Tag Archive for NASA

Vice President Mike Pence Visits NASA’s Kennedy Space Center

Vice President Pence Arrives for Visit at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center

Vice President Pence Visits NASA’s Kennedy Space Center

Vice President Mike Pence visited NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida today and addressed employees at the iconic Vehicle Assembly Building. The vice president also toured Kennedy to learn more about the center’s work as a multi-user spaceport for commercial and government clients, and he saw the agency’s progress toward launching from U.S. soil on spacecraft built by American companies. He visited the Neil Armstrong Operation’s and Checkout Building to see NASA’s Orion spacecraft that will travel past the moon, and eventually on to Mars atop the Space Launch System rocket.

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Vice President Mike Pence Visits NASA’s Kennedy Space Center

Vice President Pence Arrives for Visit at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center

Vice President Pence Visits NASA’s Kennedy Space Center

Vice President Mike Pence visited NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida today and addressed employees at the iconic Vehicle Assembly Building. The vice president also toured Kennedy to learn more about the center’s work as a multi-user spaceport for commercial and government clients, and he saw the agency’s progress toward launching from U.S. soil on spacecraft built by American companies. He visited the Neil Armstrong Operation’s and Checkout Building to see NASA’s Orion spacecraft that will travel past the moon, and eventually on to Mars atop the Space Launch System rocket.

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NASA Prepares for Aug. 21 Total Solar Eclipse

This image of the moon crossing in front of the sun was captured on Jan. 30, 2014, by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory observing an eclipse from its vantage point in space.
Credits: NASA

June 21, 2017
NASA RELEASE 17-058

For the first time in 99 years, a total solar eclipse will occur across the entire continental United States, and NASA is preparing to share this experience of a lifetime on Aug. 21.

Viewers around the world will be provided a wealth of images captured before, during, and after the eclipse by 11 spacecraft, at least three NASA aircraft, more than 50 high-altitude balloons, and the astronauts aboard the International Space Station – each offering a unique vantage point for the celestial event.

NASA Television will air a multi-hour show, Eclipse Across America: Through the Eyes of NASA, with unprecedented live video of the celestial event, along with coverage of activities in parks, libraries, stadiums, festivals and museums across the nation, and on social media.

Coast to coast, from Oregon to South Carolina, 14 states will – over a span of almost two hours – experience more than two minutes of darkness in the middle of the day. When the moon completely blocks the sun, day will turn into night and make visible the otherwise hidden solar corona, the sun’s atmosphere. Bright stars and planets also will become visible. Using specialized solar viewing glasses or other equipment, all of North America will be able to view at least a partial eclipse lasting two to four hours.

“Never before will a celestial event be viewed by so many and explored from so many vantage points – from space, from the air, and from the ground,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. “With our fellow agencies and a host of scientific organizations, NASA will continue to amplify one key message: Take time to experience the Aug. 21eclipse, but experience it safely.”

Viewing Safety

The only safe way to look directly at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed sun is through special-purpose solar filters, such as eclipse glasses or handheld solar viewers. Homemade filters or ordinary sunglasses, even very dark ones, are not safe for looking at the sun. In the 70-mile-wide swath of the country that will experience a total eclipse, it’s safe to look at the total eclipse with your naked eyes only during the brief period of totality, which will last about two minutes, depending on your location.

An alternative method for safe viewing of the partially-eclipsed sun is with a pinhole projector. With this method, sunlight streams through a small hole – such as a pencil hole in a piece of paper, or even the space between your fingers – onto a makeshift screen, such as a piece of paper or the ground. It’s important to watch the screen, not the sun.

For more information on viewing safety, visit:

https://eclipse2017.nasa.gov/safety

NASA and other agencies will provide vital information and updates on their respective websites that include viewing safety, activities across the country including at national parks, in addition to transportation preparations.

Studying Our Sun

Many researchers and citizen scientists will take advantage of this unique opportunity to study our sun, solar system, and Earth under rare circumstances. The sudden blocking of the sun during an eclipse reduces the light and changes the temperature on the ground, creating conditions that can affect local weather and animal behavior.

