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  • richardmitnick 9:39 am on December 13, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , HPC Spaceborne Computer, ISS, , Spaceborne Computer is first step in helping NASA get humanity to Mars,   

    From Science Node: “Launching a supercomputer into space” 

    Science Node bloc
    From Science Node

    03 Dec, 2018
    Kevin Jackson

    HPC Spaceborne supercomputer replica.

    Spaceborne Computer is first step in helping NASA get humanity to Mars.

    The world needs more scientists like Dr. Mark Fernandez. His southern drawl and warm personality almost make you overlook the fact that he’s probably forgotten more about high-performance computing (HPC) than you’ll ever know.

    The Spaceborne Computer is currently flying aboard the International Space Station to prove that high-performance computing hardware can survive and operate in outer space conditions. Courtesy HPE.

    Fernandez is the Americas HPC Technology Officer for Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE). His current baby is the Spaceborne Computer, a supercomputer that has spent more than a year aboard the International Space Station (ISS).

    In this time, the Spaceborne Computer has run through a gamut of tests to ensure it works like it’s supposed to. Now, it’s a race to accomplish as much as possible before the machine is brought home.

    Computing for the stars

    The Spaceborne Computer’s history extends well before its launch to the ISS. In fact, Fernandez explains that the project began about three years prior.

    “NASA Ames was in a meeting with us in the summer of 2014 and they said that, for a mission to Mars or for a lunar outpost, the distance was so far that they would not be able to continue their mission of supporting the space explorers,” says Fernandez. “And so they just sort of off-handedly said, ‘take part of our current supercomputer and see what it would take to get it operating in space.’ And we took up the challenge.”

    When astronauts send and receive data to and from Earth, this information is moving at the speed of light. In the ISS, which is 240 miles (400 kilometers) away from Earth, data transmission still happens very quickly. The same won’t be true when humans begin our journey into the rest of the cosmos.

    “All science and engineering done here on Earth requires some type of high performance computing to make it function,” says Fernandez. “You don’t want to be 24 minutes away and trying to do your Mars dust storm predictions. You want to be able to take those scientific and engineering computations that are currently done here on Earth and bring them with you.”

    To get ready for these kinds of tasks, the Spaceborne Computer has spent the past year performing standard benchmarking tests in what Fernandez calls the “acceptance phase.” Now that these experiments are done, it’s time to get interesting.

    The sky’s not the limit

    For traditional supercomputers, powering and cooling the machine often represents a huge cost. This isn’t true in space.

    “The Moderate Temperature Loop (MTL) is how the environment for the human astronauts is maintained at a certain temperature,” says Fernandez. “Our experiments are allowed to tap into that MTL, and that’s where we put our heat. Our heat is then expelled into the coldness of space for free. We have free electricity coming from the solar cells, and we have free cooling from the coldness of space and therefore, by definition, we have the most energy efficient supercomputer in existence anywhere on Earth or elsewhere.”

    The cost-neutral aspect of the Spaceborne Computer allows HPE to give researchers access to the machine for free before it must return to Earth. One of these experiments, announced at SC18, concerns Entry, Descent, and Landing (EDL) software.

    “If you’re going to build a Mars habitat, you need to land carefully,” says Fernandez. “This EDL software runs in real time, it’s connected to the thrusters on the spacecraft, and in real time determines where you are and adjusts your thrusters so that you can land within 50 meters of your target. Now, it’s never been tested in space, and the only place it will ever run is in space. So they’re very excited about getting it to run on the Spaceborne Computer.”

    While Fernandez is delighted that his machine will be able to test important innovations like this, he seems dismayed by all the science he won’t be able to do. The Spaceborne Computer will soon be brought back home by NASA, and he’s doing what he can to cram in as many important experiments as possible.

    Fernandez’s attitude speaks volumes about the mental outlook we’ll need to traverse the cosmos. He often uses the term “space explorers” in place of “astronauts” or even “researchers.” It’s a term that cuts to the heart of what scientists like him are attempting to do.

    “We’re proud to be good space explorers,” says Fernandez. “I say, let’s all work together. We’ve got free electricity. We have free cooling. Let’s push science as far and as hard as we can.”

    See the full article here .

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    Science Node is an international weekly online publication that covers distributed computing and the research it enables.

    “We report on all aspects of distributed computing technology, such as grids and clouds. We also regularly feature articles on distributed computing-enabled research in a large variety of disciplines, including physics, biology, sociology, earth sciences, archaeology, medicine, disaster management, crime, and art. (Note that we do not cover stories that are purely about commercial technology.)

    In its current incarnation, Science Node is also an online destination where you can host a profile and blog, and find and disseminate announcements and information about events, deadlines, and jobs. In the near future it will also be a place where you can network with colleagues.

