Mars

Interviews: Shaun Moss Answers Your Questions About Mars and Space Exploration 48 48

Recently the founder of the Mars Settlement Research Organization and author of The International Mars Research Station Shaun Moss agreed to sit down and answer any questions you had about space exploration and colonizing Mars. Below you will find his answers to your questions.
ISS

Asteroid Mining Company's First Satellite Launches From Space Station 35 35

An anonymous reader writes: Planetary Resources, the company trying to jumpstart an asteroid-mining industry, has launched its first spacecraft. Its 90-day mission is to boldly... test avionics, control systems, and software. The Arkyd 3 Reflight craft was launched from the International Space Station after being delivered there in April. (They had intended to test earlier, but their first craft was lost in the Antares rocket explosion last October.) "The spacecraft is small, but mighty: At just 12 by 4 by 4 inches (30 by 10 by 10 centimeters), it will test key systems and control schemes that will allow later craft to land on asteroids to extract water and minerals. Eric Anderson, co-founder and co-chairman of Planetary Resources, said in the statement that the mining technologies could also help monitor and manage Earth's valuable resources. Later this year, once the satellite completes its 90-day mission, Planetary Resources will send up another satellite: the Arkyd-6, which will be twice as large and will test even more systems needed for the asteroid-mining process, representatives said."
Space

Astronauts Forced To Take Shelter From Space Junk 55 55

An anonymous reader writes: Three astronauts living at the International Space Station were forced to scramble to safety Thursday after a "close pass" by flying Russian space debris. The men decamped into the Soyuz spacecraft, which is attached to the orbiting station, while a chunk of an old Russian weather satellite passed 1.5 miles away. Flight engineer Scott Kelly tweeted: "Happy there was no impact. Great coordination with international ground teams. Excellent training."
Space

NASA Names Its Astronauts For the First Dragon and CST-100 Flights 38 38

schwit1 writes with news that NASA has named the four government astronauts that will fly on the first manned demo flights to ISS of SpaceX's Dragon and Boeing's CST-100. From Florida Today's report: Bob Behnken, Eric Boe, Doug Hurley and Sunita Williams are veteran test pilots who have flown on the shuttle and the International Space Station. NASA said the four astronauts will train with both companies and have not yet been assigned to flights. Two-person crews will fly the first test flights by each capsule, after they have completed an orbital test flight without people on board. Company proposals anticipate an all-NASA crew flying SpaceX's Dragon test flight, with Boeing's CST-100 carrying a split NASA-Boeing crew. Boeing has not yet identified its astronaut.
United Kingdom

UK May Send More People Into Space 87 87

sciencehabit writes: A few months ahead of the first visit by a U.K. astronaut to the International Space Station (ISS), the U.K. Space Agency has published its first strategy on human spaceflight, promising greater involvement in crewed missions and perhaps even participation in a mission out into the solar system. Following a public consultation and lengthy discussions across government, the new strategy, published yesterday, concludes that continued involvement in the ISS and other programs is the best way to involve U.K. scientists and industry in human spaceflight. The document says the government will consider bilateral projects with other space agencies but fears always being the junior partner since the United Kingdom has no launchers or space stations. It does not think that the commercial launch industry is sufficiently mature for the United Kingdom to buy services commercially. The report also states: 'The Agency will also consider its role in human exploration missions beyond Earth orbit, especially where this complements science and technology goals for robotic exploration.'
ISS

Russian Progress Cargo Ship Docks With Space Station 47 47

An anonymous reader writes: An unmanned Russian cargo ship has successfully docked with the International Space Station. The successful launch, rendezvous and docking came after two resupply failures. A Progress launched in April spun out of control and a week ago, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket disintegrated, destroying a supply ship loaded with supplies and equipment. "Crew reports, 'feels like Christmas in July,'" the International Space Station tweeted.
ISS

Russian Cargo Ship Successfully Makes Orbit, Will Supply ISS 50 50

An anonymous reader writes: Early this morning, a Russian Soyuz rocket successfully launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The rocket carried a Progress capsule containing 2,700kg of supplies for the International Space Station. It's a much-needed victory after a series of launch failures that saw ISS resupply missions from Orbital ATK, Russia, and SpaceX end in failure. "The station, a joint project involving 15 nations which is staffed by a crew of six astronauts and cosmonauts, currently has a four-month supply of food and water, NASA said. The arrival of the Russian cargo ship, and the planned launch of a Japanese HTV freighter in August, should replenish the station's pantries through the end of the year, NASA said. Friday's successful launch clears the way for three new crew members to fly to the station later this month."
ISS

