Tag Archives: international space station

Russian Soyuz Spacecraft Malfunction Delays Arrival at ISS by 2 Days


The Soyuz TMA-12M rocket launches from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Wednesday, March 26, 2014 carrying Expedition 39 Soyuz Commander Alexander Skvortsov of the Russian Federal Space Agency, Roscosmos, Flight Engineer Steven Swanson of NASA, and Flight Engineer Oleg Artemyev of Roscosmos to the International Space Station.
Image: NASA Joel Kowsky

A Russian Soyuz spacecraft suffered an apparent malfunction in orbit late on March 25, forcing its three-man crew to circle the Earth two extra days before reaching the International Space Station as planned, NASA officials say.

The Soyuz TMA-12M space capsule launched into space March 25 carrying an American astronaut and two Russian cosmonauts on what was expected to be a standard six-hour trip to the International Space Station. But a malfunction on the Soyuz spacecraft prevented a critical engine burn to keep the capsule on course for its planned orbital arrival on the night of March 25.

Riding aboard the Soyuz are NASA astronaut Steve Swanson and cosmonauts Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Artemyev. The U.S.-Russian crew will now arrive at the station on the evening of March 27, NASA spokesman Josh Byerly said in an update.

“The crew is fine, but the ground teams are taking a look at what exactly happened aboard the Soyuz and what caused that [engine] burn to be skipped,” Byerly said during NASA’s televised coverage.

Russian Soyuz engineers are unsure if a software glitch or a mechanical malfunction caused the problem, Byerly said. An initial look at conversations between mission flight controllers in Moscow and Houston suggests, that the problem may beem caused by the Soyuz not being in the proper orientation for the planned engine burn, according to a NASA status update.

The Soyuz capsule launched into orbit atop a Russian-built Soyuz rocket from the Central Asian spaceport of Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 5:17 p.m. EDT. Its crew planned to join three other crewmates already aboard the station with docking at 11:05 p.m. EDT.

Now, Swanson and his crewmates must wait until March 27 at 7:58 p.m. EDT to link up with the International Space Station, Byerly said, adding that the exact time of the docking could change.

“They have supplies to keep them in orbit for many, many days,” Byerly said of the three space travelers.

Russia’s Soyuz spacecraft originally flew on two-day rendezvous flights to the space station similar to the backup trajectory the current Soyuz mission is forced to fly now. It is a two-day trip that includes 32 orbits of Earth in order to catch up with the space station. The last two-day Soyuz trip before this mission was in December 2012.

Russia’s Federal Space Agency began flying shorter, six-hour trips to the space station with unmanned cargo ships in 2012. The first crewed single-day trips to station on Soyuz vehicles launched in 2013.

Expedition 39 Launch
This long expsoure photograph shows the flight path of the Soyuz TMA-12M rocket as it launches from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Wednesday, March 26, 2014.

A standard six-hour trip to the International Space Station includes four orbits of the Earth and requires four major engine burn maneuvers, performed automatically by the spacecraft, in order to reach the International Space Station.

Byerly said the Soyuz TMA-12M’s flight computer failed to perform the third maneuver in the flight sequence slated for 7:48 p.m. EDT.

“Right now we don’t understand exactly what happened, so we’ll analyze and review all the telemetry of it,” a Russian flight controller radioed the Soyuz crew, according to a audio translation.

Russia’s three-person Soyuz spacecraft are currently the only vehicles capable of ferrying astronaut and cosmonaut crews to and from the International Space Station. NASA retired its space shuttle fleet in 2011, and is dependent on Russian Soyuz vehicles to fly American astronauts to the station and back. The U.S. space agency plans to fly American astronauts on commercial U.S. spacecraft beginning in 2017.

Swanson, Skvortsov and Artemyev are due to spend nearly six months in space during their current mission, which will bridge the space station’s Expedition 39 and 40 crews. The trio will join Expedition 29’s Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata, NASA astronaut Rick Mastracchio and cosmonaut Mikhail Tyurin already aboard the station, then stay on to serve as the outpost’s Expedition 40 crew.

Editor’s Note:

This story was updated at 10:50 pm ET to clarify that the cause of the Soyuz spacecraft’s missed engine burn is being studied as a possible software issue, mechanical malfunction or incorrect attitude.

This article originally published at Space.com

Read more: http://mashable.com/2014/03/26/russian-soyuz-spacecraft-malfunction/

This Song Was Recorded in Space


Using Soundcloud and YouTube, astronaut Chris Hadfield beamed a song from space to Earth. Hadfield recorded “Jewel in the Night” aboard the International Space Station this week, saying, “You can hear the slight buzz of the station’s fans in the background.”

