International Space Station

NASA astronauts splash down in SpaceX capsule as historic mission returns to Earth

NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken splashed down in the Gulf of Mexico in a SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft Sunday, ending a historic two-month trip to space. The mission marked the first time that astronauts have launched from American soil since the final Space Shuttle flight in 2011. After deploying two drogue parachutes and then the capsule’s main parachutes, the spacecraft landed off the coast of Pensacola, Fla., at 2:48 p.m. EDT. The spacecraft, named “Endeavour” by the astronauts, left the International Space Station (ISS) on Saturday. Hurley and Behnken, both veterans of Space Shuttle missions, had boarded the orbiting space lab May 31 following the eagerly-anticipated launch of the Demo-2 mission from Kennedy Space Center atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. With wind at 2 knots, weather conditions for the capsule’s return to Earth were ideal. The capsule was hoisted aboard the SpaceX recovery ship Go Navigator and its hatch was opened at 3:59 p.m. EDT. Behnken was the first to exit the capsule, giving a thumbs up to the recovery team. Hurley followed shortly after, also giving a thumbs up. “Great to have NASA Astronauts return to Earth after very successful two month mission. Thank you to all!,” tweeted President Donald Trump. “Astronauts complete first splashdown in 45 years. Very exciting!” Trump tweeted. “It was an honor to witness history as @NASA and @SpaceX launched American astronauts on an American rocket from American soil to the @Space_Station in May. Today, we welcome home @AstroBehnken & @Astro_Doug! On behalf of a grateful Nation, thank you!” tweeted Vice President Mike Pence, who is chair of the National Space Council. “We have SPLASHDOWN! Welcome home @AstroBehnken and @Astro_Doug!” tweeted NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. The SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft lifted off on May 30 amid a blaze of publicity. Previously known as capsule 206, the spacecraft was renamed Endeavour, continuing the tradition of astronauts naming their capsules. The mission is an important milestone in the space agency’s Commercial Crew program.

If you missed this historic moment, click on the text above.  Congrats to Bob, Doug, SpaceX, and NASA for this incredible feat!  Awesome!!     🙂

NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken prepare for historic return to Earth in SpaceX capsule

NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken are making preparations for their historic return to Earth Sunday. The SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft, named “Endeavour” by the astronauts, is scheduled to undock from the International Space Station on Saturday and make its splashdown off the coast of Florida the following day. The astronauts have spent two months on the orbiting space lab. “Weather permitting, NASA and SpaceX are targeting 2:42 p.m. EDT Sunday, Aug. 2, for the splashdown and conclusion of the Demo-2 test flight mission,” said NASA, in a statement. “With this test flight, NASA and the U.S. aerospace industry are marking the first successful launch of a crew to the space station on a commercially built and operated American rocket and spacecraft, and a safe return to Earth for that spacecraft and crew.” During a press conference on the International Space Station Friday Hurley explained how the Dragon capsule will be recovered following splashdown. “There will be a couple of what we call ‘fast boats’ will come up to the capsule at that point and make sure that everything is safe on the outside of the capsule for it to be hoisted on board the recovery ship,” he said. “At that point, the recovery ship is moving in and in communications with the fast boats … once everybody gives the thumbs up that we are ready to be hoisted aboard it will get lifted aboard by a crane and cradled on board the aft portion of the ship.” “At that point, once it’s secure on the back deck of the ship, then they can open the hatch and it will be time for us to come out,” Hurley added. Undocking from the International Space Station is scheduled for 7:34 p.m. EDT Saturday. “Teams will continue to closely monitor Tropical Storm Isaias and evaluate impacts to weather around the Florida peninsula, including the potential splashdown sites in the Gulf of Mexico and along the state’s Atlantic coast,” said NASA, in a statement. “NASA and SpaceX will make a decision on a primary splashdown target approximately 6 hours before undocking Saturday.” Hurley and Behnken, both veterans of Space Shuttle missions, boarded the orbiting space lab May 31 following the eagerly-anticipated launch of the Demo-2 mission from Kennedy Space Center atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. The launch marked the first time that astronauts have launched from American soil since the final Space Shuttle flight in 2011. The mission is also the first time a private company, rather than a national government, has sent astronauts into orbit. The SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft lifted off on May 30 amid a blaze of publicity. Previously known as capsule 206, the spacecraft was renamed Endeavour, continuing the tradition of astronauts naming their capsules. “Today was just an amazing day,” NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said shortly after the launch. “I can breathe a sigh of relief but I can also tell you that I’m not going to celebrate until Bob and Doug are home safely.” The mission is an important milestone in the space agency’s Commercial Crew program. “This is SpaceX’s final test flight in NASA’s Commercial Crew Program and will provide data on the performance of the Falcon 9 rocket, Crew Dragon spacecraft, and ground systems, as well as in-orbit, docking, landing, and crew return operations,” said NASA in the statement.

