Mission Control Gives All Clear of Debris; Crew Resuming Normal Operations

International Space Station
The International Space Station is featured in this image photographed by an STS-132 crew member on space shuttle Atlantis.

The crew of the International Space Station is resuming normal operations after getting an all clear from Mission Control following a close pass by space debris this morning at 7:01 a.m. CDT. All station systems are operating normally and the crew will move out of the Soyuz spacecraft in which they stayed during the debris pass. They will reconfigure the station for normal operations and then continue their research work during the day. This was the fourth time in the history of station operations that the crew has moved to the Soyuz due to a potential close pass of debris. This debris was from an old Russian weather satellite.

Station Crew Takes Precautions for Close Pass of Space Debris

International Space Station
The International Space Station was photographed by an STS-132 crew member on space shuttle Atlantis.

The crew of the International Space Station has moved into the Soyuz vehicle docked to the station as a precaution due to an anticipated close approach of a piece of space debris to the orbiting complex. The debris is expected to pass closest to the station at about 7:01 a.m. CDT July 16, 2015. The crew will remain in the Soyuz until given an all clear by Mission Control. All station systems are currently operating normally. NASA TV will broadcast station operations live beginning at 6:45 a.m. CDT and continuing through resolution of this event. Watch NASA TV now.

Crew Busy with Advanced Science During Historical Week

Expedition 44 trio
(From left) Expedition 44 crew members Scott Kelly, Gennady Padalka and Mikhail Kornienko team up inside the Destiny laboratory. Credit: NASA

The three Expedition 44 crew members commemorated today the July 15, 1975, launch of the Apollo and Soyuz spaceships that would dock two days later. The day before, the crew celebrated the successful Pluto flyby of the New Horizons spacecraft.

Then it was back to work as the station residents continued space research and orbital maintenance inside the International Space Station. One-Year crew member Scott Kelly explored the benefits of shorter, more impactful exercise routines for the Sprint study then tended to plants being grown for the VEG-01 experiment.

Commander Gennady Padalka and One-Year crew member Mikhail Kornienko started their day on electronics work. Kornienko then moved on to cargo transfers and inventory updates before working on the Vizir photography study exploring new Earth observation techniques. Padalka wrapped up his day with more Russian maintenance.

In Kazakhstan, three new Expedition 44 crew members are counting down to their July 22 launch to the station inside the Soyuz TMA-17M spacecraft. At the Baikonur Cosmodrome engineers are inspecting the Soyuz spacecraft before its roll out to the launch pad next week.

Soyuz TMA-17M spacecraft
The Soyuz TMA-17M spacecraft is being readied at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan before its roll out to the launch pad next week. Credit: RSC Energia

Station Crew Congratulates Pluto Team after Flyby

Astronaut Scott Kelly
Astronaut Scott Kelly recognizes the Pluto flyby of the New Horizons spacecraft.

As the Expedition 44 crew orbited above the Earth at 17,500 miles per hour the New Horizons spacecraft flew by Pluto this morning at more than 30,000 mph. New Horizons’ closest approach was about 7,750 miles above the dwarf planet’s surface after a nine-year trip. The International Space Station has been orbiting at an average altitude of about 250 miles since November 1998. Watch the video as NASA astronaut Scott Kelly recognizes the historical accomplishment.

Kelly talked to the Weather Channel and CNN International about his One-Year mission and today’s Pluto flyby. Kelly also checked out life support systems and deployed radiation detectors inside the station for the Radi-N experiment.

The two cosmonauts, Commander Gennady Padalka and One-Year crew member Mikhail Kornienko, worked on a variety of Russian science experiments Tuesday. The duo explored cell cultivation, radiation exposure, crew performance measures and vibrations the space station experiences during internal and external operations.

Another crew is in Kazakhstan counting down to their July 22 launch on the Soyuz TMA-17M spacecraft to join Expedition 44. First time flyers NASA astronaut Kjell Lindgren and JAXA astronaut Kimiya Yui will join Soyuz Commander and veteran cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko for the six-hour ride to their new home in space.

New Crew at Launch Site, Cubesat Deployments Begin

Expedition 44 crew members
jsc2015e071473 — Expedition 44 crew members Kjell Lindgren , Oleg Kononenko and Kimiya Yui pose with their Sokol launch and entry suits July 11 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Credit: Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center

A new trio of space station crew members arrived at the Baikonur Cosmodrome on Friday to complete mission preparations. In space, the orbital residents began a series of Cubesat deployments.

