Russian-US crew launches on fast track to the space station

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MOSCOW (AP) — A trio of space travelers launched successfully to the International Space Station, for the first time using a fast-track maneuver to reach the orbiting outpost in just three hours.

NASA’s Kate Rubins along with Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov of the Russian space agency Roscosmos lifted off as scheduled Wednesday morning from the Russia-leased Baikonur space launch facility in Kazakhstan for a six-month stint on the station.

For the first time, they tried a two-orbit approach and docked with the space station in just a little over three hours after lift-off. Previously it took twice as long for crews to reach the station.


They will join the station’s NASA commander, Chris Cassidy, and Roscosmos cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner, who have been aboard the complex since April and are scheduled to return to Earth in a week.

Speaking during Tuesday’s pre-launch news conference at Baikonur, Rubins emphasized that the crew spent weeks in quarantine at the Star City training facility outside Moscow and then on Baikonur to avoid any threat from the coronavirus.

“We spent two weeks at Star City and then 17 days at Baikonur in a very strict quarantine,” Rubins said. “During all communications with crew members, we were wearing masks. We made PCR tests twice and we also made three times antigen fast tests.”

She said she was looking forward to scientific experiments planned for the mission.

“We’re planning to try some really interesting things like bio-printing tissues and growing cells in space and, of course, continuing our work on sequencing DNA,” Rubins said.

Ryzhikov, who will be the station’s skipper, said the crew will try to pinpoint the exact location of a leak at a station’s Russian section that has slowly leaked oxygen. The small leak hasn’t posed any immediate danger to

One American, Two Russians Blast off to International Space Station | Top News

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By Joey Roulette and Olzhas Auyezov

WASHINGTON/ALMATY (Reuters) – A Russian Soyuz spacecraft carrying a U.S. astronaut and two Russian cosmonauts blasted off from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Wednesday and successfully reached orbit, live footage broadcast by Russia’s space agency Roscosmos showed.

The crew members travelling to the International Space Station (ISS) are Kate Rubins, a NASA microbiologist who in 2016 became the first person to sequence DNA in space, and Russian cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov.

The mission is the last scheduled Russian flight carrying a U.S. crew member.

Since the space shuttle program ended in 2011, NASA has relied on Russia to ferry its astronauts to the space station, an orbiting laboratory 250 miles above Earth that has housed international crews of astronauts continuously for nearly 20 years.

The U.S. space agency in 2014 contracted Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Boeing Co

to build competing space capsules in an effort to reclaim NASA’s launch independence.

The $8 billion program enabled SpaceX’s first manned trip to the space station in May, marking the first from home soil in nearly a decade.

NASA has purchased additional crew seats from Russia as its public-private crew program faced delays, with Rubins’ mission being the most recent.

The U.S. is scheduled to begin operational missions on SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule. 

“We have an incredible partnership,” Rubins said in an interview from Russia’s Star City before her flight. “We’ll continue to train crews over here and we’re going to have cosmonauts come to the Johnson Space Center and train.”

NASA and Roscosmos have committed to continue the flight-sharing partnership and are in talks to fly Russian astronauts on U.S. vehicles and to fly U.S. astronauts on Russian rockets when needed, a spokesperson for Roscosmos told Reuters. 

“Of course, mutual flights are of

NASA astronaut, Russian cosmonauts launch to the space station

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The launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in southern Kazakhstan occurred at 1:45 am ET on Wednesday.

The trio’s Soyuz capsule is expected to dock with the space station at 4:52 a.m. ET, and the hatch between the space station and the capsule will open at 6:45 a.m. ET, allowing them to enter the station.

This is the second spaceflight for Rubins and Ryzhikov and the first for Kud-Sverchkov, and they will spend six months on the space station.

Along for the ride is Yuri, a little cosmonaut knitted by Kud-Sverchkov’s wife Olga. He serves as the crew’s zero gravity indicator. Essentially, once he begins to float, the crew will know they’ve reached space. Each crew gets to pick their own indicator, according to NASA.

