NASA is working with Russia on a new space station


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Astronauts Repairing Space Module

Russia is teaming up with the USA to build ISS 2.0 once the current one’s funding runs out in 2024 — at least according to Russia Today and state news agency TASS. The country’s space agency, Roscosmos threatened in February to use the Russian ISS modules as a platform for a new base of its own after 2024, but now it looks like there will be a followup collaboration.

This time around, both parties are looking for participation from other countries, as well as private industry, and are apparently even eyeing a team-up for potential missions to Mars. Russian news outlets report the announcement came during a news conference Saturday following the launch of a year-long mission (video of the launch and subsequent ISS docking is embedded after the break) to the current International Space Station.

NASA Statement –

We are pleased Roscomos wants to continue full use of the International Space Station through 2024 — a priority of ours — and expressed interest in continuing international cooperation for human space exploration beyond that. The United States is planning to lead a human mission to Mars in the 2030s, and we have advanced that effort farther than at any point in NASA’s history. We welcome international support for this ambitious undertaking. Today we remain focused on full use of our current science laboratory in orbit and research from the exciting one-year mission astronaut Scott Kelly just began, which will help prepare us for longer duration spaceflight.

Chief Komarov, who was there for the US-Russia year-long ISS mission launch, reportedly said: “We have agreed that Roscosmos and NASA will be working together on the program of a future space station.” In addition to building a new ISS, sources say the agency’s partnership also entail working on a joint Mars mission. In the same event, NASA chief Charles Bolden is quoted saying: “Our area of cooperation will be Mars. We are discussing how best to use the resources, the finance, we are setting time frames and distributing efforts in order to avoid duplication.”

So far NASA hasn’t announced or confirmed anything through its official channels. We’ve contacted the agency for comment and will update this post if we hear anything.

Source : engadget.com

U.S. and Russian Astronauts to Spend One Year on the ISS


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In another U.S. and Russian joint mission, American Astronaut Scott Kelly and Russian Cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko will spend 12 months on the International Space Station starting this March, confirms NASA.

During their one year stay in the ISS, Kelly and Kornienko will perform seven research experiments to aid scientists gather significant knowledge on the biomedical, psychological and medical challenges faced by astronauts in long-term space flight.

Among other things, scientists will study differences in vision, functionality, mental health, metabolic processes and physical performance separately from behavioral changes and motor performance.

Another set of tests will be conducted on Kelly and Astronaut Mark Kelly, Scott Kelly’s twin brother and also an astronaut who will stay on Earth.

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“These investigations will provide broader insight into the subtle effects and changes that may occur in spaceflight as compared to Earth by studying two individuals who have the same genetics, but are in different environments for one year,” NASA said in a statement.

Mark Kelly’s experience includes piloting Space Transportation System 108 (Endeavour), STS-124 (Discovery Commander) and STS-134 (Endeavour Commander).

Scott Kelly was a crewman of STS-103 in 1999; STS-118 in 2007 and a 159-day stay on the ISS starting on October 7, 2010.
It’s going to be a strangely extensive space mission since a typical NASA mission to the ISS lasts no more than six months.

Source : full-timewhistle.com

DON’T FORGET TO SEE NASA ‘S 21th CENTURY SPACE CAPSULE !


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Orion illustration (Click Image to Download)

NASA’s newest capsule, designed to take astronauts deeper into space than ever before, is ready to launch to space for the first time on Thursday (Dec. 4).

The space agency’s new Orion space capsule is scheduled to fly to orbit on an unmanned test flight at 7:05 a.m. EST (1205 GMT) from Space Launch Complex 37 here in Cape Canaveral, Florida Thursday before being recovered in the Pacific Ocean 4.5 hours later. Orion is currently positioned on top of the United Launch Alliance Delta 4 Heavy rocket that will deliver it into space on its ambitious test flight, and everything is looking good for launch day.

ORION FLIGHT TEST ANIMATED VIDEO BY NASA

Orion — which was built for NASA by Lockheed Martin — will orbit Earth twice during its test flight, called Exploration Test Flight-1 (EFT-1). On its second orbit, the spacecraft will climb about 3,600 miles (5,793 kilometers) above Earth’s surface, farther than any spacecraft made for humans has flown in more than 40 years.

