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Sci-Fi

Astronaut Snaps Epic Star Trek Selfie In Space 125

Posted by samzenpus
from the zero-g-cosplay dept.
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 159

Posted by samzenpus
from the point-and-shoot dept.
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

Posted by Soulskill
from the trying-difficult-things dept.
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

Posted by samzenpus
from the getting-the-go-juice dept.
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

Posted by Soulskill
from the if-at-first-you-don't-succeed dept.
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.
ISS

NASA Denies New Space Station Partnership With Russia 83

Posted by samzenpus
from the wasn't-me dept.
schwit1 writes NASA officials today denied they were negotiating a partnership with Russia to build a space station replacement for ISS, as suggested yesterday by the head of Russia's space program. Maybe the misunderstanding comes from NASA head Charles Bolden, who is currently in Russia. Bolden probably said some nice feel-good things to the Russians, things like "We want to keep working together," and "We will support your plans for your future space station." None of this was meant as a commitment, but the Russians might have taken them more seriously than Bolden realized.
ISS

Russia Wants To Work With NASA On a New Space Station 152

Posted by Soulskill
from the have-to-protect-the-wormhole-from-the-carassians dept.
HughPickens.com writes with news that Russian officials are talking about working with NASA to build a new space station as a replacement for the ISS after its operations end in 2024. Igor Komarov, head of the Russian Federal Space Agency, was unambiguous in his support for such a partnership. He added, "It will be an open project. It will feature not only the current members of the ISS." NASA, while careful not to discourage future cooperation, was not so enthusiastic. They said, "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." They reiterated that there are no formal agreements in place as of yet. These comments come as three crew members arrive at the ISS, two of whom will be up there for an entire year.
ISS

Spacewalking Astronauts Finish Extensive, Tricky Cable Job 22

Posted by samzenpus
from the good-work-larry dept.
An anonymous reader writes news about a three-day cable job completed outside the International Space Station. "Spacewalking astronauts successfully completed a three-day cable job outside the International Space Station on Sunday, routing several-hundred feet of power and data lines for new crew capsules commissioned by NASA. It was the third spacewalk in just over a week for Americans Terry Virts and Butch Wilmore, and the quickest succession of spacewalks since NASA's former shuttle days. The advance work was needed for the manned spacecraft under development by Boeing and SpaceX. A pair of docking ports will fly up later this year, followed by the capsules themselves, with astronauts aboard, in 2017."
ISS

ISS Crew Install Cables For 2017 Arrival of Commercial Capsules 106

Posted by timothy
from the in-meters-they're-even-longer dept.
The Associated Press, as carried by the San Francisco Chronicle, reports that NASA astronauts Butch Wilmore and Terry Virts have attached more than 300 feet of cable to the exterior of the International Space Station in a series of three planned spacewalks; in total, the wiring job they're undertaking will involve 764 feet of power and data cables. The extensive rewiring is needed to prepare for NASA’s next phase 260 miles up: the 2017 arrival of the first commercial spacecraft capable of transporting astronauts to the orbiting lab. NASA is paying Boeing and SpaceX to build the capsules and fly them from Cape Canaveral, which hasn’t seen a manned launch since the shuttles retired in 2011. Instead, Russia is doing all the taxi work — for a steep price. The first of two docking ports for the Boeing and SpaceX vessels — still under development — is due to arrive in June. Even more spacewalks will be needed to set everything up. Mission Control left two cables — or about 24 feet worth — for the next spacewalk coming up Wednesday. Four hundred feet of additional cable will be installed next Sunday on spacewalk No. 3.
Businesses

West To East Coast: SpaceX Ready For Extreme Multitasking 23

Posted by timothy
from the all-in-the-same-gang dept.
astroengine writes Breaking new ground is nothing new for SpaceX, but how about launch and landing operations on opposite sides of the country at the same time? A poor weather forecast in Florida prompted SpaceX to pass on a second launch opportunity Monday to put the Deep Space Climate Observatory into orbit. The first launch attempt on Sunday was called off with two minutes to spare because of a glitch with a ground-based radar system needed to track the Falcon 9 rocket in flight. The launch of the spacecraft, nicknamed DSCOVR, is now pegged for 6:05 p.m. EST Tuesday, which overlaps with the return flight of a Dragon cargo ship from the International Space Station.
Mars

Elon Musk's Proposed Internet-by-Satellite System Could Link With Mars Colonies 105

