Demo Mission for Automated Complex Cell Culture Imaging Launching to the ISS National Lab

Antares with Cygnus CRS-13 spacecraft on the launch pad on Wallops Island. (Credit: NASA)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla., February 7, 2020 (ISS National Laboratory PR) – The next cargo launch to the International Space Station (ISS) will bring researchers one step closer to state-of-the-art capabilities for cell and tissue culture onboard the orbiting laboratory. 

Northrop Grumman’s 13th commercial resupply services (CRS) mission will carry the Mobile SpaceLab facility to the ISS U.S. National Laboratory for a critical engineering validation study. This demonstration will pave the way for a permanent in-orbit facility capable of automated cell culture and imaging for long-term investigations using live cells.

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Space Station to Forge Ultra-fast Connections

Communications antenna for the Columbus module on the ISS. (Credit: ESA)

PARIS (ESA PR) — Astronauts aboard the International Space Station plan to install a high-speed radio link to enable almost real-time connections with Earth.

The upgrade to the ESA Columbus laboratory will relay data from experiments on the Station back to Earth almost instantaneously.

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ISS National Lab Supporting Life Science Payloads Launching on Cygnus Resupply Ship

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (ISS National Laboratory PR) – When Northrop Grumman’s 13th commercial resupply services (CRS) mission launches to the International Space Station (ISS), it will carry with it a multitude of research to benefit life on Earth.

Among the ISS U.S. National Laboratory-sponsored payloads on this mission are two investigations from leading academic institutions. Although both projects fall within the area of life sciences, the two are studying very different things—one is seeking solutions to a common health ailment and the other aims to improve bioproduction of a commercially important industrial chemical.

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NASA: Starliner Software Sign of Systemic Problems at Boeing

Starliner OFT-1 capsule after landing at White Sands Missile Range. (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Late in the evening of Dec. 21, Boeing engineers discovered a software glitch that could have caused its uncrewed Starliner capsule to become unstable or enter the Earth’s atmosphere with a damaged heat shield. The result could have been the loss of the vehicle.

Engineers transmitted new software to the capsule at 5 a.m. the next morning. Less than three hours later, Starliner landed safely at White Sands Missile Range a two-day orbital flight test.

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Northrop Grumman Set to Launch Cygnus to ISS for NASA

Antares with Cygnus CRS-13 spacecraft on the launch pad on Wallops Island. (Credit: NASA)

WALLOPS, Va., February 7 2020 (Northrop Grumman PR) – Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) is set to launch the company’s AntaresTM rocket carrying its CygnusTM spacecraft to the International Space Station for NASA. This mission, known as NG-13, marks the company’s 13th cargo mission for NASA and the second mission under NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services-2 contract.

The launch is scheduled for Feb. 9 at 5:39 p.m. ET from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport Pad 0A on Wallops Island, Virginia, at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility, with rendezvous and berthing at the station to occur on Feb. 11. The mission will use the Antares 230+ configuration and will conduct a 24-hour late load operation.

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NASA, Boeing to Provide Starliner Orbital Flight Test Update

Starliner OFT-1 capsule after landing at White Sands Missile Range. (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA and Boeing will host a media teleconference at 3:30 p.m. EST Friday, Feb. 7, to discuss the status of the joint independent review team investigation into the primary issues detected during the company’s uncrewed Orbital Flight Test in December as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

Participants in the briefing will be:

  • NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine
  • Jim Chilton, senior vice president, Boeing Space and Launch
  • Douglas Loverroassociate administrator, NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate 
  • Kathy Lueders, program manager, NASA’s Commercial Crew Program
  • John Mulholland, vice president and program manager, Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner Program

Audio of the teleconference will stream live online at: 

https://www.nasa.gov/live

NASA ASAP: Starliner Software Problem Nearly Caused Catastrophic Failure

The NASA Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel (ASAP) is meeting today. Members are saying the software problems with Boeing’s Starliner orbital flight test in December were more numerous and serious than initially reported.

If you recall, a software timing error resulted in the Starliner being unable to raise its orbit sufficiently to dock with the International Space Station. The spacecraft spent two days in orbit before landing safely at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico.

The nature of the second software bug is unclear.

NASA is trying to decide whether to require Boeing to fly the test again before placing crew on board for another flight test to the space station. Boeing has taken a $410 million charge against earnings in the event it needs to fly another mission.

2020: Four Spaceships & the End of America’s Cosmic Groundhog Day

Blue Origin’s New Shepard reusable, suborbital rocket. (Credits: Blue Origin)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The clock struck midnight on Jan. 1 amid raucous celebrations around the world. The arrival of a new year and decade merely confirmed what had been clear for months: 2019 was not the breakthrough year for getting humans off the planet.

Neither Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic and Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin followed through on long-standing promises to fly paying passengers on suborbital joyrides. An era of commercial space tourism that seemed so close that October day in 2004 when Brian Binnie guided SpaceShipOne to a landing at the Mojave Air and Space Port quietly slipped into yet another year.