You can watch the historic Orion flight live on Space.com via NASA TV Thursday at 4:30 a.m. EST (0930 GMT).

NASA plans to use the Orion capsule as part of a system that could bring humans to Mars or an asteroid towed into orbit around the moon for the first time.

Source : Space.com

Black hole at Milky Way center may be emitting mysterious neutrinos, NASA says


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The massive black hole at the heart of our milky galaxy may be churning out peculiar particles called neutrinos, NASA satellites have revealed. If verified, it would be the first time neutrinos have been traced to the darkest regions of spacetime.

The subatomic activity was first detected by three NASA satellites, which observe in x-ray light: the Chandra X-ray Observatory, the Swift gamma-ray mission, and the Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR), the space agency said in a press release.

Neutrinos, from the Italian “little ones”, live up to their namesake, as they are tiny by even subatomic standards. Carrying no charge, they are unaffected by the electromagnetic forces that affect charged particles such as electrons and protons.

As a result, they can travel across vast expanses of the universe without being absorbed by matter that crosses their path (in fact, billions of them pass through your body every second!) And without an electric charge, they are not deflected by magnetic fields when traveling across the universe.

While the earth is constantly buffeted by neutrinos from the sun, those originating from beyond our solar system can be millions or even billions of times more energetic. Scientists have long puzzled the origin of ultra-high energy and very high-energy neutrinos.

“Figuring out where high-energy neutrinos come from is one of the biggest problems in astrophysics today,” said Yang Bai of the University of Wisconsin in Madison, who co-authored a study about the results published in Physical Review D. “We now have the first evidence that an astronomical source – the Milky Way’s supermassive black hole – may be producing these very energetic neutrinos.”

By tracing neutrinos back to black holes, scientists will be one step closer to understanding how cosmic rays are made. These rays wreak havoc on microelectronics and life outside the protection of an atmosphere and magnetic field. Understanding their origin also provides deeper insight into how the universe works.

Continue reading Black hole at Milky Way center may be emitting mysterious neutrinos, NASA says

3D-printed engine parts future of space launches: NASA


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A team of NASA researchers has found that 3D manufactured copper parts could withstand the heat and pressure required of combustion engines used in space launches.

The US space agency and California-based rocket and missile propulsion manufacturer Aerojet Rocketdyne (AR) conducted 19 hot-fire tests on four injector and thrust chamber assembly configurations at NASA’s Glenn Research Centre.

“The successful hot fire test of engine components provides confidence in the additive manufacturing process and paves the way for full-scale development,” said Tyler Hickman, lead engineer for the test at Glenn.

3D printing approach is changing the speed, cost and flexibility of designing and building future machines for space and earth applications.

The work is a major milestone in the development and certification of different materials used in the manufacturing process.

Copper alloys offer unique challenges to the additive manufacturing processes.

“Additively manufactured metal propulsion components are truly a paradigm shift for the aerospace industry,” added Paul Senick, Glenn project manager.

This will improve efficiency and bring down the cost of space launches and other earth applications, he concluded.

Source : business standard

ISS crew lands, brings space-born flies to Earth


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Three crew members of the International Space Station have safely returned to Earth aboard a Soyuz-13M spacecraft, bringing back good memories and results of their 165-day shift in orbit – including a space-born generation of experimental fruit flies.

The spacecraft carrying the commander of the ISS Expedition 41 Russian cosmonaut Maksim Surayev, as well as two flight engineers, NASA astronaut Reid Wiseman and ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst, landed some 80 km from Arkalyk, Kazakhstan.

As part of their mission, the crew completed some 2,640 orbits covering more than 70 million miles and have participated in a number of experiments, including breeding of fruit flies that could potentially shed light on long-term space flight effects on human beings.

Continue reading ISS crew lands, brings space-born flies to Earth

NASA looks at future exploration of our Solar System


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The new Paramount film “Interstellar” imagines a future where astronauts must find a new planet suitable for human life after climate change destroys the Earth’s ability to sustain us.