Exciting!!   For more from NASA, click on the text above.     🙂

SpaceX spacecraft docks with International Space Station on historic NASA mission

SpaceX’s Dragon Endeavour spacecraft crewed by NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken has docked with the International Space Station on its historic Demo-2 mission. The spacecraft launched atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Kennedy Space Center Saturday. The mission is the first time that astronauts have launched from American soil since the final Space Shuttle flight in 2011. The mission is also the first time a private company, rather than a national government, has sent astronauts into orbit. The spacecraft made its ‘soft capture’ docking with the International Space Station at 10:16 am ET after an almost 19-hour journey to the orbiting space lab. The space station was 262 statute miles above the border of northern China and Mongolia when the docking occurred. “Hard capture” docking was complete at 10:28 am ET with the full docking sequence complete two minutes later. “Happy to be aboard!” said Hurley when the capsule was docked. The hatch is expected to open around 12:45 pm ET, with a welcome ceremony at 1:15 pm ET “Welcome home @AstroBehnken and @Astro_Doug! America’s two favorite dads in space have docked to the @Space_Station,” tweeted NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. President Donald Trump and Mike Pence, who is chairman of the National Space Council, were at Kennedy Space Center to watch Hurley and Behnken lift off from storied launch pad 39A, which was also used for the Apollo and space shuttle programs. On Saturday evening Hurley announced that the spacecraft, previously known as capsule 206, has been renamed Endeavour, continuing the tradition of astronauts naming their capsules. “We would like to welcome you aboard capsule Endeavour,” he said. “We chose Endeavour for a few reasons – one, because of the incredible Endeavour NASA, SpaceX and the United States has been on since the end of the shuttle program in 2011. The other reason we named it Endeavour is little more personal – Bob and I, we both had our first flight on Shuttle Endeavour and it just meant to much to us to carry on that name.”

Nice!!  To see videos from this morning’s docking, click on the text above.  Great job Bob and Doug!     🙂

SpaceX Crew Dragon docks at International Space Station

A space capsule with a life-size test dummy named Ripley reached the International Space Station early Sunday in a test flight commissioned by SpaceX. The Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon flight docked at the space station around 27 hours after liftoff from NASA’S Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The flight is designed to demonstrate the possibility for ferrying astronauts in commercial aircraft. “The @SpaceX Crew Dragon is attached to the @Space_Station! It’s a first for a commercially built & operated spacecraft designed for crew! #LaunchAmerica,” NASA tweeted. “To be frank, I’m a little emotionally exhausted,” SpaceX founder Elon Musk told reporters barely an hour after liftoff. “We have to dock to the station. We have to come back, but so far it’s worked … we’ve passed the riskiest items.” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine called it “a big night for the United States of America.” The success of the launch drew a Twitter message from President Trump. “We’ve got NASA ‘rocking’ again,” the president wrote. “Great activity and success. Congrats to SPACEX and all!” “We’re on the precipice of launching American astronauts on American rockets from American soil again for the first time since the retirement of the space shuttles in 2011,” said Bridenstine, who got a special tour of the launch pad on the eve of launch, by Musk. NASA has provided private companies like SpaceX and Boeing $8 billion to build and operate capsules to transport astronauts to and from the space station. Russian aircraft are the ones to ferry astronauts to the station. The only way astronauts can get to space are via Russian rockets, yet the cost of using them has steeply risen over the years. NASA currently pays $82 million per seat.” The dummy Ripley – named after the lead character in the “Alien” film series – was strapped in a seat inside the capsule, which can accommodate as many as seven astronauts. A small toy resembling Earth was left to float around. The flight is also packed with around 450 pounds of supplies. SpaceX already has made 16 trips to the space station using cargo Dragons. The white Crew Dragon is slightly bigger — 27 feet tip to tip — and considerably fancier and safer. Musk said the redesigned capsule has “hardly a part in common” with its predecessor.

