NASA Seeks Options on International Space Station Deorbiting Capabilities

This image shows the planned configuration of six iROSA solar arrays intended to augment power on the International Space Station. The roll-up arrays arrive on the SpaceX-22 resupply mission. (Credits: NASA/Johnson Space Center/Boeing)

NASA has issued a request for information (RFI) from industry on how to safely deorbit the massive International Space Station (ISS) when the facility is decommissioned.

“The deorbit vehicle shall attach (via docking or berthing) to the ISS at least one (1) year prior to the planned ISS reentry date to enable adequate time for on-orbit tests and checkouts…Although nominal ISS EOL is late 2030, the Government requires that this deorbit capability be available as soon as possible to protect for contingencies that could drive early re-entry and beyond 2030 in the event of further ISS mission extensions,” the space agency said in the document.

NASA wants feedback from industry by Sept. 9. The space agency will use the feedback to formulate a request for proposal to solicit bids from industry.

Orbital Reef Space Station Advances to Design Phase After NASA Review

Sierra Space and Blue Origin Successfully Complete Orbital Reef System Definition Review

Orbital Reef Space Station, led by co-lead investment partners Sierra Space and Blue Origin, advances to design phase after NASA review. (Image Credit: Business Wire)

LOUISVILLE, Colo. & KENT, Wash. (Sierra Space PR) — The Orbital Reef team, led by partners Sierra Space and Blue Origin, has successfully completed its System Definition Review (SDR) with NASA.

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Dragon Splashes Down With Scientific Cargo for Analysis

The SpaceX Dragon cargo craft backs away from the space station moments after undocking from the Harmony module’s forward port during an orbital sunrise. (Credit: NASA TV)

NASA MISSION UPDATE

SpaceX’s uncrewed Dragon cargo spacecraft splashed down at 2:53 p.m. EDT Saturday, Aug. 20, north of Cape Canaveral off the Florida coast, marking the return of the company’s 25th contracted cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station for NASA. The spacecraft carried more than 4,000 pounds of valuable scientific experiments and other cargo back to Earth.

Some of the scientific investigations returned by Dragon include:

  • Space’s impact on materials: The Materials International Space Station Experiment-15-NASA (MISSE-15-NASA) experiment tests, qualifies, and quantifies the impact of the low-Earth orbit environment on new materials and components, such as spacecraft materials and wearable radiation protection. Successful experiment results could have applications both in the harsh environments of space and on Earth.
  • Spacesuit cooling: Spacesuit Evaporation Rejection Flight Experiment (SERFE) demonstrates a new technology using water evaporation to remove heat from spacesuits and maintain appropriate temperatures for crew members and equipment during spacewalks. The investigation determines whether microgravity affects performance and evaluates the technology’s effect on contamination and corrosion of spacesuit material.
  • Cell signaling in microgravity: The ESA (European Space Agency) sponsored investigation Bioprint FirstAid Handheld Bioprinter (Bioprint FirstAid) enables the rapid use of formerly prepared bio-inks, containing the patient’s own cells, to form a band-aid patch in the case of injury.

Learn more about station activities by following the space station blog@space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter, as well as the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

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Navy Helicopters and Air Force Pararescue Forces Conduct Astronaut Recovery Exercise

Air Force pararescue forces from the 48th rescue squadron remove a mock-astronaut from a SpaceX Dragon capsule during a validation exercise. The exercise was meant to validate the joint-capability of Navy helicopter squadrons and Air Force Guardian Angel Pararescue forces in their shared mission to recover astronauts at sea. (Credit: U.S. Space Command/Sean Castellano)

PETERSON SPACE FORCE BASE, Colo.  (U.S. Space Command PR) –  U.S. Space Command held an exercise Aug. 1-5 at Patrick Space Force Base, Fl., in preparation for the upcoming launch of NASA’s SpaceX Crew-5, targeted for no earlier than September 29, 2022.

As the Department of Defense’s Human Space Flight Support Manager, USSPACECOM coordinates global DoD support for the rescue and recovery of human exploration events for NASA’s Artemis and Commercial Crew Program missions.

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ESA Astronaut Mogensen to Embark on Huginn Mission to ISS

Portrait of ESA astronaut Andreas Mogensen is his blue flight suit with the ESA patch and Danish flag. (Credit: ESA/NASA)

PARIS (ESA PR) — ESA astronaut Andreas Mogensen of Denmark is set to return to the International Space Station for his first long-duration Station mission. With only one year left before his launch in mid-2023, a name for the mission has been chosen: Huginn.

This name, chosen by Andreas, originates in Norse mythology with Huginn and Muninn – two raven accomplices of the god Odin. Together, the two symbolise the human mind, with Huginn representing thought, and Muninn, memory.

