Axiom Space’s Private Flight to Space Station Delayed to End of March

Pilot Larry Connor, mission commander Michael López-Alegría, mission specialist Mark Pathy, and mission specialist Eytan Stibbe. (Credit: Axiom Space)

Axiom Space’s plan to send four private astronauts to the International Space Station has been delayed from Feb. 21 to March 31, NASA announced last week.

“Axiom Mission 1, the first private astronaut mission to the International Space Station, is now targeting to launch March 31 to account for additional spacecraft preparations and space station traffic,” NASA said in a blog post. “Once aboard the orbiting laboratory, the four-person Axiom Space crew will conduct science, outreach, and commercial activities for eight days before their return to Earth.”

Former NASA astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegria, who is an Axiom vice president, will command the SpaceX Crew Dragon mission known as Ax-1. The spacecraft will be launched aboard a Falcon 9 rocket from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Lopez-Alegria will be joined by: American Larry Connor, who will serve as pilot; Israeli mission specialist Eytan Stibbe; and Canadian mission specialist Mark Pathy. Stibbe will be the second Israeli to fly to space.

NASA Solar Sail Mission to Chase Tiny Asteroid After Artemis I Launch

NEA Scout is composed of a small, shoebox-sized CubeSat (top left) and a thin, aluminum-coated solar sail about the size of a racquetball court (bottom left). After the spacecraft launches aboard Artemis I, the sail will use sunlight to propel the CubeSat to a small asteroid (as depicted in an illustration, right). (Credits: NASA)

NEA Scout will visit an asteroid estimated to be smaller than a school bus – the smallest asteroid ever to be studied by a spacecraft.

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (NASA PR) — Launching with the Artemis I uncrewed test flight, NASA’s shoebox-size Near-Earth Asteroid Scout will chase down what will become the smallest asteroid ever to be visited by a spacecraft. It will get there by unfurling a solar sail to harness solar radiation for propulsion, making this the agency’s first deep space mission of its kind.

The target is 2020 GE, a near-Earth asteroid (NEA) that is less than 60 feet (18 meters) in size. Asteroids smaller than 330 feet (100 meters) across have never been explored up close before. The spacecraft will use its science camera to get a closer look, measuring the object’s size, shape, rotation, and surface properties while looking for any dust and debris that might surround 2020 GE.

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Scientific Hardware, Experiments Return to Earth on SpaceX CRS-24 Dragon

Cargo Dragon docked at the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA)

Editor’s Note: Do to adverse weather in the recovery zone, SpaceX and NASA are now targeting 10:40 a.m. EST on Sunday, Jan. 23 for undocking from the International Space Station of a SpaceX Dragon resupply spacecraft filled with more than 4,900 pounds of valuable scientific experiments and other cargo. NASA Television and the agency’s website will broadcast its departure live beginning at 10:15 a.m. EST.

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — A retired microscope and samples from studies on colloids and cellular signaling are among the cargo returning from the International Space Station aboard the 24th SpaceX commercial resupply services mission. The Dragon craft, which arrived at the station Dec. 22, 2021, is scheduled to undock Jan. 22 with splashdown the next afternoon off the coast of Florida.

These quick return flights allow scientists to make additional observations and analyses of their experiments at Kennedy Space Center, minimizing the effects of gravity on samples. Investigators then can conduct more in-depth analyses back at their home labs.

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NASA TV to Air SpaceX Cargo Dragon Departure from Space Station

The SpaceX Cargo Dragon spacecraft is set to depart the International Space Station on Friday, Jan. 21, for a splashdown Saturday, Jan. 22, off the coast of Florida. (Credits: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — A SpaceX Dragon cargo resupply spacecraft is set to depart the International Space Station Friday, Jan. 21. NASA Television, the agency’s website, and the NASA app will provide live broadcast of the spacecraft’s undocking and departure beginning at 10:15 a.m. EST.

Ground controllers at SpaceX in Hawthorne, California, will send commands at 10:40 a.m. for Dragon to undock from the space-facing port of the station’s Harmony module and fire its thrusters to move a safe distance away from the station. Controllers will command a deorbit burn the following day.

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NASA Prepares SLS Moon Rockets for First Crewed Artemis Missions

Casting and assembly of solid rocket booster, shown her, for the Artemis IV mission is underway at Northrop Grumman’s factory in Promontory, Utah. The booster motors for Artemis II and Artemis III have completed casting and are ready to go to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center where they will be assembled with other booster hardware being prepared for the missions. (Credit: NASA)

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (NASA PR) — As teams continue to prepare NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket for its debut flight with the launch of Artemis I, NASA and its partners across the country have made great progress building the rocket for Artemis II, the first crewed Artemis mission. The team is also manufacturing and testing major parts for Artemis missions III, IV and V.

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Florida Legislators Eye Tax Free Launches, State Subsidy for New Launch Complex

Falcon 9 launches 49 Starlink satellites from Florida. (Credit: SpaceX webcast)

Faced with increased competition from Texas, Georgia and other states, Florida legislators are eyeing new ways to keep companies launching from the Sunshine State. Florida Politics reports:

Zero G Zero Fee’ bills would create tax exemptions for anything launched into space from Florida.

What if a company could launch a rocket into space from Florida and pay no sales tax on the rocket, its payload, its fuel or even the concrete, steel and equipment needed to create the launch pad?

That would be the reality if lawmakers this Session approve legislation from Sen. Tom Wright and Rep. Tyler Sirois (SB 1466HB 65)…

At the same time, Republican Rep. Rene Plasencia of Orlando has introduced HB 9233, which would provide a $10 million appropriation for Florida to build a new multiuser launch pad at Cape Canaveral. Space Florida, the state’s space business development agency, has talked about the need for a launch pad that could be leased on a per-launch basis by companies that don’t have their own launch facilities, as SpaceX, United Launch Alliance and others do.

