November 20, 2014

LinkedIn Group Provides Focus on Spaceports, States, Space Transportation (Source: SPACErePORT)
The weekly FLORIDA SPACErePORT e-newsletter can be overwhelming. A hard-copy printout can be 20 pages long! If you want news on space transportation issues, spaceports, and what Florida and other states are doing in space, you might want to join the SPACErePORT's LinkedIn Group. Click here. (11/20)

Russian Scientists Expect Return of Soviet Reputation in Space Exploration (Source: Sputnik)
Russia will regain its Soviet-era reputation of space exploration leader if the Federal Space Program for 2016-2025, which includes a flight to Mercury, plays out as planned, Lev Zeleny, director of the Russian Academy of Sciences' Space Research Institute says.

"Russia is currently in a good position… We, our Academy of Sciences, take active part in experiments on the other countries" space crafts — European, American and even Japanese. Our equipment works on the Moon, Mars and Venus" orbits and we are preparing a flight to Mercury," Zeleny said. "If all our plans realize, we will return ourselves the position the Soviet Union had in space research," he added. (11/20)

Comet Orbiter to Deliver Data into 2016 (Source: Bloomberg)
The Rosetta orbiter that delivered the Philae lander to the surface of the Churyumov-Gerasimenko comet could remain in orbit around the comet until 2016. While the lander has received massive attention, scientists working on the project say the orbiter's technology could, in the long-run prove more valuable. (11/20)

Engineers Cope With SpaceShipTwo Loss (Source: NBC)
ngineers are sometimes stereotyped as emotion-free brainiacs, but that stereotype gets shattered after spending just a few minutes with the engineers who are grieving over the loss of Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo rocket plane and one of its pilots.

The death of Scaled Composites test pilot Mike Alsbury during SpaceShipTwo's breakup on Oct. 31, and the impact of that death on the family he left behind, are foremost in the minds of the team at California's Mojave Air and Space Port. But SpaceShipTwo Serial No. 1 is also being mourned.

"It feels like you physically lost a baby," structural engineer Samira Virani told NBC News at Virgin Galactic's Final Assembly, Integration and Test Hangar, or FAITH. "You think about it like that. It used to be physically behind me in the hangar, and now it's no more." (11/20)

Virginia and Florida Members Added to House Appropriations Committee (Source: U.S. House)
Rep. Scott Rigell (R-VA), whose district includes the spaceport at Wallops Island, and Rep. David Jolly (R-FL), a defense industry advocate from Tampa, have been added to the House of Representatives' Appropriations Committee for the 114th Congress. (11/20)

Profile on Rep. John Culberson (R-TX) (Source: Space News)
It might seem a bit unusual for a lawmaker from Houston, home to NASA’s Johnson Space Center, to be an outspoken advocate of the agency’s planetary science program, which resides half a continent — and in the figurative sense, a full world — away in Pasadena, California.

But Rep. John Culberson is perfectly comfortable in that role, even as he identifies the big-ticket human spaceflight programs that are Johnson’s bread and butter as his top priorities.

Culberson has taken a particular interest in a mission to Europa, the jovian moon whose icy exterior covers what scientists believe is an ocean that might offer the best — if still remote — hope of finding alien life in the solar system. In this, the conservative Texan has what otherwise would be an unlikely ally in Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), whose Pasadena district includes NASA JPL, which specializes in planetary missions. (10/29)

Ten Years Later East Texas Remembers Columbia (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
Ten years later, the moment I remember most about the Columbia shuttle tragedy took place in a Sunday school class at First Baptist Church in tiny Alto, Texas. The half-dozen congregants silently passed around photos of pieces of the space shuttle that fell there the day before, when Columbia broke up as it re-entered the Earth's atmosphere.

A piece of metal the size of a shoe box in a woman's front yard. A scrap of what looked like scorched heat shield, in the middle of a country road. There was a deep reverence as volunteer firefighter Jeff Duplichain shared the photos he had taken of the debris he helped catalog.

