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International Space Station life extended to 2024
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International Space Station life extended to 2024

by AstroAggregatorJanuary 10, 2014

Good news, everyone! This week NASA announced that they plan to keep the International Space Station in operation until at least 2024.

Charles Boldren, the Administrator of NASA said in a statement that by keeping the International Space Station in orbit it will allow NASA and its commercial partners to shake out design issues and conduct research to solve problems that will be necessary for NASA’s manned missions to an asteroid by 2025 and Mars in the 2030’s:

First, it will allow NASA to complete necessary research activities aboard the ISS in support of planned long-duration human missions beyond low-Earth orbit—including our planned human mission to an asteroid by 2025 and to Mars in the 2030s.  NASA has determined that research on ISS is necessary to mitigate fully 21 of the 32 human-health risks anticipated on long-duration missions.  A related critical function of ISS is testing the technologies and spacecraft systems necessary for humans to safely and productively operate in deep space.  Extending ISS until 2024 will give us the necessary time to bring these systems to maturity.

Second, ISS extension will extend the broader flow of societal benefits from research on the Station.  Research conducted on the ISS has already resulted in a number of discoveries with significant medical and industrial implications.  Medical examples include potential vaccines for Salmonella and antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria, and a microencapsulation technique for delivering cancer treatment drugs to tumors without affecting healthy cells. Additionally, technologies advanced by the ISS have led to robotic surgical techniques that are opening the door to successful removal of tumors that were previously considered inoperable.

A further benefit of ISS extension is it will give NASA and its private-sector partners time to more fully transition to the commercial space industry the transportation of cargo and crew to low-Earth-orbit, allowing NASA to continue to increase its focus on developing the next-generation heavy-lift rocket and crew capsule necessary for deep-space exploration.

We’ve already seen some of these private sector partners take great strides in the last year – Space X’s Dragon and Orbital Science’s Cygnus have both made trips to the International Space Station carrying supplies. Space X in particular has its audience on tenterhooks with its big plans for vertical recovery of reusable launch vehicles.

Russia’s space agency, ROSCOSMOS, has previously announced plans to build their own space station in orbit, dubbed OPSEK or Orbital Piloted Assembly and Experiment Complex. Its initial construction is intended to consist of russian modules salvaged when the ISS is decommissioned. ROSCOSMOS has not yet released a statement regarding this news and what this means for the proposed OPSEK station.

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The SpaceX Dragon returns to her lair on Earth
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The SpaceX Dragon returns to her lair on Earth

by Chris TrudgenMarch 27, 2013

The SpaceX Dragon has safely returned to Earth after a 25 day mission to the ISS returning scientific samples to Earth for analysis and ISS hardware for repair and refurbishment.  (more…)

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ISS Transitions into Expedition 35, Expedition 34 return home after a delayed departure
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ISS Transitions into Expedition 35, Expedition 34 return home after a delayed departure

by Chris TrudgenMarch 17, 2013

On March 13th NASA astronaut Kevin Ford handed over command of the ISS to CSA astronaut Chris Hadfield in preparation for the transition from Expedition 34 into Expedition 35 allowing Ford and his crew to prepare to depart the station on Friday.  (more…)

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ISS Research: Microflow Blood Analyzer
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ISS Research: Microflow Blood Analyzer

by Chris TrudgenMarch 10, 2013

On the ISS the Canadian Space Agency are testing a new type of blood analyzer – one much smaller than we are used to on Earth. Called Microflow, the new analyser can offer real-time analysis of everything from infections, to stress, blood cells, cancer markers, and could even be used to test food-quality levels. (more…)

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ISS Research: Shooting lasers at Earth
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ISS Research: Shooting lasers at Earth

by Chris TrudgenMarch 7, 2013

It sounds like something out of a science-fiction book. Putting a high powered laser on ISS, the International Space Station, and pointing it at Earth. However unlike in the books, this laser will be used to research and test deep-space optical communications. (more…)

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How to run a Space Station: The resupply ships of the ISS
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How to run a Space Station: The resupply ships of the ISS

by Chris TrudgenMarch 5, 2013

On the International Space Station machines break, people need food to eat and water to drink – so how do we keep our astronauts fed, provide them with water and service the machines?

The collective effort of the fleet of robotic resupply ships takes care of these issues for us.

(more…)

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