Space Biology on Station Ahead of Cargo and Crew Ship Activities

The International Space Station as it appears in 2018. Zarya is visible at the center of the complex, identifiable by its partially retracted solar arrays. (Credit: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — The Expedition 62 crew wrapped up the workweek with more space biology research to understand what living in space does to the human body. The International Space Station is also getting ready to send off a U.S. cargo craft and swap crews.

A 3D bioprinter inside the station’s Columbus laboratory module is being deactivated and stowed today after a week of test runs without using human cells. NASA Flight Engineer Jessica Meir packed up the device that seeks to demonstrate manufacturing human organs to help patients on Earth. The Bio-Fabrication Facility may even lead to future crews printing their own food and medicines on missions farther away from Earth.

NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan checked out hardware for an experiment exploring how to create heart cells on the orbiting lab. The investigation may lead to advanced treatments for cardiac conditions on Earth and in space.

Morgan and Meir are also getting the SpaceX Dragon resupply ship ready for its departure on April 6. The duo gathered U.S. spacesuit components and packed them inside Dragon for engineering analysis on the ground.

During the morning, Commander Oleg Skripochka continued servicing a variety of laptop computers in the station’s Russian segment. After lunchtime, the veteran cosmonaut serviced hardware for a pair of experiments, one looking at the Earth’s upper atmosphere and the other to understand the degradation of station gear.

Back on Earth at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, three new Expedition 63 crewmembers are in final preparations for their April 9 launch to the station. NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy and Roscosmos cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner stepped out of the Cosmonaut Hotel today for pre-launch activities celebrating spaceflight heroes such as Yuri Gagarin.

The Rocket Age and the Space Age

V-2 and Sputnik

The V-2 rocket and a model of Sputnik 1.

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The first successful launch of Germany’s A-4 ballistic missile and the orbiting of the first artificial satellite, Sputnik-1, took place 15 years and one day apart. The two achievements are related in more ways than their proximity on the calendar.

On Oct. 3, 1942, an A-4 developed by Wernher von Braun and his German Army team reached an altitude of 85 to 90 km (52.8 to 55.9 miles) after launch from Peenemunde on the Baltic Coast.


Spaceport America and Virgin Galactic: The Numbers Never Added Up

Richard Branson and his children hang out with Project Bandaloop dancers during the dedication of the Virgin Galactic Gateway to Space facility. (Credit: Douglas Messier)

Fourteen years ago, Virgin Galactic and New Mexico promised “tens of thousands” of tourists would fly to space from Spaceport America by 2019. Total thus far: 0.

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

When they announced in December 2005 that Virgin Galactic would locate its space tourism business in New Mexico, Virgin Founder Richard Branson and Gov. Bill Richardson made a number of eye-popping claims about why taxpayers should back a plan to build the Southwest Regional Spaceport to serve as the space tourism company’s home base:

  • $331 million in total construction revenues in 2007;
  • 2,460 construction-related jobs;
  • $1 billion in total spending, payroll of $300 million and 2,300 jobs by the fifth year of operation; and,
  • $750 million in total revenues and more than 3,500 jobs by 2020.

Virgin Galactic would sign a 20-year lease as anchor tenant and pay fees based on the number of launches it conducted. New Mexico would use the spaceport, Virgin’s presence and the funds generated to develop a large aerospace cluster.

Surprisingly, New Mexico would spend more money, $225 million, to develop a facility now known as Spaceport America than the $108 million that Branson planned to spend on developing a fleet of five SpaceShipTwos and WhiteKnightTwo carrier aircraft.

Among all the big numbers in the announcement, there was a truly astounding one that was deemed so important it was mentioned twice. (Emphasis added)


Russians Raise $87 Million to Upgrade Baikonur, Save Gagarin Launch Complex

Yuti Gagarin

MOSCOW (Roscosmos PR) — The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), a Russia’s sovereign wealth fund, in partnership with Middle East investors, GK Launch Services company and with the support of Roscosmos State Corporation, announces an investment of $87 million in upgrading the infrastructure of the Baikonur Cosmodrome. The relevant documents have been signed today at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum.