    You can read Science Node via our homepage, RSS, or email. For the complete iSGTW experience, sign up for an account or log in with OpenID and manage your email subscription from your account preferences. If you do not wish to access the website’s features, you can just subscribe to the weekly email.”

  • richardmitnick 3:20 pm on November 3, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , ISS, White Mars: the ESA experiments   

    From ESA Chronicles From Concordia: “White Mars: the ESA experiments” 

    European Space Agency

    From ESA Chronicles From Concordia

    ESA Concordia Sunrise Sunrise


    Soyuz spacecraft docked to the International Space Station. Credits: ESA/NASA

    Dr. Carmen Possnig is the ESA-sponsored medical doctor spending 12 months at Concordia research station in Antarctica. She facilitates a number of experiments on the effects of isolation, light deprivation, and extreme temperatures on the human body and mind. In the following post, Carmen discusses the European experiments she is performing in Antarctica.

    “Next scenario: You are a pilot in the Soyuz, autopilot docking doesn’t work, you have to do it manually. At the same time you realize that the International Space Station has a problem: it is out of control and rotates around an axis. Good luck!”

    I enter the scenario into the computer and wait until my respondent has completed the preflight checks and selected a target. Then I close the curtain and my colleague is now undisturbed – with his monitors he can fully concentrate on docking to the Space Station. Then I lean back and watch the flight progress.

    Testing fine motor skills. Credits: ESA/IPEV/PNRA–M. Buttu

    For one of the ESA experiments my crew members fly a Soyuz capsule simulator every month. The Soyuz is the Russian spacecraft that currently brings astronauts to the International Space Station. If the radar navigation system fails on its way to the Space Station, the pilots have to dock manually. If the target monitor also fails, docking must be purely visual and with the help of a periscope. If the Space Station were out of control and would move randomly through the area, this would also have to be mastered. So we have many scenarios available to test my subjects.

    The whole point is to find out how motor skills change in the course of isolation. Do they deteriorate, do they stay the same? In addition to the simulator, my subjects also complete motor and cognitive tests, as well as questionnaires.

    In the Soyuz Simulator. Credits: ESA/IPEV/PNRA–C. Verseux

    The whole point is to find out how motor skills change in the course of isolation. Do they deteriorate, do they stay the same? In addition to the simulator, my subjects also complete motor and cognitive tests, as well as questionnaires.

    Astronauts on a long-duration flight to Mars, for example, may not have to steer the spaceship themselves for months. Upon arrival to the Red Planet, would they still be able to land the spacecraft and bring it back to Earth safely? After months of isolation, would they still be able to do that? How often do they need to train to perform well?

    Like the real Soyuz, the simulator has three monitors, one of which is the periscope viewer. With two joysticks, one for rotational and one for translational movements, the test subject can steer the spaceship. Flying is trained for hours over the summer; now in winter I don’t give any more tips – my crewmates are on their own.

    More science
    Early in the morning at the blood test. Credits: ESA/IPEV/PNRA–F. Calì Quaglia

    Concordia is the place on Earth that has most similarities with a station on another planet, or a long-term space flight. Similar to future astronauts, we are completely isolated from the outside world – for nine months at least –, we have unusual light conditions – three and a half months night, followed by long twilight and then three and a half months sunlight –, we have to dress carefully with special clothing before we can go outside, where it is not uncommon to have -80°C and we always have to be in contact by radio; we are at 3233m altitude with very low air pressure and low humidity; we are a crew of 13 people. Lovingly we call our surroundings “White Mars”. Accordingly, the environment is optimal for human spaceflight research. I do it, and my crewmates are the test subjects.

    One of the other three experiments I carry out is mainly concerned with height adjustment. For this I take blood samples, urine collections every 24 hours, and various parameters like blood pressure, heart rate, temperature of the feet and hands, and oxygen saturation. In addition, there are several questionnaires.

    Working at Concordia’s lab. Credits: ESA/IPEV/PNRA–F. Calì Quaglia

    Two further experiments focus on the immune system. Since no pathogenic viruses, bacteria or fungi survive outside our station, and we are always the same thirteen people for nine months, our immune systems have no new inputs and not much to do. This is also a similar situation as it would be during a long-term spaceflight. It is therefore particularly exciting to observe what our cells say about this. I take monthly blood samples, urine collections, saliva, hair, and, especially popular, stool samples. And again many questionnaires.

    The immune system is a bit like a muscle: it gets stronger the more we have to use it. It is no wonder that when the first new people arrive at the beginning of summer, the winter overs get slightly sick.

    I analyse some of these blood samples in the laboratory. We have a flow cytometer which sorts and counts cells according to all possible values. Sometimes fast, mostly rather slow, and always quite loud. But everyone is fascinated when they can observe their cells unraveled on the screen.

