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Posts tagged ‘International Space Station (ISS)’

Russian supply ship launched to International Space Station

February 22, 2017

MOSCOW (AP) — An unmanned Russian cargo ship lifted off successfully Wednesday on a supply mission to the International Space Station. A Soyuz-U booster rocket carrying the Progress MS-05 spacecraft blasted off as scheduled at 11:58 a.m. (0558 GMT) from the Russian-leased Baikonur launch complex in Kazakhstan.

The mission follows the Dec. 1 botched launch of the previous Progress ship, which crashed less than seven minutes after liftoff, spraying fiery debris over a sparsely populated area in southern Siberia near the border with Mongolia.

An official Russian investigation concluded that the failed launch was caused by a manufacturing flaw in the Soyuz booster’s third-stage engine. Prior to Wednesday’s launch, space officials ran rigorous checks of the engines already built and conducted a comprehensive scrutiny of manufacturing facilities.

The launch went ahead without a hitch and the spacecraft entered a designated preliminary orbit en route to the space outpost. It’s set to dock at the station Friday. A Dragon supply ship launched Sunday by SpaceX is also set to arrive at the station this week. NASA said the Dragon spacecraft has waved off Wednesday’s docking, adding that the Mission Control Center in Houston is evaluating the next attempt for rendezvous.

The station is currently inhabited by NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Peggy Whitson, Andrei Borisenko, Sergei Ryzhikov and Oleg Novitskiy of Russia, and French astronaut Thomas Pesquet.

Space station receives oldest female astronaut, bit of Mars

November 20, 2016

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — The International Space Station gained three new residents Saturday, including the oldest and most experienced woman to orbit the world. A bit of Mars also arrived, courtesy of a Frenchman who brought along a small piece of a Mars meteorite.

Launched Thursday from Kazakhstan, the Russian Soyuz capsule docked at the 250-mile-high outpost just an hour or two before NASA launched a weather satellite from Florida. The Soyuz delivered NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson, French astronaut Thomas Pesquet and Russian cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy. They joined three men already on board, one American and two Russians.

This is the third space station mission for Whitson, who at 56 is older than each of her crewmates. She already holds the record for most time in space for a woman: nearly 400 days during her various missions. By the time she returns next spring, she should break the record for any American, man or woman.

“We could not be more proud,” NASA Administrator Charles Bolden told Whitson once she entered the space station. He joined the new crew’s family and friends at Russia’s Mission Control outside Moscow to welcome the newcomers on board.

“I’m really happy to be here,” Whitson replied. A biochemist by training, Whitson will celebrate her 57th birthday at the orbiting lab in February. Until Thursday, no woman older than 55 had flown in space.

Pesquet, meanwhile, is making his first spaceflight and Novitskiy his second. Before rocketing away, Pesquet told reporters he was taking up a piece of a Mars meteorite to illustrate the necessary union between human and robotic explorers. He intends to bring the stone back with him to Earth in six months. It then will launch aboard a Mars rover and return to its home planet.

“So it’s going to be the most experienced space traveler there is in the world,” Pesquet said Wednesday at the Baikonur Cosmodrome. “The idea is to show that space exploration is just the whole … we’re not competing against robotic exploration, we’re all working together. What we do on the (space station) is just one step on that road to exploration.”

Sunday marks the 18th anniversary of the launch of the first space station piece. It’s now as big as a football field, with a mass of 1 million pounds and eight miles of electrical wiring. Whitson and company represent its 50th full-time expedition.

“So we can celebrate the station’s birthday today,” said Sergei Krikalev, a cosmonaut-turned-space official who spoke from the Russian control center. “Good luck.”

Soyuz space capsule returns to Earth from 115-day mission

October 30, 2016

MOSCOW (AP) — A Russian Soyuz space capsule has landed in Kazakhstan, bringing three astronauts from the United States, Japan and Russia back to Earth from a 115-day mission aboard the International Space Station.

The landing took place Sunday morning near Dzhezkazgan on the treeless Central Asian steppes. Kate Rubins of NASA, Japan’s Takuya Onishi and Anatoly Ivanishin of Russia were removed from the capsule and sat on the steppes still in their capsule seats while they readjusted to the forces of gravity after nearly four months in weightless conditions, then were taken to a nearby medical tent for initial examination.

Andrei Borisenko and Sergey Ryzhykov of Russia and NASA astronaut Robert Shane Kimbrough remain aboard the space station. They arrived on Oct. 22 after a two-day voyage. The trip back to Earth was much quicker for the three returnees on Sunday, about 3 1/2 hours from undocking until landing.

