NASA has selected four astronauts who will train to fly Commercial Crew flight tests in 2017 aboard the Boeing CST-100 and SpaceX Crew Dragon. Greg Hurley, Eric Boe, Bob Behnken, and Suni Williams have been selected to be the first astronauts to board those spacecraft.
“What comes with our assignment is a fair amount of responsibility because there will be a legacy of astronauts for years and years to come who will have to live with the decisions that we in the agency are making with Boeing and SpaceX now,” said Bob Behnken of he and his fellow Commercial Crew astronauts.
The second series of vegetable growth experiments known as Veggie is underway today after astronaut Scott Kelly watered and placed the seed-filled pillows into the Veggie unit. The specialized space garden provides light to the plants and wicks moisture to the plant pillows as means to provide water simply.
Scott Kelly will take photos of his space plants and beam them back to ground-based researchers at Kennedy who are monitoring the experiment and will soon perform identical work on Earth as the ground control group for the space-borne seeds. The seeds on the station are expected to sprout in a few days and about a month from now the station crew is expected to have enough lettuce to complement their meal. Five of the plant pouches are functioning correctly, leaving one that experienced difficulties.
The research is considered vital to future plans to send astronauts to deep space and eventually to Mars. Crews on long-duration trips far from Earth can get vitamins from leafy vegetables during the flight and also enjoy the reminders of home.
Astronauts will water a series of lettuce seeds and turn on special LED lights Wednesday to begin the next round of vegetable production on the International Space Station. Known as Veggie, the experiment is aimed at validating the plant growth chamber and equipment developed to grow plants in weightlessness. It is the second phase of research performed a year ago that saw lettuce grow in similar conditions. The problem then was that enough water did not reach the growing plants. Working with scientists from Kennedy, where the research team is located, astronauts intervened to water the plants directly and the lettuce recovered, then flourished.
This time, researchers want to see whether modifications to the watering protocols for the water reservoir and “pillows” create and maintain a column of water for the growing plants. Astronauts will still have to water the pillows holding the seeds. In a week, the lettuce plants will be thinned to allow the biggest and strongest more room and resources to get larger. It will take approximately 28 days to complete the experiment, depending on growth. The astronauts will even get to eat half of the crop as they orbit Earth. The other half will be returned to Earth to be studied.
The implications off the Earth and on the Earth could be immense. For future astronauts speeding away from home on missions to deep space and journeys to Mars, fresh-gown vegetables, even in small amounts, can provide valuable nutrients. For farming on Earth, the techniques developed to make plants grow better in space may be used to grow plants more efficiently on our planet with less water and fertilizer and in smaller volumes.
For more details about Veg-01, go here and for more about all the research taking place off the Earth for the Earth and for the Journey to Mars, go to www.nasa.gov.
Processing of the Jason-3 spacecraft at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California continued last week up to the point at which the satellite normally would be fueled. Preparations have been suspended following the SpaceX Falcon 9 mishap that occurred at Cape Canaveral during the liftoff of CRS-7, a cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station.
The Jason-3 spacecraft test team for the French-built satellite will return to France on Tuesday, July 7 until a more definitive launch date for the mission can be determined.
Celebrate Fourth of July with Commercial Crew by coloring our newest coloring sheet. You candownload the sheet, at http://go.nasa.gov/1Hy6H2U. To follow the latest progress on NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, check out the Commercial Crew blog, at blogs.nasa.gov/commercialcrew.
SpaceX has established a recovery hotline and email address for anyone who finds debris from the SpaceX CRS-7 mission. The phone number should be active by 4 p.m. EDT today.
Debris Recovery Hotline: 866-392-0035
Debris Recovery Email: recovery@spaceX.com
Final preparations are in progress for today’s launch of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft delivering more than two tons of research, science, and supplies to the International Space Station. Liftoff is set for 10:21:11 a.m. EDT from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket passed a critical engine test today as preparations remain on track for Sunday’s launch, Hans Koenigsmann of SpaceX told reporters Friday. The static fire test at Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station fired the nine engines for less than a second to confirm that the rocket is ready to lift a Dragon spacecraft loaded with more than two tons of cargo and experiments to the International Space Station.
Liftoff is scheduled for Sunday at 10:21 a.m. EDT. The weather forecast stands at 90 percent chance of acceptable conditions at launch time. For details into all aspects of the mission, read the SpaceX_NASA_CRS-7_PressKit.