Categories
Commercial ISS Space

Weekly Space Blog 8/17

We are back after a two week break to enjoy the New England summer, this week we have lots of great news.

Russian Cosmonauts set new Space Walk Record
The week two Russian Cosmonauts broke the space walk endurance record by complete a 7h 29m excursion outside the International Space Station.  Cosmonauts Fyodor Yurchikhin and Alexander Misurkin were originally scheduled for a 6h 30m walk but Russian officials elected to extend the walk to allow them time to complete a task originally planned for a later walk.  The previous record was set in 1990 by two Cosmonauts working outside the Mir Space Station.

NASA looks at new mission for Kepler
After several attempts to restore the failed Gyroscopes on the Kepler spacecraft Mission planners have determined that the primary mission of the spacecraft cannot be restored and are instead looking at way to utilize the craft in it’s current configuration.  They are looking at several options but haven’t selected one yet.  In the mean time there are still plenty of planet candidates left to analyze from the data collected by Kepler.

Proton Rocket launches to resume
Following a review of the launch failure in July Proton Rocket launches are scheduled to resume in September.  The review concluded that key yaw angular sensors were forcible installed upside down causing the rocket to fail so quickly after launch, several recommendations have been made to the component manufacture that will not allow this to happen again.

SpaceX completed Orbit and Entry review for Dragon
SpaceX recently completed a preliminary design review of the systems that would be used to keep crews safe while in space and during re-entry to earth’s atmosphere.  During the review company engineers present NASA and industry experts with details of all the systems which were dissected to ensure nothing was missed.  This was the seventh milestone in the CCiCap initiative and SpaceX are marching towards a summer 2014 completion of all the milestones.

SpaceX Grasshopper News
This week SpaceX’s reusable test platform Grasshopper completed the first lateral divert test demonstrating that it has the ability to correct the dissent even if the vehicle is not directly above the landing pad and land in the correct spot.  These tests are all steps towards Elon Musk’s dream of having fully re-usable rockets in the future.

Commercial Launch Schedule Changes
Mission planners have switched the Orbital and SpaceX Commercial Crew launches scheduled for December 2013 and January 2014.  The original plan called for SpaceX launch three SpX-3 to go in December but due to scheduling conflicts they have elected to switch the missions.  This assumes of course that the Orbital Demo mission scheduled for late September is successful.  For SpaceX this will be the first Dragon launch using the new Falcon 9 v1.1 rocket which allows a greater cargo capacity on the vehicle.

NASA Astronaut Michael Foale retires
British born Astronaut Michael Foale has retired from NASA following a 25 year career which included a US record 374 days in space and saw him fly on Space Shuttle, Soyuz and two Space Stations.  For more info on Michael check out his profile here.

And finally
Well that is all for this week, there are plenty of stories out there and I will have plenty more for next week.  In meantime here are some of the sites I visit daily to get space news.

www.spaceref.com
www.spaceflightnow.com
www.nasaspaceflight.com
www.space.com
www.spacedaily.com
www.nasa.gov

Categories
ISS Space

Latest News from ISS

Today Mike Suffredini, the Manager of the International Space Station made several announcements today during a teleconference aired live on NASA’s web site.  Here is a summary of them.

Computer Hardware/Software Upgrade

Mike confirmed today that they had just completed a comprehensive upgrade of the Computer Software and Hardware used to control the space station systems.  These upgrades included process and memory upgrades as well as changes to the software to utilize the new hardware.  The upgrades where performed by the crew over the last couple of months and where completed after the docking of the latest Progress vessel last weekend.

Soyuz mishap during testing and delay’s to next scheduled launch

During testing of the next Soyuz crew vehicle the craft was exposed to significantly higher pressures than planned which resulted in significant damage to the craft, after investigation it was deemed unusable for flight.  As a result of this failure the next flight to the station has been delayed until May, similarly to ensure that station is only reduced to a three man crew for two weeks the return of Dan Burbank, Anton Shkaplerov and Anatoly Ivanishin has been moved to the end of April.  These delays will also impact the other crew rotations this year but they expect to be back to normal by the end of the year.

The Russians have created a commission to look into what happened and what changes are needed to ensure this doesn’t happen again.  Mike expressed confidence that they would quick identify the cause and correct it.

Dragon Tentatively Scheduled for March 20th Mission

Mike also announced that they were tentatively looked at March 20th for the SpaceX Dragon launch to the space station, however he did explain that this was still a very tight scheduled and felt that it may end up being in early April.  Mike explained that during testing a number of issues had been found and all of them had to be addressed before SpaceX would be allowed to fly.

When asked about impact on station Mike explained that they still had plenty of margin with what was on the station into 2013 and if it because necessary they would look to utilize Progress and other vehicles to transport payload until Commercial deliveries where ready.  They were not going to rush this and none of the partners would be flying until all parties where confident that they were ready.

Mike also explained that Orbital were addressing issues and believed that there first launch would slip, he wasn’t able to say by how much and didn’t go into details about what issues where being addressed.

More Soyuz Seats

During Q&A after the announcements Mike was asked about the potential of having to buy more seats on Soyuz due to the reduced funding for Commercial Crew, he explained that they were looking into the impact of this and working with the partners to determine when they believed they would be ready to fly.  Once they had that information they would then know what if any additional seats where needed after the end of the current contract.  Negotiations for these if needed would have to start in 2013 but only after the necessary legal blocks where handled, they have already started the process of dealing with these so that if needed they could proceed with the negotiations if needed.

The full teleconference can be heard here.

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