Russia: We’re not leaving the Space Station until our own is ready

Humans have lived aboard the International Space Station for more than two decades.

Humans have lived aboard the International Space Station for more than two decades. (credit: NASA)

Earlier this week, Russia indicated that it was not extending the current cooperation agreement for the International Space Station, which expires in 2024, and would be departing the project after that. Nearly everyone noticed that there was no actual departure date specified, leaving open the possibility that it would continue its participation without a formal agreement in place. That now seems to be what will happen.

Reuters is reporting that a senior NASA official has indicated that Russia will continue to operate its portion of the ISS until it has its own station in orbit, something that’s currently targeted for 2028. Earlier statements from Russian officials indicated that construction of that station would be started in 2024 but had not provided a completion date. On Wednesday, Roscosmos also posted a video indicating that completion would come in 2028, and the agency would “need to continue operating the ISS” until that date.

Given that it’s extremely unlikely that Russia will manage to get a station built at all while under severe sanctions, this raises the prospect that Roscosmos will have no alternatives in orbit until after 2030, the year NASA has targeted for ending occupation of its portion of the ISS.

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#international-space-station, #iss, #nasa, #roscosmos, #science, #space

The Final Frontier Soon May No Longer Belong to All of Us

Russia and the U.S. both threaten international norms in outer space.

#artemis-accords, #international-relations, #international-space-station, #national-aeronautics-and-space-administration, #outer-space-treaty, #politics-and-government, #russia, #united-nations, #united-states

Russia Says It Will Quit the International Space Station After 2024

The announcement could lead to the end of two decades of post-Cold War cooperation in space between the United States and Russia, which built the station together and operate it jointly.

#borisov-yuri, #international-space-station, #national-aeronautics-and-space-administration, #roscosmos, #russia, #space-and-astronomy, #united-states-international-relations

Live Video: Boeing’s Starliner Lands on Earth

A successful return to Earth of the capsule on Wednesday could set up a flight for NASA with astronauts aboard before the year’s end.

#international-space-station, #national-aeronautics-and-space-administration, #space-and-astronomy

Boeing Starliner Spacecraft: How to Watch the Nasa Launch

The aerospace giant’s astronaut capsule has yet to complete a successful test flight to the space station, while SpaceX has carried seven crews into orbit.

#boeing-company, #international-space-station, #national-aeronautics-and-space-administration, #private-spaceflight, #rocket-science-and-propulsion, #space-and-astronomy, #space-exploration-technologies-corp

SpaceX and Axiom Launch Private Astronaut Crew to Space Station

Axiom Space bought seats on a SpaceX rocket to be NASA’s guests in orbit as the agency extends efforts to commercialize spaceflight.

#axiom-space-inc, #connor-larry, #international-space-station, #lopez-alegria-michael, #national-aeronautics-and-space-administration, #pathy-mark, #private-spaceflight, #rocket-science-and-propulsion, #space-and-astronomy, #space-exploration-technologies-corp, #stibbe-eytan

Russians’ Flight Suits Weren’t a Political Statement, NASA Astronaut Says

The Russians were “kind of blindsided,” that people thought they were making a political statement, Mark Vande Hei said. But the suits matched the colors of the university they all attended.

#international-space-station, #russia, #russian-invasion-of-ukraine-2022, #space-and-astronomy, #ukraine, #vande-hei-mark

How to Watch a NASA Astronaut’s Return to Earth Tonight

Although the U.S. and Russia have halted cooperation in many areas over the invasion of Ukraine, they’ve continued to work together aboard the International Space Station.

#international-space-station, #national-aeronautics-and-space-administration, #russia, #russian-invasion-of-ukraine-2022, #ukraine, #united-states-international-relations, #vande-hei-mark

Legally, Russia can’t just take its Space Station and go home

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks with head of Russian space agency Roscosmos Dmitry Rogozin during a flight to the Vostochny Cosmodrome on September 4, 2021.

Enlarge / Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks with head of Russian space agency Roscosmos Dmitry Rogozin during a flight to the Vostochny Cosmodrome on September 4, 2021. (credit: ALEXEY DRUZHININ/Sputnik/AFP via Getty Images)

The fate of the International Space Station hangs in the balance as tensions between Russia and the West escalate following the country’s invasion of Ukraine.

However, given that the conflict is now nearly a month old and the old laboratory is still flying high, it appears that the partnership among Russia, the United States, and 13 other nations will continue to hold. This article will consider the future of the partnership from three different dimensions: technical, legal, and political. It starts with the solid premise, repeated over and over by NASA officials, that the United States wants to continue flying the International Space Station through at least 2024.

The real question about the near-term future of the International Space Station, therefore, is whether Russia wants to continue flying it. The answer is “probably yes.”

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#features, #international-space-station, #russia, #science, #space

NASA wants to maintain Russia partnership but is studying “operational flexibilities”

Humans have lived aboard the International Space Station for more than two decades.

