liftoff!

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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NASA Au: Astronaut Stiles, Control room staff Derek.

“I’ll be home soon!” Stiles chuckled into the mic, his hand flipping the last of ARTEMIS’s switches. there are only few minutes left before the liftoff and Derek decided that’s the “going to space” deal is a little dangerous.

“You will be gone for 3 months!” Derek growled into the mic back at Huston control room.

Ugh, stubborn ass, “Well how about a deal?” he suggested.

“A deal?” Derek leaned back to look up at the screen currently showing the astronauts aboard ARTEMIS.

“Yep,” Stiles said while popping the p in his mouth. he reached down to his external pocket and pulled out a little box “Der, can you see this?”

A gasp came from Erica who sat next to him in the control room, Derek looked at her in question while his boyfriend grinned at the camera “yeah. why?”

“Oh god Derek!,” Erica slapped him on the arm “He’s proposing!”

“He what!?” Derek whipped his face back to the screen so fast he must have snapped it off. on the screen the box was now open revealing a golden band and stiles was smiling.

“So here’s the deal,” he closed the box “i go into space, fix that damn Beetle and finish the mission, and in 3 months you will become my husband. how about that?”

“Stiles don’t curse!” Lydia scolded him while pointing at the kids in the audience room.

Oh god. oh god “Oh god”

“Should i take it as a yes?” Stiles snickered with the other astronauts.

“Damn right you should you idiot!”

“Language!” Lydia pointed to the snickering kids.

“You better get your ass back here in one piece” Derek smiled at the screen. his boy- fiance is going to the moon in just a few minutes.

“You betcha“ Stiles grinned as the control room roared into applause and whistles.

Testing Time for the SLS Engine Section

In schools across the country, many students just finished final exams. Now, part of the world’s most powerful rocket, the Space Launch System (SLS), is about to feel the pressure of testing time. The first SLS engine section has been moving slowly upriver from Michoud Assembly Facility near New Orleans, but once the barge Pegasus docks at our Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, the real strength test for the engine section will get started.

The engine section is the first of four of the major parts of the core stage that are being tested to make sure SLS is ready for the challenges of spaceflight.

The engine section is located at the bottom of the rocket. It has a couple of important jobs. It holds the four RS-25 liquid propellant engines, and it serves as one of two attach points for each of the twin solid propellant boosters. This first engine section will be used only for ground testing. 

Of all the major parts of the rocket, the engine section gets perhaps the roughest workout during launch. Millions of pounds of core stage are pushing down, while the engines are pushing up with millions of pounds of thrust, and the boosters are tugging at it from both sides. That’s a lot of stress. Maybe that’s why there’s a saying in the rocket business: “Test like you fly, and fly like you test.”

After it was welded at Michoud, technicians installed the thrust structure, engine supports and other internal equipment and loaded it aboard the Pegasus for shipment to Marshall.

Once used to transport space shuttle external tanks, Pegasus was modified for the longer SLS core stage by removing 115 feet out of the middle of the barge and added a new 165-foot section with a reinforced main deck. Now as long as a football field, Pegasus – with the help of two tugboats – will transport core stage test articles to Marshall Space Flight Center as well as completed core stages to Stennis Space Center in Mississippi for test firing and then to Kennedy Space Center for launch.

The test article has no engines, cabling, or computers, but it will replicate all the structures that will undergo the extreme physical forces of launch. The test article is more than 30 feet tall, and weighs about 70,000 pounds. About 3,200 sensors attached to the test article will measure the stress during 59 separate tests. Flight-like physical forces will be applied through simulators and adaptors standing in for the liquid hydrogen tank and RS-25 engines.

The test fixture that will surround and secure the engine section weighs about 1.5 million pounds and is taller than a 5-story building. Fifty-five big pistons called “load lines” will impart more than 4.5 million pounds of force vertically and more than 428,000 pounds from the side.

The engineers and their computer design tools say the engine section can handle the stress.  It’s the test team’s job prove that it can.

For more information about the powerful SLS rocket, check out: http://nasa.gov/SLS. 

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Find Out Why We’re Blasting this Rocket with Wind

The world’s most powerful rocket – our Space Launch System (SLS) – may experience ground wind gusts of up to 70 mph as it sits on the launch pad before and during lift off for future missions. Understanding how environmental factors affect the rocket will help us maintain a safe and reliable distance away from the launch tower during launch.

