commercial space

SpaceX Sends Super Science to Space Station!

SpaceX is scheduled to launch its Dragon spacecraft PACKED with super cool research and technology to the International Space Station June 1 from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. New solar panels, investigations that study neutron stars and even fruit flies are on the cargo list. Let’s take a look at what other bits of science are making their way to the orbiting laboratory 250 miles above the Earth…

New solar panels to test concept for more efficient power source

Solar panels generate power well, but they can be delicate and large when used to power a spacecraft or satellites. This technology demonstration is a solar panel concept that is lighter and stores more compactly for launch than the solar panels currently in use. 

Roll-Out Solar Array (ROSA) has solar cells on a flexible blanket and a framework that rolls out like a tape measure and snap into place, and could be used to power future space vehicles.  

Investigation to Study Composition of Neutron Stars

Neutron stars, the glowing cinders left behind when massive stars explode as supernovas, contain exotic states of matter that are impossible to replicate in any lab. NICER studies the makeup of these stars, and could provide new insight into their nature and super weird behavior.

Neutron stars emit X-ray radiation, enabling the NICER technology to observe and record information about its structure, dynamics and energetics. 

Experiment to Study Effect of New Drug on Bone Loss

When people and animals spend lots of space, they experience bone density loss. In-flight exercise can prevent it from getting worse, but there isn’t a therapy on Earth or in space that can restore bone that is already lost.

The Systemic Therapy of NELL-1 for osteoporosis (Rodent Research-5) investigation tests a new drug that can both rebuild bone and block further bone loss, improving health for crew members.

Research to Understand Cardiovascular Changes

Exposure to reduced gravity environments can result in cardiovascular changes such as fluid shifts, changes in total blood volume, heartbeat and heart rhythm irregularities, and diminished aerobic capacity.

The Fruit Fly Lab-02 study will use the fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster) to better understand the underlying mechanisms responsible for the adverse effects of prolonged exposure to microgravity on the heart. Fruit flies are effective model organisms, and we don’t mean on the fashion runway. Want to see how 1,000 bottles of fruit flies were prepared to go to space? Check THIS out.

Space Life-Support Investigation

Currently, the life-support systems aboard the space station require special equipment to separate liquids and gases. This technology utilizes rotating and moving parts that, if broken or otherwise compromised, could cause contamination aboard the station. 

The Capillary Structures investigation studies a new method of water recycling and carbon dioxide removal using structures designed in specific shapes to manage fluid and gas mixtures. 

Earth-Observation Tools

Orbiting approximately 250 miles above the Earth’s surface, the space station provides pretty amazing views of the Earth. The Multiple User System for Earth Sensing (MUSES) facility hosts Earth-viewing instruments such as high-resolution digital cameras, hyperspectral imagers, and provides precision pointing and other accommodations.

This investigation can produce data that could be used for maritime domain awareness, agricultural awareness, food security, disaster response, air quality, oil and gas exploration and fire detection. 

Watch the launch live HERE! For all things space station science, follow @ISS_Research on Twitter.

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Solar System: 10 Things to Know This Week

Every day, our spacecraft and people are exploring the solar system. Both the public and the private sectors are contributing to the quest. For example, here are ten things happening just this week:

1. We deliver. 

The commercial space company Orbital ATK is targeting Saturday, Nov. 11 for the launch of its Cygnus spacecraft on an Antares rocket from Wallops Flight Facility in Wallops Island, Virginia. Cygnus is launching on a resupply mission to the International Space Station, carrying cargo and scientific experiments to the six people currently living on the microgravity laboratory. 

2. See for yourself. 

Social media users are invited to register to attend another launch in person, this one of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the Dragon spacecraft from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. This launch, currently targeted for no earlier than December, will be the next commercial cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station. The deadline to apply is Nov. 7. Apply HERE.

