ISS News: April 2011 Archives

Monopolizing ISS Access

Russian space agency won't let private US spacecraft dock with ISS until reliability proven, AP

"Russian news agencies are quoting a top space official as saying Russia won't permit a U.S. commercial spacecraft to dock with the International Space Station until it is satisfied the ship conforms to safety standards. The California-based Space Exploration Technologies Corp. has asked NASA for permission to send an unmanned cargo capsule to the space station later this year. The hookup also would need Russian clearance."

Keith's note: What a great way to continue a monopoly on access to the ISS. Curiously, the "digital" Soyuz was allowed to dock despite its ongoing problems.

Elektron Failure on ISS

NASA ISS On-Orbit Status 21 April 2011

"Elektron Failure: RSC-Energia reported this morning that the Elektron oxygen generator failed yesterday when reactivated after the REGUL-OS repair activities. ppO2 (oxygen partial pressure) is currently in the nominal comfort range, and work is underway to restore the electrolysis device to service. Should Elektron downtime stretch out longer, an O2 repress from ATV2 tankage could be performed next week, after which STS-134/ULF6 would supply oxygen, and another ATV2 repress could be done after Endeavour's departure."

"Embrace the end of human spaceflight!", Paul Spudis, Air & Space

"The nearly simultaneous 50th anniversary of the beginning of human spaceflight and the forthcoming end of the Space Shuttle program has philosophical members of the chattering classes making the rounds to thumb their noses or hawk their wares, waxing poetic over historical ironies, wasted opportunities and dollars, and damn near exhausting Roget's Thesaurus searching for words to express their innermost profound thoughts about space exploration."

Blue Origin Crew Transportation System Description for NASA CCDev-2

"Blue Origin is developing a Crew Transportation System, comprised of a Space Vehicle (SV) launched first on an Atlas V launch vehicle and then on Blue Origin's own Reusable Booster System (RES). NASA funding through CCDev 2 and the future Commercial Crew program will accelerate availability of the Blue Origin CTS. The biconic Space Vehicle will be capable of carrying seven astronauts and will transfer NASA crew and cargo to and from the International Space Station (ISS), serve as an ISS emergency escape vehicle for up to 210 days, and perform a land landing to minimize the costs of recovery and reuse. It will also conduct separate commercial missions for science research, private adventure, and travel to other LEO destinations."

Yuri's Night On Orbit

Photo: Space Station Crew Celebrates Yuri's Night On Orbit

"On Orbit Expedition 27 crew members pose for a photo near the galley in the Zvezda Service Module of the International Space Station in honor of the 50th anniversary of the spaceflight of Yuri Gagarin, the first human launched in space on April 12, 1961. A portrait of Gagarin is at center. Pictured are Russian cosmonaut Dmitry Kondratyev (bottom center), commander; NASA astronaut Cady Coleman, Russian cosmonauts Alexander Samokutyaev (center) and Andrey Borisenko (top left), NASA astronaut Ron Garan and European Space Agency astronaut Paolo Nespoli (right), all flight engineers."

International Space Station: Ongoing Assessments for Life Extension Appear to be Supported, GAO

"NASA is using analytical techniques, physical tests, and inspections to assess primary structures and functional systems and determine sparing needed to support safe functioning and full scientific utilization of the ISS through 2020. These assessments are ongoing, so all results are not yet available. Our work indicates that NASA's assessments appear to be supported by sufficient, accurate and relevant underlying data. We found, however, that NASA's estimates of ISS sparing needs are sensitive to assumptions about hardware reliability. To evaluate NASA's approach, we reviewed relevant technical documents and data NASA used to support its analysis and interviewed responsible officials. In a limited number of cases, we replicated NASA's calculation used to update predicted failure rates for essential spares."

Commercial Crew Market Study Generates Small Firestorm, Space News

"Meanwhile, Braukus said, NASA is wrapping up a much more comprehensive commercial market analysis that was called for in the NASA Authorization Act of 2010. "The Aerospace report was a completely different type of analysis than what was requested in the Authorization Act for the Commercial Market Assessment," Braukus said in the email. "The objective of the Aerospace work, as it was described in the report, was 'to provide ballpark results for what it would take to make a stand alone private enterprise business case close.'"

NASA Authorization Act of 2010

"Sect. 403 (2) COMMERCIAL MARKET ASSESSMENT. Not later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Administrator shall submit to the appropriate committees of Congress an assessment, conducted, in coordination with the Federal Aviation Administration's Office of Commercial Space Transportation, for purposes of this paragraph, of the potential non-Government market for commercially-developed crew and cargo transportation systems and capabilities, including an assessment of the activities associated with potential private sector utilization of the ISS research and technology development capabilities and other potential activities in low-Earth orbit."

Keith's note: This report should be finding its way to Congress in the next few days ...

Commercial Crew Market Study Generates Small Firestorm, Space News

"NASA spokesman Michael Braukus said the Aerospace Corp. analysis, paid for by the agency's Independent Program and Cost Evaluation office, led by Michael Hawes, is one of many commissioned to assess the business case for private space taxis. "The Aerospace Corporation used their own assumptions for many of the inputs to the analysis; they did not use proprietary data inputs from companies developing commercial crew systems or from NASA, which makes their analysis of limited use," Braukus said in a April 5 email, one day after a set of Aerospace Corp. briefing charts on the study surfaced on NASA Watch. The Commercial Spaceflight Federation (CSF), an advocacy group here, blasted the report's assumptions as not based in reality, and said many of its findings are flawed."

Aerospace Corp Study Dumps on Commercial Crew Prospects, earlier post

Aerospace Corp Background and Messages: Commercial Crew Financial Feasibility/Reliability White Paper

"Q. So the results are to determine what?

A. We produced a modeling tool that could be applied to a variety of data sets to produce conclusions about the costs associated with scenarios for a commercial crew transportation system. The results shown to NASA and Congress recently were not intended to represent any specific real world scenario. We modeled a scenario utilizing data from as long as 10 months ago in order to demonstrate the tool's viability, not the viability of any specific commercial crew transportation system."

Keith's note: Hmm ... if they did not use actual company data - or NASA data - then why do this in the first place - and why brief it to the Administrator, Deputy Administrator, and Associate Administrator of NASA? Shouldn't Bolden/Garver/Scolese be focusing on the "real world" - not Aerospace Corp's parallel universe?

According to the overview from actual 1 Feb 2011 report: [continued after the link] :

Space Debris No Threat to Station, NASA

"Tracking data now indicates that a piece of orbital debris being monitored by Mission Control Houston will not pass close enough to the International Space Station to warrant the Expedition 27 crew members taking safe haven within their Soyuz TMA-20 spacecraft."

Renewal of a Life and Physical Sciences Research Program at NASA Could Facilitate Longer, Farther Human Space Missions

"By elevating its life and physical sciences research program, NASA could achieve the biological understanding and technical breakthroughs needed to allow humans to be sent deeper into space, including to Mars, says a new National Research Council report. In addition, access to the space environment -- for example, on the International Space Station -- will open up further opportunities for groundbreaking research in the physical and life sciences. The report, one of a series of decadal surveys that the Research Council has completed for NASA and the first on interdisciplinary life and physical sciences for exploration missions, lays out a research agenda for the next decade that could bring about developments with substantial payoffs for human exploration of space."



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

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