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.
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.
On 3 December, the DLR Eu:CROPIS mission was successfully launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
A biofilter will be used to convert urine into fertiliser in a closed life support system.
The germination and ripening of the tomatoes in the two greenhouses will indicate that the experiment is going well.
By rotating around its own axis, the satellite can simulate gravitational conditions like those on the Moon or Mars.
Focus: Life support systems, biofilters, space travel, long-term missions
+++ Update: The Euglena and Combined Regenerative Organic-food Production in Space (Eu:CROPIS) mission of the German Aerospace Center (DLR) was successfully launched to space. The DLR satellite was successfully placed in orbit at an altitude of 600 kilometres.
First radio contact of the approximately refrigerator-sized satellite to the German Space Operations Center (GSOC) in Oberpfaffenhofen took place about one hour and 15 minutes after the launch. In the next two weeks, GSOC will commission the satellite in space and test all functions. In about seven weeks, the researchers will be able to put the first of two greenhouses into operation. Shortly thereafter, the first tomatoes will be cultivated. +++
VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (DLR PR) — At 19:34 CET on 3 December 2018, the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) Eu:CROPIS mission was launched into space from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
ADELAIDE, Australia (Myriota PR) — Myriota is rolling out its next generation technology that will continue to grow direct-to-orbit communications for hundreds of millions of Internet of Things (IoT) devices thanks to today’s launch on SpaceQuest’s BRIO satellite.
Launched as part of Spaceflight’s SSO-A SmallSat Express mission, the satellite will be delivered to orbit on SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket; adding to Myriota’s growing constellation by testing and demonstrating its IoT network.
USA Todayreports that NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine believes the SpaceX Crew Dragon flight test scheduled for Jan. 7 will likely slip into spring.
That would mean the mission, which will not have a crew aboard for its flight to the International Space Station, would launch no sooner than the first day of spring on March 20.
Bridenstine’s acknowledgment that January is a “very low probability” window is the first time the agency has publicly cast doubt on the timing of the scheduled launch from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The test flight of the SpaceX rocket and capsule is a key step in NASA’s efforts to resume U.S. transport to Earth’s orbit nearly a decade after the space shuttle was mothballed.
The administrator attributed the delay to challenges with several components, including landing parachutes. Some of those systems could be tested without flying them on the initial flight.
It’s a matter of determining “what configuration are we willing to accept as an agency and are we willing to waive certain items (and) how do we test those items,” Bridenstine told reporters at NASA headquarters.
But he said the test flight “will certainly be in the first half of 2019,” a schedule that still would accommodate a crewed flight by the end of the year.
Parabolic Arc earlier reported that not all of Dragon’s systems would be ready in time for the first flight.
A flight test of Crew Dragon with astronauts aboard is currently scheduled for June 2019. NASA would then certify the vehicle to carry astronauts to the space station on a commercial basis.
Boeing is scheduled to test its Starliner spacecraft with an automated test in March and a flight with crew in August. NASA could extend the crewed flight from a brief stay at the space station to a long-duration mission.
Both SpaceX and Boeing are scheduled to conduct abort tests in between their automated and crewed flight tests. SpaceX will conduct an in-flight abort test; Boeing’s abort test will be conducted from a launch pad.
NASA needs to have at least one of the crew systems functional by January 2020. That is when the last agency astronaut to fly aboard a Russian Soyuz vehicle on a paid basis is set to return.
VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif., Dec. 3, 2018 (Spaceflight PR) – Spaceflight, the leading rideshare and mission management provider, today announced the success of its SSO-A: SmallSat Express mission, the largest single rideshare mission from a U.S.-based launch vehicle to date. The company successfully launched 64 spacecraft to sun-synchronous low Earth orbit via a SpaceX Falcon 9 that launched today from Vandenberg Air Force Base.
OTTAWA, CANADA, November 29, 2018 (Telesat PR) – An independent technical study, led by members of the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), has concluded that the design of Telesat’s global LEO constellation is far more efficient compared to those of OneWeb and SpaceX.