How do we even test this? Great question! Our Langley Research Center’s 14x22-Foot Subsonic Wind Tunnel in Hampton, Virginia, is designed to simulate wind conditions. Rather than having to test a full scale rocket, we’re able to use a smaller, to-scale model of the spacecraft.

Wind tunnel tests are a cost effective and efficient way to simulate situations where cross winds and ground winds affect different parts of the rocket. The guidance, navigation, and control team uses the test data as part of their simulations to identify the safety distance between the rocket and the launch tower.  

SLS is designed to evolve as we move crew and cargo farther into the solar system than we have ever been before. The Langley team tested the second more powerful version of the SLS rocket, known as the Block 1B, in both the crew and cargo configuration. 

Take a behind-the-scenes look at the hard work being done to support safe explorations to deep-space…

Below, an engineer simulates ground winds on the rocket during liftoff by using what’s called smoke flow visualization. This technique allows engineers to see how the wind flow behaves as it hits the surface of the launch tower model.

The 6-foot model of the SLS rocket undergoes 140 mph wind speeds in Langley’s 14x22-Foot Subsonic Wind Tunnel. Engineers are simulating ground winds impacting the rocket as it leaves the launch pad.

The cargo version of the rocket is positioned at a 0-degree angle to simulate the transition from liftoff to ascent as the rocket begins accelerating through the atmosphere.

Here, engineers create a scenario where the rocket has lifted off 100 feet in the air past the top of the launch tower. At this point in the mission, SLS is moving at speeds of about 100 mph!

Engineers at Langley collect data throughout the test which is used by the rocket developers at our Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, to analyze and incorporate into the rocket’s design.

Learn more about our Space Launch System rocket HERE

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huffingtonpost.com
We Have Liftoff: Lego Set Honoring Women Of NASA Will Land On A Shelf Near You
The set depicts, from left, computer scientist Margaret Hamilton, mathematician Katherine Johnson, astronaut Sally Ride, astronomer and executive Nancy Grace Roman and astronaut Mae Jemison.

“It’s been a busy week for Katherine Johnson, the NASA mathematician whose story was the center of the critically acclaimed film “Hidden Figures.”

The pioneer presented an award at the Oscars on Sunday alongside the film’s stars. A day later, Lego announced she would be enshrined forever in glossy plastic.

The toy company announced the winner of its semiannual Lego Ideas competition this week: a set honoring five women of NASA. The women are computer scientist Margaret Hamilton, mathematician Katherine Johnson, astronaut Sally Ride, astronomer and executive Nancy Grace Roman and astronaut Mae Jemison.”

Read the full piece here

HAPPY WOMEN’S HISTORY MONTH!!! 

CURRENT MOOD:

Today we successfully tested one of our RS-25 engines, four of which will help power our Space Launch System (SLS) to deep space destinations, like Mars! This 500-second engine test concludes a summer of successful hot fire testing for flight controllers at our Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi.

The controller serves as the “brain” of the engine, communicating with SLS flight computers to ensure engines are performing at needed levels. The test marked another step toward the nation’s return to human deep-space exploration missions.

We launched a series of summer tests with a second flight controller unit hot fire at the end of May, then followed up with three additional tests. The flight controller tests are critical preparation for upcoming SLS flights to deep space– the uncrewed Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1), which will serve as the first flight for the new rocket carrying an uncrewed Orion spacecraft, and EM-2, which will transport a crew of astronauts aboard the Orion spacecraft. 

Each SLS rocket is powered at launch by four RS-25 engines firing simultaneously and working in conjunction with a pair of solid rocket boosters. The engines generate a combined 2 million pounds of thrust at liftoff. With the boosters, total thrust at liftoff will exceed 8 million pounds!

Make sure to follow us on Tumblr for your regular dose of space: http://nasa.tumblr.com.

Science in Space!

What science is headed to the International Space Station with Orbital ATK’s cargo resupply launch? From investigations that study magnetic cell culturing to crystal growth, let’s take a look…

Orbital ATK is targeted to launch its Cygnus spacecraft into orbit on April 18, delivering tons of cargo, supplies and experiments to the crew onboard.

Efficacy and Metabolism of Azonafide Antibody-Drug Conjugates in Microgravity Investigation

In microgravity, cancer cells grow in 3-D. Structures that closely resemble their form in the human body, which allows us to better test the efficacy of a drug. This experiment tests new antibody drug conjugates.