A Failure For SpaceX: Falcon 9 Explodes During Ascension 316 316

MouseR writes with bad news about this morning's SpaceX launch: About 2:19 into its flight, Falcon 9 exploded along stage 2 and the Dragon capsule, before even the stage 1 separation. Telemetry and videos are inconclusive, without further analysis as to what went wrong. Everything was green lights. This is a catastrophe for SpaceX, which enjoyed, until now, a perfect launch record. TechCrunch has coverage of the failure, which of course also means that today's planned stage one return attempt has failed before it could start; watch this space for more links. Update: 06/28 15:06 GMT by T : See also stories at NBC News, The Washington Post, and the Associated Press (via ABC News). According to the Washington Post, what was a catastrophe for this morning's launch is only a setback for the ISS and its crew, rather than a disaster: A NASA slide from an April presentation said that with current food levels, the space station would reach what NASA calls “reserve level” on July 24 and run out by Sept. 5, according to SpaceNews. [NASA spokeswoman Stephanie] Schierholz said, however, that the supplies would last until the fall, although she could not provide a precise date. Even if something were to go wrong with the SpaceX flight, she said, there are eight more scheduled this year, including several this summer, “so there are plenty of ways to ensure the station continues to be well-supplied.” Of note: One bit of cargo that was aboard the SpaceX craft was a Microsoft Hololens; hopefully another will make it onto one of the upcoming supply runs instead.

Elon Musk has posted a note on the company's Twitter channel: "Falcon 9 experienced a problem shortly before first stage shutdown. Will provide more info as soon as we review the data."
ISS

UrtheCast Releases Its First Commercial Videos of Earth 45 45

schwit1 writes: UrtheCast has released high resolution videos of three Earth cities taken from its camera on ISS. Take a look. The cameras are quite successful in capturing the motion of vehicles on highways and road, which is amazing considering the vibrations that ISS experiences merely from astronaut movements. Quartz reports: "The company plans to offer the imagery in several tiers, from a free video feed on its website to an API that will allow customers, including corporations, governments and individuals, to purchase imagery data from its database or make real-time requests for a look at a given spot on the earth. The cameras scan the ground under the ISS, which tracks the earth between about 51 degrees north and south latitude."
ISS

First ISS-To-Earth 'Handshake' Demonstrates Space-to-Ground Remote Control 21 21

Zothecula writes: NASA astronaut Terry Virts, aboard the International Space Station, and ESA telerobotics specialist André Schiele, in the Netherlands, made space history this week with the first telerobotic "handshake" between space and Earth. Using special force feedback joysticks that acquire force data and create the sensation of pressure, Virts and Schiele brought the agencies closer to allowing astronauts in remote locations to naturally and safely control robotic devices and perform potentially dangerous or otherwise impossible tasks.
Space

Russian Rocket Crashes In Siberia 96 96

An anonymous reader writes: A Russian Proton-M rocket carrying a Mexican satellite broke down shortly after launch and crashed in Siberia. Russian space agency Roscosmos is investigating the incident, but the cause is not yet known. In the video, the rocket appeared to sputter and stop providing thrust when the third-stage engine unexpectedly switched off. Communications were lost with the rocket before that happened. This comes just a couple weeks after Russia experienced another high profile rocket failure when its cargo ship bound for the International Space Station failed to reach a high enough orbit and began spinning out of control. Russia's Proton family of rockets has been in use since the 1960s, though the current Proton-M incarnation was first flown in 2001.
ISS

ISS Crew Stuck In Orbit While Russia Assesses Rocket 105 105

astroengine sends word that the astronauts aboard the International Space Station will be staying up there longer than expected while engineers for Russia's space program try to figure out if it's safe to launch more rockets. The recent Russian cargo mission that spun out of control and eventually fell back into the atmosphere sparked worries that a vessel sent to retrieve the astronauts wouldn't make it all the way to the ISS's orbit. Roscosmos and NASA said the next rocket launch will be postponed at least two months. Even though the Russian cargo ship failed to reach the ISS, they have plenty of food, water, and air to last them to the next scheduled supply run — a SpaceX launch in late June.
Space

Doomed Russian Spacecraft Re-Enters Atmosphere Over Pacific Ocean 33 33

astroengine sends word that the Russian cargo ship that spun out of control after launching on a mission to the ISS on April 28 has re-entered the atmosphere somewhere over the Pacific Ocean. Orbital tracking indicated the re-entry took place at 2:20 UTC. Its orbital speed and location were not known with perfect precision, but any bits of the spacecraft that didn't burn up are believed to have landed in the ocean between 350 and 1,300 kilometers off the west coast of Chile.