He adds the song is “some of the first original music written for and performed on” the ISS.

Hadfield, with the Canadian Space Agency, is the commander of the 147-day ISS mission.

Hadfield shared the Soundcloud player and a YouTube video on Twitter, where he has been keeping people updated on his space adventures. Here’s a sampling of his holiday tweets:

Days before launching into space to arrive on the ISS, Hadfield participated in “Ask Me Anything” session on Reddit. In his introduction, he explained that he attempts to routinely check his social media for questions and comments from followers.

NASA Orders Spacewalks to Fix International Space Station


Astronauts at the International Space Station (ISS) will attempt to fix the craft’s broken cooling system during a series of three spacewalks in the coming days, NASA has announced.

The agency said it would delay a cargo resupplying mission until after the spacewalks, which are scheduled from Dec. 21 to Dec. 25, the agency announced Tuesday.

The cooling system began experiencing problems last week, when it shut down in response to low temperatures. Officials warned at the time that a spacewalk might be necessary to fix it.

The plan is for NASA astronauts Rick Mastracchio and Mike Hopkins to remove a pump with a failed valve and replace it with a spare that is currently stored on an “external stowage platform,” the agency said.

“The pump is associated with one of the station’s two external cooling loops, which circulate ammonia outside the station to keep both internal and external equipment cool,” NASA said in its announcement.

Judd Frieling, lead flight director of the current ISS expedition, describes the problem in more detail in this video.

The Orbital Sciences’ Cygnus spacecraft resupply mission will be delayed until “no earlier than mid-January,” NASA said. The agency will provide more details about the spacewalks Wednesday at a preview briefing from NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.

Image: NASA

BONUS: 20 Epic Space Photos From Astronaut Chris Hadfield

Space Debris Has Chipped One Of The ISS’s Windows

A chip in a car window isquite bothersome, but if the crack is in one of the windows of the International Space Station (ISS) it goes from annoying to terrifying.

The above picture was taken by European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Tim Peake, and it shows a 7-millimeter chip on one of the multi-layered windows of the Cupola module. It was created by a small fragment of space debris no more than a few microns across, maybe a paint flake or a metal fragment.

Strikes such as this pose no threat to the astronauts, though.The European-built Cupola windows, which afford fantastic views of Earth,are multi-layered like the rest of the station, shielding the crew from harm.

I am often asked if the International Space Station is hit by space debris. Yes this is the chip in one of our Cupola windows, glad it is quadruple glazed! said Peake in a statement.

The Cupola module gives astronauts a stunning view of Earth. NASA

Although not threatening, this type of incidenthighlights the risk of space debris to both crew and technologies in space. This fragment was just oneof over 170 million debris fragments of a size less than1centimeter (0.4 inches), which could easily disable a system on a satellite. There are at least 670,000 objects in space between 1and 10 centimeters (0.4 to 4 inches), capable of penetrating the ISSs shielding system. There are around 29,000 objects of 10 centimeters or larger that could easily destroy a spacecraft.

It might seem surprising the danger these small objects pose, but one needs to remember that they have a speed velocity of about 8kilometers per second (about 18,000 mph), almost four times faster than the fastest bullet.

ESA is at the forefront of developing and implementing debris-mitigation guidelines, because the best way to avoid problems from orbital debris is not to cause them in the first place, stated Holger Krag, Head of ESAs Space Debris Office, in the statement.

These guidelines are applied to all new missions flown by ESA, and include dumping fuel tanks and discharging batteries at the end of a mission, to avoid explosions, and ensuring that satellites reenter the atmosphere and safely burn up within 25 years of the end of their working lives.

Photo Gallery

Read more: http://www.iflscience.com/space/space-debris-has-chipped-one-isss-windows

The Gross Side of Space: What Happens to Dead Skin in Microgravity

Warning: If you are looking for a story about the romance of space travel — the adventure, the wonder, the transcendence of what we know in the name of exploring a great unknown — this is not that. Turn away now.

Still with me? Great. Then here’s something from the other side of space. The less romantic, and in fact vaguely disgusting, side. The side that involves drinking recycled urine and using bathrooms that involve vacuums and trimming moustaches with clippers that resemble medieval torture devices. This one involves skin. Skin which, as it naturally does, sheds.