Humans have lived aboard the International Space Station for more than two decades. (credit: NASA)

NASA’s senior official for human spaceflight operations said Monday that the US space agency continues to operate the International Space Station as usual with its partners, including Russia.

“Our operations are nominal,” said Associate Administrator for Space Operations Kathy Lueders. She acknowledged that NASA continues to monitor the situation in Ukraine and work with the US State Department. “We’ve operated in these kind of situations before, and both sides always operated very professionally and understand at our level the importance of this fantastic mission.”

NASA flight controllers and other officials continue to work in Moscow, she said, and US and Russian managers have good communication. At the “working level,” at least, there are no signs of trouble. “We, as a team, are operating just like we were operating three weeks ago,” she said.

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#international-space-station, #nasa, #science

NASA-Russia Alliance Is Shaken by Events on Planet Earth

The relationship between the nations’ space agencies is facing a series of difficult tests, including an antisatellite weapon and friction over Ukraine.

#defense-and-military-forces, #international-space-station, #national-aeronautics-and-space-administration, #private-spaceflight, #roscosmos, #russia, #satellites, #soyuz-project, #space-and-astronomy, #space-exploration-technologies-corp, #united-states-international-relations

Yusaku Maezawa, Japanese Billionaire, Arrives at Space Station

Yusaku Maezawa, the founder of the clothing retailer Zozo, will spend 12 days in orbit with a production assistant who will document his stay.

#international-space-station, #japan, #maezawa-yusaku, #private-spaceflight, #rocket-science-and-propulsion, #russia, #soyuz-project, #space-adventures, #space-and-astronomy

Jessica Watkins Will Be First Black Woman to Join Space Station Crew

Jessica Watkins, who joined NASA’s astronaut corps in 2017, is scheduled to fly to the orbital outpost in a SpaceX capsule in April.

#black-people, #international-space-station, #national-aeronautics-and-space-administration, #space-and-astronomy, #space-exploration-technologies-corp, #watkins-jessica-a-1988

Russia Acknowledges Antisatellite Missile Test

The test forced astronauts on the International Space Station to briefly take shelter in re-entry capsules.

#blinken-antony-j, #defense-and-military-forces, #international-space-station, #national-aeronautics-and-space-administration, #russia, #satellites, #space-and-astronomy, #space-stations, #state-department

Russian Anti-Satellite Weapon Test Debris Forces Astronauts to Shelter

The State Department said the cloud of debris from the missile strike added more than 1,500 pieces of sizable space junk to Earth’s orbit.

#defense-and-military-forces, #international-space-station, #missiles-and-missile-defense-systems, #national-aeronautics-and-space-administration, #russia, #satellites, #space-and-astronomy, #united-states-defense-and-military-forces

SpaceX Crew-3 Astronauts Dock With Space Station

The Crew Dragon capsule Endurance docked on Thursday with the orbital outpost, where the four crewmates will stay until April 2022.

#barron-kayla-j, #chari-raja, #international-space-station, #marshburn-tom, #maurer-matthias, #national-aeronautics-and-space-administration, #private-spaceflight, #space-and-astronomy, #space-exploration-technologies-corp

SpaceX to Launch NASA Crew-3 Astronauts: How to Watch

After bringing home another crew, SpaceX will launch four more people to the International Space Station in its Dragon capsule.

#barron-kayla-j, #chari-raja, #international-space-station, #marshburn-tom, #maurer-matthias, #national-aeronautics-and-space-administration, #private-spaceflight, #rocket-science-and-propulsion, #space-and-astronomy, #space-exploration-technologies-corp

SpaceX Carries NASA Astronaut Mission Home With Safe Water Landing

The Crew-2 astronauts spent nearly 200 days in orbit, and their stay aboard the International Space Station was punctuated with surprises.

#hoshide-akihiko, #international-space-station, #kimbrough-shane, #mcarthur-k-megan, #national-aeronautics-and-space-administration, #pesquet-thomas-1978, #private-spaceflight, #space-and-astronomy, #space-exploration-technologies-corp

SpaceX Mission: Watch NASA Astronauts Undock From the Space Station

Four crew members are scheduled to depart from the orbital outpost after about half a year in space. They will splash down near Florida on Monday.

#international-space-station, #national-aeronautics-and-space-administration, #private-spaceflight, #rocket-science-and-propulsion, #space-and-astronomy, #space-exploration-technologies-corp

NASA’s Latest Breakthrough: ‘Best Space Tacos Yet’

For the first time, astronauts on the International Space Station cultivated chiles, adding some zing to their tacos.

#chili-peppers, #international-space-station, #national-aeronautics-and-space-administration, #space-and-astronomy, #tacos

Weather Delays SpaceX Launch of Crew-3 Astronauts for NASA

The four crew members, three Americans and one German, were originally scheduled to launch on Sunday.

