ISS News: March 2011 Archives

Wheelock photo "Moon from Space" chosen for Real-Time Photo of the Year

"NASA astronaut Doug Wheelock was honored with a Shorty Award for an image of the moon he took and posted to his Twitter account, @Astro_Wheels, while living aboard the International Space Station last year. The awards ceremony was held at the TimesCenter in New York City on Monday, March 28."

Make a Wish From Space

Make a Wish From Space - Tohoku-Kanto Earthquake in Japan

"In honor of those affected by the Tohoku-Kanto Earthquake in Japan, Russian cosmonaut and Expedition 27 commander Dmitry Kondratyev (center), European Space Agency astronaut Paolo Nespoli and NASA astronaut Cady Coleman are pictured with paper cranes (origami craft), which they folded to be placed in the Kounotori2 H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV-2). The HTV2 is scheduled to undock from the International Space Station at 11:45 a.m. EDT on March 28, and re-enter Earth's atmosphere on March 29, 2011."

NASA Releases First-Ever HD Footage Of SRB Recovery Ship Mission

"For the first time, NASA has released high-definition video taken during the retrieval of solid rocket booster segments from the Atlantic Ocean. The solid rocket boosters provided 144 million pounds of thrust for the final launch of space shuttle Discovery on its STS-133 mission."

Keith's 4:50 pm EST note: "144 million pounds of thrust"? I don't think so.

Keith's 10:00 pm EST update: They fixed it to read "horsepower".

Contamination Forces Removal of Space Station Greenhouse

"Gardens are always a source of surprises. After three weeks of steady growth in space under the watchful eye of Paolo Nespoli, the baby space plants of the Greenhouse in Space project have found a new - and unexpected - travelling companion."

Expedition 26 Crew And Capsule Land Safely In Kazakhstan

"Expedition 26 Commander Scott Kelly and Russian Flight Engineers Alexander Kaleri and Oleg Skripochka safely landed their Soyuz spacecraft on the Kazakhstan steppe Wednesday, wrapping up a five-month stay aboard the International Space Station. Kaleri, the Soyuz commander, was at the controls of the spacecraft as it undocked at 12:27 a.m. EDT from the station's Poisk module. The trio landed at 3:54 a.m. (1:54 p.m. local time) at a site northeast of the town of Arkalyk."

NASA Extends Crew Flight Contract With Russian Space Agency

"NASA has signed a $753 million modification to the current International Space Station contract with the Russian Federal Space Agency for crew transportation, rescue and related services from 2014 through June 2016. The firm-fixed price modification covers comprehensive Soyuz support, including all necessary training and preparation for launch, flight operations, landing and crew rescue of long-duration missions for 12 individual space station crew members."

Keith's note: $753 million/12 astronauts = $62.75 million/astronaut.

No NASA Discount For Soyuz Seats, 2010, earlier post

"NASA has signed a deal worth 306 million dollars (224 million euros) with Roskomos for six rides to the ISS in 2012 and 2013, or a charge of 51 million dollars per US astronaut."

NASA Extends Contract with Russian Federal Space Agency, 2008, earlier post

"NASA has signed a $141 million modification to the current International Space Station contract with the Russian Federal Space Agency for crew transportation services planned through the spring of 2012."

- NASA JSC Solicitation: Procurement of Crew Transportation and Rescue Services From Roscosmos
- Soyuz Procurement That Falls Short of NASA's Own Commercial Crew Requirements
- NASA Extends Contract with Russian Federal Space Agency (2012-2013), earlier post

As budget debate continues, Bolden says space technology spending safe, Space Politics

"Bolden said he was trying to convince Congress that it's not feasible for NASA to move ahead directly to a 130-metric-ton launch vehicle for the Space Launch System authorized by Congress. "We're not going to build a 130-metric-ton heavy-lift vehicle. We can't," he said. "We continue to negotiate and discuss with the Congress why that is not necessary."

The future value of NASA depends on priorities, Rep. Ralph Hall, The Hill

"NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said at a recent hearing that NASA would not need exploration capabilities until after 2020, although Congress clearly directed NASA to develop the heavy lift system with an initial capability to return to the International Space Station by 2016. Failure to do so will result in continued reliance on the Russians' Soyuz to transport astronauts to the International Space Station. This is unacceptable. NASA should give highest priority to developing the SLS and MPCV programs that build on the tremendous investments that have already been made in the Constellation systems. We cannot, as the NASA Administrator suggests, wait until 2020."

Digital Soyuz Return Could Be Rocky, Jim Oberg, IEEE Spectrum

"The new "digital" version of the Soyuz spacecraft is having some decidedly analog problems on its maiden voyage. Astronauts will test on-orbit repairs done to its troubled control systems ahead of a scheduled landing next Wednesday. The tests will determine whether the Soyuz can perform a gentle guided descent or instead must rely on a backup emergency "ballistic" landing, involving a much rougher deceleration and landing several hundred kilometers short of the main recovery zone. ... NASA quietly disclosed the situation Thursday on its website in a routine and little read daily "On-Orbit Status Report" for the International Space Station."

