Trending
Heat Index
TRENDING
You've gone off the beaten track! If you want to get back to our normal pages, either scroll down to the other categories listed at the bottom of the page, or use the Menu in the persistent scrolling top bar.
Exploration
Now Reading
NASA Panel: Curiosity Planning Lacks Scientific Focus
0

NASA Panel: Curiosity Planning Lacks Scientific Focus

by Justin CowartSeptember 7, 2014

A NASA senior panel took Curiosity’s mission management to task, finding that their extended mission plan was “a poor science return for such a large investment” and “lacked scientific focus and detail.” (more…)

Exploration
Now Reading
Orbital Sciences launches first operational Cygnus to International Space Station
0

Orbital Sciences launches first operational Cygnus to International Space Station

by Chris TrudgenJanuary 12, 2014

Orbital Sciences Corporation launched their first commercial resupply mission to the ISS last Thursday. A Cygnus resupply vehicle mounted on an Antares launch system lifted off at 1.07pm EST after being delayed from December by the failure of a cooling loop on the ISS and a further day due to solar weather.

Orbital’s Cygnus is one of two NASA commercial partner vehicles that can currently launch material to the International Space Station after successfully completing the COTS demonstration mission last year. Cygnus 1 is carrying 1,465kg of cargo to the ISS including spare parts, science experiments and student cubesats that are designed to be launched from the JAXA robotic arm.

The Cygnus gets a ride to space on the Antares rocket. Antares is a two stage rocket developed and operated by Orbital Sciences Corporation and launched from the Mid Atlantic Regional Spaceport in Virginia.

The two stage rocket can lift around 5,000kg to low earth orbit and uses both liquid propulsion for the first stage and a ATK Castor 30B, for the Antares 120 that launched Cygnus CRS-1, solid rocket upper stage.

The first stage of the Antares rocket is made up of two Aerojet AJ-26 engines. These staged combustion cycle RP-1/LOX engines original started life as the Russian NK-33 engine that was to be used on the N1 Moon Rocket back in the 1960’s. Aerojet purchased these engines and brought them to the USA. After upgrading the electronics, fuel management systems and creating a thrust vector control system for the NK-33 they then sold them to Orbital as the AJ-26. Due to the nature of the engine there are a limited supply of these engines as the production lines for the NK-33 have yet to restart, despite talk of doing so in Russia for the past few years.

800px-Castor_30_test_fire[1]The rest of the first stage is contracted out to the Ukrainian company Yuzhnoye SDO who designed of the Zenit series of rockets. The core provided includes propellant tanks, pressurization tanks, valves, sensors, feed lines, tubing, wiring and other associated hardware needed at a diameter of 3.9m, the same as the Zenit rockets.

The second stage for Antares is contracted out to ATK who provide the Castor 30, a smaller derivative of the Castor 120. The Castor 30B used on the Antares 120 produces on average 293.4 kN of thrust, peaking at 395.7 kN of thrust. The stage uses a electromechanical thrust vector control system for the nozzle and has a Reaction Control System for fine tuning attitude. The second stage and Cygnus are hidden inside a 3.9m diameter payload fairing that is jettisoned shortly before second stage ignition.

Antares drops Cygnus off in a 218km x 280km orbit inclined by 51.64 degrees were the propulsion systems on Cygnus take over and begin adding velocity to Cygnus allowing it to catch up with the ISS.

CygnusArrivesAfter a smooth two day trip playing catch up to the station Cygnus arrived early Sunday morning to begin final approach to the orbiting station. Cygnus proceeded to move up to station with no issues and came to a stop about 10 meters away from the ISS. At the final hold point the crew of Mike Hopkins and Koichi Wakata used the stations CanadaArm2 to grapple onto the Cygnus and lock on. This event took place at 11:08 UTC on Sunday.

Ahead of berthing procedures the Cygnus was then moved to the pre-berth location to await being berthed to the station.

