Unscheduled Spacewalk Likely on Monday

STS-119 Spacewalk March 2009
NASA Astronaut Joe Acaba, in the broken red striped spacesuit, and Astronaut Ricky Arnold, in the white striped suit, work to relocate Crew and Equipment Translation Aid (CETA) near the Mobile Transporter (MT) during an STS-119 spacewalk in March 2009.

The International Space Station’s mission managers are preparing for a likely unplanned spacewalk by Astronauts Scott Kelly and Tim Kopra no earlier than Monday, Dec. 21.

Late Wednesday, the Mobile Transporter rail car on the station’s truss was being moved by robotic flight controllers at Mission Control, Houston, to a different worksite near the center of the truss for payload operations when it stopped moving. The cause of the stall is being evaluated, but experts believe it may be related to a stuck brake handle, said ISS Mission Integration and Operations Manager Kenny Todd. Flight controllers had planned to move the transporter away from the center of the truss to worksite 2. The cause of the stall that halted its movement just four inches (10 centimeters) away from where it began is still being evaluated. Progress 62 is scheduled to launch at 3:44 a.m. EST Monday, and dock on Wednesday to the Pirs docking compartment at 5:31 a.m. Wednesday.

The ISS Mission Management Team met Friday morning and is targeting Monday for the spacewalk, but will meet again in a readiness review Sunday morning. Managers could elect to press ahead for Monday, or take an extra day and conduct the spacewalk Tuesday.

ISS Expedition 46 Commander Scott Kelly and Flight Engineer Tim Kopra of NASA will conduct the spacewalk. It will be the 191st spacewalk in support of space station assembly and maintenance, the third in Kelly’s career and the second for Kopra. Kelly will be designated Extravehicular Activity crew member 1 (EV1) wearing the suit bearing the red stripes, and Kopra will be Extravehicular Activity crew member 2 (EV2) wearing the suit with no stripes.

A start time for the spacewalk either Monday or Tuesday has not yet been set, but NASA TV coverage will begin 90 minutes prior to the start of the spacewalk.


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

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

Happy New Year 16 Times on Space Station

Terry Virts (@AstroTerry) tweets: Unwrapping an early Christmas gift last week. @AstroRobonaut is my favorite action figure. #SpaceVine

The Expedition 42 crew orbiting Earth on the International Space Station gets the opportunity to celebrate New Year’s Eve a whopping 16 times as it circles the globe at 17,500 miles an hour.

Commander Barry “Butch” Wilmore and his crew, which includes NASA’s Terry Virts, Russian cosmonauts Elena Serova, Alexander Samoukutyaev and Anton Shkaplerov, and European Space Agency astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti, say they plan to celebrate with fruit juice toasts. The year 2015 starts officially for the station crew at 7 p.m. EST Jan. 31, which is midnight by the Universal Time Clock (UTC), also known as Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), in London. The crew is scheduled to be in its sleep shift, but may elect to stay up late since it has a day off planned for New Year’s Day.

Watch the Happy New Year message

The crew spent New Year’s Eve day working on a variety of experiments, ranging from those directed at better understanding changes that occur in the human eye during long-duration spaceflights, and with Earth observations aimed at helping with disaster aid on the Earth’s surface.

Read more about the Ocular Health experiment

Read more about the ISS SERVIR Environmental Research and Visualization System (ISERV)

The crew also continued preparations for the arrival of the next cargo supply ship, the commercial resupply mission of SpaceX-5 and the Dragon spacecraft. Launch of Dragon on a Space-X Falcon 9 booster is planned for 6:20 a.m. EST Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2015. NASA Television launch coverage begins at 5 a.m.

Dragon will rendezvous with the space station Thursday, Jan. 8, and Wilmore will use the 58-foot robotic arm to grab the Dragon by its tail and berth if to the station. Grapple is expected about 6 a.m. NASA Television coverage of the grapple starts at 4:30 a.m. Thursday, and installation coverage will begin at 8:15 a.m. Dragon is loaded with more than 3,700 pounds of scientific experiments, technology demonstrations and supplies, including critical materials to support 256 science and research investigations that will take place on the space station during ISS Expeditions 42 and 43.

A series of briefings outlining Dragon’s mission and the scientific research it will be carrying is planned Monday, Jan. 5.

Read full schedule of SpaceX-5 and ISS Research briefings

Watch Terry Virts’ #SpaceVine of Robonaut:

Communicating the Benefits of Space, Science and Technology


From the earliest days of civilization, humans have always used art as a way to communicate, commemorate, and challenge. As civilization has evolved so has the sophistication of visual arts. From crude drawings on stone and primitive paper, to the masterpieces of the Renaissance, the magic of moving pictures and television, and now video recording capabilities that are unmatched.

The beauty of art is that it connects with the viewer in a way that the written word can’t. A single motion, a paint stroke, a symbol can embody an event, a generation, even an entire period of history. So as civilization currently sits on the cutting edge of technology development, how can humans use art to communicate this progress?

The Humans In Space Art Video challenge was designed to give college students and early career professionals an opportunity to answer this question. The video challenge invites students to submit a video no longer than 3 minutes that answers the question, how will space, science and technology benefit humanity? Video entries can incorporate all forms of creative communication (e.g. visual, musical, animation and dance). Entries must be submitted online by November 15, 2014.

The video challenge is an outreach effort sponsored by CASIS, NASA’s International Space Station Program and the Humans in Space Art program. The International Space Station (ISS) is one of humankind’s greatest engineering feats and embodies the technological advancement and innovation of human civilization. The ISS inspired this year’s contest theme and the challenge allows contestants to creatively capture their thoughts about how current/future research and technology development will benefit and advance humanity.

Currently, humans are living and working on the ISS. Thousands of hours have been dedicated to space research on the International Space Station with the purpose of gaining necessary insight for future space exploration initiatives as well as providing solutions and insights into Earth-based challenges.

CASIS, the nonprofit organization that manages the U.S. National Laboratory on the ISS, has arranged for the first place winner of the video challenge to receive a monetary award and as a grand prize, the winning video will also take a trip into orbit on the space station!

To learn more about the video challenge, visit: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/humansinspaceart/challenge/


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