Understanding the sun has always been a top priority for space scientists. These scientists study how the sun affects space and the space environment of planets – a field known as heliophysics. As a source of light and heat for life on Earth, scientists want to understand how our sun works, why it changes, and how these changes influence life on Earth. The sun’s constant stream of solar material and radiation can impact spacecraft, communications systems, and orbiting astronauts.

“Eclipse 2017 provides an incredible opportunity to engage the entire nation and the world, inspiring learners of all ages who have looked to the sky with curiosity and wonder,” said Steven Clarke, director of NASA’s Heliophysics Division in Washington.

NASA spacecraft capturing the event include: NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, which will turn toward Earth to track the shadow of the moon on our planet; a host of Earth-observing spacecraft, which can both observe the shadow of the moon and measure how it affects Earth’s weather; and a fleet of solar observing spacecraft. NASA images and data of the eclipse will complement that collected by other scientific organizations.

For more information on eclipse activities, observing assets, and viewing safety, visit:

https://eclipse2017.nasa.gov

To watch the Aug. 21 NASA TV eclipse broadcast online and access interactive web content and views of the eclipse from more than 60 telescopes, aircraft and balloons, visit:

https://www.nasa.gov/eclipselive

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Vice President Pence to Visit NASA’s Kennedy Space Center July 6th

During his visit to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, Vice President Mike Pence will tour the Vehicle Assembly Building, an enormous structure originally built for assembly of Apollo/Saturn vehicles, later modified to support Space Shuttle operations, and currently under modification to support Orion and Space Launch System operations.
Credits: NASA

Vice President Mike Pence will visit NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Thursday, July 6.

NASA Television and the agency’s website will provide live coverage for parts of the visit starting at noon EDT with Air Force Two’s arrival at Kennedy’s Shuttle Landing Facility runway, as well as a special address to the center’s workforce at 12:50 p.m.

The Vice President will tour Kennedy and learn more about the center’s work as a multi-user spaceport for commercial and government clients, as well as see the agency’s progress toward launching from U.S. soil on spacecraft built by American companies, and traveling past the moon, and eventually on to Mars and beyond with the help of NASA’s new Orion spacecraft and Space Launch System rocket.

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President Trump Calls Space Station Crew on Record-Setting Day

From the Oval Office at the White House, President Trump called Expedition 51 Commander Peggy Whitson and Flight Engineer Jack Fischer of NASA April 24 to offer congratulations to Whitson on the day she broke the record for most cumulative days on orbit by a U.S. astronaut. Whitson’s 534-day total surpassed the record held by NASA’s Jeff Williams. Trump’s daughter Ivanka and NASA astronaut Kate Rubins joined the president to discuss Whitson’s presence as a role model for young women and students as she continues her more than nine-month mission on station.

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ISS Expedition 50 Crew Lands After 173-day Mission

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NASA Astronaut Peggy Whitson Adds Three Months to Record-Breaking Mission

NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson is set to extend her mission with an additional three months at the International Space Station.
Credits: NASA

Already poised to break the record for cumulative time spent in space by a U.S. astronaut, Peggy Whitson is set to extend her mission with an additional three months at the International Space Station.

NASA and the Russian space agency Roscosmos, signed an agreement to extend Peggy Whitson’s stay on the space station into Expedition 52. Rather than returning to Earth with her Expedition 51 crew mates Oleg Novitsky of Roscosmos and Thomas Pesquet of ESA (European Space Agency), in June as originally planned, Whitson will remain on the space station and return home with NASA’s Jack Fischer and Roscosmos’ Fyodor Yurchikhin. That landing is targeted for September.

“This is great news,” Whitson said. “I love being up here. Living and working aboard the space station is where I feel like I make the greatest contribution, so I am constantly trying to squeeze every drop out of my time here. Having three more months to squeeze is just what I would wish for.”

The arrangement takes advantage of a Soyuz seat left empty by the Roscosmos decision to temporarily reduce their crew complement to two cosmonauts. Whitson’s extension will ensure a full complement of six astronauts on board the station and increase the amount of valuable astronaut time available for experiments on board the station.