On Earth, we barely notice that process: Our skin cells molt and and gravity pulls them away from our bodies, conveniently and invisibly. In space, however, there is no gravity to pull the dead cells (technically: the detritus) away. Which means that the detritus, left to its own devices, simply floats. Which, given the fact that multiple astronauts live on the Space Station at the same time, and the fact that even highly trained space travelers might get skeeved out by floating clouds of dead skin, is less than ideal.

In the video above, former ISS denizen Don Pettit describes what happens when, in particular, you take your socks off on the Station. “This cloud, this explosion of skin particles — detritus — floats out,” he says. “And you’re in this weightless environment, and the particles have nowhere to go but out.”

That’s even true of foot calluses — which, after a few months of weightlessness, tend to soften. I’ll leave the details to Pettit, but the bottom line is this: If you ever find yourself living on a space station, make sure the station’s ventilation system works really, really well. Because, as astronaut Mike Massimino warns in the video: “This sounds actually pretty disgusting.”

“Well, it is,” Pettit replies. “But it’s part of being a human.”

Image: NASA

This article originally published at The Atlantic

Read more: http://mashable.com/2013/08/01/dead-skin-microgravity/

See Space Station and Cargo Ship in Night Sky This Week


The International Space Station and a European cargo-carrying spacecraft are locked in a cosmic dance, and you can see it all unfold right from your own backyard.

The European Space Agency’s bus-size Automated Transfer Vehicle-4 (ATV-4) — a space cargo ship loaded with food, rocket fuel and experiments — launched toward the space station last Wednesday. This week, weather permitting, you’ll be able to see both the station and the ship (named “Albert Einstein”) pass overhead.

This is a sight that should easily be visible to almost anyone, even those in brightly lit cities across southern Canada, all of Europe and much of the United States.

The appearance of either the International Space Station or an ATV cargo ship moving across the sky is not unusual. On any clear evening, within a couple of hours of local sunset and with no optical aid, you can usually spot several Earth-orbiting satellites creeping across the sky like moving stars.

Satellites become visible only when they are in sunlight and the observer is in deep twilight or darkness; this usually means shortly after dusk or before dawn.

What makes this week’s prospective passages so interesting is that you’ll be able to see the ATV-4 gradually “chase down” the space station around the Earth, ultimately catching up and docking with the orbiting outpost. Docking is scheduled for Saturday, June 15 at 9:46 a.m. EDT.

Both vehicles will appear to travel across the sky along the same path, and the gap between the two will diminish as the week unfolds.

Today they have about 42 minutes of travel time between them. By Wednesday, they’ll be 36 minutes apart and, by Thursday, 20 minutes apart. But on Friday evening — mere hours before docking — they will be flying in close tandem with each other.

Resembling a pair of bright “stars,” the International Space Station will shimmer brightly and seem to lead the dimmer Albert Einstein across the sky. The space station is, by far, the largest and brightest object currently orbiting the Earth. It shines as brightly as Jupiter and can occasionally even rival Venus in brilliance.

Traveling in their respective orbits at 18,000 mph (29,000 km/h), both should be visible for about one to four minutes as they glide with a steady speed across the sky.

Although the “chase” will be visible in many parts of the Northern Hemisphere, it will be difficult to spot in parts of the southern United States (particularly in Florida and the Gulf Coast region), as the few (if any) passes will occur before sunset in the daytime sky.

So what is the viewing schedule for your hometown? You can easily find out by visiting Chris Peat’s Heavens Above or NASA’s SkyWatch.

Both websites will ask for your ZIP code or city and, using that information, will formulate a list of suggested spotting times. Predictions computed a few days ahead of time are usually accurate to within a few minutes. They can change, however, due to the slow decay of the space station’s orbit and the periodic reboosts to higher altitudes. Check frequently for updates.

Another site, N2YO.com, tracks more than 8,000 satellites in real time. Check out the website’s sidebar for additional data, including the satellite’s speed, elevation and altitude. The sidebar also provides a forecast (with a corresponding map) of any given satellite’s movements in the next five days.

Image courtesy of Flickr, jacsonquerubin

This article originally published at Space.com

Read more: http://mashable.com/2013/06/12/see-iss-in-the-sky/

Beautiful Image Of Venus From The International Space Station

This image of Venus shining like a cosmic jewel was taken from the International Space Station (ISS) on December 5, 2015, by Kimiya Yu, an astronaut with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).

JAXA released the photo on the heels of a recent triumph: On December 7, 2015, the Akatsuki probe successfully entered the elliptical orbit of Venus.

The probe hopes to learn about Venus’surface and atmosphere, which scientists currently believe is a nightmarish landscape of thick, toxic clouds and possiblelightning storms and volcanic activity.