    The blood samples are processed and analysed on site. Credits: ESA/IPEV/PNRA–C. Possnig

    We also have the possibility to take complete blood pictures, and other blood values can be determined in the hospital. I regularly watch our cholesterol levels rise. The adaptation to the altitude is also clearly recognisable: my haemoglobin is currently at 15.4g/dl, after all an increase of almost 30%. We are looking forward to fleeting sporting successes when returning to normal oxygen conditions.

    I don’t get bored. The adventures of my colleagues in the simulator are always worth seeing, even if less and less gets lost in space. Watching our blood cells get used to the strange conditions here is no less exciting.

    And if the temptation gets too big, I jump into my simulator myself, let the Space Station rotate and the target monitor fail and save my spaceship with semi-elegant docking manoeuvres. At least my motor skills don’t suffer here.

    To read Carmen’s adventures at Concordia in German, see her personal blog.

    See the full article here .


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    Stem Education Coalition

    ESA Concordia Base

    Concordia research station in Antarctica is located on a plateau 3200 m above sea level. A place of extremes, temperatures can drop to –80°C in the winter, with a yearly average temperature of –50°C.

    As Concordia lies at the very southern tip of Earth, the Sun does not rise above the horizon in the winter and does not set in the summer. The crew must live without sunlight for four months of the year.

    The altitude and location mean that the air in Concordia is very thin and holds less oxygen. Venturing outside the base requires wearing layers of clothes and limits the time spent outdoors.

    During the harsh winter no outside help can be flown in or reach the base over land – the crew have to solve any problems on their own.

    In addition, Concordia sits in the largest desert in the world. The air is extremely dry, so the crew suffer from continuously chapped lips and irritated eyes.

    No animals can survive in this region – even bacteria find it hard coping with the extreme temperatures. The nearest human beings are stationed some 600 km away at the Russian Vostok base, making Concordia more remote than the International Space Station.

    In the great open landscape covered in darkness, colours, smells and sounds are almost non-existent, adding to the sense of loneliness.

    The isolation and sensory deprivation can wreak havoc on crewmembers’ biological clock, making it hard to get a good night’s sleep.

    Despite all these hardships, up to 16 people spend around a year at a time living in Concordia in the name of science. Far removed from civilisation, the white world of Antarctica offers researchers the opportunity to collect data and experiment like no other place on Earth.

    The base is so unlike anything found elsewhere in the world that ESA participates in the Italian-French base to research future missions to other planets, using the base as a model for extraterrestrial planets.

    The European Space Agency (ESA), established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 19 member states. Headquartered in Paris, ESA has a staff of more than 2,000. ESA’s space flight program includes human spaceflight, mainly through the participation in the International Space Station program, the launch and operations of unmanned exploration missions to other planets and the Moon, Earth observation, science, telecommunication as well as maintaining a major spaceport, the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, French Guiana, and designing launch vehicles. ESA science missions are based at ESTEC in Noordwijk, Netherlands, Earth Observation missions at ESRIN in Frascati, Italy, ESA Mission Control (ESOC) is in Darmstadt, Germany, the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) that trains astronauts for future missions is situated in Cologne, Germany, and the European Space Astronomy Centre is located in Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain.

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  • richardmitnick 10:21 am on November 6, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , ISS, Kew Gardens Millennium Seed Bank, Newton’s apple seeds, , The apple tree in Isaac Newton’s mother’s orchard where Newton saw the famous apple fall, The next step will be to find suitable welcoming homes for the young trees so that they can help tell the intertwining stories of Newton seed science and space travel, The tree is still flourishing at Woolsthorpe Manor Newton’s home near Grantham 330 years after he wrote his great work Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica,   

    From UK Space Agency Blog: “Newton’s apple seeds” 

    UK Space Agency

    UK Space Agency Blog

    6 November 2017
    Steven Watson

    I’ve just met some remarkable seedlings at Wakehurst Place in West Sussex, where Kew Gardens keeps its Millennium Seed Bank. They are the experts when it comes to anything to do with storing and growing plant seeds.

    The seeds in question were flown on the International Space Station with Tim Peake and were collected from the apple tree in Isaac Newton’s mother’s orchard where Newton saw the famous apple fall, which helped him figure out the laws of gravity. Isaac Newton (born in 1643) was a physicist and mathematician who developed the principles of modern physics including the laws of gravity and motion.

    The tree is still flourishing at Woolsthorpe Manor, Newton’s home near Grantham, 330 years after he wrote his great work Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica, which set out the laws of gravitation on which every space mission depends. This was the great work that Tim Peake’s Principia mission was named after.

    Newton’s apple tree – and the seeds being presented by Dallas Campbell and Jannette Warrener to the Agency’s Head of Education and Skills, Jeremy Curtis.