NASA ISS On-Orbit Status 10 March 2011

Roscosmos: Soyuz TMA-21 Launch Delayed Due to "Glitch"

"Roscosmos Board held a meeting today to discuss the report by Technical Management on Human Space System Flight Testing. The report mentioned an incompliance in operation of the Kvant-V equipment in Soyuz TMA-21 detected during launch campaign at Baikonur. Taking into account the necessity to run additional analysis of the glitch, Soyuz TMa-21 launch is postponed. Failure of a condenser is blamed for the glitch in Kvant-V."

Soyuz TMA-M ballistic return possible, Interfax

"The first modernized manned spaceship Soyuz TMA-M may have a ballistic landing on Wednesday, NASA said. Soyuz TMA-M commander Alexander Kaleri will test angular speed sensors after the ship undocks from the International Space Station (ISS). The other crewmembers of Soyuz TMA-M are Oleg Skripochka and Scott Kelly. If a problem occurs, the astronauts may experience G8 to G10 in the ballistic return, NASA said. Astronauts experience G3 to G4 in the case of a regular return. NASA explained the planned check of angular speed sensors with the failure of the landing capsule's analog signal processing system, which happened on October 9, 2010, on the second day of Soyuz TMA-M's flight to the ISS. As a result, data from angular speed sensors stopped being displayed on the Neptun-ME console."

Keith's note: Have a look at these ground-based images by Thierry Legault of the ISS including an individual performing an EVA. But ... scroll down. If you are one of those people who can fuse two images (left and right) by crossing your eyes (I am) then you will see that this is a stunning animation -- quite an accomplishment. Alas, I am baffled as to why NASA.gov never links to his stuff.

Space Shuttle Discovery Returns From Space For The Last Time

"At 11:57 a.m. EST, space shuttle Discovery landed for the final time at NASA's Kennedy Space Center after 202 orbits around Earth and a journey of 5,304,140 miles on STS-133. Discovery's main gear touched down at 11:57:17 a.m. followed by the nose gear at 11:57:28 and wheels stop at 11:58:14 a.m. At wheels stop, the mission elapsed time was 12 days, 19 hours, four minutes and 50 seconds."

Commercial Human Spaceflight Safer, Much Needed, Owen Garriott and Alan Stern, Space News

"We also think that commercial crew LEO transport has the potential (and, many believe, high probability) of providing crew transport at a far lower cost. And not only should these alternatives be cheaper than a full NASA development program, they also should come on line more quickly, relieving our country of its soon-to-be complete dependence on Russia for access to LEO and the international space station. As a result of these factors, there is now a growing consensus that our path into the future should lie in promoting a commercial human space launch program in LEO, and that such systems will be substantially safer and less expensive than the shuttle system they will replace."

Concept to Implementation in as Little as Six Months

"The National Laboratory Office sponsored some payloads that went into orbit in as little as 6 months, but that is not the norm at this time. A developer is already in the assembly process on their end for the payload, rather than in the development stage of their idea. An amazing turnaround like this is for known re-flight science, not for new payloads being assembled. What we are trying to do with National Lab is to use the processes and manage the integration in such a way that we can bring things in later than the normal flow. This is contingent on the National Laboratory model of the commercial or government agency having their funding and development ready to bring to the table. If they are waiting for anticipated funds to move forward with development, this significantly delays the progress."

Keith's note: Nice words but actions, as they say, speak louder. NASA's Space Station team (Mark Uhran et al) have had 20 years to figure this out and yet it still takes years, ponderous paperwork, and large piles of money to get virtually any payload onto the ISS. If Uhran's team really wants to be a "National Laboratory" in more ways than just name, then they need to do vastly better in this regard. Already (see below), things that could have been led by NASA in the past decade or so via on-orbit research had surged ahead on the ground because the agency has dragged its feet and is incapable and/or unwilling to try and find a way to make this amazing facility useful within the time frames that industry and academia work IN THE REAL WORLD.

Alas, the ISS National LAB CAN simply seeks to replicate all of NASA's current bad habits, adds a new name and logo and calls it "new". It is not "new" by any stretch of the imagination and NASA is only doing this because Congress got frustrated and ordered them to do so - in law.

Nanoracks are indeed cool and are in synch with the experimental mindset resident within many business and universities these days. If NASA is really paying attention and not just treating these Nanorack-class payloads as a novelty, they could serve to transform the ponderous process NASA uses to put payloads on the ISS. If, that is, NASA really wants this to happen and is not just doing this to pay lip service to a trendy concept. Right now, by the author's own admission these fast integration times are "not the norm at this time."

It needs to be the norm - for all payloads.

Using the ISS: Once Again NASA Has Been Left in the Dust, ealier post

"With the research results presented in these two papers, it would seem that structural information for biological molecules can now be obtained from vanishingly small biological samples - so called "nanocrystals" using a hard X-ray laser - on Earth - no space station required. So much for the official story NASA has told for 20 years that the ISS is crucial for such work."


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This page is an archive of entries in the ISS News category from March 2011.

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