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ESA Astronaut Luca Parmitano Returns to Earth

Video Caption: ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano touched down in the Kazakh Steppe at 09:12 GMT (10:12 CET), 6 February 2020 after his second six-month mission on the International Space Station. Luca returned to Earth in the Russian Soyuz MS-13 spacecraft alongside US astronaut Christina Koch and Russian cosmonaut Alexander Skvortsov.

During his second mission, known as ‘Beyond’, Luca served as the third European and first ever Italian in command of the International Space Station. Before leaving the Station, he handed this role over to Russian cosmonaut Oleg Skripocha in a traditional change of command ceremony.

While in orbit, Luca also performed four complex spacewalks to maintain the cosmic-ray-detecting Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer AMS-02, remotely operated a rock-collecting rover in the Netherlands, supported more than 50 European and over 200 international experiments, gained the European record for longest cumulative spacewalking time, and publicly shared countless images as he warned of the challenges facing our planet.

Luca will now return to ESA’s Astronaut Centre in Cologne, Germany where he will continue to work with researchers to gather baseline data and undertake an extensive programme of rehabilitation supported by ESA experts. The findings of this research and Luca’s work in space will help shape the future of space exploration and enhance technological developments on Earth.

Record-Setting NASA Astronaut, Crewmates Return from Space Station

NASA astronaut Christina Koch is helped out of the Soyuz MS-13 spacecraft just minutes after she, Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexander Skvortsov, and ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano, landed their Soyuz MS-13 capsule on Thursday, Feb. 6, 2020. (Credits: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

Dzhezkazgan, Kazakhstan (NASA PR) — After setting a record for the longest single spaceflight in history by a woman, NASA astronaut Christina Koch returned to Earth Thursday, along with Soyuz Commander Alexander Skvortsov of the Russian space agency Roscosmos and Luca Parmitano of ESA (European Space Agency).

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NASA to Provide Coverage of Next Cygnus Resupply Mission

The U.S. Cygnus space freighter is pictured as the Canadarm2 robotic arm, guided by NASA astronaut Jessica Meir with fellow Flight Engineer Christina Koch as her back up, reaches out to grapple the 12th resupply ship from Northrop Grumman on November 4, 2019. (Credits: NASA)

WALLOPS ISLAND, Va. (NASA PR) — Northrop Grumman’s next NASA resupply services mission to the International Space Station is targeted for launch at 5:39 p.m. EST Sunday, Feb. 9. Live coverage of the launch and briefings will begin at 5 p.m. on NASA Television and the agency’s website.

The company’s 13th commercial resupply services mission using its Cygnus cargo spacecraft is scheduled to launch on its Antares rocket from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.

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NASA Astronaut’s Record-Setting Mission Helps Scientists for Future Missions

Christina Koch aboard the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — NASA astronaut Christina Koch is set to return to Earth on Thursday, Feb. 6, after 328 days living and working aboard the International Space Station. Her mission is the longest single spaceflight by any woman, which is helping scientists gather data for future missions to the Moon and Mars.

NASA TV Coverage https://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/nasatv/index.html#public

  • Wed., Feb. 5, 9 p.m. EST: Expedition 61 Crew Farewell and Soyuz Hatch Closure
  • Thurs., Feb. 6, 12:15 a.m., 3 a.m. EST: Expedition 61 Soyuz Undocking, Deorbit Burn and Landing Coverage
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SMC, NASA Deploy DoD’s STPSat-4 From ISS

Space Test Program Satellite-4 (STPSat-4) reaches its final orbit after deploying from the International Space Station, Jan. 28, 2020. (Credit: NASA)

LOS ANGELES AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (USAF SMC PR) — The United States Space Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) and its mission partner, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), successfully deployed the Department of Defense (DoD) Space Test Program Satellite-4 (STPSat‑4) from the International Space Station at 11:20 p.m., Jan. 28, 2020.   

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GAO: Accelerating Commercial Crew Schedule Poses Risks

Credit: NASA

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

NASA’s plan to move up the start of operational crew missions to the International Space Station (ISS) by Boeing and SpaceX could pose serious safety risks, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

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Nanoracks Deploys 250th Satellite, Eighth Cygnus Mission

DULLES, Va., February 3, 2020 (NanoRacks PR) – Friday evening, Nanoracks successfully completed the Company’s eighth CubeSat deployment mission from Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus spacecraft. Cygnus (S.S. Alan Bean) departed the International Space Station on January 31, 2020 and performed a number of on-orbit activities, including yet another historic Nanoracks deployment.

Nanoracks’ External Cygnus Deployment mission released seven CubeSats into a circular orbit of 465 km beginning at approximately 4:00 pm ET/9:00 PM GMT. The CubeSats deployed were: Aerocube 14 A/B & Aerocube 15 A/B (Aerospace Corporation), SwampSat II (University of Florida), Orbital Factory-2 (University of Texas, El Paso), and HuskySat-1 (University of Washington).

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