Putin Appoints Mr. Trampoline Man to Head Roscosmos

Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin. (Credit: A. Savin)

Well, it’s official.

Dmitry Rogozin, who presided over a sharp decline in Russia’s space program for seven years as deputy prime minister, has been named as head state corporation Roscomos.

Putin said Rogozin knows the industry and would strengthen the space company’s leadership. The Russian president also said the new Roscosmos head would have the opportunity to implement a number of good ideas and reforms.

Others, however, see potential trouble ahead.

“Everything he says is silly from a technical point of view,” independent space expert Vadim Lukashevich told AFP.

Lukashevich said Rogozin, 54, was an outsider and lacked the necessary education and expertise to head the space agency.

“He is the head of the industry’s burial party.”

Another independent space expert, Vitaly Yegorov, said he was concerned about the prospects for international cooperation.

Space exploration is one of the few areas where cooperation between Russia and the United States has not been wrecked by tensions over Ukraine, Syria and elsewhere.

Putin appointed Rogozin to oversee the space program in 2011 amid a series of launch failures. (He also oversaw the defense sector.) The failures continued throughout his tenure as the number of Russian launches declined in the face of competition from SpaceX.

In 2014, the United States placed Rogozin under sanctions as a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and annexation of Crimea. In response, he suggested American astronauts reach the International Space Station using a trampoline instead of Soyuz Russian spacecraft.

NASA, Space Station Partners Announce Future Mission Crew Members

Christina Hammock Koch (Credit: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — NASA astronauts Christina Hammock Koch and Andrew Morgan have been assigned to spaceflights scheduled to launch in 2019. Both Koch and Morgan were selected as NASA astronauts in 2013.

Koch has been assigned to Expedition 59/60, which is set to launch to the  International Space Station in April 2019. Morgan will follow as a member of the Expedition 60/61 crew in July 2019.

Koch, who grew up in Jacksonville, North Carolina, earned bachelor’s degrees in electrical engineering and physics, and a master’s degree in electrical engineering from North Carolina State University in Raleigh.

Koch started her career as an electrical engineer focusing on space science instrument design at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. She went on to work as a research associate with the United States Antarctic Program, completing several deployments including spending the winter at the South Pole. She returned to space science instrument design at the Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Laboratory, contributing to such missions as the Juno probe to Jupiter. She then returned to her work at remote scientific research stations, including sessions as a field engineer in the Arctic and as station chief with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in American Samoa. Her extracurricular pursuits include running and other outdoor sports.

Andrew Morgan (Credit: NASA)

Morgan, who considers New Castle, Pennsylvania, his hometown, earned a bachelor’s degree in environmental engineering at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York, as well as a doctorate of medicine from the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland, before completing his residency in emergency medicine at Madigan Army Medical Center-University of Washington.

Morgan began his career in military medicine by volunteering for U.S. Army special operations forces. He served as a medical team member in the Joint Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and went on to become the battalion surgeon for the 1st Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group, where he served for three years.  Following this, Morgan served on a strategic special operations assignment in Washington, D.C., before completing a fellowship in primary care sports medicine. Over the course of his special operations assignments, Morgan deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan and Africa in support of combat operations.

Follow Koch on social media at:

https://twitter.com/Astro_Christina

https://www.facebook.com/AstroChristina/

and

https://www.instagram.com/astro_christina/

Follow Morgan on social media at:

https://twitter.com/AstroDrewMorgan/

https://www.facebook.com/AstroDrewMorgan/

and

https://www.instagram.com/AstroDrewMorgan/

Cygnus Arrives at International Space Station

The Orbital ATK Antares rocket, with the Cygnus spacecraft onboard, launches from Pad-0A, Monday, May 21, 2018 at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Orbital ATK’s ninth contracted cargo resupply mission with NASA to the International Space Station will deliver approximately 7,400 pounds of science and research, crew supplies and vehicle hardware to the orbital laboratory and its crew. (Credit: NASA/Aubrey Gemignani)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — The Orbital ATK Cygnus cargo ship was bolted into place on the International Space Station’s Earth-facing port of the Unity module at 8:13 a.m. EDT. The spacecraft will spend about seven weeks attached to the space station before departing in July. After it leaves the station, the uncrewed spacecraft will deploy several CubeSats before its fiery re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere as it disposes of several tons of trash.

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Two Student Projects Selected from Guardians of the Galaxy Space Station Challenge

Guardians of the Galaxy. (Credit: Disney)
  • A partnership between CASIS and Marvel Entertainment provided students ages 13-18 with the opportunity to propose experiments to be conducted onboard the International Space Station
  • Two concepts will now be made into flight experiments, intending to launch to the International Space Station in 2018

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FL. (May 22, 2018) – After a robust response from students around the country, the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) and Marvel Entertainment today announced two winning concepts from the recent Guardians of the Galaxy Space Station Challenge.

