International Space Station Adds a Powerful New Camera

Orange County, Calif. (Credit: The Aerospace Corporation)

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (Aerospace Corporation PR) — Aerospace’s new infrared camera is now obtaining unique high-contrast, nighttime images from its home on the International Space Station (ISS). The 45-kilogram instrument, known as the Near Infrared Airglow Camera (NIRAC), will provide detailed observations of clouds at night for weather prediction, among other applications.  

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NASA to Provide Coverage of Boeing Orbital Flight Test for Commercial Crew

The Boeing CST-100 Starliner spacecraft is guided into position above a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket at the Vertical Integration Facility at Space Launch Complex 41 at Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on Nov. 21, 2019. Starliner will be secured atop the rocket for Boeing’s Orbital Flight Test to the International Space Station for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. The spacecraft rolled out from Boeing’s Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center earlier in the day.

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — The launch of Boeing’s Orbital Flight Test (OFT) to the International Space Station, as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, is targeted for 6:36 a.m. EST Friday, Dec. 20. The uncrewed flight test will be the Boeing CST-100 Starliner’s maiden mission to the space station.

Live coverage will begin on NASA Television and the agency’s website  Tuesday, Dec. 17, with prelaunch events.

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Aerojet Rocketdyne Gears up for Boeing Starliner’s First Flight

The Boeing CST-100 Starliner spacecraft is guided into position above a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket at the Vertical Integration Facility at Space Launch Complex 41 at Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on Nov. 21, 2019. Starliner will be secured atop the rocket for Boeing’s Orbital Flight Test to the International Space Station for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. The spacecraft rolled out from Boeing’s Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center earlier in the day.

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (Aerojet Rocketdyne PR) — From start to finish, Aerojet Rocketdyne will play a major role in Boeing’s first demonstration mission of the CST-100 Starliner spacecraft for NASA, ushering in a new era of human spaceflight. The Starliner Orbital Flight Test (OFT) demonstration is slated to launch Dec. 20, 2019 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

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Starliner Cleared for Dec. 20 Flight to Space Station

The Boeing CST-100 Starliner spacecraft is guided into position above a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket at the Vertical Integration Facility at Space Launch Complex 41 at Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on Nov. 21, 2019. Starliner will be secured atop the rocket for Boeing’s Orbital Flight Test to the International Space Station for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. The spacecraft rolled out from Boeing’s Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center earlier in the day.

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

NASA and Boeing officials said on Thursday that Boeing’s Starliner crew spacecraft has been cleared for a Dec. 20 launch to the International Space Station (ISS).

The announcement came after Boeing and the space agency completed a flight readiness review for the eight-day orbital test of the vehicle. Starliner will not have a crew aboard for the flight.

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Rocket Lab, OSIRIS-REx and Starliner Announcements Set for Thursday

Launch complexes on Wallops Island, Virginia

There are three major events that you can tune in for on Thursday.

Rocket Lab Wallops Launch Complex
11 a.m. EST
www.rocketlabusa.com

CEO Peter Beck will host a webcast from Wallops Island, Va., to open the company’s new launch complex and announce the first flight of the Electron booster from U.S. soil.

This artist’s concept shows the Origins Spectral Interpretation Resource Identification Security – Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) spacecraft contacting the asteroid Bennu with the Touch-And-Go Sample Arm Mechanism or TAGSAM. (Credits: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center)

NASA OSIRIS-REx Sampling Site
1 p.m. EST
http://nasa.gov/live

NASA will announced the site where OSIRIS-REx will collect a soil sample from asteroid Bennu.

The Boeing CST-100 Starliner spacecraft rolls out from the company’s Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. (Credits: Boeing)

NASA Boeing CST-100 Starliner Mission Preview
2 p.m. EST (approximate)
https://www.nasa.gov/live

NASA and Boeing officials will hold a news teleconference for the upcoming CST-100 Starliner orbital test flight to the International Space Station on Dec. 20.

The teleconference will begin no earlier than 2 p.m. EST, or approximately one hour after the flight readiness review ends. The start time will be adjusted as necessary. 

NASA, Boeing to Hold Media Teleconference on Orbital Flight Test Mission

The Boeing CST-100 Starliner spacecraft is guided into position above a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket at the Vertical Integration Facility at Space Launch Complex 41 at Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on Nov. 21, 2019. Starliner will be secured atop the rocket for Boeing’s Orbital Flight Test to the International Space Station for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. The spacecraft rolled out from Boeing’s Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center earlier in the day.

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA and Boeing will hold a news teleconference Thursday, Dec. 12, following the agency’s Flight Readiness Review for Boeing’s uncrewed Orbital Flight Test (OFT) to the International Space Station, as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

The teleconference will begin no earlier than 2 p.m. EST, or approximately one hour after the review ends. The start time will be adjusted as necessary. Media may participate and ask questions via phone only.

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Progress Supply Ship Arrives at Space Station

Progress M-13 cargo ship approaches International Space Station. (Credit: Roscosmos)

MOSCOW (Roscosmos PR) — On December 9, 2019, at 10:35 UTC the Progress MS-13 cargo vehicle successfully docked to the Pirs docking module of the International Space Station.