“Peggy’s skill and experience makes her an incredible asset aboard the space station,” said Kirk Shireman, NASA’s International Space Station Program Manager. “By extending the stay of one of NASA’s most veteran astronauts, our research, our technology development, our commercial and our international partner communities will all benefit.”

This is Whitson’s third long-duration stay onboard the space station. She launched on Nov. 17 with 377 days in space already under her belt, and on April 24 will break Jeff Williams’ standing United States record of 534 cumulative days in space. In 2008, Whitson became the first woman to command the space station, and on April 9 will become the first woman to command it twice. In addition, she holds the record for most spacewalks by a female.

Follow Whitson’s stay on the space station via social media at:

http://www.twitter.com/AstroPeggy

SOURCE: NASA

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NASA TV to Air Return of Space Station Crew Members to Earth April 10

Expedition 50 Commander Shane Kimbrough of NASA and Flight Engineers Sergey Ryzhikov and Andrey Borisenko of Roscosmos will undock their Soyuz MS-02 spacecraft from the space station on April 10.
Credits: NASA

Three crew members aboard the International Space Station are scheduled to depart the orbiting outpost Monday, April 10. Coverage of their departure and return to Earth will air on NASA Television and the agency’s website.

Expedition 50 Commander Shane Kimbrough of NASA and Flight Engineers Sergey Ryzhikov and Andrey Borisenko of Roscosmos will undock their Soyuz MS-02 spacecraft from the space station at 4 a.m. EDT and land in Kazakhstan at 7:20 a.m. (5:20 p.m.Kazakhstan time). Their return will wrap up 173 days in space for the crew members since their launch last October.

NASA TV will air coverage of the departure and landing activities at the following dates and times:

Sunday, April 9

  • 10:40 a.m. – Change of command ceremony in which Kimbrough hands over station command to NASA’s Peggy Whitson

Monday, April 10

  • 12:15 a.m. – Farewell and hatch closure coverage (hatch closure at 12:40 a.m.)
  • 3:30 a.m. – Undocking coverage (undocking scheduled at 4 a.m.)
  • 6 a.m. – Deorbit burn and landing coverage (deorbit burn at 6:27 a.m., landing at 7:20 a.m.)
  • 9 a.m. – Video file of hatch closure, undocking and landing activities.

Tuesday, April 11

  • 12 p.m. – Video file of landing and post-landing activities and post-landing interview with Kimbrough in Kazakhstan

Together, the Expedition 50 crew members continued work on hundreds of experiments in biology, biotechnology, physical science and Earth science aboard humanity’s only orbital laboratory.

At the time of undocking, Expedition 51 will begin aboard the station under Whitson’s command. Along with her crewmates Oleg Novitskiy of Roscosmos and Thomas Pesquet of ESA (European Space Agency), the three-person crew will operate the station until the arrival of two new crew members. NASA’s Jack Fischer and Fyodor Yurchikhin of Roscosmos are scheduled to launch April 20 from Baikonur, Kazakhstan.

Keep up with the International Space Station, and its research and crews, at:

 https://www.nasa.gov/station

SOURCE: NASA

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NASA’s Cassini Mission Prepares for ‘Grand Finale’ at Saturn

Courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA’s Cassini spacecraft, in orbit around Saturn since 2004, is about to begin the final chapter of its remarkable story. On Wednesday, April 26, the spacecraft will make the first in a series of dives through the 1,500-mile-wide (2,400-kilometer) gap between Saturn and its rings as part of the mission’s grand finale.

“No spacecraft has ever gone through the unique region that we’ll attempt to boldly cross 22 times,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “What we learn from Cassini’s daring final orbits will further our understanding of how giant planets, and planetary systems everywhere, form and evolve. This is truly discovery in action to the very end.”

During its time at Saturn, Cassini has made numerous dramatic discoveries, including a global ocean that showed indications of hydrothermal activity within the icy moon Enceladus, and liquid methane seas on its moon Titan.