#barron-kayla-j, #chari-raja, #international-space-station, #national-aeronautics-and-space-administration, #private-spaceflight, #rocket-science-and-propulsion, #space-and-astronomy, #space-exploration-technologies-corp

Leaky Space Toilets: SpaceX’s Latest Engineering Challenge

A discussion of repairs of the waste management systems used aboard the company’s passenger spacecraft offered rare insight into how it fixes things.

#bathrooms-and-toilets, #engineering-and-engineers, #international-space-station, #national-aeronautics-and-space-administration, #private-spaceflight, #space-and-astronomy, #space-exploration-technologies-corp

Blue Origin Wants to Build a Space Station

Blue Origin says it will team up with Sierra Space, Boeing and other companies to build an outpost that could help replace the International Space Station.

#bezos-jeffrey-p, #blue-origin, #boeing-company, #international-space-station, #national-aeronautics-and-space-administration, #private-spaceflight, #redwire-space, #sierra-nevada-space-systems, #space-and-astronomy, #space-stations

Russian Film Crew Wraps Space Station Shoot and Returns to Earth

A Russian actress and film director landed near Russia’s spaceflight base in Kazakhstan after 12 days in orbit.

#international-space-station, #movies, #peresild-yulia, #roscosmos, #russia, #shipenko-klim, #soyuz-project, #space-and-astronomy, #the-challenge-movie

Space Station Emergency Prompted by Russian Thruster Firing

While the astronauts were said to not be in any danger, it was the second such incident since July.

#international-space-station, #national-aeronautics-and-space-administration, #rocket-science-and-propulsion, #roscosmos, #russia, #soyuz-project, #space-and-astronomy, #united-states-international-relations

Among the Stars documents spacewalks to repair $2 billion particle detector

Experience the mission to repair the Advanced Mass Spectrometer (AMS) aboard the International Space Station in Among the Stars, an original documentary series now streaming on Disney+.

It’s problematic enough when something goes wrong with a complicated, $2 billion physics experiment on Earth. Those challenges are considerably greater when said physics experiment is on the International Space Station, orbiting 250 miles above the surface of the Earth. Thanks to the efforts of the intrepid ISS crew, who conducted a series of spacewalks to make repairs, a damaged particle detector has a new lease on life.

Among the Stars, a new six-part documentary series on Disney+, chronicles the challenges the crew faced on that mission over the course of two years. The series also chronicles the final spaceflight of veteran NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy, which occurred right as the COVID-19 pandemic put the world in lockdown. “I joke that, three years ago, I knew I was going into quarantine in March 2020, according to plan,” Cassidy told Ars. “I just didn’t know that the whole world would join me there.”

As we’ve previously reported, the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS) is a particle detector that launched to the International Space Station in 2011 on the penultimate flight of the space shuttle. The machine has steadily been collecting data during the last six years, looking at a variety of particles from many sources, among them dark matter collisions.

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#alpha-magnetic-spectrometer, #among-the-stars, #astronauts, #disney-plus, #documentaries, #gaming-culture, #international-space-station, #nasa, #physics, #science, #space, #spacewalks

Russian Film Crew Has Arrived at Space Station: Live Updates

An actress and a director traveled to the International Space Station, aiming to shoot scenes from the first feature film made in orbit.

#channel-one, #international-space-station, #movies, #peresild-yulia, #rocket-science-and-propulsion, #roscosmos, #russia, #shipenko-klim, #soyuz-project, #space-and-astronomy, #space-stations, #the-challenge-movie

Russia to Send Film Crew to Space: Time and Livestream Details

An actress and a director will head to the International Space Station, aiming to shoot scenes from the first feature film to rely on scenes shot in orbit.

#channel-one, #international-space-station, #movies, #peresild-yulia, #rocket-science-and-propulsion, #roscosmos, #russia, #shipenko-klim, #soyuz-project, #space-and-astronomy, #space-stations, #the-challenge-movie

Russia to Shoot First Full-Length Movie in Space, ‘The Challenge’

Racing to beat NASA, an actress and a film director will blast off next month for the International Space Station, where they will film “The Challenge.”

#cruise-tom, #gagarin-yuri-a, #international-space-station, #movies, #national-aeronautics-and-space-administration, #russia, #space-and-astronomy

Space Station Tilted After New Russian Module Fires Thrusters

The Nauka module met up with the orbiting outpost on Thursday morning, and later unexpectedly fired its thrusters.

#international-space-station, #rocket-science-and-propulsion, #roscosmos, #russia, #space-and-astronomy, #space-stations

It Was His Day Off. Then the Space Station Went for a Spin.

Zebulon Scoville and others at NASA’s mission control in Houston spent Thursday righting the International Space Station after a new Russian module unexpectedly fired its thrusters.