The challenge was an opportunity for American students ages 13-18 to submit microgravity flight experiment concepts that could be conducted on the International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory. The contest focused on Rocket and Groot, characters from the Guardians of the Galaxy comic book franchise.

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Video: Take a 360 Tour inside Boeing’s Starliner Factory

Video Caption: One, two, three Boeing CST-100 Starliners are coming together inside this historic spacecraft factory at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The goal of the commercially developed and operating spacecraft is to return crew launch capabilities to NASA and the United States.

NASA’s ISS Transition Report — Executive Summary

The International Space Station is featured in this image photographed by an STS-133 crew member on space shuttle Discovery. (Credit: NASA)

International Space Station Transition Report
NASA
March 30, 2018

Full Report (PDF)

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

The NASA Transition Authorization Act of 2017 (P.L. 115-10) provided for an ISS Transition Report under section 303:

The Administrator, in coordination with the ISS management entity (as defined in section 2 of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Transition Authorization Act of 2017), ISS partners, the scientific user community, and the commercial space sector, shall develop a plan to transition in a step-wise approach from the current regime that relies heavily on NASA sponsorship to a regime where NASA could be one of many customers of a low-Earth orbit non-governmental human space flight enterprise.

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Cruz, Nelson Criticize Plan to End Direct ISS Funding in 2025

International Space Station (Credit: NASA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Sharply conflicting opinions about the future of the International Space Station (ISS) and America’s path forward in space were on view last week in a Senate hearing room turned boxing ring.

In one corner was NASA Associate Administrator Bill Gerstenamier, representing a Trump Administration that wants to end direct federal funding for ISS in 2025 in order to pursue an aggressive campaign of sending astronauts back to the moon. NASA would maintain a presence in Earth orbit, becoming one of multiple users aboard a privatized ISS or privately-owned stations.

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SpaceX Dragon 2 Making Progress

Elon Musk has taken a break from digging holes in the ground to tweet a bit on SpaceX and the Dragon 2 crew vehicle the company is building for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

Earlier this month, Musk tweeted that the first Dragon 2 would be shipped to Cape Canaveral in about three months. If the prediction is accurate, that would be mean sometime in August. If his previous schedule predictions are anything to go by, delivery will occur later than that. Unless, of course, SpaceX ships the spacecraft earlier than Musk is predicting.

In any event, the spacecraft will likely require a lot of prep work at the Cape before it makes an automated flight test to the International Space Station. A second flight to ISS with a crew would follow before Dragon 2 would be certified to carry NASA astronauts on a commercial basis.

Orbital ATK Launches 9th Cargo Delivery Mission to ISS for NASA

The Orbital ATK Antares rocket, with the Cygnus spacecraft onboard, launches from Pad-0A, Monday, May 21, 2018 at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Orbital ATK’s ninth contracted cargo resupply mission with NASA to the International Space Station will deliver approximately 7,400 pounds of science and research, crew supplies and vehicle hardware to the orbital laboratory and its crew. (Credit: NASA/Aubrey Gemignani)

DULLES, Virginia 21 May 2018 – Orbital ATK (NYSE: OA), a global leader in aerospace and defense technologies, successfully launched the company’s AntaresTM rocket carrying its CygnusTM spacecraft today at 4:44 a.m. EDT from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport Pad 0A on Wallops Island, Virginia, at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility. The launch marks Orbital ATK’s ninth cargo mission for NASA.

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NASA Releases Solicitation for LEO Commercialization Studies

NASA astronaut Kate Rubins removes samples from the Minus Eighty-Degree Laboratory Freezer for ISS (MELFI). Blood, saliva and urine samples will be stored in MELFI until they can be transported back to Earth for analysis. (Credit: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA has released a research announcement requesting proposals to study the future of human spaceflight commercialization in low-Earth orbit.

The research announcement solicits industry concepts detailing business plans and viability for habitable platforms, whether using the International Space Station or a separate free-flying structure, that would enable a space economy in low-Earth orbit in which NASA is one of many customers.

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Three Launches Scheduled Over Two Days Next Week

ISS with Soyuz and Progress spacecraft docked to it. (Credit: NASA)

There are a dozen orbital launches planned around the world through the end of June.

China will lead off on Sunday as it launches its Chang’e-4 lunar relay satellite from Xichang. A lunar lander and rover targeted for the far side of the moon is scheduled for launch at the end of the year.