    The National Trust’s Operations Manager at Woolsthorpe Manor, Jannette Warrener, and her team harvested the seeds and presented them to the UK Space Agency during Grantham’s annual Gravity Fields festival in October 2014. We then delivered them to Wakehurst Place to dry and pack them for their epic journey into space.

    The seeds were delivered to space in SpaceX-8, a cargo supply to the International Space Station, on the 16 April 2016 and spent 198 days in space before returning to Earth with SpaceX-9 on 26 August 2016.

    Tim with seeds on ISS. No image credit.

    On their return from space, the well-travelled seeds then went back to Wakehurst Place where they spent 90 days sitting on a bed of agar jelly at 5°C to simulate the winter cold needed to break dormancy. Spring arrived for them in May 2017 when they were warmed to 15°C and the young seedlings started to emerge.

    Since then they have grown fast and we now have ten healthy young plants. The Kew staff, led by Hugh Pritchard (Head of Comparative Seed Biology) and Anne Visscher (Career Development Fellow), will continue to nurture them until they are large enough to fend for themselves.

    The healthy young apple trees with the Kew team. From left to right: Jannette Warrener, Joanna Walmisley, Jeremy Curtis, Eliana Van Der Schraft, Anne Visscher, Cristina Blandino, David Cleeve, Hugh Pritchard.

    The next step will be to find suitable welcoming homes for the young trees so that they can help tell the intertwining stories of Newton, seed science and space travel. Watch this space for details of how to make your bid to host one of these precious plants.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    Stem Education Coalition

    The UK Space Agency is responsible for all strategic decisions on the UK civil space programme and provides a clear, single voice for UK space ambitions.

    At the heart of UK efforts to explore and benefit from space, we are responsible for ensuring that the UK retains and grows a strategic capability in space-based systems, technologies, science and applications. We lead the UK’s civil space programme in order to win sustainable economic growth, secure new scientific knowledge and provide benefit to all citizens.

    We work to:

    co-ordinate UK civil space activity
    encourage academic research
    support the UK space industry
    raise the profile of UK space activities at home and abroad
    increase understanding of space science and its practical benefits
    inspire our next generation of UK scientists and engineers
    licence the launch and operation of UK spacecraft
    promote co-operation and participation in the European Space programme

    We’re an executive agency of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, made up of about 70 staff based in Swindon, London and the UK Space Gateway in Oxfordshire.

    We are responsible for:

    leading the UK civil space policy and increasing the UK contribution to European initiatives
    building a strong national space capability, including scientific and industrial centres of excellence
    co-ordinating strategic investment across industry and academia
    working to inspire and train a growing, skilled UK workforce of space technologists and scientists
    working on national and international space projects in co-operation with industry and academia
    regulating the UK civil space activities and ensuring we meet international treaty obligations

    The categories menu to the right will give you an idea of what we’re currently working on and you can also join in the conversation on Twitter. Please also sign up for email alerts, delivered straight to your inbox too.

    When posting comments, please observe our blog participation guidelines and moderation policy.

  • richardmitnick 12:09 pm on May 28, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , ISS, , UNSW-EC0   

    From UNSW: “Update: Australian satellite in orbit” 

    U NSW bloc

    University of New South Wales

    26 May 2017
    Wilson da Silva

    The first Australian satellite in 15 years, UNSW-EC0, was successfully deployed from the International Space Station, and UNSW engineers are working to make contact when it next passes above Sydney.

    Photo: UNSW

    The first Australian satellite in 15 years, UNSW-EC0, was successfully deployed from the International Space Station, but the UNSW engineers who built it were unable to establish contact when it made its first pass above Sydney.

    However, engineers say there could be many reasons for the silence and they are not overly concerned.

    UNSW-EC0 was ejected from the station at 3:25pm AEST, and made its first pass over Sydney at 4:21pm AEST. Engineers at UNSW’s Australian Centre for Space Engineering Research (ACSER) were unable to pick up the signal it is meant to send to confirm the cubesat is operating as designed.

    “We’re not overly concerned yet,” said Elias Aboutanios, project leader of the UNSW-EC0 cubesat and deputy director of ACSER. “We’re troubleshooting a number of scenarios for why we didn’t detect it, from checking our ground equipment to exploring the possibility that the batteries might have discharged. But at the moment, we just don’t know.”

    “If it is the batteries, the satellite has solar panels and will be able to recharge,” said Joon Wayn Cheong, a research associate at UNSW’s School of Electrical Engineering and Telecommunications and technical lead of the UNSW-EC0 cubesat. “But because it was deployed in the Earth’s shadow, we have to wait for it to make a few orbits before it has recharged, especially if it’s tumbling. So it could be 24 to 48 hours.”