#aviation-accidents-safety-and-disasters, #international-space-station, #national-aeronautics-and-space-administration, #rocket-science-and-propulsion, #roscosmos, #russia, #scoville-zebulon, #space-and-astronomy

Thales Alenia Space to develop pressurized modules for Axiom’s private space station

More details are beginning to emerge on Houston-based Axiom Space’s ambitious project to build and operate the world’s first commercial space station.

Thales Alenia Space, a European aerospace manufacturer, will develop the two pressurized modules of the Axiom Space Station. The two elements, which are scheduled to launch in 2024 and 2025, will dock to the International Space Station before eventually detaching and operating as fully independent, commercial station.

The two companies announced the signing of the final contract, valued at €110 million ($130 million), on Thursday. Each module will be able to accommodate four people. Thales will also be designing the micrometeoroid and debris protection system for each module.

The modules are still in their design phase, Thales Alenia said. The company recently completed development of the first module’s four radial bulkheads at its facility in Turin, Italy. The bulkheads, once connected, will form a cylinder. That structure will attach to the common berth mechanisms, parts of the module that will can connect to the ISS, and hatches.

The two modules have a long road ahead of them. Thales Alenia, a joint venture between French company Thales Group and Italian conglomerate Leonardo, will begin welding on the first module this September through to next year. That module will be sent to Axiom’s Texas facilities in July 2023, where Axiom will then integrate the core systems and prepare it for launch in 2024.

NASA tapped Axiom to build the first commercial living quarters for the ISS in January 2020. Once the ISS is decommissioned, Axiom’s station will detach and function as a commercial center for future missions and scientific experiments. It’s a major part of NASA’s plans to encourage the growth of the burgeoning low Earth orbit economy and the buildout of other private orbital labs and commercial facilities.

Axiom will also operate the first fully private mission to the ISS, scheduled for January 2022. Axiom Mission 1 will send four private astronauts to space onboard a SpaceX Crew Dragon, for an eight-day mission.

#aerospace, #axiom-space, #hardware, #international-space-station, #nasa, #outer-space, #private-spaceflight, #space, #space-station, #spaceflight, #tc, #thales-alenia-space

Max Q — China’s space station gets a staff

Max Q is a weekly newsletter from TechCrunch all about space. Sign up here to receive it weekly on Mondays in your inbox.

This week, China started staffing up its own space station, and Rocket Lab got the nod from NASA to develop small satellites for the purposes of exploring Mars. Meanwhile, space startups continue to raise money and it doesn’t look like the pace of that is going to slow much heading into summer.

China delivers 3 astronauts to its space station

China has launched astronauts to its space station for the first time, delivering three to the station’s core module, where they’ll remain for a mission that lasts until September. This is the first time China has flown a crewed mission since 2012, and it’s also going to set a record for the longest period of time a Chinese astronaut has remained in space continuously.

This will be a big step forward for China’s space program, and a key evolution of its ambitions to establish a continuous presence in low Earth orbit. China is not an International Space Station partner, and no Chinese nationals have ever set foot aboard that station. The European Space Agency had welcomed overtures for them to participate as a member nation in the ISS last decade, but the US refused.

China has sated outright that it will welcome participation in its space station from foreign astronauts, though there hasn’t been any specific agreements put in place for who those might be, or from what countries.

Rocket Lab will build two orbital research spacecraft for a mission to Mars

Image Credits: Rocket Lab

Rocket Lab has landed a contract of a different sort from its usual business, tapped to build small spacecraft that will go to Mars and perform valuable science and exploration missions on behalf of NASA and its partners. These will make use of Rocket Lab’s Photon platform, which is a satellite platform that it originally developed as one of its value-add offerings for its launch customers.

This is unique for Rocket Lab because the spacecraft its developing won’t be launched aboard a Rocket Lab Electron spacecraft, and will instead fly them on a commercial rocket to be selected by NASA in a separate contract process that will happen later.

The goal is to have these fly to the red planet by 2024, and it’ll help support NASA’s deep space exploration ambitions more broadly.

Startups raise $$

Some interesting funding rounds this week, including $5 million for Hydrosat, a company that’s spotting ground temperature from space and providing that to customers for use in industries like agriculture, wildfire and drought risk, water table information and more.

This kind of data has been monitored by weather and environmental monitoring agencies in the past, but Hydrosat aims to collect it at a frequency that hasn’t been possible before.

Meanwhile, another startup whose entire focus is making sure that companies and other users on the ground can make use of Earth observation data also raised a chunk of cash. Skywatch picked up $17.2 million to help expand its platform, which not only provides access to the data for customers, but can actually also provide the customers themselves, a useful feature for brand new satellite companies.

Join us at TC Sessions: Space in December

Last year we held our first dedicated space event, and it went so well that we decided to host it again in 2021. This year, it’s happening mid-December, and it’s once again going to be an entirely virtual conference, so people from all over the world will be able to join — and you can, too.