The project intends to upgrade Launch Site 1 (Gagarin’s Start) of the Cosmodrome with its following operation for Soyuz-2 rocket launches.


Hey Las Cruces, Get Ready for Spacestock!

Las Cruces is throwing itself a space party this year, the Las Cruces Sun-News reports.

Organizers say the first edition of the Las Cruces Space Festival, to be held April 12 and 14, will be a small affair and they hope it will grow over the years. The idea is to showcase the region’s aerospace industry, show people what has been accomplished in southern New Mexico and encourage new generations of Las Crucens to enter the growing aerospace field.

The date, April 12, was selected to coincide with the anniversary of human space flight, when the USSR launched Yuri Gagarin into a single orbit around the earth in 1961.

“The intent of the festival is to celebrate what we already do in space, not worry about what’s coming,” said Pat Hynes, director of the New Mexico Space Grant Consortium at New Mexico State University.

Hynes said plans are still developing, but events will allow the public to learn about space-related activity in the region. On Saturday, April 14, various activities will be set up around the Plaza de Las Cruces which may include informational booths, a possible space-related movie at the Rio Grande Theatre and other activities.


Yuri’s Night Celebrations Set for Next Week

yuris_nightNext Sunday will mark the 54th anniversary of the first human spaceflight by Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin. There will be celebrations around the world to mark that historic achievement.

Yuri’s Night now tallies 157 events on all seven continents over the next week. You can find the one near you here.

For those of you in SoCal, a celebration will take place at the California Science Center under the space shuttle Endeavour on Sunday, April 12. The website for that celebration is here.  Get your tickets now before the event is sold out. A splendid time is guaranteed for all.

Russians Honor Space Heroes on 50th Anniversary of Gagarin’s Flight

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev with Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman in space. (Credit: Russian government)

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev awarded state decorations to cosmonauts, employees and veterans at a ceremony in Moscow to mark the 50th anniversary of the first human spaceflight by Yuri Gagarin.

The ceremony was attended by Yury Gagarin’s widow Valentina Gagarina and his two daughters, as well as several members of the first group of cosmonauts, including the first woman in space, Valentina Tereshkova. U.S. space station commander Scott Kelly and former astronaut Tom Stafford, who commanded the U.S. side of the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project in 1975, received the Medal for Merits in Space Exploration from the Russian president.

A transcript of Medvedev’s remarks and additional photos follow.


A Tribute to Yuri Gagarin

For Yuri Gagarin:

Your courage and skill opened up a new frontier for all the world. You exemplified the best of humanity.

You left us far too soon. You never were able to fly into space again. You missed seeing humans walk on the moon. You were not here to help the U.S.-Soviet rivalry grow from competition to cooperation.

You may be gone, Yuri, but you remain with us in spirit. And you will never be forgotten. The name of Gagarin will be honored for as long as humanity exists. We can only hope that we can live up to your example during the next 50 years of space exploration.

It’s Yuri Gagarin Week in The Space Review

This week in The Space Review….

Whither human spaceflight?

Tuesday marks the 50th anniversary of the first human spaceflight, and it comes at a time of uncertainty about NASA’s future human spaceflight plans. Jeff Foust discusses some of the root causes of that uncertainty and what it means for the long-term future of human spaceflight and space exploration.

Vostok: an aerospace classic

The legacy of Vostok goes far beyond Yuri Gagarin’s flight 50 years ago. Drew LePage examines how the Vostok design evolved over the decades into applications far beyond human spaceflight.

Review: Fallen Idol: The Yuri Gagarin Conspiracy

For decades there have been conspiracy theories claiming that Yuri Gagarin was not the first Soviet cosmonaut. James Oberg critically reviews a documentary claiming to have new evidence about those allegations, but finds it lacking.

Gagarin’s flight and the Cold War

Yuri Gagarin’s flight 50 years ago was one of the major milestones in not just space exploration, but the Cold War. Taylor Dinerman explores the lasting impact that event had on Russia and its competition with America.