    The International Space Station, or ISS, will make four more passes over Sydney on Friday 25 May, and the UNSW team of 15 researchers and students will again try to establish contact, and run a series of tests for scenarios to explain the lack of a signal.

    UNSW-EC0 is one of three Australian research satellites – two of them built at the UNSW – that blasted off just after on April 19 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Its mission is to explore the little-understood region above Earth known as the thermosphere, study its atomic composition as well as test new robust computer chips and GPS devices developed at UNSW.

    In addition, its chassis is made entirely from 3D-printed thermoplastic, itself an experiment to test the reliability of using 3D-printing to manufacture satellites, making them cheaper and much more customisable.

    The cubesat is part of an international QB50 mission, a swarm of 36 small satellites – known as ‘cubesats’ and weighing about 1.3 kg each – that will carry out the most extensive measurements ever undertaken of the thermosphere, a region between 200 and 380 km above Earth. This poorly-studied and usually inaccessible zone of the atmosphere helps shield Earth from cosmic rays and solar radiation, and is vital for communications and weather formation.

    “These are the first Australian satellites to go into space in 15 years,” said Andrew Dempster, director of ACSER at UNSW, and a member of the advisory council of the Space Industry Association of Australia. “There have only been two before: Fedsat in 2002 and WRESAT in 1967. So we’ve got more hardware in space today than Australia’s had in its history.”

    UNSW-EC0 was deployed from the ISS from a Nanoracks launcher, a ‘cannon’ that eject cubesats at a height of 380 km (the same as the ISS), allowing them to drift down to a lower orbit where they can begin their measurements.

    “This zone of the atmosphere is poorly understood and really hard to measure,” said Aboutanios. “It’s where much of the ultraviolet and X-ray radiation from the Sun collides with Earth, influencing our weather, generating auroras and creating hazards that can affect power grids and communications.

    “So it’s really important we learn a lot more about it. The QB50 cubesats will probably tell us more than we’ve ever known about the thermosphere,” he added.

    QB50 is a collaboration of more than 50 universities and research institutes in 23 countries, headed by the von Karman Institute (VKI) in Belgium. “This is the very first international real-time coordinated study of the thermosphere phenomena,” said VKI’s Davide Masutti. “The data generated by the constellation will be unique in many ways and they will be used for many years by scientists around the world.”

    See the full article for this material with links

    Here is one video

    See the full article here .

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    U NSW Campus

    Welcome to UNSW Australia (The University of New South Wales), one of Australia’s leading research and teaching universities. At UNSW, we take pride in the broad range and high quality of our teaching programs. Our teaching gains strength and currency from our research activities, strong industry links and our international nature; UNSW has a strong regional and global engagement.

    In developing new ideas and promoting lasting knowledge we are creating an academic environment where outstanding students and scholars from around the world can be inspired to excel in their programs of study and research. Partnerships with both local and global communities allow UNSW to share knowledge, debate and research outcomes. UNSW’s public events include concert performances, open days and public forums on issues such as the environment, healthcare and global politics. We encourage you to explore the UNSW website so you can find out more about what we do.

  • richardmitnick 11:46 am on February 11, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Blue jets, , ISS   

    From ESA: “Blue jets studied from Space Station” 

    ESA Space For Europe Banner

    European Space Agency

    For years, their existence has been debated: elusive electrical discharges in the upper atmosphere that sport names such as red sprites, blue jets, pixies and elves. Reported by pilots, they are difficult to study as they occur above thunderstorms.

    ESA astronaut Andreas Mogensen during his mission on the International Space Station in 2015 was asked to take pictures over thunderstorms with the most sensitive camera on the orbiting outpost to look for these brief features.

    Denmark’s National Space Institute has now published the results, confirming many kilometre-wide blue flashes around 18 km altitude, including a pulsating blue jet reaching 40 km. This image is a still from a video recorded by Andreas as he flew over the Bay of Bengal at 28 800 km/h on the Station shows the electrical phenomena clearly – a first of its kind.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    Stem Education Coalition

    The European Space Agency (ESA), established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 19 member states. Headquartered in Paris, ESA has a staff of more than 2,000. ESA’s space flight program includes human spaceflight, mainly through the participation in the International Space Station program, the launch and operations of unmanned exploration missions to other planets and the Moon, Earth observation, science, telecommunication as well as maintaining a major spaceport, the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, French Guiana, and designing launch vehicles. ESA science missions are based at ESTEC in Noordwijk, Netherlands, Earth Observation missions at ESRIN in Frascati, Italy, ESA Mission Control (ESOC) is in Darmstadt, Germany, the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) that trains astronauts for future missions is situated in Cologne, Germany, and the European Space Astronomy Centre is located in Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain.