3. Who doesn’t like to gaze at the Moon?

Our Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) sure does—and from very close range. This robotic spacecraft has been orbiting Earth’s companion since 2009, returning views of the lunar surface that are so sharp they show the footpaths made by Apollo astronauts. Learn more about LRO and the entire history of lunar exploration at NASA’s newly-updated, expanded Moon site:

4. Meanwhile at Mars…

Another sharp-eyed robotic spacecraft has just delivered a fresh batch of equally detailed images. Our Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) surveys the Red Planet’s surface daily, and you can see the very latest pictures of those exotic landscapes HERE. We currently operate five—count ‘em, five—active missions at Mars, with another (the InSight lander) launching next year. Track them all at:

5. Always curious. 

One of those missions is the Curiosity rover. It’s currently climbing a rocky highland dubbed Vera Rubin Ridge, turning its full array of instruments on the intriguing geology there. Using those instruments, Curiosity can see things you and I can’t.

6. A new Dawn. 

Our voyage to the asteroid belt has a new lease on life. The Dawn spacecraft recently received a mission extension to continue exploring the dwarf planet Ceres. This is exciting because minerals containing water are widespread on Ceres, suggesting it may have had a global ocean in the past. What became of that ocean? Could Ceres still have liquid today? Ongoing studies from Dawn could shed light on these questions.

7. There are eyes everywhere. 

When our Mars Pathfinder touched down in 1997, it had five cameras: two on a mast that popped up from the lander, and three on the rover, Sojourner. Since then, photo sensors that were improved by the space program have shrunk in size, increased in quality and are now carried in every cellphone. That same evolution has returned to space. Our Mars 2020 mission will have more “eyes” than any rover before it: a grand total of 23, to create sweeping panoramas, reveal obstacles, study the atmosphere, and assist science instruments.

8. Voyage to a hidden ocean.

One of the most intriguing destinations in the solar system is Jupiter’s moon Europa, which hides a global ocean of liquid water beneath its icy shell. Our Europa Clipper mission sets sail in the 2020s to take a closer look than we’ve ever had before. You can explore Europa, too:

9. Flight of the mockingbird. 

On Nov. 10, the main belt asteroid 19482 Harperlee, named for the legendary author of To Kill a Mockingbird, makes its closest approach to Earth during the asteroid’s orbit around the Sun. Details HERE. Learn more about asteroids HERE. Meanwhile, our OSIRIS-REx mission is now cruising toward another tiny, rocky world called Bennu.

10. What else is up this month? 

For sky watchers, there will be a pre-dawn pairing of Jupiter and Venus, the Moon will shine near some star clusters, and there will be meteor activity all month long. Catch our monthly video blog for stargazers HERE.

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Blue Origin’s New Shepard relaunches for a second suborbital flight.

For the second time in as many months, Blue Origin successfully relaunched their New Shepard booster first flown in November.

The company posted a video to their website yesterday showing the successful January 22 flight, which reached an altitude of 63.2 miles, a mile higher than November’s flight. The flight profile remained the same, here the crew capsule boilerplate was released at apogee and parachuted to the ground.

It also marked the first time their booster has been reused for suborbital flight. Jeff Bezos, Blue Origin’s CEO, stated that refurbishment protocols were straight forward. The crew capsule’s parachutes were repacked, pyrotechnics were reloaded, and general avionics checks were performed on the booster. He also stated that the largest single change was in landing software used by the rocket.

Instead of targeting the direct center of the landing pad, the booster now takes into consideration its relative lateral movement. This way, the rocket isn’t fighting low-level winds or other circumstances that would push the booster off-course. Bezos compares it to a runway aiming for the centerline of a runway, but still landing even if it’s deviated a few feet from it.

The first test of New Shepard was in April, 2015. The flight and crew capsule reached an altitude of 58 miles, however, the booster lost pressure in its hydraulic system, and it crashed upon impact. November 23 saw a second test vehicle reach an altitude of 62.4 miles and successfully landed 11 minutes after launch.

This was the first time a rocket flew above the von Karman line, the internationally-defined boundary between the atmosphere and space, and returned successfully to the Earth. Blue Origin and SpaceX are both developing rockets that can be reused after flight. However, New Shepard is a suborbital rocket while the Falcon 9 is an orbital-class vehicle. Read more about the differences between the two systems here.

anonymous asked:

Allura headcanons please?