This one-stoplight town was already in mourning that Saturday when they heard the roar that shook their homes. The Columbia disaster on Feb. 1, 2003, happened the same day as the funeral for a popular high-school senior — one in a class of just 47 — who had died in a car accident earlier that week. (11/20)

Retired General, Former Astronaut to Advise Canada on Space Policy (Source: Ottawa Citizen)
Former Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield and retired general Walter Natynczyk were named Wednesday to the government’s space advisory board. Industry Minister James Moore made the announcement at the annual meeting of the Aerospace Industries Association of Canada in Ottawa. There has been growing concern among space industry representatives that Canada’s space policy has been severely lacking. (11/20)

No Peace Treaty Hampers Russia-Japan Space Cooperation (Source: Itar-Tass)
Russian-Japanese cooperation in space research is underdeveloped because the two countries did not sign a peace treaty yet, director of Russian Academy of Sciences Institute of Space Research Lev Zeleny told reporters on Wednesday. “Our cooperation with Japan is underdeveloped. We are working much to share the data with Japanese partners, but no peace treaty hampers us to have treaties on outer space exploration as those we have with Europe, the United States and other countries,” the scientist said.

The Soviet Union and Russia as its legal successor did not ink a peace deal after the end of the Second World War yet. The problem of the Kuril Islands remains main unsettled issue in bilateral ties. (11/19)

The Tricky Ethics of Intergalactic Colonization (Source: WIRED)
Zheng He! Between 1405 and 1433, Zheng He set out from China on massive naval expeditions that reached as far as Mecca and Mombasa, journeys with more than 300 vessels and 28,000 crew, excursions far bigger and longer than those of Columbus more than a half century later. Staggering in price, formidable in technical sophistication, unprecedented in level of national commitment—Zheng’s voyages remain the closest functional equivalent to the cost, effort, and risk required to travel into deep space.

Is there a better icon for interstellar voyaging? Trying to picture what settling other planets might entail? After the last Yuan emperor fled in 1368, Zheng became part of an elite group of eunuch adventurers and troubleshooters at the Ming court in Beijing. The Ming government backed Zheng for decades. Seven times the emperor arrogantly overruled his accountants and summoned the vast amounts of material necessary to provision thousands of people on years-long voyages. Click here. (11/20)

Satellite Internet is a Space Business Widow-Maker—So Why Does Elon Musk Want In? (Source: Quartz)
Mobile networks Iridium and GlobalStar, the firms with the largest commercial satellite constellations, both spent time in bankruptcy proceedings before re-emerging as going concerns. Teledesic, a satellite-internet company backed by Microsoft, halted work in 2002, while SkyBridge, an Alcatel satellite internet project, went bankrupt in 2000.

So why is Elon Musk so eager to see his SpaceX commercial space transport company take a crack at a business that has been so troublesome? When it comes to profits in space, the biggest business is happening on the ground: You make money by building satellites and rockets, or by using satellites to beam information back and forth to earth. Orbit is just a place in your supply chain.

Existing satellite internet is expensive and dodgy, though—only 0.2% of internet users in OECD countries in 2012 used satellite broadband. Tests by US telecom regulators show it has 19 times the latency of terrestrial internet, thanks to the long distances it travels, and costs can be high. The technical challenges of managing data and avoiding interference with other satellites also are substantial. Click here. (11/19)

Return to the Moon (Source: Boston Globe)
With NASA and the Europeans focused on robot exploration of distant targets, a moon landing might not seem like a big deal: We’ve been there, and other countries are just catching up. But in recent years, interest in the moon has begun to percolate again, both in the United States and abroad—and it’s catalyzing a surprisingly diverse set of plans for how our nearby satellite will contribute to our space future. Click here. (11/14)

Proposed Port Canaveral Rail Line Cuts Through Spaceport (Source: SPACErePORT)
NASA KSC officials are supporting a series of public meetings that could pave the way for 11 miles of new railroad that would connect Port Canaveral to the Florida East Coast Railway. The rail expansion is included within KSC's new master plan and would cut through Kennedy Space Center, using existing unused rail infrastructure that was built decades ago to transport launch vehicle segments and equipment to the spaceport.

Residents at the public meetings were mostly opposed to the idea, with complaints about noise and other environmental impacts. Port Canaveral officials say the new rail line would support up to four trains per week, each with up to 220 rail cars carrying cargo to and from ships at the seaport. The new rail line might also support the delivery of space-related goods for the spaceport. (11/20)

Arianespace Chief to Austrailia: Focus on Astronauts, Not Space Tourists (Source: Financial Review)
China has triggered a space race and Australia should take part by training astronauts instead of helping space tourist operations like Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic, according to the commercial space company that landed the robot Philae on a comet this month, Arianespace.

