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NASA and the Elon Musk-owned private rocket company SpaceX have finally launched four more astronauts on a flight to the International Space Station (ISS). After a number of delays, the launch finally took off from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida at 9.03 p.m. on Wednesday, launching on top of one of SpaceX's Falcon 9 rockets.
"Crew 3" comprises NASA astronauts Raja Chari, mission commander; Tom Marshburn, pilot; and Kayla Barron, mission specialist; as well as ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Matthias Maurer, who will serve as a mission specialist, to the space station for a six-month science mission, staying aboard until late April 2022. This is the third crew rotation mission with astronauts on the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft and the fourth flight with astronauts, including the Demo-2 test flight, as part of the agency's Commercial Crew Programme.
Aboard Dragon with the crew will be more than 400 pounds of supplies and hardware, including over 150 pounds of which they will use to conduct experiments aboard the space station. Here is some of the research riding with them into low-Earth orbit. In addition to the experiments flying with them aboard Dragon, the Crew-3 astronauts are also scheduled to conduct many additional experiments and technology demonstrations during their mission.
Crew-3 is crucial for the testing of new upgrades to the space station's Environmental Control and Life Support System (ECLSS), including the newly installed toilet, the Brine Processing Assembly, carbon dioxide scrubbers, and two new hydrogen sensors slated to arrive aboard a SpaceX Cargo Dragon in late December. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: NASA, SpaceX, mission, crew ISS
NASA and Russia's State Space Corporation Roscosmos are planning to hold joint training sessions for mixed missions to the International Space Station (ISS), the media reported.
Kathy Lueders, associate administrator of NASA's Human Exploration and Operations (HEO) Mission Directorate, announced the "intergovernmental agreements" on Friday, TASS news agency reported.
"The Russians, based on the number of missions that the SpaceX had flown, they have agreed to further the processing of our intergovernmental agreements where we eventually would be flying US crew members on the Soyuz and the Russian cosmonauts on the US SpaceX vehicle," Lueders was quoted as saying.
"We are very excited to see that we have made progress with them (Russia) at least on the first steps going forward and have our initial cosmonauts beginning to do assessments and training with suits and us beginning to do the training for that," she added.
On October 26, Roscosmos CEO Dmitry Rogozin said that the Russian space agency and NASA had begun detailed talks about flying crew members for missions by Russian cosmonauts on board US SpaceX vehicles and NASA astronauts on board Soyuz spacecraft.
Meanwhile, Russia's Progress MS-18 cargo spacecraft has docks with orbital outpost ISS. The cargo spaceship launched on early Thursday night from the Baikonur spaceport, the report said.
The spaceship was earlier reported to deliver to the ISS 470 kg fuel, 420 litres of drinking water, 40 kgs of air and oxygen in containers, 1,509 kg of equipment and materials, medical control and sanitary tools, clothing items, meals and fresh products.
Progress MS-18 spacecraft will remain docked with the ISS until next year.
Keywords: India, Russia, NASA, Russia's State Space Corporation Roscosmos, Space.
The Discovery of novel bacterial strains aboard the International Space Station (ISS) suggests the possibility of astronauts growing their own vegetables while in space, says a new study by researchers based at the University of Hyderabad (UoH) and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory(JPL), among other institutions.
The new bacterial strains discovered from different locations aboard the ISS flights may help in creating the “fuel” to help plants withstand such stressful situations. The findings of the study were published in a recent issue of the journal Frontiers in Microbiology.
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The research teams were led by Dr. Kasthuri Venkateswaran of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, C.C. Wang of WorldQuant Initiative for Quantitative Prediction, Professor Appa Rao Podile from the University of Hyderabad (UoH) with expertise on plant growth-promoting bacteria and plant microbiome, and Dr. Ramprasad, a CSIR-pool Scientist.
The bacterial strains belonging to the family Methylobacteriaceae were isolated from different locations aboard the ISS across two consecutive flights.
While one bacterial strain was identified as Methylorubrum rhodesianum, the other three were previously undiscovered and belonged to a novel species.
Genetic analyses revealed them to be closely related to Methylobacterium indicum.
The researchers named the novel species as Methylobacterium ajmaline, in honor of the renowned Indian biodiversity scientist, Dr. Ajmal Khan, a former Professor at Annamalai University in Tamil Nadu.
The genome analysis of Methylobacterium ajmalii strains revealed the presence of genes that are involved in promoting plant growth.
Commenting on the discovery and based on the genomic data, the lead authors said that the strains might possess “biotechnologically useful genetic determinants that may help growing plants in extreme places where resources are minimal”.
However, further experimental validations are being done to prove that it could, indeed, be a potential game-changer for space farming.
The authors are looking forward to more exciting discoveries in collaboration with NASA’s JPL. (IANS/KB)
A flight carrying NASA’s new $23 million titanium space toilet, designed as a better fit for female astronauts, failed to launch late Thursday and has another window Friday night.
NASA tweeted late Thursday the launch was canceled about 2 minutes before liftoff “due to an unknown problem with a component of ground support equipment.”
Northrop Grumman, maker of the Antares rocket, said a Friday night launch from Wallops Island, Virigina, would be attempted, if engineers can solve the issue.
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To recap: Tonight's launch attempt for @NorthropGrumman's Antares rocket to send the #Cygnus resupply craft to the @Space_Station was scrubbed about 2 minutes and 40 seconds before liftoff due to an unknown problem with a component of ground support equipment.
— NASA Wallops (@NASA_Wallops) October 2, 2020
Among the cargo heading to the International Space Station is a new toilet that is better designed for female astronauts to go No. 2, a NASA official said.
The toilets currently on the ISS cater more toward men. But with more women joining the ranks, NASA set out to make a better toilet, tilting the seat and making it taller, said Melissa McKinley, the project manager at the Johnson Space Center.
“Cleaning up a mess is a big deal. We don’t want any misses or escapes,”
Also, the funnels have been redesigned so women can use the elongated and scooped-out funnels to urinate while sitting on the commode to defecate at the same time, McKinley said. Until now, it’s been one or the other for female astronauts, she noted.
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At barely 100 pounds and 28 inches tall, the new toilet is approximately half as big as the two Russian-built ones at the space station. Its small size makes it a perfect fit for the NASA Orion capsules that will carry astronauts to the moon in a few years.
The new toilet is to be used alongside the old one on the U.S. side of the ISS.
Like earlier space commodes, air suction, rather than water and gravity, removes the waste. Urine collected by the new toilet will be routed into NASA’s long-standing recycling system to produce water for drinking and cooking. Titanium and other tough alloys were chosen for the new toilet to withstand all the acid in the urine pretreatment.
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More toilets will be needed as SpaceX launches astronauts to the space station and Boeing stays on course to send up its first crew in less than a year.
The typical space station population will go from six to seven with the next SpaceX flight, and even more when nonprofessionals like tourists start showing up as early as next year.
The last time NASA ordered up a new toilet was in the early 1990s to accommodate a two-week space shuttle mission. (VOA)