  • “have you seen our friend allura?? she’s about this tall and has dark skin… oh but sometimes she’s this tall and has purple skin, or she’s short and has green skin-”
  • in a constant state of (ง •̀_•́)ง
  • that one mean girls scene but with allura
    • “I hear her hair is insured for ten thousand credits” 
    • “I hear she does castle commercials… in space”
    • “one time she almost broke my wrist…….. it was awesome”
  • thinks it’s cute when people think she needs their permission to do things
  • studiously avoids looking at her friends’ ears. it’s. noticeable
  • picked up the habit of stroking her mustache when she’s thinking from coran
    • she doesn’t have a mustache
  • “the alteans are a diplomatic race,” allura says as she blows up twenty enemy ships
  • whenever one of the paladins does something stupid she and shiro share a look like “it’s your turn to deal w them”
  • “princess no” “princess yes

Blue Origin recently revealed the interior of their New Shepard crew capsule which the company hopes to fly next year. New Shepard will carry up to six people on an 11-minute suborbital flight high above Texas.

A computer tablet mounted on the corner of each massive four-foot wide window will provide external and internal camera views, map views, and mission data to each flyer. Each flight will experience around four minutes of weightlessness. The capsule’s interior is sparse, maximising the available space for microgravity acrobatics. 

The entire flight will be monitored by Launch Control on the ground, and there will not be any bulky control equipment. A black table-like structure in the capsule’s center is actually the Launch Escape Motor required in the event of a launch abort.

P/C: Blue Origin

Five Ways the International Space Station’s National Lab Enables Commercial Research

A growing number of commercial partners use the International Space Station National Lab. With that growth, we will see more discoveries in fundamental and applied research that could improve life on the ground.

Space Station astronaut Kate Rubins was the first person to sequence DNA in microgravity.

Since 2011, when we engaged the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) to manage the International Space Station (ISS) National Lab, CASIS has partnered with academic researchers, other government organizations, startups and major commercial companies to take advantage of the unique microgravity lab. Today, more than 50 percent of CASIS’ experiments on the station represent commercial research.

Here’s a look at five ways the ISS National Lab is enabling new opportunities for commercial research in space.

1. Supporting Commercial Life Sciences Research

One of the main areas of focus for us in the early origins of the space station program was life sciences, and it is still a major priority today. Studying the effects of microgravity on astronauts provides insight into human physiology, and how it evolves or erodes in space. CASIS took this knowledge and began robust outreach to the pharmaceutical community, which could now take advantage of the microgravity environment on the ISS National Lab to develop and enhance therapies for patients on Earth. Companies such as Merck, Eli Lilly & Company, and Novartis have sent several experiments to the station, including investigations aimed at studying diseases such as osteoporosis, and examining ways to enhance drug tablets for increased potency to help patients on Earth. These companies are trailblazers for many other life science companies that are looking at how the ISS National Lab can advance their research efforts.

2. Enabling Commercial Investigations in Material and Physical Sciences

Over the past few years, CASIS and the ISS National Lab also have seen a major push toward material and physical sciences research by companies interested in enhancing their products for consumers. Examples range from Proctor and Gamble’s investigation aimed at increasing the longevity of daily household products, to Milliken’s flame-retardant textile investigation to improve protective clothing for individuals in harm’s way, and companies looking to enhance materials for household appliances. Additionally, CASIS has been working with a variety of companies to improve remote sensing capabilities in order to better monitor our oceans, predict harmful algal blooms, and ultimately, to better understand our planet from a vantage point roughly 250 miles above Earth.

3. Supporting Startup Companies Interested in Microgravity Research 

CASIS has funded a variety of investigations with small startup companies (in particular through seed funding and grant funding from partnerships and funded solicitations) to leverage the ISS National Lab for both research and test-validation model experiments. CASIS and The Boeing Company recently partnered with MassChallenge, the largest startup accelerator in the world, to fund three startup companies to conduct microgravity research.