As the morning moved on the crew performed the needed steps to install Cygnus to the ISS, moving through the steps quickly and without any issues arising. At 13:05 UTC the hard bolts were driven into Cygnus to install it as part of the ISS creating a hard mate. Hatch opening is due to take place on Monday but the crew is thinking about moving forward and getting some of the critical cargo out later Sunday if the leak checks go ahead without issue.

Some of the more noteworthy experiments involve observing an ant colony’s behavior in zero gravity, modelling fuel sloshing around in tanks and studying drug-resistant bacteria.

StudentCubeSats

Inside the Cygnus are 33 cube sats to be deployed by the Japanese robotic arm  from station from various sources. Flock-1 represents 28 three-unit CubeSats  operated by Planet Labs to build an Earth-observation constellation based on  CubeSats.

LituanicaSat-1 was developed at  Kaunas University of Technology. It is  a one-unit cubesat and one of Lithuania’s first satellites, together with LitSat-1. LitSat-1 is also a Lithuanian satellite. It is a one-unit cubesat developed by the Lithuanian Space Federation to use low-cost open-source hardware and software for its flight computers that will control the satellite payload.

The SkyCube satellite is a project of Southern Stars Group LLC. Crowd-funding was used for the mission and investors get a chance to transmit a message from space or take pictures of locations of their selection. SkyCube is a 2-Kilogram one-unit satellite that features deployable solar panels, four cameras and communication antennas that are used to receive messages from Earth that are then transmitted at pre-determined times. 

UAPSat-1 is a one-unit CubeSat built in Peru by the Institute for Radio Astronomy of the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú.

ArduSat-2 is a two-unit CubeSat based on the one-unit ArduSat-1 that was deployed from ISS in November 2013. The satellite is built and operated by NanoSatisfi, USA. The small satellite will provide a platform which may be used by students or space enthusiasts to run their own space-based Arduino experiments.

SloshSphearsSPHERES stands for Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites and involves two satellites that are used inside the space station to provide a miniature test bed to study maneuvering capabilities and spacecraft measurement systems.

The Slosh experiment investigates how liquids move around inside containers in microgravity. The physics of liquid motion in space are not well understood. A good understanding of the processes at work would improve modeling of the behavior of rocket fuel inside the tanks of satellites and other spacecraft or rockets.

To conduct the experiment, the two SPHERES are attached to the assembled experiment hardware and the system is put through a series of maneuvers via the SPHERES satellites. The data collected from this experiment, performed inside the ISS, is then down linked to the ground for processing along with any visual observations made by the crew operating the experiment.

NLP-VaccineThe National Laboratory Pathfinder Vaccine payloads have been flying to the Space Station for several years. The studies seek to understand measures that should be taken to reduce the risk of infection and contraction of disease while in space. Earth applications of the experiment series include knowledge for the development of vaccines against life-threatening organisms.

Vaccine 21 aims to use a spaceflight antibiotic effectiveness model to address drug-resistance issues on Earth by identifying what phenotypic and transcriptomic changes permit bacterial survival under various antibiotics concentrations.

The payload is operated via the Fluid Processing Apparatus (FPA) that requires the crew members to activate and terminate the experiment.

Cygnus also carries crew provisions such as food and clothing, along with fresh fruit and vegetables for the crew to enjoy.

At the end of the Cygnus’s mission it will be filled with trash and waste not needed on station anymore. It will then be un-berthed and moved away from ISS by CanadaArm2 and released. Cygnus will then perform departure burns with it’s RCS and later perform a deorbit burn with its main engine sending the Cygnus into the atmosphere to burn up.

Photo Credit:
Feature Image: NASA
Castor 30 Test: ATK
Cygnus Approach: NASA
Flock-1 Cubesats: Planet Labs
Spheres: Florida Institute of Technology/Dr. Daniel Kirk
Vaccine 21: NASA
Exploration
Now Reading
International Space Station life extended to 2024
0

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.