Now 20 years since launching from Earth, and after 13 years orbiting the ringed planet, Cassini is running low on fuel. In 2010, NASA decided to end the mission with a purposeful plunge into Saturn this year in order to protect and preserve the planet’s moons for future exploration – especially the potentially habitable Enceladus.

But the beginning of the end for Cassini is, in many ways, like a whole new mission. Using expertise gained over the mission’s many years, Cassini engineers designed a flight plan that will maximize the scientific value of sending the spacecraft toward its fateful plunge into the planet on Sept. 15. As it ticks off its terminal orbits during the next five months, the mission will rack up an impressive list of scientific achievements.

“This planned conclusion for Cassini’s journey was far and away the preferred choice for the mission’s scientists,” said Linda Spilker, Cassini project scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California. “Cassini will make some of its most extraordinary observations at the end of its long life.”

The mission team hopes to gain powerful insights into the planet’s internal structure and the origins of the rings, obtain the first-ever sampling of Saturn’s atmosphere and particles coming from the main rings, and capture the closest-ever views of Saturn’s clouds and inner rings. The team currently is making final checks on the list of commands the robotic probe will follow to carry out its science observations, called a sequence, as it begins the finale. That sequence is scheduled to be uploaded to the spacecraft on Tuesday, April 11.

Cassini will transition to its grand finale orbits, with a last close flyby of Saturn’s giant moon Titan, on Saturday, April 22. As it has many times over the course of the mission, Titan’s gravity will bend Cassini’s flight path. Cassini’s orbit then will shrink so that instead of making its closest approach to Saturn just outside the rings, it will begin passing between the planet and the inner edge of its rings.

“Based on our best models, we expect the gap to be clear of particles large enough to damage the spacecraft. But we’re also being cautious by using our large antenna as a shield on the first pass, as we determine whether it’s safe to expose the science instruments to that environment on future passes,” said Earl Maize, Cassini project manager at JPL. “Certainly there are some unknowns, but that’s one of the reasons we’re doing this kind of daring exploration at the end of the mission.”

In mid-September, following a distant encounter with Titan, the spacecraft’s path will be bent so that it dives into the planet. When Cassini makes its final plunge into Saturn’s atmosphere on Sept. 15, it will send data from several instruments – most notably, data on the atmosphere’s composition – until its signal is lost.

“Cassini’s grand finale is so much more than a final plunge,” said Spilker. “It’s a thrilling final chapter for our intrepid spacecraft, and so scientifically rich that it was the clear and obvious choice for how to end the mission.”

Resources on Cassini’s grand finale, including images and video, are available at:

https://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/mission/grand-finale/grand-finale-resources

SOURCE: NASA

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Five NASA Astronauts Assigned to Upcoming Spaceflights

Five NASA astronauts have been assigned to upcoming spaceflights.

Joe Acaba

NASA astronaut Joe Acaba
Credit: NASA

Joe Acaba (@astroacaba) will be the first to launch, assigned to the Expedition 53 and 54 crews that already include Mark Vande Hei of NASA and Alexander Misurkin of the Russian space agency Roscosmos. They will launch aboard a Soyuz spacecraft in September.

This will be Acaba’s third trip to the space station and his second long-duration mission. He was selected as an astronaut in 2004, and flew on space shuttle Discovery’s STS-119 station assembly mission in 2009, before returning for a longer stay in 2012, as part of the Expedition 31 and 32 crews.

Born in Inglewood, California, and raised in Anaheim, California, Acaba earned a bachelors’ degree in geology at University of California in Santa Barbara, one master’s in geology from the University of Arizona, and one in education, curriculum and instruction from Texas Tech University. Before coming to NASA, he spent time in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves and the Peace Corps, worked as a hydro-geologist and taught high school and middle school.

Shannon Walker

NASA astronaut Shannon Walker
Credit: NASA

Shannon Walker will train as a dedicated backup for Acaba.