Multiple NASA missions are helping avoid this dystopian future by providing critical data necessary to protect Earth. Yet the cosmos beckons us to explore farther from home, expanding human presence deeper into the solar system and beyond.

For thousands of years we’ve wondered if we could find another home among the stars. We’re right on the cusp of answering that question.

If you step outside on a very dark night you may be lucky enough to see many of the 2,000 stars visible to the human eye. They’re but a fraction of the billions of stars in our galaxy and the innumerable galaxies surrounding us.

Multiple NASA missions are helping us extend humanity’s senses and capture starlight to help us better understand our place in the universe.

Largely visible light telescopes like Hubble show us the ancient light permeating the cosmos, leading to groundbreaking discoveries like the accelerating expansion of the universe. Through infrared missions like Spitzer, SOFIA and WISE, we’ve peered deeply through cosmic dust, into stellar nurseries where gases form new stars.

With missions like Chandra, Fermi and NuSTAR, we’ve detected the death throes of massive stars, which can release enormous energy through supernovas and form the exotic phenomenon of black holes.

Yet it was only in the last few years that we could fully grasp how many other planets there might be beyond our solar system. Some 64 million miles (104 kilometers) from Earth, the Kepler Space Telescope stared at a small window of the sky for four years. As planets passed in front of a star in Kepler’s line of view, the spacecraft measured the change in brightness.

Kepler was designed to determine the likelihood that other planets orbit stars. Because of the mission, we now know it’s possible every star has at least one planet. Solar systems surround us in our galaxy and are strewn throughout the myriad galaxies we see.

Though we have not yet found a planet exactly like Earth, the implications of the Kepler findings are staggering—there may very well be many worlds much like our own for future generations to explore.

NASA also is developing its next exoplanet mission, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), which will search 200,000 nearby stars for the presence of Earth-size planets.

As of now, the distance between stars is too great for spacecraft to traverse using existing propulsion. Only one spacecraft is poised to leave the solar system in the near future. Voyager 1, launched in 1977, made the historic entry into interstellar space in August of 2012, reaching the region between stars, filled with material ejected by the death of nearby stars millions of years ago. It won’t encounter another star for at least 40,000 years.

The near-term future of exploration should be cause for much excitement, though, as humans and robotic spacecraft pioneer the path Voyager traveled, deeper into our solar system, where extra-terrestrial life may exist, and where humans could one day thrive.

Life as we know it requires water and heat. On our watery planet, we find life teeming at even the most extreme temperatures. Scientists are eager to know if evidence of microbial life exists on other planets and moons within our reach.

On Jupiter’s moon Europa, for example, there is a temperate ocean caught between a volcanic core and icy surface. Just as life exists in the dark, hot reaches of Earth’s ocean, so too could it exist on Europa, waiting to be discovered. NASA is studying a future mission to the watery moon next decade.

Many scientists question if Earth formed with the water it has now. Comets and asteroid impacts early in the planet’s history may have brought the water and help transform our atmosphere. Upcoming missions to capture samples of asteroids, like OSIRIS-REx, could reveal the building blocks of life embedded in the rock, which could lead to new insights about the origins of life.

Perhaps the most enticing target to search for evidence of life, however, is Mars. A fleet of spacecraft on the surface and orbiting Mars have revealed the Red Planet once had conditions suitable for life.

While the planet’s flowing water and atmosphere have significantly diminished, evidence of past life could still be discovered by future exploration. It could even be a home for future human pioneers.

Martian natural resources like water ice embedded in rock could be extracted to create breathable air, drinkable water, and even components for spacecraft propellant. An ability to live off the land will greatly enable multiple human missions to Mars and forever change the history of humankind.

This Journey to Mars begins aboard the International Space Station where astronauts 250 miles above Earth are learning how to live in space for long durations—key knowledge needed for round trips to Mars, which could take 500 days or more. A new generation of U.S. commercial spacecraft and rockets are supplying the space station and will soon launch astronauts once again from U.S. soil.