#agriculture, #astronaut, #china, #european-space-agency, #flight, #human-spaceflight, #hydrosat, #international-space-station, #mars, #nasa, #outer-space, #rocket-lab, #space, #space-exploration, #spacecraft, #spaceflight, #tc, #wildfire

As Astronauts Dock, China Takes Up Long-Term Residence in Orbit

Three Chinese astronauts arrived on Thursday to help build their country’s rival to the International Space Station.

#china, #international-space-station, #space-and-astronomy, #space-stations

China Launch: Astronauts Dock With Space Station

Three Chinese astronauts arrived on Thursday to help build their country’s rival to the International Space Station.

#china, #international-space-station, #space-and-astronomy, #space-stations

How to Watch China’s Space Station Launch: Time, Streaming and More

Three Chinese astronauts, the first since 2016, are set to launch into space. They will begin what is expected to be a continuous Chinese presence in Earth’s orbit for the next decade.

#astronauts, #china, #china-manned-space-agency, #international-space-station, #national-aeronautics-and-space-administration, #rocket-science-and-propulsion, #space-and-astronomy, #space-stations, #tiangong

China, Russia Team Up for a Space Race With the U.S.

The two countries have pledged to cooperate on expeditions to the moon and to an asteroid, setting the stage for a new space race with the United States and its partners.

#china, #china-manned-space-agency, #economic-conditions-and-trends, #international-relations, #international-space-station, #mars-planet, #moon, #national-aeronautics-and-space-administration, #politics-and-government, #rocket-science-and-propulsion, #russia, #space-and-astronomy, #space-stations

NASA seeking proposals for two new private astronaut missions to ISS

NASA said Friday it was seeking proposals from commercial companies for two new private crewed missions to the International Space Station. The first mission would likely take place between fall of 2022 and mid-2023. The second one would follow sometime between mid-2023 and the end of 2023.

Private astronaut missions are a relatively recent initiative from NASA, part of its Commercial low-Earth Orbit (LEO) Development program. For most of humanity’s history in space, trips to the ISS were reserved for astronauts from countries’ respective space agencies.

Houston-based startup Axiom Space was awarded the first private astronaut mission, to take place in January 2022. That mission will carry four private astronauts for an eight-day mission from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. NASA will pay Axiom $1.69 million for services associated with the mission.

Each of the new missions can be up to 14 days and proposals are due by July 9. The agency specified that the missions must be brokered by a U.S. company and use approved U.S. transportation spacecraft. (Axiom’s private mission will use a SpaceX Crew Dragon.)

NASA said that enabling private manned missions such as this one may help “develop a robust low-Earth orbit economy where NASA is one of many customers, and the private sector leads the way.” Thanks to the significantly decreased launch costs – due in large part to innovations in rocket reusability, led by SpaceX – as well as a whole new ecosystem of ‘new space’ companies that have sprung up over the last five years, space has become busier than ever.

The agency also said LEO could eventually be used as a “training and proving ground” for the planned Artemis program – humanity’s long-awaited return to the moon – and missions even deeper into the solar system.

#artemis, #artemis-program, #commercial-spaceflight, #international-space-station, #low-earth-orbit, #nasa, #private-spaceflight, #space, #spaceflight, #transportation

SpaceX launches Dragon cargo spacecraft to the Space Station with new Falcon 9

SpaceX’s Dragon capsule is once again heading to the International Space Station.

The company launched its 22nd Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) mission for NASA on Thursday. This is the fifth capsule SpaceX has sent to ISS in the last twelve months, SpaceX director of Dragon mission management Sarah Walker noted in a media briefing Tuesday. It’s also the first launch of the year on a new Falcon 9 rocket booster.

The rocket took off from Cape Canaveral in Florida at 1:29 PM eastern time, right on schedule despite the threat of storm clouds from the south and east. The first stage separated as planned and touched down on the “Of Course I Still Love You” droneship in the Atlantic Ocean eight minutes after launch. The second stage, which takes the capsule to orbit, separated 12 minutes after launch, also right on schedule.

Image Credits: SpaceX

The Falcon 9 Rocket launch vehicle is sending more than 7,300 pounds of research materials, supplies, and hardware, including new solar arrays, to the ISS crew. It’s the second mission under SpaceX’s new CRS contract with NASA; the first took place last December.

Dragon is carrying a number of research experiments to be conducted on the ISS, including oral bacteria to test germ growth with Colgate toothpaste; a number of tardigrades (also affectionately called water bears), primordial organisms that will attempt to fare and reproduce in space environments; and an investigation that will study the effects of microgravity on the formation of kidney stones – an ailment that many crew members display an increased susceptibility to during spaceflight.

The capsule is also delivering fresh food, including apples, navel oranges, lemons, and avocados.

