August 17, 2013

Russian EVA Breaks Record – EMU Troubleshooting Continues (Source:
Expedition 36 Flight Engineers Fyodor Yurchikhin and Alexander Misurkin have completed the first of two spacewalks to prepare the International Space Station (ISS) for the arrival of the Russian Multipurpose Laboratory Module (MLM). Their extended EVA broke the spacewalk duration record for a Russian spacewalk. Meanwhile, the investigation into the leak in Luca Parmitano’s spacesuit is continuing. (8/16)

Millionaire Seeks an Assist for Inspiration Mars Mission (Source: NBC)
As the clock ticks toward a 2018 launch, the millionaire who's funding the Inspiration Mars effort to send a man and woman around the Red Planet is reaching out for support from students, from rocket companies — and from NASA. "We're going to have to do it with NASA, and probably a certain amount of government funding," said Dennis Tito. "But probably within the scope of the current budget."

Tito and other leaders of Inspiration Mars provided an update on their plans at the Mars Society's annual convention at the University of Colorado in Boulder. In cooperation with the Mars Society and NASA's Ames Research Center, they also announced an engineering design contest that gives student-led teams a chance to lay out proposed mission architectures for the 501-day flyby.

The top-rated team gets $10,000, plus an expense-paid trip to next year's Mars Society meeting. There'll also be cash prizes for four runner-up teams. Check out the Mars Society website for deadlines and details. The contest serves as one indication that Inspiration Mars is still a project in flux. Chief technology officer Taber MacCallum said that the mission architecture is still under study, and the crew selection process isn't due to begin until next year. (8/16)

California Company's Product Launched to Space Station (Source: Santa Maria Times)
A product made by Hardy Diagnostics of Santa Maria is on an expedition to the International Space Station as part of an effort to study the effects of space travel on human health. The NASA microbiome experiment, sponsored by the J. Craig Venter Institute, is studying the changes that occur in microbes in and on the body during a space mission, a company spokesman said.

A microbiome is the entire array of living microorganisms in a particular environment, the spokesman said. Researchers hope to understand whether those changes in space will result in health risks for astronauts. The astronauts will use the Hardy Diagnostics products to sample the microbiome in and on their own bodies as well as the microbiome of the surfaces within the International Space Station. (8/16)

India's Modified GSLV Will Launch on Monday (Source: DNA)
The countdown for the launch of the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle D5 (GSLV-D5) will start on August 18. According to Indian Space Research Organization, the 29-hour countdown will start at 11.50 am on August 18. The launch is expected to take place at 4.30 pm on August 19 from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota.

The GSLV launch is the first to be carried out by Isro after a two-and-a-half year gap. The last time it launched the GSLV (on December 25, 2010) the launch vehicle with GSAT-5P Satellite onboard plunged into the Bay of Bengal within minutes. The mission before this (on April 15, 2010) had met with the same fate. (8/17)

NASA Exercises Expendable Launch Vehicle Contract Option (Source: SpaceRef)
NASA has exercised the first option on a contract providing integrated services for the preparation and launch of the next generation of the agency's scientific and exploration spacecraft. The two-year Option Period 1 on the Expendable Launch Vehicle Integrated Support (ELVIS) 2 contract, operated by a.i. solutions Inc. begins Oct. 1 and is valued at about $56.5 million.

The contract contains another potential option period that would begin in October 2015, if exercised. The ELVIS 2 contract began in April 2012 and has a potential maximum value of $138.1 million. This contract resulted from a competitive small business set-aside. The ELVIS 2 contract supports NASA's Launch Services Program (LSP) and LSP-sponsored missions, activities and strategic initiatives for multiple NASA programs, the Defense Department and other government agencies and commercial launch activities. (8/16)

NASA Selects Innovative Technology Proposals for Suborbital Flights (Source: Parabolic Arc)
NASA has selected for possible flight demonstration 10 proposals from six U.S. states for reusable, suborbital technology payloads and vehicle capability enhancements with the potential to revolutionize future space missions.

After the concepts are developed, NASA may choose to fly the technologies to the edge of space and back on U.S. commercial suborbital vehicles and platforms. These types of flights provide opportunities for testing in microgravity before the vehicles are sent into the harsh environment of space. Click here. (8/16)

Australia Invests $26M in Astronomy and the Square Kilometre Array (Source: ICRAR)
The International Center for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR), based in Perth, Western Australia has been extended for another five years thanks to a $26M investment announced by WA Premier Colin Barnett today. The $26M from the Western Australian State Government will allow ICRAR’s local activities in science and with industry to continue, but will also expand the high tech and scientific capabilities of the State. (8/16)

SpaceX Completes Orbit and Entry Review (Source: NASA)
SpaceX recently reviewed the systems critical to sustaining crews in orbit and returning them safely to Earth aboard the company's Dragon spacecraft. During the preliminary design review at SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, Calif., company engineers presented NASA representatives and aerospace industry experts detailed analyses of Dragon systems critical to keeping crews safe in orbit and during re-entry operations.

From basic life support functions, including pressurizing Dragon with breathable air, to stocking the capsule with enough food and water for as many as seven crew members, the spacecraft must be designed to protect humans in the harsh conditions of space. Company designers and NASA engineers dissected the plans carefully to make sure no details were overlooked.

The review detailed equipment and software aboard Dragon that would help guide crews to the International Space Station for rendezvous and docking operations. This included discussion on SpaceX’s planning for software code which, in this modern era of spaceship design, just as critical as the hardware design. The company also described how the spacecraft will be operated both by its onboard crew and by ground controllers. (8/15)

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