Although NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken successfully launched to the station in May from the United States aboard the SpaceX Endeavour, launches to the space station on the Russian space vehicle Soyuz will still continue in the part of Kazakhstan leased to Russia.

Rubins, Ryzhikov and Kud-Sverchkov will briefly overlap with NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy and Russian cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner. Cassidy, Ivanishin and Vagner will depart the station using the docked Soyuz capsule and return to Earth on October 21.

The 2nd time around

Rubins begins her second mission by launching on her birthday.

She will vote in the US presidential election from the space station, according to NASA. In fact, it’s her second time voting from space. Rubins voted in the 2016 election during her first six-month stay on the space station between July and October 2016.

But training and launching during a pandemic is a new experience for Rubins — although she’s comfortable with personal protective equipment because of her “old life,” she told CNN in September. Prior to

NASA advances plan to commercialize International Space Station

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Oct. 12 (UPI) — The planned launch of a private commercial airlock to the International Space Station in November will accelerate NASA’s plan to turn the International Space Station into a hub of private industry, space agency officials said.

The commercialization plan also includes the launch of a private habitat and laboratory by 2024 and a project NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine announced on Twitter in May in which actor Tom Cruise will film a movie in space.

The 20-year-old space station may even have a private citizen on board again for the first time in years in late 2021, according to Phil McAlister, NASA’s director of commercial spaceflight. It’s part of a plan to wean the space station off of NASA’s public funding, which has been $3 billion to $4 billion per year.

“We expanded the scope and range of activities that can be done on ISS,” McAlister said in an interview earlier this year. “We carved out resources — power, oxygen, data — and we know we can support a paying customer, probably twice a year for up to a month.”

Detailed plans for those stints at the space station are partly proprietary, he said.

Whether private citizens return or not, NASA has increased corporate missions to the space station in recent years.

One example was Estee Lauder, which sent 10 bottles of skin cream to the space station Oct. 1 as part of a $128,000 contract with NASA, according to the company and NASA.

The agency charges $17,500 per hour for the astronauts’ time, according to its fee schedule. A spokesperson for Estee Lauder confirmed the project last week, but declined to elaborate.

Anheuser-Busch has sent barley seeds to the International Space Station several times, including an experiment to see how the seeds could be sprouted, known as

Camera that will film a spacewalk in VR delivered to the International Space Station

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One of the payloads aboard the International Space Station resupply mission that launched last Friday will providing a new perspective on one of the most enervating human experiences – the spacewalk. It’s a custom-made, 3D camera designed to capture content in 360-degrees while in space, and it will be used to film a spacewalk in immersive, cinematic VR for the first time ever on an upcoming ISS astronaut mission.

The camera is the result of a collaboration between Felix & Paul Studios, Time Studios, and in-space technology expert Nanoracks. It will ultimately be used to capture the footage that will then be used to produce a culminating episode of a series called Space Explorers: The ISS Series. To do that, it’ll be mounted on Nanoracks’ Kaber MicroSatellite deployer device, which will provide it with power, and allow it to be controlled via the Canadarm2 robotic arm that the ISS uses for manipulating external cargo. The team behind this says that the Canadian-made robot arm will essentially be used like a crane on a film set to capture the spacewalk of two actual ISS astronauts.

In terms of specs, the VR camera includes nine different 4K sensors, which can then stitch together a fully immersive 360-degree final image that’s rendered at 8K resolution. The camera, a Z-Cam V1 Pro, has been modified by Nanoracks using their expertise in creating equipment that can operate in and withstand the harsh environment of space – meaning it isn’t all that bothered by vacuum, UV radiation, ionizing radiation, plasma, wildly varying extreme temps that can go from -250 degrees Fahrenheit to +250 depending on sun exposure, and more. The enclosure for the camera is hermitically sealed, includes an aluminum radiation shield, and has both an active heating and passive cooling system, rendering it capable