The capsule landed as scheduled and was closely tracked by helicopters as it wafted through partly cloudy skies under a parachute marked in red and white concentric circles. The craft landed upright, which made the extraction of the astronauts quicker than when capsules land on their sides.

Japan Schedules Cargo Transporter Launch to ISS for December 9

Tokyo (Sputnik)

Oct 10, 2016

Japanese cargo spaceship KOUNOTORI6 is set to be launched to the International Space Station (ISS) on December 9, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency said Friday.

KOUNOTORI is an unmanned cargo transporter which will be launched with the H-IIB launch vehicle from Tanegashima Space Center.

It is designed to deliver up to 6 tons of food and clothes among other supplies.

Takuya Onishi, a Japanese astronaut who is currently at the ISS, is about to return to Earth at the end of October. He will be replaced by the Norishige Kanai in 2017.

Source: Space Daily.

Link: http://www.spacedaily.com/reports/Japan_Schedules_Cargo_Transporter_Launch_to_ISS_for_December_9_999.html.

Happy landings: 3 space station crew members back on Earth

September 07, 2016

After watching more than 2,750 sunrises from above the Earth, three crew members of the International Space Station returned to the planet for a sparkling sunrise back on Earth Wednesday. A record-setting American astronaut and his two Russian colleagues felt the sun beat down on them on a cloudless morning after a six-month trek in orbit.

NASA’s Jeff Williams returned as the U.S. record holder for time in orbit, logging 534 days in space over four missions. Williams, Alexey Ovchinin and Oleg Skripochka logged 72.8 million miles in space, circling the globe 2,752 times before landing on target in the south central steppes of Kazakhstan just 23 minutes after sunrise Wednesday, 7:13 a.m. local time (1:13 a.m. GMT).

Stretched out in chairs placed in the brown wild grass, the three flyers were all smiles, giving thumbs up, chatting on cell phones. They were promptly pulled out of the Russian Soyuz capsule, which landed on its side, which is not unusual. Williams wore a black baseball cap while seated outside and talking on the phone. Ovchinin clutched a stuffed doll his daughter gave him as a mascot that went into space with him.

They were then carried to a medical tent for routine tests to see how they adjust to gravity, including checking to see how they could stand. The trio undocked from the space station nearly three and a half hours before touchdown in hazy sunshine with a comfortable welcome home temperature around 66 degrees (19 degrees Celsius) about 90 miles (145 kilometers) southeast of Zhezkazgan in Kazakhstan. They landed thanks to a large orange and white parachute and last second engine firings. NASA spokesman Dan Huot called it a “picturesque landing” on a picture-perfect day.

The three conducted experiments aboard the space station. Williams set the U.S. record last month for most time spent in space. He beat the previous record set by Scott Kelly during his year in orbit. The capsule contained air samples returned from the first inflatable module deployed in orbit.

The world record is held by Russian Gennady Padalka at 879 days in space. Thirteen Russians have more time in space than Williams. “Everything went very smoothly, very normally,” NASA spokesman Rob Navias said.

US astronauts complete spacewalk for ISS maintenance

Washington (AFP)

Sept 1, 2016

Two US astronauts aboard the International Space Station successfully completed a spacewalk Thursday to make repairs and install new equipment.

“NASA astronauts completed all planned tasks + a few extra,” the US space agency said on Twitter.

Americans Jeff Williams, 58, and Kate Rubins, 37, completed their mission at 1841 GMT after six hours and 48 minutes in space.

It was their first time in space in nearly two weeks. At that time, they attached an international docking adapter in anticipation of increased private spaceship traffic.

This time, Williams and Rubins retracted one of the thermal radiators outside the space station. Astronauts unsuccessfully tried to push it back into position last year.

They also “installed two enhanced high definition cameras on the station’s truss and tightened bolts on a joint that enables one of the station’s solar arrays to rotate,” NASA said.

The cameras will be used to monitor spaceships transporting freight and astronauts.

The mission was the 195th spacewalk undertaken to build and maintain the ISS.

It was the fifth spacewalk for Williams, a veteran astronaut who on August 19 surpassed US astronaut Scott Kelly’s record for the most cumulative days in space for an American.

Kelly has 520 days in space over his career.

Williams will have 534 days in space by the time he wraps up his stint at the ISS and returns to Earth next week.

It was the second spacewalk for Rubins. She is the 12th woman to walk in space.