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2021 in Review: Highlights from NASA in Silicon Valley

Ingenuity Mars helicopter flies on the Red Planet. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/MSSS)

MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. (NASA PR) — Join us as we look back at the highlights of 2021 at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley.

1) NASA’s water-hunting Moon rover, the Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover, made great strides this year. The VIPER team successfully completed practice runs of the full-scale assembly of the Artemis program’s lunar rover in VIPER’s new clean room. Two rounds of egress testing let rover drivers practice exiting the lander and rolling onto the rocky surface of the Moon. NASA also announced the landing site selected for the robotic rover, which will be delivered to the Nobile region of the Moon’s South Pole in late 2023 as part of the Commercial Lunar Payload Services initiative. NASA also chose eight new VIPER science team members and their proposals to expand and complement VIPER’s already existing science team and planned investigations. This year’s progress contributed to VIPER’s completion of its Critical Design Review, turning the mission’s focus toward construction of the rover beginning in late 2022.

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Falcon 9 Launches 49 Starlink Satellites From Florida

Falcon 9 launches 49 Starlink satellites. (Credit: SpaceX webcast)

SpaceX launched 49 Starlink satellites into orbit aboard a Falcon 9 on Thursday, marking the start of the 2022 orbital launch campaign. The booster lifted off at 4:49 p.m. EST from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

SpaceX has now launched 1,944 satellites into orbit for its broadband satellite network, with 1,764 currently working. Elon Musk’s company has received approval to launch just under 12,000 Starlink satellites from the Federal Communications Commission. It has an application to launch 30,000 additional satellites to bring the constellation to nearly 42,000 spacecraft.

It was the fourth launch and landing of this Falcon 9 first stage booster, which previously launched GPS III-4, GPS III-5, and Inspiration4.

SpaceX to Launch 49 Starlink Satellites on Thursday Afternoon

Credit: SpaceX

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (SpaceX PR) — SpaceX is targeting Thursday, January 6 for a Falcon 9 launch of 49 Starlink satellites to low Earth orbit from Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A) at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The instantaneous launch window is at 4:49 p.m. EST, or 21:49 UTC, and a backup opportunity is available on Friday, January 7 at 4:28 p.m. EST.

Falcon 9’s first stage booster supporting this mission previously launched GPS III-4, GPS III-5, and Inspiration4. Following stage separation, Falcon 9’s first stage will land on the A Shortfall of Gravitas droneship, which will be stationed in the Atlantic Ocean.

You can watch the live launch webcast starting about 20 minutes before liftoff. 

Ball Aerospace-Built Optics and Mirror System Launched Aboard James Webb Space Telescope

The James Webb Space Telescope previously deployed its primary mirror in March 2020. Its folded sunshield is also visible in this image. (Credits: Northrop Grumman)

BROOMFIELD, Colo. (Ball Aerospace PR) — Ball Aerospace is celebrating the launch of NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope (Webb) from French Guiana. The Colorado-based company designed and built the advanced optical technology and lightweight mirror system that will enable Webb to detect light from the first stars and galaxies.

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Callisto Technology Demonstration to Fly Aboard Orion for Artemis I

Artist’s impression of Orion over Earth. (Credit: NASA/ESA/ATG Medialab)

By Erika Peters
NASA Johnson Space Center

HOUSTON — Flying on NASA’s Orion spacecraft during the uncrewed Artemis I mission will be Callisto, a technology demonstration developed through a reimbursable space act agreement with Lockheed Martin. Lockheed Martin has partnered with Amazon, and Cisco to bring the Alexa digital assistant and Webex video collaboration aboard Orion’s first flight test in deep space.

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Research on Ageing Launched to International Space Station

SWINDON, UK (UK Space Agency PR) — A government-backed experiment which could help people live longer, healthier lives launched to the International Space Station on Tuesday 21 December.

Scientists at the University of Liverpool, funded by the UK Space Agency, are using space to understand what happens to human muscles as we age, and why. 

When astronauts spend time in space, without the effects of gravity, their muscles get weaker, just as they do in older age, before recovering when they return to Earth. By studying what happens to muscle tissue in space, the team can compare the findings to what happens on Earth.

This will help the solve the puzzle of why muscles get weaker as we age and look at ways to prevent it.

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European Science Launches to Space Station Aboard SpaceX Dragon Spacecraft

A SpaceX Dragon resupply spacecraft launches on a Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Pad 39A at Kennedy for the company’s 24th commercial resupply services mission for NASA. (Credits: NASA)

PARIS (ESA PR) — The next SpaceX resupply vehicle is packed with European science, ready for delivery to the International Space Station just in time for Christmas.

The Dragon spacecraft was launched from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, USA, at 11:06 CET (10:06 GMT) Tuesday 21 December. We take a quick peek at some of the European cargo it carries.

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Detergent, Skin Bioprinter Launch on NASA’s SpaceX Resupply Mission

A SpaceX Dragon resupply spacecraft launches on a Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Pad 39A at Kennedy for the company’s 24th commercial resupply services mission for NASA. (Credits: NASA)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — A SpaceX Dragon resupply spacecraft carrying more than 6,500 pounds of science experiments, crew supplies, and other cargo is on its way to the International Space Station after launching at 5:07 a.m. EST Tuesday from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

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Problem with Engine Flight Controller to Delay First SLS/Orion launch

SLS and Orion full stacked in the Vehicle Assembly Building. (Credit: NASA)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion spacecraft are undergoing integrated testing inside the Vehicle Assembly Building at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida to ensure they are “go” for launch of the Artemis I mission early next year.

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