‘Artists Inspire Astronauts’ Contest

Photo credit: NASA

NASA is holding an art contest to fill the hallowed halls of the Astronaut Crew Quarters at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. This iconic hallway is where past Apollo and space shuttle astronauts took some of their last steps on Earth before heading to the Moon and the International Space Station.

Today, the crew quarters is being prepared for astronauts to once again launch from American soil to embark on historic missions — this year, commercial crew companies Boeing and SpaceX will conduct test flights of spacecraft designed to carry our nation’s astronauts to the International Space Station in low-Earth orbit. The astronauts who will travel to the Moon, lifting off in the Orion spacecraft aboard the Space Launch System (SLS), also will stay in the crew quarters prior to traveling farther into space than any other previous human space exploration.

These crews will walk down this same hallway before blasting off on their missions, and the winning art pieces will be here to inspire them.

NASA is looking for established artists who are U.S. citizens and at least 18 years old to show off their creative vision of what the future of human space travel and exploration looks like. Any style and 2D medium is fine, as long as you can send a digital copy for NASA to print and hang. Think you have what it takes? For rules and more information, click here: https://challenge.gov/a/buzz/challenge/998/ideas/top

You have until April 30 to submit your work.

In the words of Bob Ross, “Let’s get crazy.”

New Crops Planted Aboard the International Space Station

NASA astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor photographed ‘Dragoon’ lettuce growing in a ‘plant pillow’ on Oct. 30. If all goes well, the lettuce will be ready to enjoy in time for Thanksgiving.

NASA astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor planted two new crops in a special garden aboard the International Space Station on Thursday, Oct. 25. If all goes well, the ‘Red Russian’ kale and ‘Dragoon’ lettuce, will be ready to enjoy in time for Thanksgiving.

The lettuce seeds arrived at the station in “plant pillows,” which are needed because of the way water moves in microgravity. Auñón-Chancellor placed the plant pillows atop a root mat, which she primed with water. She installed them in the station’s Veggie plant growth system, and completed her sowing by adding water to the growth chamber’s reservoir.

These plants are part of experiment Veg-03 G – NASA has been successfully growing veggies aboard station since 2014. The latest experiment will provide astronauts with vitamins C, K and potassium, not to mention a welcome addition to their turkey day table 250 miles above Earth.

Parker Solar Probe Updates

Artist rendering of NASA's Parker Solar Probe observing the sun.
Artist rendering of NASA’s Parker Solar Probe observing the sun. Image credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins APL/Steve Gribben

NASA’s Parker Solar Probe is scheduled to lift off atop a ULA Delta IV Heavy at 3:53 a.m. EDT, at the opening of a 65-minute window, on Saturday, Aug. 11. Live launch coverage begins at 3 a.m. on NASA TV and NASA’s Parker Solar Probe Launch Blog.

For the latest status, visit www.nasa.gov/parkersolarprobe.

Aeroshells Prepped for Vital Orion Launch Abort System Test

The third and final aeroshell, at left, for Orion's Launch Abort System (LAS) is in High Bay 4 of the Vehicle Assembly Building on July 12, 2018, at Kennedy Space Center after its arrival from EMF Inc. on nearby Merritt Island.
The third and final aeroshell, at left, for Orion’s Launch Abort System (LAS) is in High Bay 4 of the Vehicle Assembly Building on July 12, 2018, at Kennedy Space Center after its arrival from EMF Inc. on nearby Merritt Island.

The third and final aeroshell, at left, for Orion’s Launch Abort System (LAS) is in High Bay 4 of the Vehicle Assembly Building on July 12, 2018, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida after its arrival from EMF Inc. on nearby Merritt Island. In the photo above, technicians prepare the aeroshell to be lifted off of the flatbed truck and transferred to slats. All three aeroshells will be stacked and prepared for a full-stress test of the LAS, called Ascent Abort-2 (AA-2) flight test, scheduled for April 2019.

During the test, a booster will launch from Space Launch Complex 46 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station carrying a fully functional LAS and a 22,000-pound Orion test vehicle to an altitude of 31,000 feet and traveling at more than 1,000 miles per hour. The test will verify the LAS can steer the crew module and astronauts aboard to safety in the event of an issue with the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket when the spacecraft is under the highest aerodynamic loads it will experience during a rapid climb into space.

NASA’s Orion is being prepared for its first integrated uncrewed flight atop the SLS on Exploration Mission-1.

Photo credit: NASA/Frank Michaux