The photograph was snapped during the second to last day of the Akatsuki probe’s long journey towards Venus.

David MacLean, from the Centre of Geographic Sciences (COGS) in Canada, told IFLScience the image was taken when the ISS was above the western coast of India, around 60 kilometers (37 miles) inland from Mumbai, looking towards the east coast. The city lights are beaming out of Hyderabad (lowerright), Nagpur (lowerleft) and Raipur (upper left).

Read more: http://www.iflscience.com/space/beautiful-image-venus-international-space-station

NASA Stops Spacewalk After Water Leak Inside Astronaut’s Helmet


NASA aborted a planned six-hour spacewalk by two astronauts outside the International Space Station Tuesday when a one of the spacewalkers reported “a lot of water” inside his spacesuit helmet, a potentially scary situation.

European Space Agency astronaut Luca Parmitano reported that helmet started filling with water, making it difficult for him to continue the spacewalk outside of the International Space Station. The spacewalk ended after one hour and 32 minutes. It was supposed to last six hours and 15 minutes.

“There is some in my eyes, and some in my nose,” Parmitano said. “It’s a lot of water.”

Parmitano reported the water in his spacesuit about one hour and nine minutes into the spacewalk. The cause of the water leak isn’t yet known, but the tasks scheduled for the spacewalk can be deferred until a later excursion, NASA officials said.

Cassidy and Parmitano began today’s spacewalk at 7:57 a.m. EDT. They wore NASA-issue spacesuits called Extravehicular Mobility Units, or EMUs. It ended at 9:29 a.m. EDT.

“[Mission Controllers on the ground] are taking the cautious path and ending the EVA early,” a NASA spokesman said during a broadcast on NASA TV.

Parmitano headed straight back to the U.S. Quest airlock on the International Space Station while Cassidy followed. Cassidy assured Parmitano repeatedly that he was close behind.

Once inside the airlock, the astronauts began repressurizing the chamber in order to return inside the station. At one point, Cassidy said it looked as if Parmitano could not hear any calls over his spacesuit radio.

“He looks fine,” Cassidy said. “He looks miserable, but okay.”

Today’s spacewalk was the second in eight days for Parmitano and Cassidy. The two astronauts planned to continue work that will prepare the station for the arrival of a new Russian multipurpose laboratory module slated to arrive later this year, and perform other maintenance tasks.

Image: NASA

This article originally published at Space.com

Read more: http://mashable.com/2013/07/16/nasa-spacewalk-water-leak-astronaut/

Watch Chris Hadfield and ISS Crew Land Safely

After 146 days in space, Chris Hadfield, Roman Romanenko and Tom Marshburn landed safely in Dzhezkazgan, Russia, around 10:30 p.m. EDT Monday.

The crew undocked from the International Space Station, where they lived for 144 days, and began the seven-hour trip home in their small Soyuz spacecraft. Once on the ground, Russian officials quickly extracted the astronauts from the capsule and helped them into reclining chairs — the first step in re-adapting to Earth’s gravity.

NASA released this 11-minute video cut of Monday’s journey. The beginning of the video shows Pavel Vinogradov, who took over as ISS commander for Chris Hadfield, helping the three astronauts into the Soyuz capsule.

Once the hatch was closed, Soyuz detached from the Space Station and dropped to Earth below. At the 6:50 mark, the video flashes to Russia, where Soyuz parachutes into an open field.

It was a bittersweet moment as the world watched Chris Hadfield return to Earth. The ISS commander blossomed into an Internet celebrity with his memorable tweets and YouTube videos from orbit. This was his farewell message from space:

However, we won’t have to wait long for space’s next social media star — the new crew heads to the Space Station at the end of the month.

Space Pics of Alaskan Volcano Eruption Are Amazing


An erupting Alaskan volcano shot ash plumes so high into the air that astronauts on board the International Space Station were able to capture the activity in crisp, detailed photographs.

Pavlof Volcano — located in the Aleutian Arc about 625 miles southwest of Anchorage — erupted on May 13, spewing lava and generating an ash cloud that reached 22,000 feet high. Pavlof is one of the most active volcanos in the United States, with nearly 40 known eruptions.

While the majority of the plumes were released over the weekend, U.S. Geological Survey scientists told the Associated Press Thursday that the volcano is still rumbling, and seismic instruments continue to register tremors. Flights in the area have also been cancelled.

Astronauts snapped these images from 475 miles south-southeast of the volcano on May 18 using a Nikon D3S digital camera.

BONUS: Jaw-Dropping Photos of Auroras