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Archive for the International Space Station category

12-19-14

Atlas V To Carry Cygnus To ISS

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Credits: NASA

 

Orbital Sciences Corporation has announced that Atlas V will be the launch vehicle that will help the company fulfill its Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) commitment to NASA. Orbital’s Antares will undergo an upgrade of the main propulsion system.

 

From the December 9, 2014 press release:

 

“Orbital Sciences Corporation […] today announced new details in its plans to resume cargo flights to the International Space Station (ISS) and to accelerate the introduction of an upgraded Antares launch vehicle. In formulating its go-forward plans, the company’s primary objective is to fulfill its commitment to NASA for ISS cargo deliveries with high levels of safety and reliability and minimum disruption to schedules. As previously announced, these plans are expected to allow Orbital to accomplish all remaining cargo deliveries under its current Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) contract with NASA by the end of 2016 and with no cost increase to the space agency.

 

The company’s go-forward plans for the CRS program and Antares launch vehicle include these major elements:

Atlas V Launch: Orbital has contracted with United Launch Alliance for an Atlas V launch of a Cygnus cargo spacecraft from Cape Canaveral, Florida, in the fourth quarter of 2015, with an option for a second Atlas V launch in 2016 if needed. The Atlas rocket’s greater lift capacity will allow Cygnus to carry nearly 35% more cargo to the ISS than previously planned for CRS missions in 2015.

Antares Propulsion Upgrade: The company has confirmed its ability to accelerate the introduction of a new main propulsion system for the Antares rocket and has scheduled three additional CRS launches in the first, second and fourth quarters of 2016 using the upgraded vehicle. The greater payload performance of the upgraded Antares will permit Cygnus spacecraft on each of these missions to deliver over 20% more cargo than in prior plans. With necessary supplier contracts now in place, the first new propulsion systems are expected to arrive at the Antares final assembly facility at Wallops Island, Virginia in mid-2015 to begin vehicle integration and testing.

Wallops Launch Site Repairs: The Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) has assessed the clean-up, repair and reconstruction work necessary to return the Wallops launch complex to operational status. Current plans call for repairs to be substantially completed by the fall of 2015, with recertification taking place before year end.

 

The flexibility of Orbital’s Cygnus cargo spacecraft to accommodate heavier cargo loads, together with the greater lift capacity of the Atlas V and upgraded Antares vehicles, will allow the company to complete all currently contracted ISS deliveries in four missions instead of the five previously planned flights over the next two years. In addition, the company’s revised approach is not expected to create any material adverse financial impacts in 2015 or future years as Orbital carries out the CRS cargo delivery and Antares propulsion upgrade programs.”

 

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12-16-10

Orbital’s Space Plane

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Credits: Orbital Sciences Corporation

 

Orbital Sciences Corporation is proposing a blended lifting body vehicle that will launch atop an expendable launch vehicle in response to NASA’s Commercial Crew Development-2 contract solicitation. The proposed configuration will provide safe and affordable transportation services to and from the International Space Station. The vehicle will carry a crew of four astronauts, and will reenter the Earth’s atmosphere and land on a conventional runway similar to a Space Shuttle.

 

The launch vehicle proposed for the launch stack is the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket. Orbital’s press release mentions that the whole configuration is flexible enough to accommodate other launch vehicles as well.

 

Orbital is leading a team of world-class space system manufacturers. The pressurized crew compartment will be provided by Thales Alenia Space, the human-rated avionics will be the responsibility of Honeywell and Draper Laboratory, and the United Launch Alliance will supply the launch vehicle. Northrop Grumman will be the airframe structures designer.

 

 

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Credits: NASA/CSA

 

Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield will take command of the station during the second half of his third space mission. Hadfield will launch aboard a Soyuz rocket in December 2012, and spend six months on the station as part of the crew of Expedition 34/35. He will return to Earth in a Soyuz capsule in June 2013.

 

Hadfield is the only Canadian to board the Russian Mir space station, in 1995, during his first space flight, while he served as Mission Specialist 1 on STS-74. He is also the first Canadian mission specialist and the first Canadian to operate the Canadarm in orbit.