Chief executive Stephane Israel, who visited Australia as part of the delegation of French President Francois Hollande, said recent accidents in the space industry, including the dramatic explosion of an Antares rocket and the deadly crash of Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo, were tragedies but would not hurt his company or the industry. He said government subsidies and funding should be kept for space programs that focused on helping as many people as possible rather than wealthy space tourists. (11/20)

Aussie Spaceport Advocate Meets with Queensland Officials (Source: Spaceport Australia)
John Moody from Spaceport Australia met on Thursday with Queensland State Government officials from Innovation and Planning, Steve Kanoswki and Greg Fahey. Fahey is a Special Advisor to the the state's Director-General. Mr. Moody spoke about operations and roles which Spaceport Australia would play in Australia, along with lease-back options for the spaceport site. The group will meet again in a month to follow up and keep moving forward to the creation of a spaceport in Australia. (11/20)

Impact Inspection Methods Considered for ISS (Source: Air & Space)
The piece of orbital junk closed in on the International Space Station at 29,000 mph. Six crew members evacuated to two Soyuz space capsules that would be their lifeboats if the debris made contact. The astronauts had no tools designed to find and repair significant damage and had only one option: Undock, and abandon the $100 billion Earth-orbiting laboratory. At 8:08 a.m. on June 28, 2011, the object and the station flew past each other—a harrowing 1,100 feet apart at closest approach.

Engineers and safety officers at NASA have given a lot of thought to the tools that a station crew could use to respond to a significant collision. The first solution is simply being able to inspect the exterior of the station for damage. Astronauts’ inability to adequately survey their spacecraft has been a problem ever since one of Apollo 13’s oxygen tanks exploded on the way to the moon and, more recently, when the space shuttle Columbia burned up on reentry

The goal now is to get real-time observation in as many places in and around the space station as possible. The range of technology that NASA and its partners are working on is broad—from high-definition external cameras to autonomous robots that can fly around or crawl on the outside of the station to investigate and repair damage. Click here. (11/20)

Countdown Clock Retired, Poised for Move to KSC Visitor Complex (Source: SpaceFlight Insider)
The iconic Countdown Clock located at the Kennedy Space Center press site in Florida – ended its decades-long service today. The timepiece, which has provided the exact time before a mission takes flight, as well as the amount of time that missions have spent in orbit – was officially shut down at 3:45 p.m. EDT.

“The new clock will be different, it’s going to be a flat screen, outdoor kind of device and it’s going to be bigger…we’re looking at something that is durable, weather-proof and we’re looking into putting something there that is not just a clock, but something that would allow us to put the NASA TV program out there too. It would be something that you could have some flexibility with,” Lisa Malone said.

The old clock will now join many other historic space artifacts that are located at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. NASA meanwhile will work to have the new clock in place for the planned Dec. 4 launch of a test article of the agency’s new Orion spacecraft. (11/20)

Boeing to Issue Layoff Notices for Huntsville Employees (Source: Huntsville Times)
Boeing confirmed Wednesday evening it will begin issuing layoff notices to a small percentage of its 1,000 Huntsville employees on Friday. The layoffs are related to NASA's Space Launch System, a deep space rocket. (11/19)

Fiji Willing to Assist India in Orbit Missions (Source: FBC)
Fiji stands ready to assist India in future orbit missions. Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama gave his assurance to India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi yesterday. Fiji helped India monitor its historic Mars Orbiter Mission. The Mission was launched on 5th November last year and India was the first nation to launch an inter-planetary mission. (11/20)

Excalibur Almaz to Fight Civil Suit in US (Source: IOM Today)
Directors of Manx-registered space exploration company Excalibur Almaz says they will vigorously defend ‘baseless’ claims made against them in a US civil lawsuit. In a civil suit filed in Harris County district court, Texas, Japanese businessman Takafumi Horie alleges Excalibur Almaz founders Art Dula and J Buckner Hightower misled him into investing $49m in a commercial space transportation venture.

In a statement, Excalibur Almaz said: ‘These allegations are baseless and will be vigorously defended. 'To set the record straight, Excalibur Almaz is not out of business and is vigorously pursuing a profitable commercial space program utilizing proven Russian flight hardware capable of re-use, contrary to recent allegations.’

