsets will be used by Boeing’s Starliner program to augment astronaut training, adding a new dimension to spaceflight preparations.

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