These conjugates combine an immune-activating drug with antibodies and target only cancer cells, which could potentially increase the effectiveness of chemotherapy and potentially reduce the associated side-effects. Results from this investigation could help inform drug design for cancer patients, as well as more insight into how microgravity effects a drug’s performance.

Genes in Space

The Genes in Space-2 experiment aims to understand how the regulation of telomeres (protective caps on the tips of chromosomes) can change during spaceflight. Julian Rubinfien, 16-year-old DNA scientist and now space researcher, is sending his experiment to space as part of this investigation. 

3-D Cell Culturing in Space

Cells cultured in space spontaneously grow in 3-D, as opposed to cells cultured on Earth which grow in 2-D, resulting in characteristics more representative of how cells grow and function in living organisms. The Magnetic 3-D Cell Culture for Biological Research in Microgravity investigation will test magnetized cells and tools that may make it easier to handle cells and cell cultures.

This could help investigators improve the ability to reproduce similar investigations on Earth.

SUBSA

The Solidification Using a Baffle in Sealed Ampoules (SUBSA) investigation was originally operated successfully aboard the space station in 2002. 

Although it has been updated with modernized software, data acquisition, high definition video and communications interfaces, its objective remains the same: advance our understanding of the processes involved in semiconductor crystal growth. 

Space Debris

Out-of-function satellites, spent rocket stages and other debris frequently reenter Earth’s atmosphere, where most of it breaks up and disintegrates before hitting the ground. However, some larger objects can survive. The Thermal Protection Material Flight Test and Reentry Data Collection (RED-Data2) investigation will study a new type of recording device that rides alongside of a spacecraft reentering the Earth’s atmosphere. Along the way, it will record data about the extreme conditions it encounters, something scientists have been unable to test on a large scale thus afar.

Understanding what happens to a spacecraft as it reenters the atmosphere could lead to increased accuracy of spacecraft breakup predictions, an improved design of future spacecraft and the development of materials that can resist the extreme heat and pressure of returning to Earth. 

IceCube CubeSat

IceCube, a small satellite known as a CubeSat, will measure cloud ice using an 883-Gigahertz radiometer. Used to predict weather and climate models, IceCube will collect the first global map of cloud-induced radiances. 

The key objective for this investigation is to raise the technology readiness level, a NASA assessment that measures a technology’s maturity level.

Advanced Plant Habitat

Joining the space station’s growing list of facilities is the Advanced Plant Habitat, a fully enclosed, environmentally controlled plant habitat used to conduct plant bioscience research. This habitat integrates proven microgravity plant growth processes with newly-developed technologies to increase overall efficiency and reliability. 

The ability to cultivate plants for food and oxygen generation aboard the space station is a key step in the planning of longer-duration, deep space missions where frequent resupply missions may not be a possibility.

Watch Launch!

Orbital ATK and United Launch Alliance (ULA) are targeting Tuesday, April 18 for launch of the Cygnus cargo spacecraft to the International Space Station. Liftoff is currently slated for 11 a.m. EST.

Watch live HERE.

You can also watch the launch live in 360! This will be the world’s first live 360-degree stream of a rocket launch. Watch the 360 stream HERE.

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It’s Launch Day! 

Final preparations are underway for today’s 5:55 p.m. EDT launch of the eleventh SpaceX cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station  from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The SpaceX Dragon spacecraft will liftoff into orbit atop the Falcon 9 rocket carrying about 6,000 pounds of crew supplies, equipment and scientific research to crewmembers living aboard the station. The flight will deliver investigations and facilities that study neutron stars, osteoporosis, solar panels, tools for Earth-observation, and more.

Watch live coverage starting today at 5:15pm ET at http://www.nasa.gov/live

Learn more about the mission and launch at http://www.nasa.gov/spacex

Image credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

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“The Cassini interplanetary mission to Saturn and its moon, Titan, is successfully carried into space by a Lockheed Martin Titan IVB launch vehicle at 4:43 A.M. EDT from complex 40, 10/15/1997″

Series: Combined Military Service Digital Photographic Files, 1982 - 2007Record Group 330: Records of the Office of the Secretary of Defense, 1921 - 2008

Now at the end of its mission, @nasa​‘s Cassini probe was launched into space nearly 20 years ago, on October 15, 1997 from Cape Canaveral’s Space Launch Complex 40.