Posted by timothy
from the in-case-you're-on-mars dept.
MojoKid writes You have to hand it to Elon Musk, who has occasionally been referred to as a real life "Tony Stark." The man helped to co-found PayPal and Tesla Motors. Musk also helms SpaceX, which just recently made its fifth successful trip the International Space Station (ISS) to deliver supplies via the Dragon capsule. The secondary mission of the latest ISS launch resulted in the "successful failure" of the Falcon 9 rocket, which Musk described as a Rapid Unscheduled Disassembly (RUD) event. In addition to his Hyperloop transit side project, Musk is eyeing a space-based Internet network that would be comprised of hundred of micro satellites orbiting roughly 750 miles above Earth. The so-called "Space Internet" would provide faster data speeds than traditional communications satellites that have a geosynchronous orbit of roughly 22,000 miles. Musk hopes that the service will eventually grow to become "a giant global Internet service provider," reaching over three billion people who are currently either without Internet service or only have access to low-speed connections. And this wouldn't be a Musk venture without reaching for some overly ambitious goal. The satellite network would truly become a "Space Internet" platform, as it would form the basis for a direct communications link between Earth and Mars. It's the coming thing.
Space

SpaceX Landing Attempt Video Released 248

Posted by Soulskill
from the if-at-first-you-don't-succeed dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Last week, SpaceX attempted to land a Falcon 9 rocket on an autonomous ocean platform after successfully launching supplies to the ISS. It didn't work, but Elon Musk said they were close. Now, an amazing video has been recovered from an onboard camera, and it shows just how close it was. You can see the rocket hitting the platform while descending at an angle, then breaking up. Musk said a few days ago that not only do they know what the problem was, but they've already solved it. The rocket's guiding fins require hydraulic fluid to operate. They had enough fluid to operate for 4 minutes, but ran out just prior to landing. Their next launch already carries 50% more hydraulic fluid, so it shouldn't be an issue next time.
ISS

Ammonia Leak Alarm On the ISS Forces Evacuation of US Side: Crew Safe 95

Posted by Soulskill
from the send-up-a-plumber dept.
New submitter BabelBuilder writes: An alarm signaling a possible ammonia leak aboard the ISS this morning caused the crew to evacuate the U.S. side of the station. All crew aboard the station are safe. "Flight controllers in Mission Control at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston saw an increase in pressure in the station's water loop for thermal control system B then later saw a cabin pressure increase that could be indicative of an ammonia leak in the worst case scenario. Acting conservatively to protect for the worst case scenario, the crew was directed to isolate themselves in the Russian segment while the teams are evaluating the situation." They don't yet know whether it was caused by a faulty sensor, a problem in the relay box, or another malfunction.
ISS

The Strange Story of the First Quantum Art Exhibition In Space 69

Posted by timothy
from the emperor's-clothes-are-a-bit-looser-than-usual dept.
KentuckyFC writes When Samantha Cristoforetti blasted towards the International Space Station in November last year, she was carrying an unusual cargo in the form of a tiny telescope just 4 centimetres long and 1 centimetre in diameter attached to an unpowered CCD array from a smartphone camera. The telescope is part of an art project designed by the Dutch artist Diemut Strebe in which he intends to invoke quantum mechanics to generate all of the art ever made. Now MIT physicist Seth Lloyd has stepped forward to provide a scientific rationale for the project. He says the interaction of the CCD with the cosmic background radiation ought to generate energy fluctuations that are equivalent to the array containing all possible images in quantum superposition. Most of these will be entirely random but a tiny fraction will be equivalent to the great works of art. All of them! What's more, people on Earth can interact with these images via a second miniature telescope on Earth that can become correlated with the first. Lloyd says this is possible when correlated light enters both telescopes at the same time. Strebe plans to make his quantum space art exhibition available in several places before attaching the second telescope to the James Webb Space telescope and blasting that off into space too. Whatever your view on the art, it's hard not to admire Strebe's powers of persuasion in co-opting the European Space Agency, NASA and MIT into his project.
Space

SpaceX Rocket Launch Succeeds, But Landing Test Doesn't 213

Posted by Soulskill
from the better-luck-next-time dept.
New submitter 0x2A writes: A Falcon 9 rocket built by SpaceX successfully launched a Dragon cargo ship toward the International Space Station early Saturday— and then returned to Earth, apparently impacting its target ocean platform during a landing test in the Atlantic.