The Expedition 44/45 crew comprised of Soyuz Commander Oleg Kononenko and Flight Engineers Kjell Lindgren and Kimiya Yui are wrapping up preflight training in Kazakhstan. They will launch July 22 aboard the Soyuz TMA-17M spacecraft for a six-hour ride to the International Space Station.

On board the International Space Station, One-Year crew member Scott Kelly set up the Japanese Kibo airlock for Cubesat deployments this week. Kelly also explored fluid physics for the Capillary Beverage study. Cosmonauts Gennady Padalka and Mikhail Kornienko studied liquid crystals and observed chemical reactions in the Earth’s upper atmosphere.

ISS R&D Conference 2015 – July 9

NASA astronauts Suni Williams (left) and Karen Nyberg (right) give a keynote talk on the final day of the 2015 ISS R&D Conference in Boston
NASA astronauts Suni Williams (left) and Karen Nyberg (right) give a keynote talk on the final day of the 2015 ISS R&D Conference in Boston

The final day of the 2015 International Space Station (ISS) Research and Development conference closed the event with multiple talks looking at exploration beyond low-Earth orbit (LEO) and novel ways the space station is affecting life on Earth.

Panel sessions began with a talk about the commercial capabilities and technologies that will be needed—together with international collaboration and new relationships between government, constituents such as international consortia, and industry partners—in order to successfully address the challenges and promise of deep space exploration. NASA Deputy Administrator Dava Newman, along with NASA’s Chief Scientist Ellen Stofan and Chief Technologist David Miller, presented as the group explored key questions associated with international and commercial partnerships in support of exploration beyond LEO.

Additional panels included discussions about materials science testing and manufacturing in space, how the ISS National Lab is influencing students and educators in the area of science, technology, education, and mathematics (STEM), and the challenges for the journey to Mars —getting there (and back) and developing the technology necessary to keep human astronauts alive, thriving, and productive for the 1,000 days such a mission will require.

A series of technical breakout sessions also took place, focusing on space biology tools, cell and microbiology in space, materials manufacturing and function in space, STEM programs and processes and concepts for the future.

Astronauts Karen Nyberg and Suni Williams also provided a keynote address to conference participants. Using their experiences and stories from living aboard the orbiting laboratory, they shared three life lessons: get to the starting line and make yourself available for these kinds of opportunities, don’t forget the basics that you learned in kindergarten, and stop and enjoy the journey along the way. Williams was announced today as one of four U.S. astronauts who will be the first to train to fly on American commercial crew vehicles.

The conference is bringing together leaders from industry, academia, and government for three days of detailed presentations and discussions about innovations and breakthroughs in microgravity research, life sciences, materials development technology development, human health and remote sensing.

For more information about the annual ISS R&D Conference, visit the conference website: http://www.issconference.org, or watch a livestream of the conference at http://www.issconference.org/livestream.php

Crew Heads to Launch Site Friday, First Commercial Crew Announced

Expedition 44/45 Crew Members
At the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, Russia, Expedition 44/45 crew members (from left) Kjell Lindgren of NASA; Oleg Kononenko of the Russian Federal Space Agency; and Kimiya Yui of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency pose for pictures following a news conference July 8. Credit: NASA/Seth Marcantel

The International Space Station will get an orbital boost tonight to get ready for upcoming Soyuz crew missions. On the ground, three new crew members are preparing for their Friday departure to the launch site at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

The orbiting Expedition 44 trio, with Commander Gennady Padalka and One-Year crew members Scott Kelly and Mikhail Kornienko, is looking forward to expanding to three new crew members. Soyuz Commander Oleg Kononenko and Flight Engineers Kjell Lindgren and Kimiya Yui will take a six-hour ride July 22 in the Soyuz TMA-17M spacecraft for a five month stay in space.

On the station, Kelly is getting Japan’s Kibo airlock ready for next week’s deployment of 16 Cubesats over four days. Kornienko continued moving supplies from the new ISS Progress 60 space freighter. Padalka worked on the Vozdukh, a Russian carbon dioxide removal system, the Zvezda service module. All the crew members then practiced emergency evacuation procedures.

NASA announced today that four astronauts have been selected to train on commercial crew vehicles. Veteran astronauts Robert Behnken, Sunita Williams, Eric Boe and Douglas Hurley are now training for a commercial crew launch in 2017 as part of NASA’s journey to Mars.

Commercial Crew Astronauts
The first astronauts selected to train to fly to space on commercial crew carriers are (from left) Bob Behnken, Eric Boe, Doug Hurley and Sunita Williams

ISS R&D Conference 2015 – July 8

ISS R&D 2015

The second full day of the 2015 International Space Station (ISS) Research and Development conference was dominated by panels and technical sessions featuring the leading minds in scientific research from the commercial and academic ISS communities.