In their August 19 spacewalk, Williams and Rubins installed a special parking spot on the ISS and connected power and data cables for the docking adapter.

The fittings will enable the space station to share power and data with visiting spaceships.

NASA describes the docking adapter as a “metaphorical gateway to a future” that will allow a new generation of US spacecraft — the first since the space shuttle program ended in 2011 — to carry astronauts to the space station.

The second docking adapter is expected to be launched in late 2017.

The adapters will work with Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX’s Crew Dragon, two spaceships under construction that are planned to ferry astronauts to the space station.

Source: Space Daily.

Link: http://www.spacedaily.com/reports/US_astronauts_complete_spacewalk_for_ISS_maintenance_999.html.

US astronauts prepare spacewalk to install new docking port

By Kerry Sheridan

Miami (AFP)

Aug 19, 2016

With more private spaceship traffic expected at the International Space Station in the coming years, two US astronauts are set to embark on a spacewalk Friday to install a special parking spot for them.

Americans Jeff Williams and Kate Rubins will step outside the orbiting laboratory to attach an international docking adapter launched aboard a SpaceX Dragon cargo ship last month.

NASA describes the equipment as “a metaphorical gateway to a future” that will allow a new generation of US spacecraft — the first since the space shuttle program ended in 2011 — to carry astronauts to the space station.

The docking adapter will be the first of two such additions to the space station. The second is expected to be shipped in 2018.

ISS operations integration manager Kenneth Todd called the installation a “very significant milestone on the path to establishing commercial crew capability.”

Built by Boeing, the circular adapter measures around 42 inches (one meter) tall and about 63 inches (1.6 meters) wide.

The adapters will work with Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX’s Crew Dragon, two spaceships under construction that are planned to ferry astronauts to the space station.

The docking adapter is more sophisticated than past equipment because it will allow automatic parking instead of the current grapple and berthing process managed by astronauts.

It also has fittings that will enable the space station to share power and data with the spacecraft.

– Early morning start –

The spacewalk is set to start at 8:05 am (1205 GMT) with veteran NASA astronaut Williams emerging from the space station airlock on his fourth career spacewalk.

Flight engineer Rubins will be making her first venture outside the ISS.

But the work will be hardly brand new for her. She has already practiced the necessary maneuvers, including mating the cables, in NASA’s neutral buoyancy laboratory in Houston.

A series of spacewalks last year have helped prepare the groundwork for the adapter’s arrival.

The space station’s robotic arm pulled the docking adapter from the trunk of the SpaceX Dragon cargo ship on Wednesday, placing it inches away from the station’s Harmony module, where it will be installed.

Once the spacewalkers — also known as extravehicular (EV) crew — are outside the space station, an extension of the Canadarm2 robotic arm, called the “Dextre” Special Purpose Dexterous Manipulator (SPDM), will push the bulky adapter even closer to its installation point.

The plan is for the robotic manipulator to push the adapter into place so the astronauts will have only to tether it.

The operation will remain delicate, however, because the SPDM is highly sensitive to external pressure, lead spacewalk officer Glenda Brown said.

“This is the first time that the EV crew members have actually taken a handoff from the SPDM,” she told a news conference this week.

“We have to be very careful about putting loads into the SPDM,” she added.

“In space, it has got a lot of capability, but on the ground it can barely support its own weight.”

– Second spacewalk planned –

NASA is planning a second spacewalk on September 1 for a separate operation to retract one of the thermal radiators outside the space station.

Astronauts unsuccessfully tried to push it back into position last year, Todd said.

“We will go back here in a couple of weeks and restow that guy for its final time.”

However, a problem with an American spacesuit that appeared to allow water to build up inside an astronaut’s helmet in January has been resolved, he added.

Tests on the suit back on Earth showed an apparent flaw in a piece of hardware called a sublimator, which manages condensation in the suit’s heating and cooling loops.

Although it worked well in simulation tests, a blockage in a secondary set of holes might still react differently in zero gravity, Todd said.

The issue was not as severe as a spacesuit breakdown in 2013 that flooded Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano’s helmet, forcing him to end his spacewalk early, he added.

NASA has been using the same spacesuits for some 30 years, continuing to study what makes them work and fail, Todd said.

“We are still learning how to use this suit and how to care for them in a zero-gravity environment — and it is not the same as what we do on the ground.”

Source: Space Daily.

Link: http://www.spacedaily.com/reports/US_astronauts_prepare_spacewalk_to_install_new_docking_port_999.html.

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