"Rocket made it to drone spaceport ship, but landed hard. Close, but no cigar this time. Bodes well for the future tho," Elon Musk tweeted shortly after the launch. He added that they didn't get good video of the landing attempt, so they'll be piecing it together using telemetry and debris. "Ship itself is fine. Some of the support equipment on the deck will need to be replaced."
NASA

NASA's Robonaut 2 Can't Use Its Space Legs Upgrade 58

Posted by Soulskill
from the safety-mechanism-to-prevent-it-from-killing-all-humans dept.
BarbaraHudson writes: Robonaut 2, now in orbit on board the International Space Station, has run into problems with the software controlling its new legs. From the article: "The machine ran into a few technical errors. According to NASA, the ground teams deployed Robonaut's software and received telemetry from the robot, but were unable to obtain the correct commands for the leg movement, which are vital to performing every day tasks aboard the International Space Station. Ground teams have begun assessing how to move forward with this issue, though it is unclear if they currently have a fix in mind."
ISS

Life In Space, In More Than 12,000 Photos 24

Posted by timothy
from the ignoring-the-in-flight-movie dept.
CNET is one of many sources carrying the stunning time-lapse photography of astronaut Alexander Gerst. Gerst assembled into a 6-minute movie 12,500 still images taken by cameras set up to document things like ISS docking procedures, but which ended up capturing quite a bit more: Images of auroras abound in the video below, as do spellbinding shots of humming cities at night, storms and flashes of lightning, all captured as the space station sailed overhead, traveling as fast as 17,000 miles per hour. Also keep an eye out for the eye of a tropical storm, a few fascinating docking and detachment operations with visiting spacecraft, as well as a nice token outward-looking time lapse of the Milky Way.
Space

5,200 Days Aboard ISS, and the Surprising Reason the Mission Is Still Worthwhile 219

Posted by timothy
from the it's-only-tax-money dept.
HughPickens.com writes Spaceflight has faded from American consciousness even as our performance in space has reached a new level of accomplishment. In the past decade, America has become a truly, permanently spacefaring nation. All day, every day, half a dozen men and women, including two Americans, are living and working in orbit, and have been since November 2000. Charles Fishman has a long, detailed article about life aboard the ISS in The Atlantic that is well worth the read; you are sure to learn something you didn't already know about earth's permanent outpost in space. Some excerpts:

"Life in space is so complicated that a lot of logistics have to be off-loaded to the ground if astronauts are to actually do anything substantive. Just building the schedule for the astronauts in orbit on the U.S. side of the station requires a full-time team of 50 staffers.

Almost anyone you talk with about the value of the Space Station eventually starts talking about Mars. When they do, it's clear that we don't yet have a very grown-up space program. The folks we send to space still don't have any real autonomy, because no one was imagining having to "practice" autonomy when the station was designed and built. On a trip to Mars, the distances are so great that a single voice or email exchange would involve a 30-minute round-trip. That one change, among the thousand others that going to Mars would require, would alter the whole dynamic of life in space. The astronauts would have to handle things themselves.

That could be the real value of the Space Station—to shift NASA's human exploration program from entirely Earth-controlled to more astronaut-directed, more autonomous. This is not a high priority now; it would be inconvenient, inefficient. But the station's value could be magnified greatly were NASA to develop a real ethic, and a real plan, for letting the people on the mission assume more responsibility for shaping and controlling it. If we have any greater ambitions for human exploration in space, that's as important as the technical challenges. Problems of fitness and food supply are solvable. The real question is what autonomy for space travelers would look like—and how Houston can best support it. Autonomy will not only shape the psychology and planning of the mission; it will shape the design of the spacecraft itself."
NASA

NASA Makes 3-D Printed Wrench Model Available 99

Posted by samzenpus
from the print-your-own dept.
First time accepted submitter smsiebe writes You can now download a piece of history by getting the designs for the wrench that NASA recently emailed to astronauts on the ISS. The wrench took four hours to complete and was the first "uplink tool" printed in space. You can check out a number of models and images on NASA's 3D Resources site.
ISS

NASA 'Emails' a Socket Wrench To the ISS 152

Posted by Soulskill
from the hardware-as-a-service dept.
HughPickens.com writes: "Sarah LeTrent reports at CNN that NASA just emailed the design of a socket wrench to astronauts so that they could print it out in the orbit. The ratcheting socket wrench was the first "uplink tool" printed in space, according to Grant Lowery, marketing and communications manager for Made In Space, which built the printer in partnership with NASA. The tool was designed on the ground, emailed to the space station and then manufactured where it took four hours to print out the finished product. The space agency hopes to one day use the technology to make parts for broken equipment in space and long-term missions would benefit greatly from onboard manufacturing capabilities. "I remember when the tip broke off a tool during a mission," recalls NASA astronaut TJ Creamer, who flew aboard the space station during Expedition 22/23 from December 2009 to June 2010. "I had to wait for the next shuttle to come up to bring me a new one. Now, rather than wait for a resupply ship to bring me a new tool, in the future, I could just print it."