Preparations for Next Moonwalk Simulations Underway (and Underwater)

Teams are evaluating how to train for lunar surface operations during Artemis missions, in the Neutral Buoyancy Lab at Johnson Space Center in Houston. (Credits: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — NASA engineers are laying the foundation for the moonwalks the first woman and next man will conduct when they land on the lunar South Pole in 2024 as part of the Artemis program. At the agency’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, teams are testing the tools and developing training approaches for lunar surface operations.

As part of a test series occurring in the Neutral Buoyancy Lab (NBL) at Johnson, astronauts in a demonstration version of the exploration spacesuit and engineers in “hard hat” dive equipment are simulating several different tasks crew could do on the surface of the Moon.

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Testing Super Foods for Space and More on Blue Origin Suborbital Flight

The microgravity LilyPond growth chamber uses capillary action to provide a stable water surface on which duckweed (and potentially other veggies, like microgreens) can grow. LED panels provide an efficient light source, and a salad spinner-like sieve helps separate the water from the plants when ready to harvest. (Credits: Space Lab Technologies)

Duckweed: it’s what’s for dinner

by Nicole Quenelle
NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center

EDWARDS, Calif. — It’s no surprise to most of us that regularly eating fresh produce is a great way to support a healthy diet. Fresh fruits and vegetables benefit astronauts on the International Space Station, too – and soon the Moon and beyond. Scientists are investigating sustainable ways to grow highly nutritious foods in microgravity, to give space explorers a readily available supply of daily greens.

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Estée Lauder Works with NASA to Send Iconic Advanced Night Repair into Space

Credit: Estee Lauder

NEW YORK (Estee Lauder PR)– Estée Lauder announced today the brand’s iconic Advanced Night Repair Synchronized Multi-Recovery Complex will launch into space. As a beauty industry leader in science and innovation, Estée Lauder is the first-ever beauty brand to participate in NASA’s efforts to enable business opportunities on the International Space Station.

Advanced Night Repair serum is scheduled to launch aboard a Cygnus spacecraft atop an Antares rocket on Northrop Grumman’s 14th commercial resupply services mission for NASA on September 29th,2020 and will arrive at the International Space Station on October 3rd, 2020. Advanced Night Repair serum will be photographed for use on the brand’s social media platforms.

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Cosmic Catch for Canadarm2 as Cygnus Carries Canadian Cargo to the International Space Station

The U.S. Cygnus space freighter is pictured as the Canadarm2 robotic arm, guided by NASA astronaut Jessica Meir with fellow Flight Engineer Christina Koch as her back up, reaches out to grapple the 12th resupply ship from Northrop Grumman on November 4, 2019. (Credits: NASA)

WALLOPS ISLAND, Va. (CSA PR) — On September 29, Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus cargo ship will blast off from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia, headed for the  International Space Station (ISS) – the orbiting science lab that has been continuously inhabited for nearly two decades.

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Cygnus to Carry Variety of Life & Physical Science Investigations to Space Station

The U.S. Cygnus space freighter is pictured as the Canadarm2 robotic arm, guided by NASA astronaut Jessica Meir with fellow Flight Engineer Christina Koch as her back up, reaches out to grapple the 12th resupply ship from Northrop Grumman on November 4, 2019. (Credits: NASA)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla., September 25, 2020 (CASIS PR) – More than 20 payloads sponsored by the International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory are loaded onto Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus spacecraft, scheduled to launch to the orbiting laboratory no earlier than September 29 at 10:26 p.m. ET.

The launch, which will take place from Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia, represents Northrop Grumman’s 14th commercial resupply services (CRS) mission to the space station, contracted through NASA. This mission will deliver a multitude of research experiments to be conducted by ISS crew members over the coming months, including several physical and life science investigations. 

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Five Launches Scheduled Over Three Days

Falcon 9 payload shroud. (Credit: SpaceX)

Things are about to get very busy, with four American launches and a Russian one planned over a three-day period beginning on Sunday, Sept. 27.