Walker spent 163 days as a flight engineer for Expedition 24 and 25 in 2010. She was born in Houston and began her career at NASA’s Johnson Space Center as a robotics flight controller for the space station with Rockwell Space Operations Co. in 1987. In 1995, she became a NASA employee, working on robotics and hardware for the station with the program’s international partners. She also coordinated on-orbit problem resolution in the Mission Evaluation Room at Johnson and in Moscow, and served as deputy manager of the On-Orbit Engineering Office before being selected for the 2004 astronaut class.

Walker earned a bachelor’s in physics, a master’s in science and a doctorate in space physics, all from Rice University.

Ricky Arnold

NASA astronaut Ricky Arnold
Credit: NASA

Ricky Arnold (@astro_ricky) will join NASA’s Drew Feustel and a Russian cosmonaut for Expeditions 55 and 56 to launch in March 2018.

Arnold will be visiting the space station for the second time, but this trip will be much longer than his last. He also was selected in the 2004 class and flew with Acaba on STS-119. On that mission, he conducted two spacewalks, spending 12 hours and 34 minutes outside the space station.

Arnold was raised in Bowie, Maryland. He earned a bachelo’s in science from Frostburg State University, and a master’s in marine, estuarine and environmental science from the University of Maryland. He has taught school in Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia and Romania. He also served as an oceanographic technician for the U.S. Naval Academy and a marine scientist at the Cape Cod National Seashore.

Arnold and Acaba’s assignments were enabled by the recent agreement to add additional crew members in 2017 and 2018 to boost space station science and research.

Nick Hague and Serena Auñón-Chancellor

NASA astronaut Nick Hague
Credit: NASA

First-time fliers Nick Hague and Serena Auñón-Chancellor (@AstroSerena) will fall into the standard rotation for NASA astronauts.

Hague will launch in September 2018 on Expeditions 57 and 58 with two Russian cosmonauts.

Selected as a member of the 2013 astronaut class, Hague is a native of Hoxie, Kansas, and a colonel in the U.S. Air Force. Prior to his selection, he was part of the Air Force Fellows program in Washington, where he worked as an adviser to the U.S. Senate on matters of national defense and foreign policy.

Hague earned a bachelor’s degree in astronautical engineering from the U.S. Air Force Academy and a master’s in aeronautical and astronautical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

NASA astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor
Credit: NASA

Auñón-Chancellor will join the Expedition 58 and 59 crews in November 2018, along with Canadian Space Agency astronaut David Saint-Jacques and a Russian cosmonaut.

Auñón-Chancellor, from Fort Collins, Colorado, joined the astronaut corps in 2009, and has been at NASA since 2006, when she became a flight surgeon. She also served as the deputy lead for medical operations for NASA’s Orion spacecraft before being selected as an astronaut.

In addition to a bachelor’s in electrical engineering from George Washington University, Auñón-Chancellor holds a doctorate in medicine from the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, and is board certified in internal and aerospace medicine.

She also earned a master’s in public health from the University of Texas Medical Branch.

Nick Hague and Shannon Walker will post social media updates on Twitter via @NASA_Astronauts.

Space Training Time!

“It’s great to get to announce so many assignments at once,” said Chris Cassidy, chief of the Astronaut Office at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. “There’s plenty of work to be done at the space station, and the research opportunities are almost limitless. These folks are all going to do great work and bring a lot of value to their crewmates.”

Between now and their launches, each of the astronauts will undergo a busy regimen of training on space station systems and the experiments they’ll work with while in space.

“The addition of these extra crew members will be a boon to the entire scientific community doing research on station, and especially those who have been waiting for access to the platform” said Julie Robinson, NASA’s chief scientist for the International Space Station. “We’ll be capable of undertaking more complex research activities, which will in turn prepare NASA for the journey to Mars, unearth new markets for research in microgravity and deliver benefits back to Earth.”

These astronauts will join a long and distinguished line of astronauts who have crewed the International Space Station since November 2000. With the help of the more than 200 astronauts who have visited, the space station enables us to demonstrate new technologies and make research breakthroughs not possible on Earth. Its convergence of science, technology and human innovation provide a springboard to NASA’s next giant leap in exploration.

CREDIT: NASA

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