NASA’s Robotic ‘Sniffer’ Confirms Space Station Leak, Repair

The Robotic External Leak Locator on the end of the Dextre robot in February 2017. (Credit: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — In recent operations on the International Space Station, robotic operators were twice able to test and confirm the ability of the Robotic External Leak Locator (RELL) to “smell” in space.

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Video of President Trump’s Call to Space Station Astronauts

Video Caption: From the Oval Office at the White House, President Trump called Expedition 51 Commander Peggy Whitson and Flight Engineer Jack Fischer of NASA April 24 to offer congratulations to Whitson on the day she broke the record for most cumulative days on orbit by a U.S. astronaut. Whitson’s 534-day total surpassed the record held by NASA’s Jeff Williams. Trump’s daughter Ivanka and NASA astronaut Kate Rubins joined the president to discuss Whitson’s presence as a role model for young women and students as she continues her more than nine-month mission on station.

Space Station Crew Returns Safely to Earth

Kate Rubins after her return to Earth. (Credit: NASA TV)
Kate Rubins after her return to Earth. (Credit: NASA TV)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — NASA astronaut and Expedition 49 crew member Kate Rubins, who became the first person to sequence DNA in space, returned to Earth Saturday after a successful mission aboard the International Space Station.

Rubins and her crewmates Anatoly Ivanishin of the Russian space agency Roscosmos and Takuya Onishi of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, touched down in their Soyuz MS-01 at 11:58 p.m. EDT (9:58 a.m. Oct. 30, Kazakhstan time) southeast of the remote town of Dzhezkazgan in Kazakhstan.

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Rubins Inspects Inside of BEAM Module

Kate Rubins inspects BEAM. (Credit: NASA)
Kate Rubins inspects BEAM. (Credit: NASA)

NASA astronaut Kate Rubins inspected the Bigelow Aerospace Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) attached to the International Space Station on Sept. 5, 2016. Expandable habitats are designed to take up less room on a spacecraft while providing greater volume for living and working in space once expanded.

It was the first checkup of BEAM since the initial inspection of the space station’s expanded node after it was deployed May 28. Rubins collected radiation monitors and sampled surfaces inside BEAM to assess the microbe environment. Her inspection revealed the module appeared in good condition, and the samples and radiation detectors were packed for return to Earth for analysis.

On Sept. 29, Rubins opened up and entered the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module again, and temporarily installed gear for a test to measure the loads and vibrations the module experiences. For the next two years, crew members will inspect the module every three months to check for stability.

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