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Dragon Departs Station to Return Scientific Cargo to Earth

The SpaceX Dragon cargo craft backs away from the space station moments after undocking from the Harmony module’s forward port during an orbital sunrise. (Credit: NASA TV)

NASA Mission Update

HOUSTON — At 11:00 a.m. EDT, flight controllers on the ground sent commands to release the uncrewed SpaceX Dragon spacecraft from the forward port of the International Space Station’s Harmony module. At the time of release at 11:05 a.m., the station was flying about 259 miles over the Pacific Ocean.

The Dragon spacecraft successfully departed the space station one month after arriving at the orbiting laboratory to deliver about 4,000 pounds of scientific investigations and supplies.

Tomorrow, ground controllers at SpaceX in Hawthorne, California, will command a deorbit burn. After re-entering Earth’s atmosphere, the spacecraft will make a parachute-assisted splashdown off the coast of Florida. NASA TV will not broadcast the de-orbit burn and splashdown, and updates will be posted on the agency’s space station blog.

Dragon arrived at the space station July 16, following a launch two days prior on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It was the company’s 25th commercial resupply services mission to the space station for NASA.


Learn more about station activities by following the space station blog@space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter, as well as the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

Get weekly video highlights at: https://jscfeatures.jsc.nasa.gov/videoupdate/

Get the latest from NASA delivered every week. Subscribe here: www.nasa.gov/subscribe

What’s Next: The Future of NASA’s Laser Communications

Illustration of ILLUMA-T communicating science and exploration data from the International Space Station to LCRD. (Credits: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/Dave Ryan)

By Kendall Murphy
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

GREENBELT, Md. — NASA uses lasers to send information to and from Earth, employing invisible beams to traverse the skies, sending terabytes of data – pictures and videos – to increase our knowledge of the universe. This capability is known as laser, or optical, communications, even though these eye-safe, infrared beams can’t be seen by human eyes.

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Firefly Eyes Mid-September Launch for Second Alpha Mission

Second Firefly Alpha rocket on the launch pad at Vandenberg Space Force Base in California. (Credit: Firefly Aerospace)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

I’ve been making the rounds in the Utah State University Fieldhouse here in Logan talking with the various companies with booths at Small Satellite 2022 conference. Here is the first of several updates.

The window for Firefly Aerospace’s second attempt to launch its Alpha booster opens on Sept. 11. That flight will be out of Vandenberg Space Force Base in California. The rocket is already on the launch pad at Vandenberg undergoing pre-flight tests.

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The Best Laid Plans, Moscow Edition: Ukraine Invasion Damages Russia’s Launch Business

Soyuz-2 rocket launches a military satellite from Plesetsk Cosmodrome. (Credit: Russian Ministry of Defense)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Ambitious launch schedules typically go awry when a rocket suffers a catastrophic failure that takes months to investigate and implement modifications to ensure the same accident doesn’t happen again. In the majority of cases, the failures involve a machine launching a machine. All that can be replaced, albeit at substantial cost.

Russia’s ambitious launch plans for 2022 fell apart due to a far more momentous and deadly action: the nation’s invasion of Ukraine. The decision ruptured cooperation with the West on virtually every space project on which it was safe to do so. The main exception was the International Space Station (ISS), a program involving astronauts and cosmonauts that would be difficult to operate safely if Russia suddenly withdrew (as it indeed threatened to do).

Due to the invasion, Western partners canceled seven launches of foreign payloads in less than a month. The cancellations put Russia even further behind the United States and China in launch totals this year.

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SpaceX Rockets U.S. Launches to New Heights in 2022

Falcon 9 launches 53 Starlink satellites on June 17, 2022. (Credit: SpaceX)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Powered by 33 flights of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 booster, the United States leads all nations with 48 launch attempts through the first seven months of the year. The total is three short of the number of U.S. launches attempted last year, and far ahead of the 27 launches conducted by second place China through the end of July. The U.S. has conducted more launches than the 43 flights conducted by the rest of the world combined.

A number of notable flights were conducted. SpaceX launched two Crew Dragons to the International Space Station (ISS), including the first fully privately funded mission to the orbiting laboratory. United Launch Alliance (ULA) launched Boeing’s CST-100 Starship crew vehicle on an automated flight test to ISS, a crucial step before astronauts to fly on the spacecraft. Small satellite launch provider Rocket Lab conducted its first deep-space mission by sending a spacecraft the size of a microwave to the moon.

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ISS National Lab and Estée Lauder Announce Two Winning Concepts of the Sustainability Challenge: Beyond Plastics

Funded by exclusive partner Estée Lauder, the winning projects will have the opportunity to conduct research on the International Space Station

WASHINGTON, July 29, 2022 (CASIS PR) – On July 28, 2022, the International Space Station (ISS) National Laboratory announced two winning concepts from its Sustainability Challenge: Beyond Plastics. The winning concepts will receive funding for their research proposals from the exclusive challenge partner, global prestige beauty brand Estée Lauder, and will have the opportunity to launch their research to the orbiting laboratory.