Panel sessions were led by a look at what the ISS Program is doing to maximize use of the ISS as a world renowned laboratory in space enabling discoveries in science and technology that benefit life on Earth and exploration of the universe. It featured multiple NASA ISS managers discussing many efforts underway to update and upgrade ISS facilities and processes to improve how the ISS Program provides timely, efficient, customer friendly and cost effective access to the low-Earth orbit microgravity environment for both existing and new users.

Additional panels included discussions about leveraging the station to enable the commercialization of low-Earth orbit, the role of microgravity in ongoing stem cell research, new capabilities in commercial remote sensing from space, and the impact of space science on precision medicine.

A series of technical breakout sessions also took place, focusing on science in areas including drug discovery and delivery, plants and omics in space, the development of commercial capabilities and services, crew research and performance and technology developments on ISS.

The conference is bringing together leaders from industry, academia, and government for three days of detailed presentations and discussions about innovations and breakthroughs in microgravity research, life sciences, materials development technology development, human health and remote sensing.

For more information about the annual ISS R&D Conference, visit the conference website: http://www.issconference.org, or watch a livestream of the conference at http://www.issconference.org/livestream.php

Botany Science, Cargo Work on Orbit

Northern Australia
The brilliant blues and rugged cliffs along the waters edge of northern Australia.

The Expedition 44 trio continued more science Wednesday looking at plants, fluids and other ongoing advanced space research. Back on Earth, another crew is getting ready for its July 22 launch to the International Space Station.

One-Year crew member Scott Kelly worked throughout the day on botany science preparing samples collected for the Plant Gravity Sensing 2 study and installing gear for the Veggie-01 experiment. Kelly then moved on to the Capillary Beverage experiment which uses specially designed Space Cups that use fluid dynamics to mimic the effect of gravity. Results of this experiment will in turn be used to design advanced fluid systems for spacecraft with significantly increased reliability

Kelly’s One-Year crew partner Mikhail Kornienko worked on Russian life support maintenance and transferred cargo from the new ISS Progress 60 resupply ship. Station Commander Gennady Padalka spent the majority of his day collecting and photographing samples swabbed for the Aseptik hardware sterilization study.

Meanwhile in Russia three new crew members conducted a news conference, toured the Gagarin Museum and laid flowers at the statue of Yuri Gagarin ahead of their Friday departure to the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. From there they will launch July 22 at 5:02 p.m. EDT aboard a Soyuz TMA-17M spacecraft for a six-hour ride to their new home in orbit.

ISS R&D Conference 2015 – July 7

ISS R&D 2015

The 2015 International Space Station R&D Conference officially kicked off in Boston today with researchers gathering to learn about the incredible breadth of research and technology development on humankind’s most innovative learning platform.

The day began with opening remarks from Mike Suffredini, NASA’s ISS Program Manager, followed immediately by his conversation with keynote speaker, Elon Musk, the CEO and Lead Designer of commercial space company SpaceX.

Panels for the day began with a talk on the role of the ISS as a “first step” away from our home planet on the path of human exploration that featured William Gerstenmaier, NASA Associate Administrator, Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate. Additional panels on Tuesday covered the benefits of microgravity for protein crystal growth in order to grow larger, more well-ordered crystals for pharmaceutical research, the capital investments and grants fueling the growth of “New Space” businesses and more.

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker announced the winners of the Galactic Grant Competition, a collaboration between the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) and the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center. It has been established to provide access to a unique zero-gravity environment, that’s only available on the International Space Station lab, to Massachusetts based life sciences companies.

Awards were also presented to three investigations that were recognized for significant scientific results:

  • Joel Plawsky, Sc.D., and Peter C. Wayner Jr., Ph.D., both of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York, in recognition of work on the physics of evaporation and condensation in microgravity.
  • Robert J. Ferl, Ph.D., and Anna-Lisa Paul, Ph.D., both of the University of Florida in Gainesville, for their work using a plant as a real-time biosensor to determine the quality of the surrounding environment.
  • Daniela Grimm of Aarhus, Denmark, in recognition of her findings while growing thyroid cancer cells in orbit to determine new courses of treatment.

The conference is bringing together leaders from industry, academia, and government for three days of detailed presentations and discussions about innovations and breakthroughs in microgravity research, life sciences, materials development technology development, human health and remote sensing.

For more information on the annual ISS R&D Conference, visit the conference website: http://www.issconference.org, or watch a livestream of the conference at http://www.issconference.org/livestream.php