Here’s the schedule as it stands now. Schedule subject to change without notice. Wagering strictly under penalty of law.

Sunday, September 27

Launch Vehicle: Delta IV Heavy
Payload: NROL-44 reconnaissance satellite
Time: 12:10 a.m. EDT (1610 GMT)
Location: Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.
Webcast: www.ulalaunch.com

Launch Vehicle: Falcon 9
Payloads: 60 Starlink satellite broadband spacecraft
Time: 10:43 a.m. EDT (1443 GMT)
Location: Kennedy Space Center, Fla.
Webcast: www.spacex.com

Monday, September 28

Launch Vehicle: Soyuz
Payloads: 3 Gonets M communications satellites plus rideshares
Time: 7:20 a.m. EDT (1120 GMT)
Location:
Plesetsk Cosmodrome, Russia

Tuesday, September 29

Launch Vehicle: Falcon 9
Payload: GPS 3 SV04 navigation satellite
Time: 9:55 p.m. (0155 GMT)
Location: Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.
Webcast: www.spacex.com

Launch Vehicle: Antares
Payload: NG-14 — Cygnus International Space Station resupply ship
Time: 10:27 p.m. EDT (0227 GMT on Sept. 30)
Location:
Wallops Island, Va.
Webcast: www.nasa.gov

Shotwell, Koch and Meir Make Time’s 100 Most Influential People List

Gwynne Shotwell

SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell and NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir have made Time magazine’s list of The 100 Most Influential People of 2020.

Shotwell is listed in the Titans category and credited with guiding SpaceX to success.

“She is not only a quintessential engineer with a passion to build things, but also a “people engineer” who thrives on working with colleagues and customers. Gwynne Shotwell is helping to launch our future, and I can’t wait to see what she does next,” former NASA astronaut Kathryn Sullivan wrote.

Koch and Meir were listed together in the Pioneers category for conducting the first all-female spacewalk from the International Space Station in October 2019.

NASA astronauts Jessica Meir (left) and Christina Koch are inside the Quest airlock preparing the U.S. spacesuits and tools they will use on their first spacewalk together. (Credit: NASA)

“I believe that Koch and Meir, by their sheer skill and execution, shift us closer to a template based on intelligence, agility, capability, integrity, courage and excellence,” wrote former NASA astronaut Mae Jemison.

Read Jemison’s tribute to Koch and Meir here.

United Arab Emirates Astronauts to Train at NASA’s Johnson Space Center Under New Agreement

UAE astronauts Sultan AlNeyadi and Hazzaa AlMansoori. (Credits: Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — NASA has signed a Reimbursable Space Act Agreement with the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to train UAE astronauts on International Space Station systems at the agency’s Johnson Space Center in Houston later this year.

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Report: Space Hero Reality Show to Blast Contestant into Orbit

International Space Station (Credit: NASA/Roscosmos)

There’s yet another plan to send a contestant to space through a reality show. Deadline Hollywood reports:

Space Hero Inc., a U.S.-based production company founded by Thomas Reemer and Deborah Sass and led by former News Corp Europe chief Marty Pompadur, has secured a seat on a 2023 mission to the International Space Station. It will go to a contestant chosen through an unscripted show titled Space Hero. Produced by Ben Silverman and Howard Owens’ Propagate, the series will launch a global search for everyday people from any background who share a deep love for space exploration. They will be vying for the biggest prize ever awarded on TV.

The selected group of contestants will undergo extensive training and face challenges testing their physical, mental and emotional strength, qualities that are essential for an astronaut in space. I hear the idea is for the culmination of the competition to be in a an episode broadcast live around the world where viewers from different countries can vote for the contestant they want to see going to space. The show will then chronicle the winner’s takeoff; their stay at the ISS for 10 days alongside professional astronauts traveling at 17,000 mph, orbiting the Earth 16 times a day; and end with their return to Earth. The Space Hero company is currently in discussions with NASA for a potential partnership on STEM initiatives onboard the ISS.