The challenge, put forth by the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space, Inc., manager of the ISS National Lab, in partnership with Estée Lauder, sought project concepts to advance sustainability research on the space station that address the worldwide plastic waste dilemma. The selected projects were announced at the 11th annual ISS Research and Development Conference in Washington, D.C.

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Entering the Decade of Results: International Space Station Benefits for Humanity Publication Released

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — The 2022 edition of the International Space Station Benefits for Humanity publication is now available. This updated edition is packed with numerous benefits of the microgravity laboratory highlighting groundbreaking discoveries helping society, technologies tested for future space exploration, new scientific breakthroughs, and contributions to the growing low-Earth orbit (LEO) economy.

Over more than two decades, the International Space Station has evolved into an advanced microgravity laboratory for human space operations and science. The space station offers researchers worldwide the opportunity to utilize the unique environmental conditions of LEO, supporting hundreds of experiments across every major scientific field at any given time. With over 20 years of research and 3,300 experiments hosted aboard the station, now more than ever discoveries and developments are taking shape. The station’s ability to foster research has aided in the growing commercial space economy allowing new players to enter the space marketplace and launching flourishing businesses back on Earth.

“This edition focuses on new areas of scientific study that are resulting from the last two decades of ISS research, future technologies for the exploration of the Moon and Mars, lifesaving discoveries, and the companies and economic benefits enabled by this research.” said Dr. Kirt Costello, chief scientist for the space station at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.

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Italian Extra Virgin Olive Oil Reaches Space Station

ROME (ASI PR) — The samples of Italian extra virgin olive oil have reached the International Space Station, thanks to a project included in the framework of the agreement between the Italian Space Agency and CREA, in collaboration with Coldiretti and Unaprol-Consorzio Olivicolo Italiano.

As part of its role as National Agency, ASI promoted the project and, in the context of its institutional relations with other Space Agencies and as a country participating in the ISS program, made available the opportunity to fly and coordination with ESA necessary for the implementation of the experiment.

The collaboration with Coldiretti and Unaprol-Consorzio Olivicolo Italiano aims to underline the importance of the Italian agri-food heritage and to enhance and sensitize an asset for the country’s exports, as well as to promote the principles of proper nutrition.

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New Roscosmos GD Says Russia to Leave ISS Program After 2024

Russian Orbital Service Station (Credit: Roscosmos)

The new head of Roscosmos says that Russia will leave the International Space Station program after 2024. The Associated Press reports:

Yuri Borisov, appointed this month to lead the state space agency, Roscosmos, said during a meeting with President Vladimir Putin that Russia will fulfill its obligations to its partners before it leaves.

“The decision to leave the station after 2024 has been made,” Borisov said, adding: “I think that by that time we will start forming a Russian orbiting station.”

Borisov’s statement reaffirmed previous declarations by Russian space officials about Moscow’s intention to leave the space station after 2024 when the current international arrangements for its operation end.

Roscosmos previously announced that it would build the Russian Orbital Service Station (ROSS) after it leaves ISS.

Russia keeps the station supplied with crews and cargo via Soyuz and Progress spacecraft, respectively. Progress resupply ships raise the station’s orbit and maneuvers the facility to avoid space debris. The Russian section of ISS is about one quarter of the orbiting laboratory.

The United States wants to keep the station operating until 2030. It wants U.S. industry to develop private space stations later in the 2020’s on which the space agency could become a tenant.

ISS is a partnership of NASA, European Space Agency (ESA), Canadian Space Agency (CSA) and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). The four space agencies are partners in the NASA-led Artemis program that plans to return astronauts to the surface of the moon later in this decade.

NASA ISS Program Director Robyn Gatens said the space agency has received no formal notice about Russia withdrawing from the program during an appearance at the International Space Station Research and Development Conference in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday.

Commercial Space Travelers Outnumbered Professional Astronauts in First Half of 2022

Axiom Mission 1 astronauts, left to right, Larry Connor, Mark Pathy, Michael López-Alegría, and Eytan Stibbe. The astronauts are approved by NASA and its international partners for Axiom Space’s first private astronaut mission to the International Space Station. (Credits: Chris Gunn – Axiom Space)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The first half of 2022 saw more commercial travelers — 16 — launch into space than the 10 professional astronauts who work for government-run space agencies. However, those numbers come with an asterisk or two.

Four of the 14 astronauts who launched into orbit flew on Axiom Space’s privately funded and operated crew flight to the International Space Station (ISS). Blue Origin launched 12 individuals into space on two flights of the company’s New Shepard suborbital vehicle.

The other 10 astronauts who launched to ISS and the Tiangong space station worked fulltime for NASA, European Space Agency (ESA), China Manned Space Agency, or Russia’s Roscosmos State Space Corporation. SpaceX flew American and European astronauts to ISS on the company-owned Crew Dragon spacecraft under a NASA contract. The Russians and Chinese flew aboard government-owned and operated spacecraft.

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