This isn’t the first lawsuit filed against Excalibur Almaz. In 2012, Donna Beck sued the company and a number of its directors for allegedly defrauding her and her late husband into investing $300,000 in an asteroid mining scheme. Lawyers for Excalibur said they would mount a ‘rigorous’ defence against the ‘completely unfounded’ claims. (11/20)

Supporting Canadian Aerospace Excellence (Source: Govt. of Canada)
The Canadian aerospace industry is a global success story that is setting new standards for innovation, productivity and competitiveness, Industry Minister James Moore told a lunchtime audience today at the 2014 Canadian Aerospace Summit. The Minister underlined the government's support for aerospace and reiterated its commitment to supporting the manufacturing industry and establishing the right economic conditions for success. These included lowering taxes, cutting the corporate rate from over 22 percent in 2007 to 15 percent today and removing the federal capital tax. Click here. (11/19)

Fragments of Russia’s De-Orbited Progress M-24M Spacecraft Fall Into Pacific (Source: Itar-Tass)
Fragments of Russia’s Progress M-24M cargo resupply spacecraft that were not burnt in the dense part of the atmosphere have fallen into non-navigable waters of the Pacific. The spaceship was de-orbited at 02:00 a.m. Moscow time on Thursday.

After undocking from the International Space Station (ISS) on October 27, Progress M-24M took part in a scientific experiment to study the possibility of transmitting optical signals to carry out the researches on the changes of the Earth’s atmosphere. (11/20)

Sarah Brightman May Soon Start Medical Tests for Tourist Space Flight (Source: Itar-Tass)
British singer Sarah Brightman may arrive in Moscow in late December to undergo pre-flight medical tests, the head of the Institute of Medical and Biological Problems said. "Medical tests are scheduled for the end of December but Ms. Brightman has not confirmed her arrival yet," Igor Ushakov said. Brightman, 54, will not be allowed to start her pre-flight training in mid-January without permission of medics. Brightman's flight is scheduled for September 1-11, 2015. (11/19)

Comet Landing as a Prelude to Asteroid Mining (Source: Boston Globe)
The success of the Rosetta mission was a banner day for space exploration. It also made one small, quixotic industry suddenly seem a lot less like science fiction: asteroid mining. David Gump is the vice chairman of Deep Space Industries, one company currently planning to send probes on one-year prospecting trips to near-earth asteroids. He said such trips would be “much easier” than Rosetta’s mission, which required a decade of travel past Mars.

Rosetta’s landing, he hopes, will make his company’s plans look more realistic to investors and customers. Asteroid mining is an idea that’s developed over the last decade, as scientists have identified increasing numbers of near-earth asteroids, bodies relatively accessible because their paths around the sun are similar to our own. Click here. (11/14)

As New Space Powers Emerge, NASA More Unreliable as Partner (Source: WPR)
When the European Space Agency (ESA) successfully landed the spacecraft Philae on a comet last week, it accomplished something once thought to be the sole purview of the superpowers. In truth, the ESA—a consortium of 20 formal members—highlights a well-established and accelerating trend: Whereas space was once beyond the reach of all but the U.S. and the Soviet Union, recent decades have witnessed the spread and maturing capabilities of new space powers around the world.

While the United States has reasons to be concerned with that shift related to national security, it also has cause to celebrate, as promoting the peaceful exploration of space by others has been a longstanding U.S. goal. Nevertheless, a series of recent budget-driven cuts and cancellations have jeopardized NASA’s credibility as a reliable partner on international space projects. (11/19)

Launched Russian Satellites to Reach 150 by 2025 (Source: Space Daily)
Russia will increase the number of its orbital satellites to 150 by 2025, head of Russia's United Rocket Space Corporation (URSC) said Monday. "According to the federal space program's new project, the number of orbital satellites with social-economic purpose will be doubled to 75, while the number of the satellites for government needs is expected to reach 150 by 2025," Igor Komarov said. (11/19)

Lunar Mission One Aims to Send Crowdfunded Probe to Drill on Moon (Source: Guardian)
Move over, Mars: A British-led venture called Lunar Mission One has begun a crowdfunding effort to send a robotic lander to the moon with a monster drill. The first step of the plan is to raise $950,000 (£600,000) through a Kickstarter campaign. That money would finance Lunar Mission One's planning and management activities during the initial phase of what backers expect will be 10 years of preparation. The plan calls for additional sales, marketing, planning and development efforts to build up toward launch in 2024.