The spacecraft approach was performed according to a 72-hour scheme and was conducted automatically under control of the Chief Operating Control Group of the Russian segment of the ISS at the Mission Control Center and the Russian ISS crewmembers – Roscosmos cosmonauts Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Skripochka.

The Soyuz-2.1a carrier rocket launched from launchpad No. 31 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome on December 6, 2019. The autonomous flight was controlled by the Chief Operative Group of the Russian segment of the ISS at the Korolyov-based Mission Control Center.

The Progress MS-13 spacecraft delivered about 2.5 tons of various cargo including fuel, air, equipment to support the station workability, packages and life support means for the crewmembers. The spacecraft also delivered the new belt for the BD-2 running machine meant to keep the crew’s physical fitness under the zero-g conditions

Dragon Cargo Ship Arrives at Space Station

Falcon 9 launches the CRS-19 mission. (Credit: SpaceX webcast)

Three days after its launch from Florida, the SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft was installed on the Earth-facing side of the International Space Station’s Harmony module at 7:47 a.m. EST.

The 19th contracted commercial resupply mission from SpaceX delivers more than 5,700 pounds of research, crew supplies and hardware to the orbiting laboratory.

Here’s some of the science arriving at station:

Keeping Bones and Muscles Strong
Rodent Research-19 (RR-19) investigates myostatin (MSTN) and activin, molecular signaling pathways that influence muscle degradation, as possible targets for preventing muscle and bone loss during spaceflight and enhancing recovery following return to Earth. This study also could support the development of therapies for a wide range of conditions that cause muscle and bone loss on Earth.

Checking for Leaks
NASA is launching Robotic Tool Stowage (RiTS), a docking station that allows Robotic External Leak Locator (RELL) units to be stored on the outside of space station, making it quicker and simpler to deploy the instruments. The leak locator is a robotic, remote-controlled tool that helps mission operators detect the location of an external leak and rapidly confirm a successful repair. These capabilities can be applied to any place that humans live in space, including NASA’s lunar Gateway and eventually habitats on the Moon, Mars, and beyond.

After Dragon spends approximately one month attached to the space station, the spacecraft will return to Earth with cargo and research.

Next up, the station crew will be preparing for the arrival early Monday morning of a second resupply spacecraft. The Russian Progress 74 that launched Friday at 4:34 a.m. is expected to dock to the Pirs compartment on the station’s Russian segment at 5:38 a.m. Monday, Dec. 9. NASA TV and the agency’s website will provide live coverage of Progress rendezvous and docking at 4:45 a.m.

Keep up to date with the latest news from the crew living in space by following https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation/@space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter, and the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

Progress Resupply Ship Launched to ISS

A Soyuz rocket launches the Progress MS-13 cargo ship to the International Space Station. (Credit: Roscosmos)

BAIKONUR COSMODROME, Kazakhstan (Roscosmos PR) — On December 6, 2019, at 09:34:11 UTC the Soyuz-2.1a carrier rocket with the Progress MS-13 cargo spacecraft launched from launchpad No. 31 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome. Antennas and solar batteries panels’ extension went routinely.

After the cargo vehicle separation from the third stage of the carrier rocket, the Chief Operating Control Group of the Russian segment of the International Space Station at the Mission Control Center took over the flight control.

Progress MS-13 spacecraft approach to the ISS and berthing to the Pirs docking module is planned to be performed automatically under control of the Chief Operating Control Group of the Russian segment of the ISS at the Mission Control Center and the Russian ISS crewmembers – Roscosmos cosmonauts Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Skripochka. The docking is scheduled for December 9, 2019, at 10:38 UTC. The broadcast will be available in the Live Broadcast section at Roscosmos website.

The spacecraft is to deliver 700 kg of fuel and gas, as well as 1,350 kg of various equipment and cargo including resource facilities of the onboard control and life support systems, equipment to conduct scientific and research experiments, sanitary and hygiene products and medical control means, 420 kilograms of water in the Rodnik system tanks and standard food rations.

Russia to Launch Progress Cargo Ship on Friday

Progress MS-12 approaches the International Space Station. Credit: Roscosmos)

MOSCOW (Roscosmos PR) — TsNIIMash Mission Control Center has completed the planned activities to prepare for the Progress MS-13 cargo vehicle flight. The Soyuz-2.1a carrier rocket is scheduled to launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome on December 6, 2019, at 09:34:11 UTC [4:34:11 a.m. EST].

The Chief Operating Control Group of the Russian segment of the International Space Station at the Mission Control Center will take over the flight control after its separation from the third stage of the carrier rocket. The estimated orbit insertion time is 09:42:59 UTC [4:42:59 a.m. EST].

Progress MS-13 spacecraft approach to the ISS and berthing to the Pirs docking module is planned to be performed automatically under control of the Chief Operating Control Group of the Russian segment of the ISS at the Mission Control Center and the Russian ISS crewmembers.

