#26 Space Station Got Hole?

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Japan to conduct first test as part of space elevator project

A team of researchers from Japan’s Shizuoka University and other institutions will conduct the first test in space this month as part of a project to build a space elevator, Japan’s The Mainichi reported last week. The space elevator essentially ferries people and cargo shipments in an elevator car travelling on a cable connecting Earth to a space station.

Astronauts find hole in the International Space Station, plug it with thumb

You think you woke up on the wrong side of the bed today? Spare a thought for the crew aboard the International Space Station (ISS). On Thursday morning, they woke up to the news that the station was slowly leaking air. Flight controllers had been monitoring the small drop in pressure overnight, deciding to let the crew sleep as the hole presented no danger.

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Welcome home Discovery shuttle

“Houston, Discovery, wheels stopped.”

Marine Col. Frederick W. Sturckow, commander of the Discovery shuttle, radioed as they landed on Runway 22 at Edwards Air Force Base at 8:53 p.m E.D.T.

The shuttle was set to land at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida but bad weather that promised to continue on Saturday, stopped them from doing so.

The Discovery crew plus Army Col. Timothy L. Kopra plans to fly back to Houston tomorrow.

Kopra, who stayed at the International Space Station for two months, traveled back to Earth on this his back in a recumbent seat to ease his return to gravity.

“This experience has completely exceeded anything that I thought it would be like, just the sights, the sounds, the experiences with a great crew,” said Colonel Kopra last week. “The main thing …I’m looking forward to is seeing my family again, my wife and two kids. And maybe have a sip of a beer.”

Ahhh, nothing like a sip of beer can cure homesickness. 😉


Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/12/science/space/12shuttle.html?_r=1

Japan launches new cargo craft to ISS

A computer-generated graphic depicting the HTV cargo ship ready for grapple by the space station's robot arm. (Credit: JAXA)

Japan’s H-2B rocket blasted off to space Thursday from launch pad 2 at the Tanegashima Space Center in southern Japan at 1:01:46 p.m. EDT.

The rocket is carrying HTV cargo craft, an unmanned space station cargo, that contains around 7,400 pounds of equipment and supplies to the International Space Station. The cargo craft was released into its planned preliminary orbit 15 minutes after liftoff.

“The launch was beautiful,” Stephen Clark, a U.S. journalist representing Spaceflight Now, said in an instant message from Tanegashima. “The boosters lit with the typical orange glow and away she went. The rocket went into a thick cloud layer around 25 seconds after liftoff, but the rumble shook us for a couple minutes more.”

The craft will not be docking to the station on its own like previous supply ships like Russian Progress supply ships of the European Space Agency’s automated transfer vehicle, or ATV. Instead, the HTV will autonomously maneuver to a position at the capture point, around 29 feet from the laboratory complex.  Station flight engineer Nicole Stott will then use the lab’s robot arm to lock onto a grapple fixture.

The HTV will however, do a full week of orbital tests and checkouts first before it will approach the space station on its 8th day into orbit.

Source:  http://news.cnet.com/8301-19514_3-10350052-239.html

Discovery space shuttle crew prepares to come home

Here’s  an update on the Discovery space shuttle.

The astronauts and cosmonauts have already said their goodbyes in preparation for their return trip to Earth. They closed the hatches between the International Space Station and the shuttle at 11:41 pm EDT Monday.

The astronauts aboard Discovery are taking home with them a portable cargo module and 5,000 pounds of items not needed at the ISS. As reported earlier, astronaut Tim Kopra will also be coming with them while a Discovery crew will take his place at the space station.

They are scheduled to undock from the station at 3:26 pm Tuesday and expected to land in Florida on Thursday.

Credit: NASA TV

Source: http://www.allheadlinenews.com/articles/7016328238?Discovery%20Astronauts%20Prepare%20For%20Return%20To%20Earth

Billionaire plans a show in space

If you have billions of money at your disposal, you can pretty much do anything you want like uhm, have a show in outerspace.

Yup, circus billionaire Guy Laliberte who will visit space this month, announced that he will also be hosting a live event while he’s there. He says he is doing this to promote the importance of access to clean water around the world.

