Private Israeli Astronaut Made Fortune Selling Weapons, Security Systems & Other Services to Developing Nations

Michael Lopez-Alegria, Eytand_Stibbe and two unidentified individuals will fly on the AX-1 mission. (Credit: Axiom Space)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

A former fighter pilot paying to become the second Israeli to fly into space late next year made his fortune by supplying military weapons, security systems and other services to the governments of Angola, Nigeria, Haiti, Ivory Coast and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Eytan Stibbe, 62, will join retired NASA astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegria and two unidentified individuals on a SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft for a privately-funded mission to the International Space Station (ISS). Stibbe will pay for the cost of the trip and stay at the station.

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Biden Appoints Ellen Stofan to Lead NASA Agency Review Team

Ellen Stofan (Credit: Smithsonian Institution)
  • Former astronaut Pam Melroy and Kathryn Sullivan also named to review teams
  • Former XPRIZE vice president leads OSTP team

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

President-elect Joe Biden has appointed former NASA chief scientist Ellen Stofan to lead the review team assigned to the space agency.

Stofan, a planetary scientist who became the first female director of the National Air and Space Museum in 2018, leads an eight-member team that includes former NASA astronaut Pam Melroy and former NASA chief scientist Waleed Abdalati.

Biden has also appointed Kathryn Sullivan, who was part of the first group of women recruited as NASA astronauts, to serve on the agency review team for the Department of Commerce.

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Former Astronaut Mark Kelly Elected to U.S. Senate

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Former NASA astronaut Mark Kelly has won election to the U.S. Senate from the state of Arizona, joining a small group of space explorers subsequently elected to serve in Congress.

The Associated Press reports that with 83 percent of the votes in, Kelly has 1,444,645 votes (52.6 percent) while Republican Sen. Martha McSally trails with 1,300,119 votes (47.4 percent). Kelly has declared victory and McSally has conceded the race.

Kelly, a Democrat who flew aboard the space shuttle four times, and McSally competed in a special election to fill the last two years of the late Republican Sen. John McCain’s six year term.

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It Took Teamwork to Make It to 20 Years

NASA astronauts (left to right) Christina Koch and Jessica Meir harvested Mizuna mustard greens on Thanksgiving day in 2019 inside the ESA (European Space Agency) laboratory module’s VEGGIE facility. (Credits: NASA)

By Danielle Sempsrott
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center

Building the Team

For 20 consecutive years, NASA has been sending humans to low-Earth orbit to live and work aboard the International Space Station, a unique microgravity laboratory that’s making new discoveries to this day. The technology used for LASIK eye surgery, air purifiers, and robotic arms that assist in medical surgeries are just a few of the things we benefit from here on Earth thanks to science performed on the orbiting laboratory. However, getting the space station into orbit and maintaining it is one of humanity’s biggest challenges – one that required people from all over the world working together to make it possible.

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Northrop Grumman Names Next Cygnus Cargo Ship After Kalpana Chawla

Kalpana Chawla

FALLS CHURCH, Va. (Northrop Grumman PR) — Northrop Grumman is proud to name the NG-14 Cygnus spacecraft after former astronaut Kalpana Chawla. It is the company’s tradition to name each Cygnus after an individual who has played a pivotal role in human spaceflight. Chawla was selected in honor of her prominent place in history as the first woman of Indian descent to go to space.

Kalpana Chawla was born in Karnal, Haryana, India on March 17, 1962. She received a Bachelor of Science degree in aeronautical engineering from Punjab Engineering College in India in 1982. Chawla then moved to the United States to pursue her graduate education; in 1984 she received a Master’s degree in aerospace engineering from the University of Texas, and a Ph.D. in aerospace engineering from the University of Colorado in 1988. She held commercial pilot’s licenses for single- and multi-engine airplanes, seaplanes and gliders, and was also a certified flight instructor.

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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

Former Astronaut Tim Kopra Joins MDA

Tim Kopra (Credit: NASA)

BRAMPTON, ONT. (MDA PR) — MDA is pleased to announce that retired astronaut Tim Kopra will join its leadership team as Vice President of Robotics and Space Operations, effective immediately. As the leader for this business area, he will be responsible for the work of the robotics and space operations teams at MDA sites in Brampton, Ottawa, Saint-Hubert and Houston.

“We are thrilled to have Tim join our executive leadership team,” said Mike Greenley, Chief Executive Officer of MDA. “As we embark on the next decade of space exploration, with the Artemis lunar program, commercial on-orbit servicing and on-orbit manufacturing, as well increasing activity on Mars, MDA has a large role to play and I believe Tim’s operational experience and leadership skills will be essential to our continued growth and success.”

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Space Exploration in a Time of Social Turmoil

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

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The contrast was jarring. In one browser window, two NASA astronauts were making their way to the International Space Station (ISS) after the first orbital launch of a crew from U.S. soil in nearly 9 years.

In another window, scenes of chaos played out as protests over the death of George Floyd after his arrest by Minneapolis police erupted into violent clashes across the country.

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NASA Networks Support 1st Commercial Orbital Launch of Astronauts From U.S.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft is launched from Launch Complex 39A on NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 mission to the International Space Station with NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley aboard, Saturday, May 30, 2020, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls & Joel Kowsky)

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — On May 30, a SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft launched from the historic Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida to the International Space Station as part of SpaceX’s second demonstration mission under the Commercial Crew Program — the first mission to launch American astronauts on American rockets from American soil to the station since the Space Shuttle Program.

The Crew Dragon ferried NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley to join the Expedition 63  crew aboard the space station. NASA’s communications networks — overseen by NASA’s  Space Communications and Navigation  (SCaN) program office — supported this Commercial Crew Program milestone, just as they will support all Crew Dragon and Boeing Crew Space Transportation (CST)-100 Starliner  missions.

