WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA astronaut E. Michael “Mike” Fincke has been added to the crew of the Boeing CST-100 Starliner’s Crew Flight Test, scheduled to launch later this year.
Fincke takes the place of astronaut Eric Boe, originally assigned to the mission in August 2018. Boe is unable to fly due to medical reasons; he will replace Fincke as the assistant to the chief for commercial crew in the astronaut office at NASA’s Johnson Space Center.
HOUSTON (NASA PR) — A new investigation heading to the International Space Station will provide space-flown samples to scientists from academia, industry and government agencies, who have agreed to share their data and results in an online database that is open to the public. Rodent Research-8 (RR-8) examines the physiology of aging and the effect of age on disease progression using groups of young and old mice flown in space and kept on Earth.
The Expedition 58 crew focused again today on studying head and eye pressure changes astronauts experience while living in space. The crew then went on to more science hardware and life support maintenance aboard the International Space Station.
Flight Engineers Anne McClain and David Saint-Jacques worked throughout Thursday morning researching the upward flow of fluids that occurs inside astronauts’ bodies. The duo conducted eye scans with a variety of devices to measure eye pressure changes caused by these fluid shifts in microgravity.
Commander Oleg Kononenko ensured the upkeep of life support gear and other station systems in the Russian segment of the orbital lab. The veteran cosmonaut of three previous Expeditions ended the day exploring how station crew members from around the world interact and learn to live together in space.
KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — NASA and SpaceX are continuing to work on the activities leading toward the Demo-1, uncrewed flight test to the International Space Station. NASA and SpaceX are now targeting no earlier than February for the launch of Demo-1 to complete hardware testing and joint reviews. NASA and SpaceX will confirm a new target date after coordination with the Eastern Range and the International Space Station Program.
WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA welcomed a new administrator, Jim Bridenstine, deputy administrator, Jim Morhard, and chief financial officer, Jeff DeWit, in 2018. Their focus is on firmly establishing the groundwork to send Americans back to the Moon sustainably, with plans to use the agency’s lunar experience to prepare to send astronauts to Mars.
SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket are positioned at the company’s hangar at Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, ahead of the Demo-1 flight test targeted for Jan. 17, 2019. The Demo-1 flight test is the precursor to the company’s Demo-2 flight test, which will fly NASA astronauts to the International Space Station as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. Demo-2 is targeted for June 2019.
On SpaceX’s recent 16th commercial resupply mission, 40 mice of two different age groups were sent to the orbiting laboratory for comparison with age-matched ground controls as part of this reference mission. Awardees from this RFP will have the ability to evaluate spaceflight biospecimens once they are returned to Earth as well as ground controls.
HOUSTON (NASA PR) — Three residents of the International Space Station, including one NASA astronaut, are scheduled to wrap up their stay aboard the orbital laboratory Wednesday, Dec. 19. Live coverage of their return to Earth will air on NASA Television and the agency’s website.
Cape Canaveral, Fla. (NanoRacks PR) – Last weekend, Dragon, the spacecraft from the sixteenth SpaceX contracted resupply mission, berthed with the International Space Station carrying educational experiments, CubeSats, and industry science research from NanoRacks’ customers into orbit. Within this mission, the NanoRacks team delivered payloads for four of the Company’s commercial platforms on Space Station.
Two Russian cosmonauts spent about 7.5 hours outside the International Space Station today. They cut through insulation on a Soyuz orbital module to try to find the outside of a hole that was apparently drilled during pre-launch preparations on the ground. They made a real mess of things, with insulation floating all over the place. (According to presumably informed tweets, the debris will probably de-orbit quickly — one hopes.)
Wired has a fascinating story that details how SpaceX’s cargo Dragon spacecraft have been contaminating the International Space Station during their stays there – and how NASA has tried to hide the fact.
The contamination was discovered by the Stratospheric Aerosol and Gas Experiment (SAGE) III Earth observing instrument, which was launched to the station aboard SpaceX’s CRS-10 resupply mission in February 2017. The instrument has crystals in it capable of detecting contamination at the space station.
The results are preliminary, but Dragon may have deposited, according to this presentation, up to 21 times the allowed amount of contamination on one sensor. The crystals also significantly changed in frequency when the next Dragon docked, and the report estimates that this mission may have left behind up to 32 times the rule-abiding amount of extra matter on one sensor….
During this thirteenth mission, one sensor may have been sprayed with up to 73 times more than what’s allowed during a sojourn. And for the month or so that Dragon was docked at the Station, two of the sensors individually detected more contamination than is allowed—total, from everything on the Station—in a whole year.
Among the space assets at risk from the capsule’s outgassing is the U.S. Laboratory Science Window, a porthole through which astronauts and instruments can gaze out on Earth. On the more scientific side, there’s CATS, an instrument that measures smoke, pollution, dust, and other particles in the planet’s atmosphere. In total, seven sensitive areas or instruments on the ISS, including SAGE, could be contaminated beyond the limit.
“NASA has communicated with the Station payload community its findings, and payload developers have responded either that their instruments have experienced no impact or they have taken precautions to mitigate impacts to their science,” says Space Environments in a statement. The SAGE III team closes the instrument’s “contamination door,” as a standard operating procedure, when any spacecraft visit to protect its optical instrument, although the resulting measurements aren’t as sensitive .
SpaceX said it is working with suppliers to develop low outgassing materials for use in future Dragon spacecraft. It said NASA pre-approved the materials used in the resupply ships. (The story, however, says that it’s possible materials such as paint are not being applied and cured properly.)
The information came from a presentation marked unclassified and unlimited public distribution that was posted on the NASA Technical Reports Server in September. A day after the Wired writer requested an interview about it with NASA officials, the document disappeared from the server. A NASA official said the report is “under review” and told Wired to submit a Freedom of Information Act request for it.
HOUSTON (NASA PR) — 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 10:36 a.m. EST.
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (NASA PR) — Experiments in forest observation, protein crystal growth and in-space fuel transfer demonstration are heading to the International Space Station following the launch Wednesday of SpaceX’s 16th mission for NASA under the agency’s Commercial Resupply Services contract.