The FAA has published its draft environmental assessment for issuing a launch license for SpaceX’s upcoming in-flight abort test for the Crew Dragon spacecraft.
The following excerpts describe how Elon Musk’s space company will conduct the test next spring from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A). Some long paragraphs have been divided into multiple ones to make the material easier to read. (more…)
KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla, November 27, 2018 (SpaceX PR)– SpaceX is targeting no earlier than December 4 at 1:38 p.m. EST for its 16th commercial resupply mission (awarded by NASA) to the International Space Station from Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft will bring approximately 300 kilograms of research and hardware facilities to the orbiting laboratory under the International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory flight allocation. There are more than 20 payloads included on this mission sponsored by the ISS National Lab.
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (NASA PR) — NASA will host a media teleconference at 1 p.m. EST Wednesday, Nov. 28, to discuss select science investigations launching on the next SpaceX commercial resupply flight to the International Space Station.
SpaceX is targeting Dec. 4 for launch of its Dragon spacecraft on a Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS) in Florida.
Participants in the briefing will be:
Hsiao Smith, deputy director for technical of the Satellite Servicing Projects Division at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, will discuss the Robotic Refueling Mission-3 to demonstrate the storage and transfer of liquid methane in space for the first time.
Timothy Etheridge, principal investigator for the Molecular Muscle investigation, and a professor at University of Exeter, Department of Sport and Health Sciences in the United Kingdom,will discuss research to examine the molecular causes of muscle abnormalities during spaceflight in order to establish effective countermeasures.
Ralph Dubayah, principal investigator for Global Ecosystem Dynamics Investigation (GEDI) at the Joint Global Carbon Cycle Center in College Park, Maryland, will discuss an investigation to test high-quality laser ranging observations of the Earth’s forests and topography required to advance the understanding of important carbon and water cycling processes, biodiversity, and habitat.
Vic Keasler, Director of Research, Development and Engineering at Nalco Champion, an Ecolab company, will discuss an investigation to examine the rate of corrosion on carbon steel materials caused by films made up of microorganisms on Earth and in space.
Jahaun Azadmanesh, a doctoral student at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, Nebraska, will discuss the Perfect Crystals investigation which aims to help understand how an antioxidant protein helps protect the human body from oxidizing radiation and oxidants created as a byproduct of metabolism.
To participate in the teleconference, media must contact Kathryn Hambleton at 202-358-1100 or firstname.lastname@example.org by 5 p.m. Tuesday, Nov 27, for dial-in information.
Audio of the teleconference will be streamed live online at:
SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft will carry crew supplies, scientific research and hardware to the orbiting laboratory to support the Expedition 57 and 58 crews for the 16th contracted mission by SpaceX under NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services contract.
For launch countdown coverage, NASA’s launch blog, and more information about the mission, visit:
The Washington Postreports NASA safety reviews of its two commercial crew providers was triggered by SpaceX CEO Elon Musk’s use of drugs and alcohol.
The review, to begin next year, would look at both Boeing and SpaceX, the companies under contract to fly NASA’s astronauts, and examine “everything and anything that could impact safety” as the companies prepare to fly humans for the first time, William Gerstenmaier, NASA’s associate administrator for human exploration, said in an interview with The Washington Post. (more…)
Vladimir Koshlakov, head of the Keldysh Research Center, recently revealed details about a project by Energomash and S7 Space to develop a reusable launch vehicle, TASS reports.
“Recently, we had a conference on present-day problems of rocket engine-building. [S7 Space head Sergei] Sopov delivered a speech. He said: we need engines that can be switched on about 100 times,” Koshlakov said, adding that the question of how many launches will be optimal remains open.
According to the official, the rocket’s “cooldown” period should not exceed 48 hours.
“In other words, a rocket blasts off, then returns and is ready for the next launch with the same engine within 48 hours,” he said. “Here are the requirements set by the market.”
S7 Space, which purchases the assets of bankrupt Sea Launch, is developing a reusable rocket based on the design of the Soyuz-5 booster that NPO Energia is developing to launch the Russia’s new crewed Federatsiya spacecraft.