The Progress MS-13 spacecraft is to deliver about 2.5 tons of various cargo including fuel, air, equipment to support the station workability, packages and life support means for the crewmembers. The cosmonauts will also get the new belt for the BD-2 running machine meant to keep the crew’s physical fitness under the zero-g conditions.

The launch broadcast will be available in the Live Broadcast section starting from 08:45 UTC [3:45 a.m. EST] on December 6.

SpaceX Launches Dragon Resupply Ship to International Space Station

Falcon 9 launches the CRS-19 mission. (Credit: SpaceX webcast)

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket successfully launched a Dragon resupply ship with approximately 5,700 pounds of cargo for astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS).

The booster lifted off at 12:29 EST from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Dragon separated from the second stage and deployed its solar arrays to begin a 2.5 day trip to space station.

This is SpaceX’s nineteenth Commercial Resupply Services mission under a contract with NASA. The Dragon spacecraft has previously flown on two previous resupply missions to ISS.

Falcon 9’s first stage successfully landed on the Of Course I Still Love You drone ship. The landing marked the 46th successful recovery of a Falcon first stage.

The launch was the first of two resupply missions in less than 24 hours. Roscosmos will launch the Progress 74 cargo ship on Friday.

NASA TV’s coverage of the two missions is below.

Upcoming NASA TV Live Events (All Times Eastern)

Friday, Dec. 6, 4:15 a.m.: NASA TV coverage of Russian Progress 74 cargo spacecraft launch to International Space Station. Launch is scheduled for 4:34 a.m. from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

Sunday, Dec. 8: SpaceX CRS-19 Dragon cargo spacecraft rendezvous, grapple and attaching to the International Space Station.

Sunday, Dec. 8: SpaceX CRS-19 Dragon cargo spacecraft installation to the International Space Station. Dragon will be installed to the nadir port of the Harmony module of the station.

Monday, Dec. 9, 4:45 a.m.: NASA TV coverage of Russian Progress 74 cargo spacecraft docking to International Space Station. The spacecraft is expected to dock to the Pirs compartment on the station’s Russian segment at 5:38 a.m.

Mexican Students Launch a Small Satellite to the International Space Station

Jose Cortez of NASA Ames (left) and Joel Contreras of UPAEP (right), conduct final integration of AzTechSat-1 into the Nanoracks CubeSat Deployer (NRCSD) in preparation for launch to the International Space Station. (Credits: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — The first satellite built by students in Mexico for launch from the International Space Station is smaller than a shoebox but represents a big step for its builders.

The project is part of NASA’s CubeSat Launch Initiative, which offers universities, high schools and non-profit organizations the opportunity to fly small satellites. Innovative technology partnerships keep down the cost, providing students a way to obtain hands-on experience developing flight hardware.

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Overview of Cargo Dragon Launch

Dragon arriving at Space Station (Credit: NASA)

UPDATE: Launch scrubbed due to high altitude winds and windy seas. SpaceX will try again on Thursday at 12:29 p.m. EST/ 17:29 UTC.

CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla. (SpaceX PR) — SpaceX is targeting Wednesday, December 4 for launch of its nineteenth Commercial Resupply Services mission (CRS-19) at 12:51 p.m. EST, or 17:51 UTC, from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.

Launch webcast will go live about 15 minutes before liftoff at spacex.com/webcast.

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NASA Launching RiTS, a ‘Robot Hotel’ to the International Space Station

RELL Engineering Development Unit (left) pictured alongside RiTS flight unit that will fly to the International Space Station aboard SpaceX-19. (Credits: NASA)

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — Sometimes robots need a place to stay in space, too. NASA is attaching a “robot hotel” to the outside of the International Space Station with the upcoming launch of the Robotic Tool Stowage (RiTS), a protective storage unit for critical robotic tools.

RiTS is set to launch on Dec. 4 aboard the 19th SpaceX commercial resupply mission. Its first residents will be two Robotic External Leak Locators (RELL). Outfitted with mass spectrometers capable of “sniffing” out the presence of gases such as ammonia, these robotic tools are used to detect leaks from the station. Two RELL units are on board the station right now: the first RELL launched in 2015, and it proved to be such a success that a second RELL was launched as a backup earlier this year.

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Starliner Launch Delayed Two Days to Dec. 19

The Boeing CST-100 Starliner spacecraft is guided into position above a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket at the Vertical Integration Facility at Space Launch Complex 41 at Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on Nov. 21, 2019. Starliner will be secured atop the rocket for Boeing’s Orbital Flight Test to the International Space Station for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. The spacecraft rolled out from Boeing’s Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center earlier in the day.

Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., Dec. 3, 2019 (ULA PR) — The launch of the Atlas V rocket carrying Boeing’s Orbital Flight Test (OFT) Starliner spacecraft is now targeted for Dec. 19, 2019.

During pre-launch processing of the Atlas V, there was an issue with the rocket’s purge air supply duct. Additional time was needed for the ULA and Boeing teams to complete an analysis of the issue, replace the duct and complete processing ahead of launch.

We continue to work closely with Boeing to ensure that the Starliner flies as soon as the spacecraft and launch vehicle are ready.