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  • richardmitnick 9:51 am on October 23, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , ISS, , OA-5 Cygnus, Orbital ATK   

    From NASA SpaceFlight: “OA-5 Cygnus completes journey to the ISS” 

    NASA Spaceflight

    NASA Spaceflight


    Orbital ATK’s latest Cygnus resupply ship completed rendezvous and capture operations with the International Space Station (ISS) on Sunday morning. The OA-5 Cygnus – packed with equipment and supplies for the crew of the orbital outpost – had to wait her turn to arrive, allowing for the docking of the Soyuz MS-02 spacecraft on Friday.

    Cygnus OA-5 Arrival:

    he latest Cygnus arrival is a significant milestone for the resupply needs of the ISS, having launched on the first upgraded Antares rocket.

    The requirement to upgrade the Antares with new engines was due to the loss of the CRS-3 mission, which failed just seconds after lift-off from the Wallops launch site two years ago.


    Two interim missions – OA-4 and OA-6 – were successfully launched on United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rockets, flying out of Cape Canaveral Air Force Station SLC-41 in Florida in December 2015 and March 2016, respectively.

    For those missions, the extended Cygnus spacecraft was pushed uphill by the Centaur upper stage. This was also the debut of the larger capacity cargo craft.

    During the March mission, the Centaur came to the aid of Cygnus’ orbital requirements, following a shortfall in the Atlas V booster’s performance.

    With Antares making her comeback from the CRS-3 failure, the OA-5 mission marked the first time this larger Cygnus will enjoy a push from Orbital ATK’s beefy upper stage.


    Both the new Antares 230 configuration and the Castor 30XL upper stage performed without issue, allowing Cygnus to begin her pursuit of the ISS.

    However, due to the timing of the mission, Cygnus had to “loiter” on orbit, waiting for the docking of Soyuz MS-02 – containing the precious cargo of three new station occupants – which was completed on Friday.

    While patiently waiting her turn, Orbital ATK mission controllers in Dulles, Virginia, spent the early days of Cygnus’ mission uploading and executing the first of a series of rendezvous phasing burns (called DV – Delta Velocity burns) to refine the spacecraft’s trajectory toward the Station.

    The first DV burn was conducted in the early phasing period. Lasting approximately 10 minutes, this was designed to raise Cygnus from its initial near-circular 230km orbit to the 400km orbit of the ISS.

    A similarly long DV burn followed, again to raise Cygnus to its proper orbital altitude.

    This was then followed by a planned phasing burn to align Cygnus into the exact orbital corridor of the Station. A final set of DV burns – conducted over the weekend – brought Cygnus to its “Go/No-Go for Joint-Ops” decision point, which it reached roughly five hours prior to capture.

    Once Cygnus received the “go” from MCC-H (Mission Control Center – Houston) for Joint Ops, Cygnus slowly approached the Station to the Joint Targeting Reference Point (JTRP), which it arrived at just over three hours prior to capture.


    From this point until capture and berthing, every step of the rendezvous required a strong communications link through the JEM (Japanese Experiment Module) PROX system between Cygnus, the ISS, and ground controllers.

    This communication structure ensured the ability to manually abort – or at least retreat – Cygnus’ approach to the Station in the event of a problem with the spacecraft or the ISS.

    Once at the JTRP, Cygnus stopped relative motion with the ISS and awaited a second Go/No-Go decision from MCC-H.

    At this point, Cygnus was in the Joint Operations Phase (JOPS) of approach, as overviewed in documentation acquired by L2.

    Approximately three hours before capture, and with MCC-H providing a “go” to proceed, Cygnus performed the first of four ADV thruster burns (ADV1) to begin moving closer to Station.


    During these proximity ADV burns, Cygnus – until capture – made use of the TriDAR vision system designed by Canadian company Neptec with the support of NASA and the Canadian Space Agency.

    TriDAR – tested during several Space Shuttle missions – provides Cygnus controllers with real-time visual guidance for navigation, rendezvous and docking procedures.

    After Cygnus’ completed her first two ADV burns, the ISS maneuvered to capture attitude – a 5 minute process that took place just over two hours prior to targeted capture time.

    Then, MCC-H issued another Go/No-Go decision regarding two more ADV burns for Cygnus, which took the spacecraft to its 250m hold point below the ISS.


    MCC-H then gave the “go” for Cygnus to depart the 250m hold point and enter the Keep Out Sphere (KOS) of the ISS.

    Cygnus pulsed its thrusters and enter the KOS.

    Up until this point, Orbital ATK controllers at their facility in Dulles had full control over Cygnus.

    Once Cygnus entered the KOS, NASA controllers at MCC-H joined the Orbital ATK team for the tricky rendezvous and berthing of Cygnus.

    Just under half an hour prior to capture, Cygnus arrived at the 30m Hold Point.