Of the over 7,300 pounds of cargo, around 3,000 pounds will be taken up by a new roll-out, “flex blanket” solar array developed by space infrastructure company Redwire. As opposed to more traditional rigid paneled solar arrays, flex blanket technology provides more mass and performance benefits, Redwire technical director Matt LaPointe told TechCrunch.

The arrays were placed in the Dragon’s unpressurized trunk. It’s the first of three missions to send iROSA solar arrays to the station, with each mission carrying two arrays, LaPointe said. Once installed, the six iROSA arrays will collectively produce over 120KW of power. Redwire, which announced in March that it would go public via a merger with a special purpose acquisition company, says the new iROSA arrays will improve the ISS’s power generation by 20-30%.

The Dragon capsule is set to arrive at the space station at around 5 AM on June 5, where it will autonomously dock on a port of the Harmony module of the ISS. It will spend more than a month with the station before splashing down in the Atlantic with research and return cargo.

#aerospace, #falcon-9, #international-space-station, #nasa, #outer-space, #space, #spaceflight, #spacex, #tc

SpaceX will launch four private astronaut missions to the Space Station through 2023

SpaceX is going to be providing more rides to private astronauts to the International Space Station, on top of the previously announced mission set to take place as early as next January. All four of these flights will be for Axiom, a private commercial spaceflight and space station company, and they’re set to take place between early next year through 2023.

SpaceX’s Crew Dragon and Falcon 9 spacecraft make up the first commercial launch system certified for transporting humans to the ISS, and they’ve already delivered three groups of NASA astronauts to the orbital lab, including one demo crew for its final qualification test, and two operational crews to live and work on the station. In May, Axiom and NASA revealed the details of their AX-1 mission, the first all-private launch to the ISS, which will carry four passengers to the station on a Crew Dragon to live and work in space for a duration of eight days in total.

NASA and SpaceX will be providing training to all four of the Axiom crews set to make the trip to the station. And while neither SpaceX or Axiom has shared more details yet  on what the other three missions will entail, or when they’re set to take place, four missions in two years technically absorbs all the existing capacity NASA has allocated for private astronaut missions, which is set at 2 per year, for 2022 and 2023.

One private astronaut flight to the ISS is already set for 2021: Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa booked a ride to the station aboard a Russian Soyuz rocket for early December. Maezawa booked through Space Adventures, which has already provided a handful of trips for deep-pocketed private astronauts over the course of the past couple of decades.

Axiom meanwhile envisions a somewhat less niche, and more continually active future for commercial orbital space stations. The company is already working on a commercial module to be added to the existing ISS, and has designs on building a fully private successor to the station in future. Booking four trips with multiple crew members in two years goes a long way towards showing there’s more than just very sporadic demand from eccentric rich people for this kind of offering.

#axiom, #elon-musk, #falcon, #human-spaceflight, #international-space-station, #nasa, #outer-space, #private-spaceflight, #space, #space-adventures, #space-tourism, #spaceflight, #spacex, #tc, #yusaku-maezawa

Space Station May Host Wave of TV Shows and Films

A Discovery reality TV competition, a Russian medical thriller and more productions could be heading to the orbital outpost in the next year.

#axiom-space-inc, #discovery-channel, #international-space-station, #maezawa-yusaku, #movies, #national-aeronautics-and-space-administration, #private-spaceflight, #reality-television, #rocket-science-and-propulsion, #space-and-astronomy, #space-exploration-technologies-corp, #travel-and-vacations, #whitson-peggy

China’s Ambitious Plans in Space: The Moon, Mars and Beyond

China deployed a land rover on the surface of Mars on Saturday. The mission is one of many on its schedule as it challenges U.S. dominance of space exploration.

#china, #international-space-station, #mars-planet, #national-aeronautics-and-space-administration, #space-and-astronomy, #space-stations, #tianwen-1-mars-mission

SpaceX’s inaugural Moon tour private astronaut is heading to the International Space Station first

SpaceX private spaceflight ambitions got a big boost in 2018 when Japanese entrepreneur and billionaire Yusaku Maezawa announced he’d be taking a trip aboard a SpaceX Crew Dragon on a round-trip flight passing the Moon. Maezawa is still on track to make that trip by 2023 according to current schedules, but he’s so eager to get to space that he just announced he’ll make a visit to the International Space Station as a private astronaut this December.

Maezawa will go as a client of Space Adventures, on a Russian Soyuz rocket set to take off from Kazakhstan on December 8, and he’ll be accompanied by his production assistant Yozo Hirano. Space Adventures is the same company behind prior Soyuz commercial spaceflight missions, including the trip made by Anousheh Ansari in 2006 and Guy Laliberté in 2009, among others. Laliberté’s trip was the most recent, with space tourism at the station officially on hold since the end of the Space Shuttle program in 2011 since Soyuz has been the only means to access the ISS. Now that SpaceX is flying regular astronaut shuttle missions, however, tourist trips are back on.

