NASA’s Commercial Crew Partners Focus on Testing, Analysis to Advance Designs

Building interiorNASA’s aerospace industry partners are taking their designs and operational plans for the agency’s Commercial Crew Program (CCP) through a series of comprehensive tests, evaluations and review boards this summer as they move through important milestones – all with an eye on launching people into orbit from American soil by 2017.

Read the details here.

Station Astronauts Show Off World Cup Skills


The United States plays Germany today in the World Cup and the viewership will not be limited to the Earthbound. The crew of the International Space Station is expected to tune in for the match.

Reid Wiseman kidded his colleagues in orbit that the stronger U.S. team spirit aboard the space station is a sign the U.S. will be stronger on the field too. “I believe we will win. It’s two against one up here, so I think the U.S. chances are pretty good,” Wiseman said during an in-flight interview with ESPN on June 24.

Wiseman says the crew already was checking its busy schedule for Thursday to see how they can fit in watching the game during what will be afternoon time for them. Read about the friendly rivalry between American and German station crew members here.


Ant Experiment Sheds Light on Search Techniques


Researchers dispatched a crew of ants to the International Space Station recently to study the methods the colony use to search and explore their surroundings. Scientists are studying whether the process the ants use can be translated into a mathematical algorithm that can aid robotics and computer programs on Earth. Read more here in an article about the ant-stronauts. You can also click here for specific notes about the experiment. Astronauts on the station including Rick Mastracchio, pictured, filmed the colony go about its work.

Spot Our Destination

14232527844_94b801446f_oFolks in Central Florida will be able to see the International Space Station move overhead for three minutes Monday night beginning at 9:44 p.m EDT. Its maximum height will be 69 degrees and it will appear in the north-northwest and disappear at east-southeast. You can log on to to get email alerts and to check observation times for cities all over the world. The ISS, which is Commercial Crew Program’s ultimate destination, is a one-of-a-kind research laboratory and testbed for long-duration spaceflight technology.

Plants Harvested as Part of Station Experiment

veggie-lettuceScientists at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida harvested the leaves of red lettuce plants grown on Earth inside the International Space Station Environmental Simulator chamber at the Space Station Processing Facility. The plants were grown using the same kind of Veggie chamber that was deployed and is being operated on the station. Read some of the details here. The researchers on the ground also stuck closely to the same schedules procedures and operations that were followed by astronauts on the station so they could produce a reliable control group. Such research is crucial to NASA’s planning for deep-space missions by astronauts and the unique laboratory of the ISS is critical to achieving that research. The Commercial Crew Program is working with aerospace industry partners to begin operational flights by 2017 on privately built and operated spacecraft that will permit more crew members to work on the station and conduct research there.

World Cup Ball Gets NASA Aero Test Treatment

brazuca-lrgYou’ve seen models of CCP-partner spacecraft designs put through their aerodynamic paces in a wind tunnel already, but have you wondered what would happen if a soccer ball were treated to the same thing? For one thing, soccer balls and any spherical object don’t necessarily behave as some might expect. Smooth spheres fly very unpredictably, it turns out – something that surprised World Cup goalies in 2010 when the smooth-surfaced ball slipped through the air around their outstretched hands. In this video and feature from NASA’s Ames Research Center in California,  Rabi Mehta, chief of the Experimental Aero-Physics Branch there, describes what makes this year’s version different. For more about NASA and the World Cup, go to

Mars Strategy at Center of Exploration Plans

Working with private companies to ferry astronauts to and from the International Space Station is a part of NASA’s stepping stone approach to the human exploration of Mars. The space agency is also incorporating lessons learned from space station research into plans for deep space missions aboard the Space Launch System and Orion spacecraft. Review the details of the agency’s exploration plan on the Human path to Mars mini poster.