 

 

His second space flight was onboard STS-100, where he served as Mission Specialist 1. STS-100 was the International Space Station assembly flight 6A, which delivered and installed the Canadarm-2 on the station. During this mission, Hadfield performed two spacewalks.

 

Chris Hadfield also served as Director of Operations for NASA at the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre in Star City, Russia; as Chief of Robotics for the NASA Astronaut Office at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas; as Chief of International Space Station Operations; and as the Commander of NEEMO 14, a NASA undersea mission to test exploration concepts living in an underwater facility off the Florida coast.

 

The official announcement was made by the Canadian Space Agency. Chris Hadfield’s biography is also available here.

 

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06-14-09

Node 3 Welcomed At KSC

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Credits: ESA

 

The Kennedy Space Center has officially welcomed Node 3. Node 3 is a European-built module for the International Space Station (ISS). The prime contractor chosen for the job was Thales Alenia Space, in Turin, Italy.

 

Node 3 was transported from Italy by an Airbus Beluga aircraft. The aircraft left Turin on May 17, and arrived in Florida on May 20.

 

 

Node 3 is now being prepared for the journey to the ISS in the Space Station Processing Facility (SSPF) at KSC.

 

Node 3 is a connecting module. With a length of 6.7 m and 4.4 m in diameter, Node 3 will have a total mass of 19,000 kg once berthed to the ISS. Node 3 will eventually house the life support system necessary for the permanent crew of six on the space station. On one of its berthing ports, Node 3 will accommodate the Cupola. Node 3 also provides room for eight refrigerator-size racks. Two of these racks will be used by avionics systems controlling the node.

 

Credits: ESA

 

Cupola is an observation module. Once attached to Node 3, it will provide a pressurized observation and work area for two ISS crew members. Cupola will allow the crew to control the space station remote manipulator system through the robotic workstation. Cupola has a mass of 1,880 kg, a height of 1.5 m, and it has a maximum diameter of 2.9 m. The windows are protected by a Micro-meteorid and orbital Debris Protection System (MDPS), which consists of shutters made out of aluminum coated with Kevlar.

 

Node 3 will be launched inside the Orbiter cargo bay, mounted on a pallet via a Manual Berthing Mechanism, and transferred to the Node location using the Shuttle Remote Manipulator System.

 

 

“Node 3 represents a turning point for the International Space Station,” said Simonetta Di Pippo, ESA Director of Human Spaceflight. “By having accomplished the development of the ISS modules and by completing its assembly in the months to come we open a new avenue of cooperation and exploration that will take humankind back to the Moon and beyond to other destinations while continuing to exploit the enormous possibilities in low Earth orbit.”

 

Credits: ESA

 

NASA has chosen the name Tranquility for Node 3, after the Sea of Tranquility, landing site of Apollo 11 in 1969. Colbert had to settle for having one of the treadmills onboard ISS named after him.

 

Node 3 and Cupola are scheduled to be delivered to the ISS by STS-130 Space Shuttle Endeavour in early 2010.

 

 

You can find out more about Node 3 and Cupola on the page dedicated to the ISS on ESA’s web site.

 

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Credits: NASA/RASA

 

The Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS) is a high-energy particle detector. AMS will detect electrons, positrons, protons, antiprotons, and nuclei in cosmic radiation.

 

AMS is a cooperative project that involved more than 200 scientists from 31 institutions and 15 countries. The data gathered by AMS during its three-year mission will help scientists answer important questions about antimatter and invisible mass in the Universe. AMS could detect many types of particles predicted by theorists and determine their astrophysical sources.

 

 

AMS could reveal to scientists unusual astrophysical objects like antimatter galaxies, dark matter, strangelets, microquasars, and primordial black holes.

 

AMS actually refers to two particle experiments: AMS-01 and AMS-02. AMS-01 flew in low Earth orbit (LEO) with Space Shuttle Discovery STS-91 in June 1998. AMS-01 was an AMS prototype (a simplified version of the spectrometer) and was used to test particle physics technology in LEO. AMS-02 is the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer designed to be mounted and operated on the ISS.