As these 21st century spaceflight innovations open low-Earth Orbit in new ways, NASA is building the capabilities to send humans farther from Earth than even before. In December, we’ll conduct the first flight test of the Orion Spacecraft, which will carry astronauts next decade on missions beyond the moon to an asteroid and Mars, launched on the giant Space Launch System rocket.

Many other missions in the near future will expand the frontier of exploration in our solar system. In 2015, New Horizons will fly by Pluto and see the icy world up close for the first time. In 2016, NASA will launch the InSight mission to Mars and asteroid sample return mission OSIRIS-REx.

In 2018, Hubble’s successor, the James Webb Space Telescope, will see light from the universe’s first stars. In about 2019, we’ll launch a robotic spacecraft to capture and redirect an asteroid.

In 2020, we’ll send a new rover to Mars, to follow in the footsteps of Curiosity, search for ancient Martian life, and pave the way for future human explorers.

In 2021, SLS and Orion will launch humans on the first crewed mission of the combined system. In the mid-2020s, astronauts will explore an asteroid redirected to an orbit around the moon, and return home with samples that could hold clues to the origins of the solar system and life on Earth.

In doing so, those astronauts will travel farther into the solar system than anyone has ever been.

It’s an exciting time as NASA reaches new heights to reveal the unknown and benefit humankind. Be a part of the journey and connect with us at www.nasa.gov/connect

New Horizons to Explore Pluto


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In January 2006, New Horizons was launched for its long journey to explore Pluto and its five known moons. This will be NASA’s first opportunity to explore the distant planet of which little is known since its 1930 discovery.

Pluto is the most famous resident of the Kuiper Belt, an area of space beyond Neptune that is filled with innumerable objects that are believed to be remnants of the formation of the solar system. A Dutch astronomer, Jan Oort, theorized that comets might originate from this distant region. Gerard Kuiper first envisioned the existence of icy objects beyond Neptune in 1951.

The Kuiper Belt is about 3 billion miles from Earth and is similar to the asteroids that orbit the sun between Mars and Jupiter.   The asteroid belt is filled with rocky objects whereas the Kuiper Belt’s objects are icy. Several dwarf planets, of which Pluto is one, exist in these far reaches of space. Dwarf planets are not only smaller than regular planets, but their lack of size does not give them the ability to clear space around them.

Currently in a hibernation state, New Horizons will awake and begin preparing for its encounter with Pluto on Dec. 6. The actual flyby will begin in January with the spacecraft’s closest encounter occurring on July 15, 2015. A scheduled trajectory adjustment burn was not deemed necessary and has left the craft with additional fuel.

The additional fuel has NASA officials searching for additional Kuiper Belt objects for New Horizons to explore. To identify potential targets, officials used the Hubble telescope to locate objects of interest. These targets had to be in line with Pluto so that additional use of fuel would not be required. The Hubble data identified three additional objects that will be tracked to ascertain their orbital path.

New Horizons crossed Neptune’s orbital path on Aug. 25. On Sept. 12 NASA, using the Long Range Reconnaissance Imager, began its initial preparatory testing of the approaching Pluto system. Hydra, a small moon of Pluto, was detected. It was not anticipated to view the moon until early in 2015. Locating Hydra this early in the process bodes well for the team’s ability to locate potential unknown moons or planetary rings.

New Horizons took 48 images, each lasting 10 seconds, of Pluto on two separate occurrences in July. While these images revealed Hydra, officials were unable to see Nix, another of Pluto’s moons. New Horizons was still 267 million miles from Pluto when these images were taken. Those images also revealed its largest moon, Charon. Some astronomers consider Pluto-Charon as a binary planet.

NASA has completed its detailed engineering review of the mission and has begun the process of planning for the approach science. By next month sequences for planetary approach will be developed. Each sequence serves as a two-week flight plan for the spacecraft and takes about eight weeks to develop, test and certify.

New Horizon’s exploration of Pluto and the Kuiper Belt is NASA’s first extensive look at this distant part of the solar system. Pluto was still classified as a planet when the mission initially launched. It has since been downgraded to a dwarf planet.