Very cool!!  Go SpaceX!!    🙂

ISS NASA live cam cuts after ‘suddenly locking on to mystery glowing UFO’

A “UFO was intercepted” by the International Space Station (ISS), claim alien hunters, who allege footage from a NASA live camera feed which zoomed in on a mysterious glowing orb suddenly cut out. A UFO hunter claims the ISS camera locked on and zoomed into a “mystery glowing orb”, but after monitoring the ball of light, NASA cut the live stream from public viewing. The “Unidentified Flying Object (UFO)” was visible in the distance between the ISS and Earth, according to Scott C Waring, editor of UFO Sightings Daily, before the “camera panned towards it and then zoomed in.” Mr Waring said: “I was watching the space station live cam when I noticed the camera switch to a new camera. “Then the camera began to swing to the left until it focused on a white oval between it and Earth. “Then the camera began to swing to the left until it focused on a white oval between it and Earth. “The object had matched its speed with the space station. The camera then continued to zoom closer and closer, but all we could see was a glowing white oval. “The vibrate light from the UFO was so powerful that even NASA’s new seven million dollar HD cameras could not focus on it.” Mr Waring has contacted NASA to ask for details of what was seen by the ISS camera operator.

Things that make ya’ go, “hmmm…”   To see photos, and the video in question…and to read the rest of this article, click on the text above.   🙂

Glitch shifts position of International Space Station

A glitch at the International Space Station on Tuesday caused its position in orbit to change, but the crew was not in danger, the Russian space agency said. Roscosmos said the engines of a Soyuz spacecraft docked at the station unexpectedly started during testing of the radio system that controls the docking procedure. Steps were taken to stabilize the station and specialists were now working to determine what caused the engines to start, the agency said. Two Soyuz spacecraft are docked at the station, and one of them is scheduled to return three of the six crew members to Earth this week. Roscosmos did not specify which capsule had the malfunction, but said the landing would go ahead as planned. Tuesday’s problem follows the failure of a Soyuz booster rocket, which in addition to launching the manned Soyuz spacecraft also is used to send Progress cargo ships to the space station. A Soyuz rocket carrying a Progress suffered a breakdown after a launch in April, prompting Russia to delay the landing of the three crew members and the launch of a new three-person crew. The landing, originally planned for last month, was rescheduled to Thursday.

Astronaut Scott Kelly blasts off on yearlong space station mission

Astronaut Scott Kelly has blasted off on his yearlong mission to the International Space Station. The capsule carrying Kelly and two Russian cosmonauts was launched into space by a Soyuz-FG booster rocket, lifting off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 3:42 p.m. ET. The journey to the International Space Station is expected to take 6 hours. Of the three-man team, American Scott Kelly and Russian Mikhail Kornienko are to stay at the International Space Station until March 2016. Their trip is NASA’s first stab at a one-year spaceflight, anticipating Mars expeditions that would last two-to-three years. “This is an important step forward to start utilizing ISS more effectively in preparation for human missions to Mars,” Chris Carberry, executive director of Explore Mars

Very cool!  Godspeed to Scott!    🙂

Astronauts take third spacewalk to complete tricky cable job

Spacewalking astronauts ventured out for the third time in just over a week Sunday to complete an extensive, tricky cable job at the International Space Station. The advance work — involving nearly 800 feet of cable over three spacewalks — is needed for new crew capsules commissioned by NASA. A pair of docking ports will fly up later this year, followed by the capsules themselves, with astronauts aboard, in 2017. American astronauts Terry Virts and Butch Wilmore had 400 more feet of power and data cable to install Sunday, as well as two sets of antennas. They successfully routed 364 feet on their first two excursions, on Feb. 21 and last Wednesday. NASA hasn’t conducted such a quick succession of spacewalks since its former shuttle days, and the amount of cable work is unprecedented. Even more spacewalks will be needed once new docking ports start arriving in June. “Good luck, guys,” Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti said from inside as the spacewalk got underway early.

Very cool!!    🙂

After 17 years in orbit, how durable is the International Space Station?

Even though the ammonia leak that forced a partial evacuation of the International Space Station’s U.S. section on Wednesday proved to be a false alarm, the news did raise questions on the station’s durability.

Indeed..  NASA, and our Russian counterparts, I’m sure are doing a complete review of the station’s safety, durability, and longevity.  Something to keep an eye on..