Orbital ATK will follow with the launch of a Cygnus resupply ship bound for the International Space Station (ISS) on Monday from Wallops Island. On Tuesday, SpaceX is scheduled to launch 5 Iridium Next satellites and a pair of scientific spacecraft for NASA.

Other notable missions scheduled through June include a Soyuz crew mission and a SpaceX Dragon resupply flight. Rocket Lab is probably going to launch the first commercial flight of its Electron booster from New Zealand. However, the company has not published a launch window for the flight.

The current global schedule is below. Be sure to check Space Flight Now’s launch schedule for updates.

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Small Packages to Test Big Space Technology Advances

The RainCube 6U CubeSat with fully-deployed antenna. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)
WALLOPS ISLAND, Va. (NASA PR) — This weekend, when the next cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station lifts off from NASA Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia, it will be carrying among its supplies and experiments three cereal box-sized satellites that will be used to test and demonstrate the next generation of Earth-observing technology.

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With Dragon 2 Still Unfinished, Musk Rolls Out an Even More Ambitious Plan

Dragon Version 2. (Credit: SpaceX)

When on May 29, 2014, Elon Musk unveiled the Dragon 2 spacecraft at a gala ceremony at SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, Calif., the future of American human spaceflight seemed assured and tantalizingly close.

By 2017, the new spacecraft would begin making crewed flights to the International Space Station, restoring a capability that had ended with the last space shuttle mission in 2011. NASA’s dependence on  Russian Soyuz spacecraft would come to an end.

Four years after its unveiling, Dragon 2 is still months away from making an automated flight test to the space station. A test flight with astronauts aboard might not occur until next year. The Government Accountability Office believes additional delays could push certification of the spacecraft to carry NASA astronauts on a commercial basis to December 2019. (Certification of Boeing’s crew vehicle might not occur until February 2020).

It’s good to keep all this in mind as Musk prepares to unveil his latest transportation plan this evening. At 7 p.m. PDT, Musk will hold a town-hall style meeting in Los Angeles to discuss plans by The Boring Company for tunneling under the city. The event will be webcast at https://www.boringcompany.com/.

Musk might have given a preview of the session on Twitter this week when he made a connection between his tunneling work and the mega rocket/spaceship that he is designing to render Dragon 2 and its Falcon 9 booster obsolete.

The spaceport in question is apparently the offshore platform where passengers will board the Big Falcon Rocket (BFR), which Musk says will be capable of going anywhere in the world in about 30 minutes. The rocket is also being designed to launch satellites and transport people and cargo to the moon and Mars.

It sounds as ambitious as anything Musk has attempted to date. If the past is any guide, his estimates on cost and schedules will be extremely optimistic.

Orbital ATK’s Cygnus Capsule to Host Research Destined for ISS

SS John Glenn near the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FL. (May 16, 2018) – The 9th Commercial Resupply Services (awarded by NASA) mission to the International Space Station (ISS) by Orbital ATK is targeted for launch no earlier than 5:04 a.m. EDT on May 20th. Orbital ATK’s Cygnus capsule will host multiple payloads sponsored by the ISS National Laboratory (managed by the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space). These payloads represent a diverse combination of science (life and materials sciences, chemistry evaluations), technology, small satellites, and the replenishment of hardware facilities to support future research. Additionally, multiple investigations will launch to station focused on inspiring the next generation of scientists and engineers.

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Advisory Committee Wants NASA Contingency Plans for Possible Commercial Crew Delays


Space News
reports that a key NASA advisory committee wants the space agency to come up with contingency plans to operate the International Space Station on a reduced U.S. crew should further delays occur in the commercial crew program.

At a May 14 meeting of the ISS Advisory Committee, its chairman, Thomas Stafford, said that NASA should consider training Russian cosmonauts on key systems in what’s known as the U.S. Operating Segment (USOS) portion of the ISS, which includes elements from the U.S., Europe, Japan and Canada, in the event extended commercial crew development delays reduce the size of the station’s crew.

“For years, we have observed delays after delays in the development, flight test and qualification milestones in commercial crew, and therefore we believe the current schedule is optimistic,” Stafford said of schedules that call for flight tests of commercial crew vehicles in the latter half of 2018.

His committee recommended that NASA and the other ISS partners should plan for ways to operate the station with a reduced crew if commercial crew vehicles aren’t ready to enter service by the fall of 2019.

“Given these schedule risks, we recommend the partnership pursue plans to protect for a minimum crew capability to ensure ISS viability during the flight development phase,” he said. “NASA’s biggest priority is maintaining the U.S. presence on the ISS in case the commercial crew launch dates slip.”