4. Enabling Validation of Low-Earth Orbit Business Models 

The ISS National Lab helps validate low-Earth orbit business models. Companies such as NanoRacks, Space Tango, Made In Space, Techshot, and Controlled Dynamics either have been funded by CASIS or have sent instruments to the ISS National Lab that the research community can use, and that open new channels for inquiry. This has allowed the companies that operate these facilities to validate their business models, while also building for the future beyond station.

5. Demonstrating the Commercial Value of Space-based Research

We have been a key partner in working with CASIS to demonstrate to American businesses the value of conducting research in space. Through outreach events such as our Destination Station, where representatives from the International Space Station Program Science Office and CASIS select cities with several major companies and meet with the companies to discuss how they could benefit from space-based research. Over the past few years, this outreach has proven to be a terrific example of building awareness on the benefits of microgravity research.

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I remember reading a post about aliens being confused by tones and the different meaning a sentence can have when the tones have been changed. Another perfect example of this is that car insurance commercial where on one side the girl got a new car from her dad and on the other a man had his wheels stolen. They each said the exact same thing (including the dad and the guy talking to the man), but emotions and the scene and the tones changed the meaning of those sentences and I can easily see the aliens being completely baffled by this.

I can also see humans just messing with their alien teammates by doing this. Just saying the exact same thing, but changing the tones to make them different and the aliens just plain confused.


Rocket into sub-orbit on Blue Origin’s New Shepard! (December 15, 2017)

It’s a pristine day in west Texas. The desert stretches far to the horizon out the capsule’s windows with the foothills of the Van Horn mountain range in the distance. The typical winter day is broken first by a deep rumble from below  followed an instant later by clouds of smoke and a flash of flame.

That’s the scene inside Blue Origin’s New Shepard crew capsule during launch as seen in new footage from this week’s test. Mannequin Skywalker - the company’s astronaut simulator - is seen rocketing to over 322,000 feet, or 61 miles, strapped in one of the cabin’s six seats.

Within seconds, the receding countryside below gives way to vast swaths of desert. The sky turns from thick and blue to pitch black in a matter of seconds as the vehicle races upwards. New Shepard would reach a maximum ascent velocity of Mach 2.94 during the flight. 

As the single BE-3 engine of the propulsion stage cuts out, the cabin becomes weightless as indicated by straps on the dummy’s chest. Hundreds of miles of the Earth below spread out in all directions from the cabin’s six panoramic windows. Measuring 2.4 by 3.6 feet, they’re the largest ever flown on a space vehicle.

Weightless conditions and breathtaking views continue as the capsule begins its descent to Earth. It’s like the launch but in reverse; the black of space quickly fills with colour as the atmosphere is reentered. Because New Shepard is a suborbital vehicle and doesn’t boost the capsule fast enough to achieve significant atmospheric friction, there is no flaming meteor-in-the-sky or heat shield on the spacecraft. It simply falls through the sky, racing to meet the Earth below which it only just left.

Back in the thicker atmosphere, three drogue parachutes help stabilize the cabin before the larger main canopies are unfurled. These help bring the capsule to a safe, soft landing at just one foot per second a few kilometers from the launch pad.

According to Blue Origin’s founder and CEO, Jeff Bezos, the pinging heard inside the capsule in the video was due to one of the 12 experiments carried on board Mission 7. This was the first New Shepard flight granted a commercial launch license by the FAA, allowing them to carry commercial research payloads on the flight.

Other flight milestones can also be discerned by the subtle audio and visual clues, such as MECO, stage separation, drogue cute deployment and mail parachute deployment.

Read our full story on Mission 7 and the resumption of New Shepard testing by clicking here.

Check out the full video with audio by clicking here or below.

P/C: Blue Origin.

Space Missions Come Together in Colorado

Our leadership hit the road to visit our commercial partners Lockheed Martin, Sierra Nevada Corp. and Ball Aerospace in Colorado. They were able to check the status of flight hardware, mission operations and even test virtual reality simulations that help these companies build spacecraft parts.

Let’s take a look at all the cool technology they got to see…

Lockheed Martin

Lockheed Martin is the prime contractor building our Orion crew vehicle, the only spacecraft designed to take humans into deep space farther than they’ve ever gone before.