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Crew Dragon Go for Launch on Wednesday, Weather Forecast Improves

NASA astronauts Robert Behnken, left, and Douglas Hurley, right, are seen on a monitor showing the crew access arm at Launch Complex 39A during a dress rehearsal in preparation for the launch of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft on NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 mission, Saturday, May 23, 2020, in firing room four of the Launch Control Center at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. (Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky)

NASA, SpaceX and U.S. Space Force officials said that a launch readiness review went well on Monday, clearing one of the last hurdles toward liftoff of the Falcon 9 booster and Crew Dragon capsule with astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley aboard at 4:33 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, May 27.

Officials said the launch day forecast for NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida has improved from 60 percent chance of weather violating launch constraints to 40 percent.

Backup dates if the launch is scrubbed are May 30 and 31.

Officials said a brief hot fire of the Falcon 9 boosters first stage Merlin 1-D engines went as planned.

The Crew Dragon mission will be the first orbital launch from American soil since the space shuttle was retired in July 2011.

NASA will provide live coverage on its website of the flight to the International Space Station beginning no earlier than 12:15 p.m. EDT on Wednesday.

Meet Crew Dragon Astronaut Robert Behnken

OFFICIAL NASA BIOGRAPHY

Robert Behnken (Credit: NASA)

Summary: 

Robert L. Behnken was selected as an astronaut by NASA in 2000 and is a veteran of two space shuttle flights. He is currently training for the Demo 2 flight of SpaceX’s CrewDragon spacecraft, the first crewed flight for that vehicle.  Behnken and his crewmate are working closely with SpaceX to develop their new spacecraft systems, which will provide roundtrip crew transportation services to the International Space Station and, along with Boeing’s Starliner, return the ability to launch humans into space from United States soil. A native of Missouri, Behnken flew STS-123 in March 2008 and STS-130 in February 2010, logging more than 708 hours in space, and more than 37 hours during six spacewalks.

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Meet Crew Dragon Astronaut Douglas Hurley

OFFICIAL NASA BIOGRAPHY

Douglas Hurley (Credit: NASA)

Summary:

Douglas G. Hurley was selected as an astronaut in 2000. A veteran of two spaceflights, he was the pilot on STS‐127 and STS‐135. Hurley holds a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from Tulane University. Before joining NASA, he was a fighter pilot and test pilot in the U.S. Marine Corps.

Hurley is currently training for the Demo 2 flight of SpaceX’s CrewDragon spacecraft, the first crewed flight for that vehicle.  He and his crewmates are working closely with SpaceX to develop their new spacecraft systems, which will provide roundtrip crew transportation services to the International Space Station and, along with Boeing’s Starliner, return the ability to launch humans into space from United States soil.

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Falcon 9, Crew Dragon Rolled Out to Launch Pad for Demo-2 Mission

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft onboard is seen as it is rolled out of the horizontal integration facility at Launch Complex 39A as preparations continue for the Demo-2 mission, Thursday, May 21, 2020, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

SpaceX rolled out Falcon 9 booster and Crew Dragon capsule that will carry astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the International Space Station on May 27.

Closeup of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft onboard is seen as it is rolled out of the horizontal integration facility at Launch Complex 39A as preparations continue for the Demo-2 mission, Thursday, May 21, 2020, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

The flight will be the first Crew Dragon to carry astronauts following an automated flight test to the space station last year. It will also be the first crewed launch to orbit since the shuttle was retired in July 2011.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft onboard is seen as it is raised into a vertical position on the launch pad at Launch Complex 39A as preparations continue for the Demo-2 mission, Thursday, May 21, 2020, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

The launch vehicle and spacecraft were rolled out to Pad 39A for a brief static fire of the Falcon 9’s first stage engines.

The crew access arm is swung into position for the Crew Dragon spacecraft and the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket at Launch Complex 39A as preparations continue for the Demo-2 mission, Thursday, May 21, 2020, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

NASA will provide continuous coverage of the flight from prior to launch through the Crew Dragon’s docking with the space station.

Congress Seeks Answers on Sudden Resignation of NASA Human Spaceflight Head

Douglas Loverro (Credit: NASA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The chairwoman of the House Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics says she wants answers following the abrupt resignation of NASA’s head of human spaceflight, Douglas Loverro, on the eve of a crucial human flight test of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft.

“I am deeply concerned over this sudden resignation, especially eight days before the first scheduled launch of US astronauts on US soil in almost a decade. Under this Administration, we’ve seen a pattern of abrupt departures that have disrupted our efforts at human space flight,” tweeted Rep. Kendra Horn (D-Okla.)

“The bottom line is that, as the Committee that oversees NASA, we need answers,” she added.

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NASA to Spend $1.8 Billion on RS-25 Engines for Space Launch System

The four RS-25 engines, shown here, are attached to the SLS core stage that will send the Artemis I mission to the Moon. (Credits: NASA/Jude Guidry)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA has awarded a contract to Aerojet Rocketdyne of Sacramento, California, to manufacture 18 additional Space Launch System (SLS) RS-25 rocket engines to support Artemis missions to the Moon.

The follow-on contract to produce 18 engines is valued at $1.79 billion. This includes labor to build and test the engines, produce tooling and support SLS flights powered by the engines. This modifies the initial contract awarded in November 2015 to recertify and produce six new RS-25 engines and brings the total contract value to almost $3.5 billion with a period of performance through Sept. 30, 2029, and a total of 24 engines to support as many as six additional SLS flights.

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