The centerpiece of the fundraising effort is an array of time capsules that Lunar Mission One expects to have its probe bury on the moon. The capsules would contain "digital memory boxes" that serve as extraterrestrial archives for the project's backers. The Kickstarter campaign promises to "reserve your place in space" for a pledge of £60 ($94) or more — but other perks are going for as little as £3, or less than five U.S. dollars. (11/19)

Brownsville Students Learn from SpaceX (Source: KHOU)
SpaceX is set to begin construction of a new spaceport in south Texas in the next few months that will transform the Rio Grande Valley into a commercial space hub and research center. "To say this is a game changer in the area is really an understatement," said Fredrick Jenet, Director of the Center for Advanced Radio Astronomy at the University of Texas, Brownsville.

Professor Jenet leads a team of student researchers at the Center that is designed to resemble the bridge of the Starship Enterprise from Star Trek. SpaceX's new launch site will give astrophysics students and faculty at UT Brownsville unprecedented opportunities for space research. Click here. (11/19)

Orbital’s Three Poker Games (Source: Space News)
Orbital Sciences Chief Executive David W. Thompson is not a guy I would ever want to play poker with. Discussing the company’s “go-forward” Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) cargo contract for the international space station and its Antares plans with Wall Street analysts Nov. 5 — less than a week after the smoke had cleared over Wallops Island, Virginia, from the rocket’s Oct. 28 launch failure — Thompson was confident the company would be able cover its commitment to NASA with minimal cost out of its own pocket.

Clearly, Orbital continues to hold cards close to its vest as it juggles not one, not two, but three different hands. And I’m not quite sure where it may be bluffing. The first hand is Orbital announcing it would buy one or two third-party launches for the Cygnus cargo vehicle, with a first flight as early as the second quarter of 2015. Discussions are taking place with two U.S. companies and one European company that Thompson wouldn’t name.

I presume those names are SpaceX, ULA and Arianespace, but I am smelling a bluff already. The least likely candidate in my mind is Arianespace. Ignore integrating Cygnus on a Soyuz or International Traffic in Arms Regulations and clearing customs when moving the cargo spacecraft out of the country. Simply consider logistics plus contracts in flying Cygnus, its support equipment and technicians from Wallops Island to Europe’s Kourou, French Guiana, spaceport. Click here. (11/17)

Lockheed Martin Begins Final Assembly Of Next Mars Lander (Source: Space Daily)
Lockheed Martin has started the assembly, test and launch operations (ATLO) phase for NASA's InSight Mars lander spacecraft. The InSight mission will record the first-ever measurements of the interior of the red planet, giving scientists unprecedented detail into the evolution of Mars and other terrestrial planets. InSight is scheduled to launch in March 2016. (11/19)

NASA Skunkworks Team Set to Deliver Newfangled 6U CubeSat (Source: NASA)
A NASA "skunkworks" team gave itself just one year to develop, test and integrate a newfangled CubeSat that could reliably and easily accommodate agency-class science investigations and technology demonstrations at a lower cost. The team, comprised of engineers and scientists at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, is on track to meet its self-imposed deadline.

The team is expected to begin environmental testing of a six-unit, or 6U, CubeSat in late December. Once the team completes thermal vacuum testing, it will deliver the new CubeSat to NASA's Kennedy Space Center, Florida, where it then will be readied for launch to the International Space Station for deployment perhaps as early as January 2016. "Rapid advances in the performance and efficiency of miniaturized systems are enabling a future only limited by vision and imagination," Johnson said. "CubeSats are a part of that future."

The CubeSat — known as Dellingr, a name derived from the god of the dawn in Norse mythology — will carry three heliophysics-related payloads. It doubles the payload capability of the ubiquitous and proven three-unit, or 3U, CubeSat pioneered by the California Polytechnic Institute in 1999 primarily for the university community. (11/18)

VCs Eye Ukrainian Space Startups (Source: Ukraine Digital News)
Is the Ukrainian space industry attractive to venture investors? Business magazine Capital has identified examples of successful startups and asked local and international VCs to comment on the matter. There already are space startups at universities in the country. Nanosputnik PolyITAN, developed by students at Kyiv Polytechnic Institute as part of the international program QB50, is an example.