According to Spaceflight 101, "The component with the highest probability of reaching the ground is the docking mechanism of the spacecraft as one of the most dense spacecraft systems. The docking system hosts an 80-centimeter hatch that is surrounded by the docking interface hosting the hooks and pressure seals facilitated on a massive metal ring. Overall, the system has a mass of 200 Kilograms much of which could reach the ground since the closed hatch would most likely not separate from the docking system and the unit will return mostly intact."
ISS

Russian Cargo Spacehip Declared Lost 108 108

schwit1 writes: The Russians have declared lost the Progress freighter that had been launched to the ISS yesterday. They never could regain control of the craft, plus it was in an incorrect orbit. Moreover, the U.S. Air Force has detected debris nearby, suggesting a significant failure of some kind. The Russians are now considering delaying the next manned launch, scheduled for May 26, while they investigate this failure. Both Soyuz and Progress use some of the same systems, including the radar system that failed on Progress, and they want to make sure the problem won't pop up on the manned mission. At the same time, they are also considering advancing the launch date of the next Progress to ISS from August 6. Based on these reports, I think they might swap the launch dates for the two flights. A Dragon is scheduled to go to ISS in between these missions, though that schedule could be changed as well to accommodate the Russian plans.
Space

Russian Cargo Mission To ISS Spinning Out of Control 120 120

quippe writes: Many sources report that a Russian spacecraft, launched successfully (video) from Russia's Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan earlier Tuesday, is in big trouble now after having a glitch shortly after liftoff. There is a video on YouTube (credit: NASA) of the space ship spinning out of control. Recovery attempts haven't gone well so far, but they will continue. If they can't regain control, the ship will likely burn up when it falls back into the atmosphere. Current speculation points to greater-than-expected lift by the third-stage, because the apogee is 20km higher than planned. The ship does not seem to pose a threat to the ISS at the moment.
Sci-Fi

Astronaut Snaps Epic Star Trek Selfie In Space 143 143

mpicpp writes with this story about astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti's tribute to a Star Trek icon. "Captain Kathryn Janeway led the USS Voyager through many harrowing lost-in-space adventures. She was the first female Starfleet captain to take the lead role in a 'Trek' series. Janeway is fictional, but she is an inspiration to many women interested in space. European Space Agency astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti, the first Italian woman in space, took a moment to celebrate Captain Janeway at around 250 miles above Earth. Cristoforetti is currently aboard the International Space Station. She tweeted a selfie on April 17 while dressed in a Star Trek: Voyager-style red and black uniform with a purple turtleneck. The image shows her pointing a thumb at SpaceX's Dragon supply capsule."
ISS

ISS Could Be Fitted With Lasers To Shoot Down Space Junk 167 167

An anonymous reader writes Japan's Riken research institute has suggested a new idea for dealing with space junk. They say a fiber optic laser mounted onto the International Space Station could blast debris out of the sky. From the article: "To combat the increasingly dense layer of dead satellites and miscellaneous space debris that are enshrouding our planet, no idea — nets, lassos, even ballistic gas clouds — seems too far-fetched to avoid. Now, an international team of researchers led by Japan's Riken research institute has put forward what may be the most ambitious plan to date. They propose blasting an estimated 3,000 tons of space junk out of orbit with a fiber optic laser mounted on the International Space Station."
ISS

SpaceX Dragon Launches Successfully, But No Rocket Recovery 117 117

New submitter monkeyzoo writes: SpaceX has successfully launched a Falcon 9 rocket carrying a SpaceX Dragon spacecraft en route to the International Space Station with supplies (including an Italian espresso machine). This was also the second attempt to land the launch rocket on a barge, but that was not successful. Elon Musk tweeted that the rocket landed on the recovery ship but too hard to be reused. Video of the launch is available on the SpaceX webcast page.
NASA

The International Space Station (Finally) Gets an Espresso Machine 108 108

coondoggie writes NASA this week will be sending its first espresso making machine into space, letting astronauts onboard the International Space Station brew coffee, tea or other hot beverages for those long space days. Making espresso in space is no small feat, as heating the water to the right temperature – 208F – and generating enough pressure to make the brew are critical in the brewing process. And then getting it into a “cup,” well that’s nearly impossible in gravity-free space. NASA, the Italian space agency ASI, aerospace firm Argotec, and coffee company Lavazza have come up with en experimental machine that will deliver the espresso into what basically amounts to a sippy pouch.
Space

SpaceX To Try a First Stage Recovery Again On April 13 78 78

schwit1 writes: In its next launch on Monday, SpaceX will once again try to safely land its first stage on an ocean barge, allowing the reuse of that stage in later flights. "Following first stage separation, thrusters flip the rocket so the engines are pointing in the direction of travel. First, there’s a boostback burn to refine the rocket’s trajectory, causing the rocket to fly through its own exhaust (the space shuttle's risky Return-to-Launch-Site abort scenario relied on a similar maneuver). While the vehicle is still traveling faster than the speed of sound, four grid fins deploy, steering the rocket as it plummets toward the ocean. An entry burn slows the rocket further, and landing legs unfold. A final engine burn settles the Falcon onto [the barge]." Monday afternoon is certainly going to be an exciting day for space cadets. First, at 4 pm (Eastern) the head of ULA will reveal the design of the company's new rocket. Then, at 4:33 pm (Eastern), SpaceX will launch Dragon to ISS while attempting to return the first stage safely.