The trip that Maezawa plans to take will take place over the course of 12 days, and he’ll be doing three months of training prior to the mission in Russia to get ready for the experience. In addition to being the first private astronaut visit to the ISS in over 10 years, this is also the first time that two private astronauts will fly on board the same Soyuz at the same time. Maezawa and Hirano will also be the first Japanese citizens to make the journey as private individuals.

It may seem like overkill to get to visit space twice in a lifetime as a private astronaut, but Maezawa says he’s driven by a curiosity of “what’s life like in space?” which will of course be useful information to have on the planned Moon mission, which will spend three days getting there, make a loop around our natural satellite, and then spend three days coming back. He’s also planning to post the experience to YouTube, which is why Hirano is accompanying him to document.

#anousheh-ansari, #astronaut, #human-spaceflight, #international-space-station, #moon-mission, #outer-space, #private-spaceflight, #soyuz, #space, #space-adventures, #space-tourism, #spaceflight, #spacex, #tc, #yusaku-maezawa

Axiom Space and NASA detail first fully private human launch to the Space Station, set for January 2022

Houston-based startup Axiom Space and NASA unveiled more details Monday about the forthcoming Axiom Mission 1 (AX-1), the first fully private human mission to the International Space Station.

The Axiom Mission 1 (AX-1) spaceflight mission will ferry four private astronauts to the International Space Station in January 2022. The eight-day mission will be launched from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida using a SpaceX Crew Dragon. While in space, the crew will be living and working in the U.S. segment of the ISS.

NASA will be paying Axiom $1.69 million for services associated with the mission, such as transporting supplies to the ISS, though that does not include other reimbursable agreements between the two entities.

There’s a “high degree of confidence in the late January date” for the launch, Axiom CEO Michael Suffredini said.

Axiom in January released the identity of the crew members: Canadian investor Mark Pathy, investor Larry Connor, and former Israeli pilot Eytan Stibbe. Leading the crew as mission commander is former NASA astronaut and Axiom Space VP Michael López-Alegría, who has four spaceflights under his belt.

Pathy, Connor and Stibbe will engage in research missions while onboard. Pathy will be collaborating with the Montreal Children’s Hospital and the Canadian Space Agency; Connor, the Mayo Clinic and Cleveland Clinic; and Stibbe, to conduct scientific experiments coordinated by the Israel Space Agency at the Ministry of Science and Technology.

“Larry and Mark are very serious individuals who are dedicated to being the best they can be in the mold of a NASA astronaut and they’re not interested in being tourists,” López-Alegría said during the media briefing. “They want to do their part to improve humankind.”

To prepare for the mission, the four crew members will go on a “camping trip” in the Alaskan foothills for training in July, López-Alegría said. He will start full-time training around August, with Larry starting in September. The rest of the crew will start in October, with around two-thirds of their time dedicated to ISS-specific training and the rest dedicated to training with SpaceX. The staggered schedule is due to the differing responsibilities between the crew members while on board. Axiom will be using the same contractor that NASA uses to train its astronauts.

While Suffredini declined to specify how much the private astronauts paid for their space on the flight, he said he “wouldn’t argue with” widely reported figures in the tens of millions. The Washington Post in January reported that the ticket prices came in at $55 million each.

Prices may not always be so high, but Suffredini said that the industry is likely at least a decade away from serious price drops that might make space travel feasible for the average space-goer.

Axiom intends to offer astronaut flights – both private and national – to the International Space Station and eventually its own privately-funded space station. While Axiom has “things lined up” for AX-2, AX-3 and AX-4, “like everyone we have to compete for the opportunity,” Suffredini said. The number of missions to the ISS is limited because there are only two docking ports on the ISS, Station deputy manager Dana Weigel added. That suggests that additional stations will be necessary to meet the burgeoning demand for both commercial and scientific space missions.

The company also in January 2020 won a NASA contract to develop and install a commercial module to the Harmony docking port of the ISS as early as 2024.

Phil McAlister, NASA’s director of commercial spaceflight development, said that recent announcements on commercial spaceflights from Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic in addition to the Axiom mission have heralded “a renaissance in U.S. human spaceflight.”

“A lot of times history can feel incremental when you’re in it, but I really feel like we are in it this year. This is a real inflection point with human spaceflight,” he said.

#aerospace, #axiom-space, #commercial-spaceflight, #international-space-station, #nasa, #private-spaceflight, #space, #spaceflight, #tc

Space Aged: Bottle of Wine From Space Station Could Sell for $1 Million

The bottle of Pétrus from 2000 — which is being sold by Christie’s — comes with a second bottle of “terrestrial” wine, a custom trunk, a decanter, glasses and a corkscrew crafted from a meteorite.