    Five minutes later, Cygnus received the “go” to proceed to the capture point, at which time it departed the 30m Hold Point just over 15 minutes prior to capture.

    Cygnus then arrived at its capture point 12m from the ISS 8 minutes prior to the first capture attempt Expedition 49 astronauts Kate Rubins of NASA and Takuya Onishi of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency using the space station’s robotic arm to grapple Cygnus.

    Using the Station’s 17.5m Space Station Remote Manipulator System (SSRMS) robotic arm to grab hold of Cygnus, the capture was completed at approximately 07:28 EDT.

    After Cygnus was firmly in the SSRMS’s grip, robotic operations will maneuver the craft to Node-1 Unity (delivered by Space Shuttle Endeavour during the first ISS construction mission in December 1998) where the craft will be berthed at the ISS.

    Either later on Sunday or early on Monday, the crew will start to unpack than 5,100 pounds of science and research in support of dozens of research investigations, as well as crew supplies and hardware.


    This mission involves the seventh Cygnus spacecraft, designated CRS Orbital ATK 5 (OA-5).

    Orbital name their Cygnus spacecraft after astronauts, with OA-5 being named the SS Alan Poindexter.

    Born in November 1961, Poindexter served in the US Navy including as an F-14 pilot in the First Gulf War and later as a test pilot, before joining NASA in 1998.

    He flew aboard two Space Shuttle missions; the first as pilot of Atlantis during the STS-122 mission that delivered the Columbus module to the International Space Station in February 2008.

    Cygnus will remain at the space station until November 18, when the spacecraft will be used to dispose of several tons of trash during its fiery reentry into Earth’s atmosphere, and conduct the spacecraft fire experiment.

    (Images: Orbital ATK, NASA and L2 including renders from L2 artist Nathan Koga – The full gallery of Nathan’s (SpaceX Dragon to ITS, SLS, Commercial Crew and more) L2 images can be *found here*)

    (To join L2, click here: https://www.nasaspaceflight.com/l2/)

    See the full article here .

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    NASASpaceFlight.com, now in its eighth year of operations, is already the leading online news resource for everyone interested in space flight specific news, supplying our readership with the latest news, around the clock, with editors covering all the leading space faring nations.

    Breaking more exclusive space flight related news stories than any other site in its field, NASASpaceFlight.com is dedicated to expanding the public’s awareness and respect for the space flight industry, which in turn is reflected in the many thousands of space industry visitors to the site, ranging from NASA to Lockheed Martin, Boeing, United Space Alliance and commercial space flight arena.

    With a monthly readership of 500,000 visitors and growing, the site’s expansion has already seen articles being referenced and linked by major news networks such as MSNBC, CBS, The New York Times, Popular Science, but to name a few.

  • richardmitnick 7:56 am on May 20, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , ISS, NASA BEAM   

    From INVERSE: “NASA Chief Announces a 2028 Expiration Date for the ISS: ‘It is Inevitable’ “ 



    May 19, 2016
    Sarah Sloat


    At “Transformers” NASA Administrator Charles Bolden says the ISS will only last another 12 years.

    Orbiting 250 miles above Earth, the International Space Station is a feat of engineering and unprecedented tool for space exploration. It also isn’t going to last forever — while the main components of the space outpost were put in place in 2011, actual building began back in 1988.

    On Wednesday at “Transformers”, a live-journalism conference presented by The Washington Post, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden discussed the lifespan of the ISS during the “There’s No Place Like Space” panel.

    When asked if the ISS would have to retire, Bolden replied, “It is inevitable — it’s a human-made structure with a lifetime.” It’s year of expiration? 2028.

    Bolden hinted that what could very well replace the ISS is an expandable habitat, like the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM). At the end of March, NASA sent BEAM to the ISS for a two-year demonstrative period to see whether or not the module could replace some of the functions of the ISS.

    Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM)

    BEAM, as it is now, is only a fraction of the size it would need to be to replace the ISS — it’s about the same space as a small bedroom. The ISS is roughly the same size as a soccer field. Bigelow Aerospace describes BEAM as a “vital pathfinder” to its next iteration of the expandable habitat.

    What will happen to the ISS once NASA and its international collaborators jump ship? While Château ISS might sounds like a sweet vacation spot for future space-tourists, it’s unlikely that NASA will let it linger up there. The federal space agency doesn’t have a warm spot in its heart for space junk — in April NASA announced it plans to invest in a 2D spacecraft which could bring orbital debris down towards the atmosphere — basically a flame-heavy demonstration of spring cleaning.

    The ISS is more likely to get taken out of space the same it was put up — deconstructed in a series of small trips. The assembly of the ISS, beginning in 1998, required 40 missions — to do this again, NASA will likely raise the orbit of the ISS to buy itself some time.