Acting NASA Deputy Administrator Lesa Roe and Acting NASA Administrator Robert Lightfoot are seen inside the CHIL…the Collaborative Human Immersive Laboratory at Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Littleton, Colo. Lockheed Martin’s CHIL enables collaboration between spacecraft design and manufacturing teams before physically producing hardware.

Cool shades! The ability to visualize engineering designs in virtual reality offers tremendous savings in time and money compared to using physical prototypes. Technicians can practice how to assemble and install components, the shop floor can validate tooling and work platform designs, and engineers can visualize performance characteristics like thermal, stress and aerodynamics, just like they are looking at the real thing.

This heat shield, which was used as a test article for the Mars Curiosity Rover, will now be used as the flight heat shield for the Mars 2020 rover mission.

Fun fact: Lockheed Martin has built every Mars heat shield and aeroshell for us since the Viking missions in 1976.

Here you can see Lockheed Martin’s Mission Support Area. Engineers in this room support six of our robotic planetary spacecraft: Mars Odyssey, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, MAVEN, Juno, OSIRIS-REx and Spitzer, which recently revealed the first known system of seven Earth-size planets around a single star, TRAPPIST-1. They work with NASA centers and the mission science teams to develop and send commands and monitor the health of the spacecraft.

See all the pictures from the Lockheed Martin visit HERE

Sierra Nevada Corporation

Next, Lightfoot and Roe went to Sierra Nevada Corporation in Louisville, Colo. to get an update about its Dream Chaser vehicle. This spacecraft will take cargo to and from the International Space Station as part of our commercial cargo program.

Here, Sierra Nevada Corporation’s Vice President of Space Exploration Systems Steve Lindsey (who is also a former test pilot and astronaut!) speaks with Lightfoot and Roe about the Dream Chaser Space System simulator.

Lightfoot climbed inside the Dream Chaser simulator where he “flew” the crew version of the spacecraft to a safe landing. This mock-up facility enables approach-and-landing simulations as well as other real-life situations. 

See all the images from the Sierra Nevada visit HERE.

Ball Aerospace

Lightfoot and Roe went over to Ball Aerospace to tour its facility. Ball is another one of our commercial aerospace partners and helps builds instruments that are on NASA spacecraft throughout the universe, including the Hubble Space Telescope and the New Horizons mission to Pluto. Ball designed and built the advanced optical technology and lightweight mirror system that will enable the James Webb Space Telescope to look 13.5 billion years back in time. 

Looking into the clean room at Ball Aerospace’s facility in Boulder, Colo., the team can see the Ozone Mapping Profiler Suite. These sensors are used on spacecraft to track ozone measurements.

Here, the group stands in front of a thermal vacuum chamber used to test satellite optics. The Operation Land Imager-2 is being built for Landsat 9, a collaboration between NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey that will continue the Landsat Program’s 40-year data record monitoring the Earth’s landscapes from space.

See all the pictures from the Ball Aerospace visit HERE

We recently marked a decade since a new era began in commercial spaceflight development for low-Earth orbit transportation. We inked agreements in 2006 to develop rockets and spacecraft capable of carrying cargo such as experiments and supplies to and from the International Space Station. Learn more about commercial space HERE.

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NanoRacks and Boeing team up to develop first commerical airlock for ISS.

To support the growing needs of commercial space companies aboard the International Space Station, NASA has approved a proposal by NanoRacks to develop and construct the laboratory’s first commercial airlock.

NanoRacks is one of the largest commercial space companies that send cubesats - miniature satellites often funded by small companies and academic institutions - to the space station for deployment. They will be working with Boeing to create the airlock, which is slated to arrive at the complex by late 2019.

The airlock would not only deploy cubesats, but would also be able to host commercial external science payloads. Currently, Japan’s Kibo laboratory and Europe’s Columbus module can host externally-mounted science payloads and commercial payloads compete for space. By installing a commercial airlock, both government space agencies and commercial entities would be able to have increased science payloads aboard the space station.