The trip of the Space Hero winner will be on a SpaceX Dragon rocket. Space Hero, billed as the first space media company, is working with Axiom Space, manufacturer of the world’s first privately funded commercial space station — a module for the ISS where the private astronauts can stay — and full-service human spaceflight mission provider.

This effort seems a bit more solid than previous plans in that there’s an actual spaceship to take them there. Time will tell.

GITAI, JAXA Start Business Concept Co-creation Activities for World’s First Space Work Robot Business

Translated from Japanese with Google Translate

TOKYO (JAXA/GITAI PR) — GITAI Japan Co., Ltd. and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) will identify tasks that require robotics in outer space, and robots that perform these tasks. Aiming to acquire technology and provide services by robots, we will start business concept co-creation activities under the JAXA Space Innovation Partnership and and Co-creation (J-SPARC) initiative.

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SpaceX, Boeing & Firefly File FCC Applications for Fall Flights

Starship hopper under construction at Boca Chica. (Credit: SpaceX)

SpaceX has applied for a temporary Federal Communications Commission (FCC) license to fly its Starship prototype to an altitude of 20 km (12.4 miles) from its Boca Chica test site in Texas.

The approval would be valid for hops from Oct. 11, 2020 to April 11, 2021. Starship prototypes have flown to an altitude of 150 meters from Boca Chica.

Boeing has filed for a FCC license for its second Starliner orbital flight test. The application covers a six-month period from Nov. 1, 2020 to May 1, 2021.

The uncrewed Starliner test is a repeat of a flight that went awry last December. The spacecraft failed to dock with the space station due to software and communications problems.

Firefly Aerospace has filed for approval for the maiden flight of its Firefly Alpha booster from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The approval would be valid from Nov. 21, 2020 until May 21, 2021.

Apha is designed to loft 1 metric ton into low Earth orbit and 630 kg into a 500 km sun synchronous orbit at a dedicated mission cost of $15 million.

Baikonur Continues to Prepare New ISS Module for Launch

BAIKONUR COSMODROME, Kazakhstan (Roscosmos PR) — At the Baikonur Cosmodrome, the next stage of preparation of the “Science” module for launch to the International Space Station has begun.  Preparations for factory proof tests are ongoing. 

After the module arrived at the assembly and testing building of site No. 254 of the Baikonur Cosmodrome, work was carried out to prepare Nauka for reloading and installation at the workplace.

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JAXA to Send 8K Camera on Martian Moons Exploration Mission

Martian Moons mission approaches Deimos. (Credit: JAXA/NHK)

TOKYO (JAXA PR) — The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and Japan Broadcasting Corporation (NHK) have decided to jointly develop a “Super Hi-Vision Camera” that is capable of filming 4K and 8K images in space for JAXA’s Martian Moons eXploration (MMX) mission.

This would be the first time in history that 8K ultra high definition images of Mars and its moons are taken in proximity. By combining the actual flight data of the MMX spacecraft and the images taken by the Super Hi-Vision Camera, the exploration of the MMX spacecraft around Mars and its moons (the Martian system), 300 million kilometers from the Earth, will be recreated.

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GITAI to Demonstrate Robot Inside Nanoracks’ Bishop Airlock on ISS

GITAI robot (Credit: GITAI)

TOKYO, September 9, 2020 (GITAI/Nanoroacks PR) – In 2021, space robotics start-up GITAI, in collaboration with Nanoracks, will conduct a technical demonstration of a GITAI robot executing versatile tasks inside the Nanoracks’ Bishop Airlock Module installed on Node 3 of the International Space Station (ISS).

In this technical demonstration, GITAI’s space robot “S1” will be installed inside Bishop’s pressurized volume to conduct two experiments: IVA (Intra-Vehicular Activity) tasks such as switch and cable operations, and assembly of structures and panels to demonstrate its capability for ISA (In-Space Assembly). All operations conducted by the S1 GITAI robotic arm will be autonomous, followed by some tele-operations from Nanoracks’ in-house mission control.

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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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