PolyITAN-1 was launched into orbit on a Dnepr rocket on June 19 and last month the project received investments of 500,000 hryvnias (just over $32,000) from the Academic V.S. Mikhalevich Fund. Also this year, Ukrainian Pavel Tanasyuk launched a sputnik into orbit as part of the Space BIT project, which makes it possible to issue electronic money and complete operations with it outside the jurisdiction of any country.

The Ukrainian eFarmer project, which gives farmers access to maps of fields, is a resident at the startup incubator of the European Space Agency. These startups, designed to use space to solve earthly problems, are easier to develop because of the low level of risk associated with them. Mark Watt, a partner in the American-Ukrainian asset management firm Noosphere – which has just invested in commerce platform – said the search for such projects is mainly conducted in universities. (11/14)

Anderson: Spaceport Tuning Up for Fiscal Success (Source: Albuquerque Journal)
Spaceport America is just getting started. When I assumed the job of executive director of Spaceport America in 2011, New Mexico had already provided over $200 million worth of bonds to build a commercial spaceport, and Virgin Galactic was the anchor tenant pledging to pay over $50 million in rent over a 20-year period and generate over $200 million in revenue from passenger flights.

In 2006, the state of New Mexico decided to build the world’s first purpose-built spaceport. Building this first-of-a-kind commercial spaceport on the site that was selected, in a remote part of New Mexico that did not have accessible paved roads, water, power or communications, was not a trivial task. It took enormous energy and focus from the spaceport staff of seven to build a 12,000-foot runway, several iconic buildings and all of the infrastructure of a small city.

We did all of that and in addition conducted 21 vertical launches by other customers and attracted SpaceX, the top commercial space launch company in the world, as another tenant who will be conducting Falcon 9 reusable rocket flight tests for the next several years at the spaceport. Click here. (11/19)

Top 5 Companies To Watch (Source: Space News)
This year’s Top 5 Companies to Watch group has a heavy focus on firms facing challenges that could come to a head in the next year or two. They include Virgin Galactic, Globalstar, Orbital Sciences, Sea Launch, and Iridium. Click here to see why. (11/17)

Next SpaceX Launch of ISS Cargo Shifts to Dec. 16 (Source: Florida Today)
NASA today confirmed SpaceX's next launch of International Space Station cargo from Cape Canaveral is scheduled for 2:31 p.m. Dec. 16. The launch previously had been listed as no earlier than Dec. 9. The mission is SpaceX's fifth of 12 under a $1.6 billion Commercial Resupply Services contract with NASA, and the third launched during 2014. (11/19)

Part Failure Cuts Short Morpheus Test at KSC (Source: Florida Today)
A prototype NASA lander fired its engine today while hanging from a crane at Kennedy Space Center, but the engine quickly cut off. NASA said a non-engine component failure was responsible for aborting the tethered test flight of the Morpheus lander just after 3 p.m. north of KSC's shuttle runway. The four-legged lander measuring about 10 feet tall and 10 feet on each side briefly dangled from side to side before stabilizing. (11/19)

Air Force 'Pretty Optimistic' About SpaceX Certification (Source: Reuters)
A top U.S. Air Force official on Wednesday said she is "pretty optimistic" that privately held Space Exploration Technologies will eventually be certified to launch U.S. military satellites into orbit but declined comment on the timing of such an action. The Air Force is working closely with the company, also known as SpaceX, to satisfy a series of requirements that would allow it to compete to launch costly and sensitive U.S. military and intelligence satellites.

Lieutenant General Ellen Pawlikowski told reporters she could not provide a detailed comment on the SpaceX certification process since a competition for one of those launches is already under way. A contract award for the launch is due in December. (11/19)

Astronaut Reveals What Life in Space is Really Like (Source: WIRED)
There's no way to anticipate the emotional impact of leaving your home planet. You look down at Earth and realize: You’re not on it. It’s breathtaking. It’s surreal. It’s a “we’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto” kind of feeling. But I’ve spent a total of 55 days in space, over the course of five missions for NASA, and I’ve learned that being out there isn’t just a series of breathtaking moments. It’s a mix of the transcendently magical and the deeply prosaic. It can be crowded, noisy, and occasionally uncomfortable. Space travel—at least the way we do it today—isn’t glamorous. But you can’t beat the view! Click here. (11/19)

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