All science payloads on the ISS are determined and managed by CASIS - the  Center for the Advancement of Science in Space. CASIS will employ the same vetting procedures it currently has in place to select commercial payloads for use in this airlock.

The exact placement of the airlock on the ISS has not yet been determined, though NASA said it will attach to an available port on the Tranquility node. Tranquility also has another historic commercial space payload attached to it, the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module, or BEAM, which launched in April 2016.


The National Space Council

October 5 marks the first meeting of the National Space Council since 1993. But what is it and why does it matter? Let us explain by taking a trip back in history…

We’ve teleported back to 1958…President Dwight Eisenhower is in office and the National Aeronautics and Space Council was created with the signing of the Space Act that year. President Eisenhower chaired the first National Aeronautics and Space Council (NASC). That council continued during the Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon Administrations during which we put an American in outer space with John Glenn in 1962 and put humans on the moon starting in 1969. That Council was disbanded in 1973.

In 1989, President George H.W. Bush’s Administration reinstated what was known as the National Space Council, which was designed to help chart national space policy and the roles of multiple federal agencies such as NASA. The Space Council disbanded again in 1993.

On June 30, 2017, President Trump signed an executive order reestablishing the National Space Council – which brings us to today. The current National Space Council will bring a unified national perspective on space policy to the Administration by coordinating the views of the civilian, commercial and national security sectors.

So now that you have a bit of the history…why does this matter?

With the Oct. 5 meeting, titled “Leading the Next Frontier: An Event with the National Space Council,” Vice President Mike Pence will convene this council and have participation from acting NASA Administrator Robert Lightfoot, as well as a number of Trump Administration cabinet members and senior officials, and aerospace industry leaders.

During the council’s first meeting, we will hear from experts who represent various parts of the space industry: Civil Space, Commercial Space and National Security Space.

You can watch the first meeting of the National Space Council starting at 10 a.m. EDT HERE.

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ISS robotic operations, spacewalk, further prepares laboratory for commercial vehicles.

Building on the work completed by spacewalking astronauts March 26, ISS mission controllers robotically relocated Pressurised Mating Adapter 3 to prepare for the arrival of commercial crew spacecraft March 26. 

Using the station’s Canadarm 2, PMA-3 was detached from the Tranquillity module - where it has been located since 2010 - and moved to upper berthing port of the Harmony module. 

A second spacewalk made by Expedition 50 Commander Shane Kimbrough and Flight Engineer Peggy Whitson April 30 connected the adapter’s umbilical cables to the Harmony module completing PMA-3′s installation. Known as EVA-41 in the US’s EVA manifest, it was the 199th spacewalk conducted for ISS assembly and maintenance.

While the astronauts were installing micrometeroid shields to the now-vacant berthing port on Tranquillity, one of the four shields floated away forcing the spacewalking astronauts to use a now-unneeded thermal shield from the PMA.

During this time Whitson became the most experienced female spacewalker, ultimately logging more than 53 hours and 22 minutes outside a spacecraft when the EVA officially ended.

Diagram showing the location of PMA-3 before and after its relocation March 26.

Since 2015 the International Space Station has been undergoing reconfiguring to allow for the impending arrival of two U.S. commercial crew vehicles. May of 2015 saw the relocation of the Permanent Multipurpose Module from the Unity module to Tranquility, freeing up an additional berthing space for commercial cargo vehicles.

A second International Docking Adapter is set to arrive at the orbiting laboratory in 2018 and will be attached to PMA-3. The first docking adapter, IDA-2, is currently attached to PMA-2 also on the Harmony module. The International Docking Adapter acts as an interface between the older APAS-95 docking system installed on the PMA’s and the newer NASA Docking System that future commercial crew vehicles will be outfitted with.

Reconfiguring the US Orbital Segment is the largest external modifications made to the International Space Station since its assembly was completed in 2011.

Below, the configuration of the station’s Harmony module in 2018, showing both Pressurized Mating Adapters and International Docking Adapters. PMA-3 was relocated to the module March 26. IDA-3 is scheduled to arrive at the complex in 2018.