#anson-jane-journalist, #auctions, #bordeaux-france, #christies, #france, #international-space-station, #space-and-astronomy, #space-exploration-technologies-corp, #space-stations, #wine-spectator-magazine, #wines

Watch SpaceX Make the First Nighttime Splash Down Since 1968

Crew-1, which launched to the space station in November, will head home in the capsule called Resilience.

#florida, #gulf-of-mexico, #international-space-station, #national-aeronautics-and-space-administration, #panama-city-panama, #private-spaceflight, #rocket-science-and-propulsion, #space-and-astronomy, #space-exploration-technologies-corp

How to Watch SpaceX Splashdown With 4 Astronauts

Crew-1, which launched to the space station in November, will head home in the capsule called Resilience.

#gulf-of-mexico, #international-space-station, #national-aeronautics-and-space-administration, #private-spaceflight, #rocket-science-and-propulsion, #space-and-astronomy, #space-exploration-technologies-corp

SpaceX launches 60 more Starlink satellites

SpaceX has launched another batch of Starlink satellites, adding 60 more to the constellation on orbit. This is the 24th Starlink launch in total, and means SpaceX has now sent up over 1,500 Starlink spacecraft, with around 1,438 of those still in operation. This is the first Starlink launch since April 7 — which, surprisingly, is the biggest gap between these launches in quite a while.

This year, SpaceX’s overall launch calendar has been dominated by Starlink launches, as the company seeks to expand the availability, quality and coverage of its low Earth orbit broadband internet network. SpaceX also opened up availability of Starlink service this year, and now seems to be mostly supply-constrained on the consumer receiver terminal side, rather than necessarily on network capacity or regional ability.

Regarding that few week gap in the Starlink launch pace, it’s not like SpaceX was slacking in the meantime; the launcher sent up its second crew of astronauts destined for the International Space Station in a flight just last week. Plus, it has two three additional Starlink launches tentatively scheduled to happen in May.

This latest launch took off from Cape Canaveral in Florida at 11:44 PM EDT (8:44 PM PDT) on Wednesday, and it used a flight-proven Falcon 9 first stage booster, which was used on six prior missions, including four Starlink launches.

#aerospace, #broadband, #falcon-9, #florida, #international-space-station, #outer-space, #space, #spacecraft, #spaceflight, #spacex, #starlink, #tc

4 Astronauts Float Into the International Space Station and Open Arms

The crew arrived on Saturday on the Dragon Endeavour, a spacecraft built by SpaceX, Elon Musk’s space exploration company.

#dragon-endeavor, #international-space-station, #musk-elon, #national-aeronautics-and-space-administration, #private-spaceflight, #rocket-science-and-propulsion, #space-and-astronomy, #space-stations, #starlink-satellite-constellation-spacex

Watch SpaceX launch its second crew of Space Station astronauts on a flight-proven Falcon 9 live

SpaceX is set to launch its second operational commercial crew mission to the International Space Station for NASA, with a liftoff time of 5:49 AM EDT (2:49 AM PDT) on Friday morning. The flight will carry four astronauts, including two from NASA, one from JAXA (the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) and one from the ESA (European Space Agency), to the station, where they will begin a regular tour of duty conducting science experiments, and maintaining and upgrading the orbital platform.

This is the second commercial crew mission for SpaceX, which officially qualified its Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket for human flight last year. NASA then launched four astronauts using SpaceX’s human-certified launch system later that year in November, becoming the first private company to deliver people to the ISS, and the first American vehicle to do so since the retirement of the Space Shuttle in 2011. Since the end of that program, NASA has relied on buying rides aboard Russian Soyuz rockets to keep up its representation on the ISS.

There’s already a SpaceX Crew Dragon at the Space Station from that Crew-1 launch last year, and it was relocated to another port on the station earlier this month in preparation for the arrival of the one flying for Crew-2. The Crew-1 Dragon capsule is set to return back to Earth with astronauts on board once they’re relieved by this flight’s crew, likely later this month on April 28.

One major notable change for this launch is the use of a flight-proven Falcon 9 rocket booster. SpaceX has previously used new boosters fresh from the factory for its human launches, though it has a spotless track record when it comes to booster re-use for its cargo flights. It’s also the first re-use of a dragon spacecraft, and both components of this launch system actually previously supported human launches, with the first stage serving during Crew-1, and the Dragon capsule providing the ride for Demo-2, which flew astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley.

The astronauts on today’s flight are Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur from NASA, as well as Akihiko Hoshide from JAXA and Thomas Pesquet from the ESA. As mentioned, liftoff time is set for 5:49 AM EDT, but SpaceX will begin streaming live hours in advance at approximately 1:30 AM EDT on Friday (10:30 PM PDT on Thursday).

#aerospace, #commercial-crew-program, #esa, #european-space-agency, #falcon, #international-space-station, #japan-aerospace-exploration-agency, #jaxa, #nasa, #outer-space, #private-spaceflight, #shuttle, #space, #space-station, #spacecraft, #spaceflight, #spacex, #tc