Topic: International Space Station
Washington, D.C. – July is always a good time to assess where U.S. human space exploration has been and where it’s going. This year, July 20th marks the 40th anniversary of Viking, which in 1976 became the first spacecraft to land on Mars.
And just seven years — to the day — before Viking’s amazing feat, humans first set foot on another world, when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin set the Apollo 11 lunar module Eagle down in the moon’s Sea of Tranquility on July 20th, 1969.
Written by Elizabeth Landau
Pasadena, CA – On May 11th, a sealed capsule containing fungi and bacteria fell from the sky and splashed down in the Pacific Ocean. Microbiologist Kasthuri Venkateswaran could hardly wait to see what was inside it.
At NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, Venkateswaran, who goes by Venkat, studies microbial life — the wild world of organisms too small for us to see with our eyes. Among his many research endeavors, Venkat has leading roles on two microbial experiments that recently returned from the International Space Station.
NASA’s Johnson Space Center
Houston, TX – On Monday, June 6th, astronaut Jeff Williams will enter the first human-rated expandable module deployed in space, a technology demonstration to investigate the potential challenges and benefits of expandable habitats for deep space exploration and commercial low-Earth orbit applications.
Williams and the NASA and Bigelow Aerospace teams working at Mission Control Center at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston expanded the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) by filling it with air during more than seven hours of operations Saturday, May 28th.
Washington, D.C. – Pressurization of the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) began at 4:34pm EDT, and the eight tanks filled with air completed full pressurization of the module 10 minutes later at 4:44pm. BEAM’s pressure will be equalized with that of the International Space Station, where it will remain attached for a two-year test period.
The module measured just over 7 feet long and just under 7.75 feet in diameter in its packed configuration. BEAM now measures more than 13 feet long and about 10.5 feet in diameter to create 565 cubic feet of habitable volume. It weighs approximately 3,000 pounds.
Written by Cheryl Warner
Washington, D.C. – The first human-rated expandable structure that may help inform the design of deep space habitats is set to be installed to the International Space Station Saturday, April 16th. NASA Television coverage of the installation will begin at 5:30am EDT.
The Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) will be attached to the station’s Tranquility module over a period of about four hours. Controllers in mission control at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston will remove BEAM from the unpressurized trunk of SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft, using the robotic Canadarm2, and move it into position next to Tranquility’s aft assembly port.
NASA astronaut Scott Kelly and Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko blasted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on March 27th, 2015. With a successful landing 340 days later on March 1st, 2016, the pair completed one of the most ambitious missions in the history of the International Space Station and opened a new chapter in human exploration.
Washington,D.C. – In the future, machines will monitor their own health and request help, themselves, when something’s wrong, predicts David Cirulli, engineering vice president and cofounder of CEMSol LLC.
“There’s going to be an integrated system-health engine as part of every system out there, and it will be able to interface with other systems and components,” says Cirulli. “That’s what’s missing today.” He compares the capability to how sick human patients can verbalize symptoms to a doctor, giving them the crucial information they need to diagnose a problem.
Written by Stephanie Schierholz
Washington, D.C. – NASA astronaut and Expedition 46 Commander Scott Kelly and his Russian counterpart Mikhail Kornienko returned to Earth Tuesday after a historic 340-day mission aboard the International Space Station. They landed in Kazakhstan at 11:26pm EST/10:26 CT (10:26am March 2nd Kazakhstan time).
Joining their return trip aboard a Soyuz TMA-18M spacecraft was Sergey Volkov, also of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, who arrived on the station September 4th, 2015. The crew touched down southeast of the remote town of Dzhezkazgan.
Written by Linda Herridge
Kennedy Space Center, FL – Zinnia plants from the Veggie ground control experiment at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida were harvested February 11th in the same way that crew member Scott Kelly will harvest the zinnias growing in the Veggie system aboard the International Space Station on February 14th—Valentine’s Day.
Flowering plants will help scientists learn more about growing crops for deep-space missions and NASA’s journey to Mars.
The ground plants didn’t experience some of the same stressors as those grown simultaneously on the ISS — like unexpected fungus growth.
Written by Julianna Fishman
Washington, D.C. – NASA’s two Nodes small satellites hitched a ride to the International Space Station on the fourth Orbital ATK cargo mission, which launched on December 6th. Once aboard the station, the satellites will settle in for a two-to-three month stay until deployed into low-Earth orbit in early 2016.
The Nodes mission, which consists of two CubeSats weighing just 4.5 pounds each and measuring 4 inches by 4 inches by 6.5 inches, will test new network capabilities for operating swarms of spacecraft in the future.
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