The founder of Montreal-based Cirque du Soleil is flying into space on September 30 aboard a Russian Soyuz capsule to travel to the International Space Station. This 11-day road spacetrip doesn’t come cheap too. He’ll be paying $35 million to be a “space tourist”, making him the 7th private citizen to go to be able to go into orbit.

Getting back to this out-of-this-world show, Laliberte says former U.S. vice president and environmental activist Al Gore, Irish band U2, rock musician Peter Gabriel, and other stars are also gonna take part in this two-hour live show from 14 cities around the world.

“I just hope that as a citizen of Earth, this will inspire people in a new way,” he said.

According to a report from Reuters, the show will be coordinated by One Drop, Laliberte’s environmental foundation and is set to be shown live on the Internet through its website, onedrop.org in partnership with AOL.com

Hmmn, I wonder how much it’ll cost me to get to Pluto? 😉

Source: http://www.reuters.com/article/scienceNews/idUSTRE5816JJ20090902

Mouse hotel at the ISS

Yup, a team of six mice are living in style at the International Space station as part of an Italian study investigating the effects of bone loss in space.

Julie Robinson, NASA’s space station program scientist says this is the first time that rodents will be actually staying at the space station and for a period of three months nonetheless. Because although a good number mice have already taken joyrides into space (lucky them), they’ve all stayed aboard the shuttles and returning back to Earth with it. The longest time that a mouse stayed in space was about 30 days, cruising in space in an unmanned satellite.

The special experiment drawer where the mice will be checking in was delivered to the station by the astronauts aboard Discovery which docked late Sunday.

Referring to the cage, Joe Delai, Discovery’s payload manager says, “Basically, it’s a little hotel. They have a room and place to eat and sleep.”

What are the amenities the little space guests are enjoying?

“Each mouse is in its own little compartment,” Robinson told SPACE.com. “The compartments have screens around them so the mice can hold on with their feet so that they’re in control of their environment…so they’re not stressed out.”

The astronauts will be making sure that the mice experience a normal environment with a system that turns on lights to simulate day and night. The little critters will be getting room service too! They will be getting their food through automated systems which can be refilled when needed.

So why exactly are they up there? Three of the six mice have a special gene that combat osteoporosis, a condition that leads to bone loss.

If the mice with the special gene suffer less bone loss than those without, then compared to the control group (a similar group of six mice are being studied on Earth as control group), the results may lead to better treatment for osteoporosis on Earth. It can also help protect astronauts who routinely lose bone and muscle mass because of prolonged exposure to microgravity.

The space mice, along with Astronaut Nicole Stott who arrived at the space station on board the Discovery, will all be hitching a ride back to Earth aboard a different shuttle in November.

Source: http://www.space.com/missionlaunches/090831-sts128-mouse-hotel.html

Discovery space shuttle finally lifts off

Credit: Marta Lavandier/Associated Press Source: The New York Times

After three launch delays, the Discovery space shuttle finally blasted off to space late Friday for a 13-day installation and delivery mission.

The space shuttle was originally scheduled for launch early Tuesday but bad weather and a fuel valve which failed to close caused a four-day delay.

To catch up with the International Space Station, the shuttle’s commander Col. Frederick W. Sturckow of the Marines and the shuttle’s pilot, Kevin A. Ford, a retired Air Force colonel, plan to carry out a series of rocket firings. Discovery is expected to dock at the space station at around 9 p.m. Sunday.

The shuttle’s mission includes installing a new 1,800-pound ammonia coolant system tank and delivering two research rackes, a freezer for experiment samples, a new carbon dioxide removal system, crew sleep station and uhm, a new treadmill. 😉

Three spacewalks are also scheduled during Discovery’s stay in the station.

A Discovery crew, Nicole P. Stott, will be replacing Col. Timothy L. Kopra who came to the station aboard Endeavour. She will be joining the space station crew as a flight engineer.

The shuttle is scheduled to undock on September 8 and is expected to land at the Kennedy Space Center two days later.

Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/29/science/space/29shuttle.html?_r=3&hpw

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