Space Station Tech On Display

rapidscatprocessingResearchers and engineers will discuss today the technological advances being tried out and perfected aboard the International Space Station during a forum that will be shown live on NASA TV beginning at 10 a.m. You can watch the hour-long event on TV or streaming here. The station’s capacity to host cutting-edge experiments is unparalleled and ranges from new ways to examine elements of Earth’s atmosphere using such investigations as RapidScat to the promising innovations of 3D printing.

The envelope of discovery is expected to grow significantly in the near future when NASA’s Commercial Crew Program-supported spacecraft begin missions to the orbiting laboratory. Because the new generation of spacecraft will carry astronauts, the station’s crew will grow and allow the amount of time dedicated to science to double on the station.

NASA Statement on Court of Federal Claims Decision

NASA is pleased the U.S. Court of Federal Claims Oct. 21 allowed NASA to proceed with the performance of its Commercial Crew Transportation Capability (CCtCap) contracts while the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) considers the GAO bid protest filed by Sierra Nevada Corporation. NASA will continue to work with Boeing and SpaceX on the contracts that will enable safe and reliable crew transportation to and from the International Space Station on American spacecraft launched from U.S. soil.

Experiment Stand on Station Marks 100,000 Hours of Space Research

Expressrack1The first of the work stands custom-built for science experiments operating on the International Space Station marked its 100,000th hour of operation this month. EXPRESS Rack 1, as the device is known, is housed inside the U.S.-built Destiny laboratory of the space station. Before installation on the station, the design was tried out during space shuttle missions. The rack offers electricity, network connections and access to the projects by station crew members. It was revolutionary for NASA because it offered a standardized platform that could be put in place and experiments could be plugged in and out of it during the life of the station. That means research can span several specialties on the station from medicine to computer chips and manufacturing of lighter metals.

NASA’s Commercial Crew Program spacecraft will be capable of carrying payloads to the station along with crew as part of the agency’s work to effectively double the amount of research conducted aboard the orbiting laboratory.

Boeing Concludes Commercial Crew Space Act Agreement for CST-100/Atlas V

CciCap Render 2

Boeing has successfully completed the final milestone of its Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) Space Act Agreement with NASA. The work and testing completed under the agreement resulted in significant maturation of Boeing’s crew transportation system, including the CST-100 spacecraft and Atlas V rocket.

NASA in July approved the Critical Design Review Board milestone for Boeing’s crew transportation system, confirming the detailed designs and plans for test and evaluation form a satisfactory basis to proceed with full-scale fabrication, assembly, integration and testing. It is the culmination of four years of development work by Boeing beginning when the company partnered with NASA during the first round of agreements to develop commercial crew transportation systems. To get to this point, extensive spacecraft subsystem, systems, and integrated vehicle design work has been performed, along with extensive component and wind tunnel testing.
Read more details here.

Space Station Research Includes Cancer Studies

ISScancer-ShareableAs people and nations around the world mark Breast Cancer Awareness month, Commercial Crew Program looks forward to missions that will allow more groundbreaking research to be performed on the International Space Station. The unique platform offers scientists significant research into life sciences, including biological studies. The work of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program to develop the next generation of American crewed spacecraft will double the research capability of the space station.

Although the work is being done off the Earth, it’s very much for those on the Earth. Throughout the life of the space station, many experiments have focused on how cancer cells behave in microgravity, and researchers are using the feedback from microgravity cell growth to identify the patterns and other mechanisms the cells use to multiply. The goal of the research is to lead to medicines on Earth that inhibit cancer from forming or spreading in people. Read more details about the research and its potential to benefit humanity here, including biological science focused on deciphering some of the fundamental questions about cancer. Research on the station covers a wide swath of scientific arenas, including disease study.

Spacewalkers Prep Station for Commercial Crew Craft

ISSspacewalkviewToday’s spacewalk by International Space Station astronauts Reid Wiseman and Barry “Butch” Wilmore, both from NASA, includes some of the first steps in the process of outfitting the station for the arrival of Commercial Crew Program partner spacecraft later this decade. Each spacewalker is wearing a helmetcam and you can watch the spacewalk live on NASA TV which is streaming here.

Using spacesuits dedicated to the demanding tasks of spacewalking, the astronauts are repositioning a camera and television equipment on the outside of the station. When completed, the reconfiguration of  of station systems and modules will make room for new docking adapters that will allow the new generation of American spacecraft to connect to the station and deliver crew members for the orbiting laboratory. The new spacecraft are integral in NASA’s plans to double the amount of research performed on the station.

**UPDATE: The spacewalk was completed on time Wednesday afternoon.

NASA Exercises Authority to Proceed with Commercial Crew Contracts

On Sept. 16, NASA announced U.S. astronauts once again will travel to and from the International Space Station (ISS) from the United States on American spacecraft under groundbreaking contracts. The agency unveiled its selection of Boeing and SpaceX to transport U.S. crews to and from the space station using their CST-100 and Crew Dragon spacecraft, respectively, with a goal of ending the nation’s sole reliance on Russia in 2017.

On Sept. 26, Sierra Nevada Corporation filed a protest of the commercial crew contracts with the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO). Pursuant to the GAO protest, NASA instructed Boeing and SpaceX to suspend performance of the contracts.

On Oct. 9, under statutory authority available to it, NASA has decided to proceed with the Commercial Crew Transportation Capability (CCtCap) contracts awarded to The Boeing Company and Space Exploration Technologies Corp. notwithstanding the bid protest filed at the U.S. Government Accountability Office by Sierra Nevada Corporation. The agency recognizes that failure to provide the CCtCap transportation service as soon as possible poses risks to the International Space Station (ISS) crew, jeopardizes continued operation of the ISS, would delay meeting critical crew size requirements, and may result in the U.S. failing to perform the commitments it made in its international agreements. These considerations compelled NASA to use its statutory authority to avoid significant adverse consequences where contract performance remained suspended. NASA has determined that it best serves the United States to continue performance of the CCtCap contracts that will enable safe and reliable travel to and from the ISS from the United States on American spacecraft and end the nation’s sole reliance on Russia for such transportation.