    Scrapping the ISS for parts, while freeing the galaxy from space junk, would also help NASA support other fledgling international space programs — which Bolden said is something that NASA is working toward. Future Nigerian spacecrafts could very well be built with reused ISS parts.

    See the full article here .

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  • richardmitnick 8:57 am on August 18, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , ISS,   

    From SPACE.com: “NASA Extracting Tanks from Retired Shuttle Endeavour for Use on Space Station” 

    space-dot-com logo


    August 17, 2015
    Robert Z. Pearlman

    Photo showing the potable and waste water storage tanks on the lower deck of the space shuttle. The California Science Center is letting NASA remove the tanks from inside the shuttle Endeavour for use aboard the International Space Station. Credit: National Archives via collectSPACE.com

    NASA’s space shuttle Endeavour, retired and on exhibit in Los Angeles for the past three years, has been called back into service — or rather, parts of it have — for the benefit of the International Space Station.

    A NASA team working this week at the California Science Center will remove four tanks from deep inside the winged orbiter to comprise a water storage system for the space station. The reactivated artifacts are intended to help free more crew time for science operations onboard the orbiting outpost by reducing the astronauts’ involvement in refilling their water reserves.

    “The ISS [International Space Station] program has been steadily increasing the amount of crew time dedicated to science and technology development [onboard the station] through initiatives like the water storage system,” NASA told Endeavour’s curators at the California Science Center, according to information shared exclusively with collectSPACE.com.

    Reusing the orbiter’s tanks, rather than manufacturing new hardware, will “reduce the overall cost of building the water storage system,” NASA said.

    When space shuttle Endeavour was still flying, the same tanks were used not only to provide drinking water for the orbiter’s crew but to also fill storage bags to provide water for the space station’s crew. Similar duffle-like, soft bags are still in use today to hold the water processed through the orbiting outpost’s recycling system, which purifies the crew’s urine, perspiration and other waste water so that it is drinkable again.

    But refilling those bags is more time consuming than if the station were to have a more capable reserve. Endeavour’s water tanks can hold a total of 300 liters, enough for about 25 to 27 days.

    Taking out the tanks

    Each of Endeavour’s potable water tanks measures 3 feet long by 1.3 feet wide (0.9 by 0.4 m) and weighs 40 pounds empty (18 kg). Together with a single waste water tank of similar dimensions, they are located underneath the crew cabin’s lower living space called the mid-deck.

    Workers will enter the orbiter, which is exhibited inside the science center’s Samuel Oschin Display Pavilion, through the same hatch that was used by the astronauts to enter and exit the space shuttle before launch and after landing. The hatch is normally kept closed as the center’s visitors are not allowed to tour inside the vehicle.

    Using a lift to reach the hatch, the NASA workers will gain access the tanks through the mid-deck’s floor. Under the seats where mission specialists sat for launch and landing is a locker that held the lithium hydroxide (LiOH) canisters used to clean the orbiter’s air of carbon dioxide. Unbolting and lifting out that container offers a pathway to drop down below the deck.

    From there, it is the relatively simple task of detaching the plumbing and electrical connectors that lead to each tank and unbolting the four tanks themselves from the rails that held them in place.

    The pavilion will remain open to science center visitors as the work completed, which is expected by Friday. The four tanks will then be shipped to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

    How and when the new water storage system will be flown to the space station was not specified.

    Preservation vs. program

    In 2011, at the end of its 30-year shuttle program, NASA handed over Endeavour to the California Science Center. The L.A. museum and educational complex is working to exhibit the orbiter standing upright, mounted as it was for launch with the last remaining external tank built for flight and a pair of solid rocket boosters.

    The exhibit, which will stand in the science center’s yet-to-be-built Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center, is expected to open in 2018.

    Before delivering Endeavour to California, NASA prepared the orbiter to be safe for public exhibit and removed some of its parts, like the shuttle’s three main engines, for future use with its heavy-lift rocket, the Space Launch System. But the agency needed the science center’s permission to remove the four water tanks, as the space shuttle is now the museum’s property.

    Temp 1
    Space shuttle Endeavour, as currently exhibited by the California Science Center, will donate its four water tanks to support the International Space Station.
    Credit: collectSPACE

    It is not without precedent for NASA to retrieve its former parts from museums to support its on-going programs, but it is rare.

    In 2013, for example, the space agency borrowed from the Smithsonian a gas generator out of an Apollo Saturn V F-1 engine and fired up another retrieved from an F-1 engine displayed at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama, in support of developing a new engine.

    NASA also temporarily removed parts from the prototype orbiter Enterprise, now on display at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum in New York City, to help in its tests following the loss of the space shuttle Columbia in 2003.

    See the full article here.

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