At the altar of smoke and fire

This year will mark the end of many aspects of the shuttle era, including the various cultures associated with it. Dwayne Day describes one of those little-appreciated mini-cultures: those who photograph the shuttle launches.

Space shuttles and the wisdom of the crowd

On Tuesday, the 30th anniversary of the first shuttle launch, NASA will announce where the orbiters will go after the final launch later this year. Ben Brockert discusses the results of an online experiment to predict where the shuttles may go.
Monday, April 11, 2011

An open letter to Senator Mikulski

On Monday NASA administrator Charles Bolden will appear before a Senate appropriations subcommittee to discuss the agency’s FY12 budget proposal. Lou Friedman offers an open letter to the chairperson of that subcommittee, asking her to make a critical examination of the agency’s future.

Happy Birthday, Yuri!

Roscosmos PAO — On March 9, 2011, Yuri Gagarin would have turned 77.

Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin (9 March 1934 – 27 March 1968), Hero of the Soviet Union, was a Soviet cosmonaut who on 12 April 1961 became the first human to journey into outer space.

Yuri Gagarin was born in the village of Klushino near Gzhatsk (now in Smolensk Oblast, Russia). The adjacent town of Gzhatsk was renamed Gagarin in 1968 in his honour.


Ex-Miss Universe to Attend Gagarin Jubilee Launch

Former Miss Universe Oxana Fedorova (Credit: Dmitry Rozhkov)

Former Miss Universe Oxana Fedorova is on the approved list of Russian VIPs for the March 30 launch of a Soyuz vehicle to mark the 50th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin’s historic flight into space, Roscosmos says.

Fedorova, 33, was the first Russian to win the Miss Universe contest in 2002. Oxana, who won both the swimsuit and evening gown competitions over nine semi-finalists, had won the Miss Russia contest the previous year. In addition to her pageant and modeling work, she is a retired police officer, former university lecturer, television host, actress, singer, and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador.

The Soyuz TMA-21 vehicle has been named Gargarin to honor the first human spaceflight on April 12, 1961. The spacecraft will carry Russian cosmonauts Aleksandr Samokutyayev and Andrei Borisenko and American astronaut Ronald J. Garan to the International Space Station.


Russia and UK to Mark 50th Annivesary of Gagarin Flight

Russia and the United Kingdom are planning a series of events to mark the 50th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin’s flight into space. The events include: a conference in London; lectures, exhibitions, cultural events; the unveiling of a Gagarin statue in London; and the implementation of a joint experiment on board the International Space Station.

Russian and British officials met in Moscow on Tuesday to formally open the UK-Russian Year of Space 2011 program. The group issued a joint statement in the names of Roscosmos Head Anatoly Perminov and UK Space Agency Acting Chief Executive David Williams.

The program comes amidst efforts to deepen cooperation between the UK and Russia in space. The UKSA was recently formed to raise the country’s profile in space and better coordinate its space activities.

A list of UK and Russian events is shown after the break.


Video: Yuri Gagarin Documentary

This is the first trailer of the Yuri Gagarin fan film produced by Soyuz Fan Film in association with Planet Gagarin Karpov. This fan film is scheduled to release on the day that the world would remember Yuri Gagarin’s flight. Subscriptions and comments are welcome.

Release Date: April 12, 2011

Russians Gear Up for Gagarin 50th Anniversary Celebrations

Russia will name the Soyuz spacecraft scheduled to launch to the International Space Station on March 30 after Yuri Gagarin, who became the first human in space almost 50 years before on April 12, 1961.

This is just one of many commemorations being planned to mark the historic anniversary. The Voice of Russia reports that Roscosmos has invited the heads of 49 space agencies as well as astronauts and cosmonauts who have flow on Soviet and Russian spacecraft to attend gala celebrations in Moscow on April 12.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin chaired a meeting of the Organizational Committee at the Mission Control Center on Tuesday. Roscosmos Head Anatoly Perminov gave him a briefing on the status of preparations. Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center Chief Sergey Krikalev reported about the celebrations set for Star City. Smolensk Region Gov. Sergey Antufiev told Putin about events planned for Gagarin’s native land.