Exploration
Now Reading
Now Announcing TESS, NASA’s Next Planet-Hunter
0

Now Announcing TESS, NASA’s Next Planet-Hunter

by Justin CowartApril 7, 2013

NASA announced on April 6 that the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) has been selected for development in its latest round of Explorer-class mission proposals. The satellite is scheduled to launch in 2017.

(more…)

Exploration
Now Reading
Planck reveals new detail in cosmic background radiation
0

Planck reveals new detail in cosmic background radiation

by AstroAggregatorApril 6, 2013

The Planck mission has released a new sky map of the cosmic microwave background radiation – the after-echo of the Big Bang, revealing unprecedented detail.

(more…)

Exploration
Now Reading
Masten Space Systems Xombie rocket makes 1600 foot leap
0

Masten Space Systems Xombie rocket makes 1600 foot leap

by Chris TrudgenApril 6, 2013

Xombie is a Masten Space Systems technology demonstrator for building a rocket that can land propulsively with pinpoint accuracy while simulating a planetary approach. (more…)

Exploration
Now Reading
Expedition 35/36 crew make history, launch to docking in less than six hours
0

Expedition 35/36 crew make history, launch to docking in less than six hours

by Chris TrudgenMarch 29, 2013

March 28th saw a record setting Soyuz launch from Baikonur in Kazakhstan sending the Expedition 36 crew of a veteran Russian spacecraft commander, a rookie cosmonaut and a Navy SEAL-turned-astronaut to the International Space Station in less than 6 hours. (more…)

Exploration
Now Reading
The SpaceX Dragon returns to her lair on Earth
0

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…)

Exploration
Now Reading
ISS Transitions into Expedition 35, Expedition 34 return home after a delayed departure
0

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…)

Exploration
Now Reading
ISS Research: Microflow Blood Analyzer
0

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…)

Exploration
Now Reading
Sequestration and Budget Cuts Affect NASA
0

Sequestration and Budget Cuts Affect NASA

by Justin CowartMarch 8, 2013

Specifics are beginning to trickle out on how NASA plans to handle sequestration and budget cuts.

(more…)

Exploration
Now Reading
ISS Research: Shooting lasers at Earth
0

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…)

Top Stories
 
Europa
 
copsub_fire_test
 
Credit: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA
 
uk-spaceport
 
KVB
Latest Articles
 
 
 
 
 
Astronomy at home
 
Kerbal Space Program 0.24 Update Released!
 
Kerbal Space Program – The Dark Horse of education in a space game.
 
Astronomers want the public to help find star clusters in neighbouring galaxy
More
Deep Sky
 
Space Telescopes Image Supernova in M82
 
Chandra unravels the origin of Kepler’s Supernova
 
Planck reveals new detail in cosmic background radiation
 
X-ray observatories confirm black hole spinning at nearly the speed of light itself.
 
Chandra finds what might be the youngest black hole in our galaxy
More
Exploration
 
Deep Space Digest – September 12
 
2014 RC Flyby Science
 
Does Europa Have Plate Tectonics?
 
NASA Panel: Curiosity Planning Lacks Scientific Focus
 
Deep Space Digest – August 29
More
Technology
 
Finding the Next Generation of Space Tech
 
PocketQube micro-satellite shop set to go live
 
University of Michigan crowdfunds cubesat plasma thruster experiment
 
F-1 recovered from sea bed confirmed to be Apollo 11 engine
More
Miscellaneous
 
Site News: November 2014.
 
UK Spaceport: Square, vaporware pegs being forced into bodged regulation and square site holes
 
A Badly Needed Site Update.
 
ESA and RosCosmos formalise ExoMars exploration partnership
 
Site News: Logos and Contributors and email subscriptions, oh my.
More
Spaceflight
 
Shots fired as SpaceX files against Blue Amazon’s patents for “Sea Landing of Launch Vehicles”
 
Copenhagen Suborbital’s latest test writes off HEAT2X rocket
 
Space X Receive FAA Approval to build Texas Spaceport
 
Finding the Next Generation of Space Tech
 
Kristian von Bengtson leaves Copenhagen Suborbitals
More