 

Credits: NASA

 

AMS-02 is a cube-shaped structure with a mass of 6,731 kg. The spectrometer consists of a huge superconducting magnet and six specialized detectors, and requires 2,000 watts of power.

 

The experiment has a 10Gb/sec internal data pipeline and will have a dedicated 2MB/sec connection to ground stations. AMS-02 will gather approximately 200 TB of scientific data during its mission. Four 750 MHz PowerPC computers running Linux will provide the computing power.

 

The spectrometer also contains two star tracker cameras, which detect the orientation in space, and a thermal control system that will control the temperature of the whole experiment. The thermal control system is quite complex. Heat is collected from the detectors and the magnet, and then pushed through conductors to the radiators mounted on the outside of the AMS and radiated into space.

 

 

AMS-02 has a little bit of history associated with it … due to the Space Shuttle accidents, which reduced the number of orbiters available, and the decision to retire the Space Shuttle fleet, AMS-02 faced cancellation (a long list of elements meant to be part of the ISS were cancelled for the same reasons). Because an additional shuttle flight was added to the launch manifest, most likely AMS-02 will make it to the space station.

 

The plan for AMS-02 is that it will be attached to the zenith side of the S3 section of the Integrated Truss Structure on the ISS. A Payload Attachment System will be used to keep the spectrometer in place on the truss segment.

 

Credits: NASA

 

According to the missions schedule, AMS-02 will be installed on ISS as part of the Space Shuttle Discovery STS-134 mission, together with the last ExPRESS Logistics Carrier (ELC-4), in late 2010.

 

STS-134 will be the last Space Shuttle flight before the deadline set to end Space Shuttle operations on September 30, 2010.

 

 

To make things more interesting (and Space Shuttle operations cheaper), it has been proposed that the last mission should end through a destructive re-entry. In this scenario, the reduced crew of three will remain on the space station and return to Earth onboard Soyuz spacecraft.

 

You can read more about AMS-02 on a dedicated web page at MIT. There is also a web page dedicated to AMS-02 at CERN.

 

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03-5-09

HTV

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Credits: JAXA

 

HTV stands for H-II Transfer Vehicle. HTV is an unmanned spacecraft designed and built in Japan. HTV is designed to deliver supplies to the International Space Station (ISS).

 

The typical mission for HTV starts at the Tanegashima Space Center (TKSC) near Tsukuba, in Japan.

 

 

A H-IIB launch vehicle will inject the HTV on a low Earth orbit (LEO). After the separation from the H-IIB second stage, the transfer vehicle is able to navigate independently.

 

It will take approximately three days for HTV to reach the proximity of the ISS. During this time, it will maintain contact with the Control Center at TKSC (designated as HTV-CC) through the Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System (TDRSS). TDRSS is a network of satellites that allow a spacecraft in LEO to maintain permanent contact with the control center on the ground. HTV will use GPS to position itself at 7 km behind the ISS.

 

At this point, the berthing phase of the mission starts. HTV will approach the ISS within 500 m and use the Rendezvous Sensor (RVS) to move closer to the ISS. Reflectors that are installed on Kibo will allow HTV to maintain a distance of 10 m below the ISS.

 

Credits: JAXA

 

HTV does not have the capability to dock on its own to the ISS (as opposed to the European ATV), so the Canadarm2 robotic arm will be used to grab the transfer vehicle and berth it to the nadir side of the Node 2 module.

 

While the HTV is berthed to the ISS, supplies from the HTV’s pressurized section are transferred to the space station by the crew, and waste will be loaded from the ISS.

 

 

The cargo from the un-pressurized section will be unloaded using the robotic arm and attached either to the Exposed Facility of the Japanese Experiment Module (JEM) or the ISS Mobile Base System.

 

The HTV mission will end in a similar way to the European ATV: a destructive re-entry above the Pacific Ocean.

 

Here is some more background information about the HTV. The spacecraft is a cylinder-shaped structure 10 m long and 4.4 m in diameter. It has a total mass of 10,500 kg, of which 6,000 kg is cargo (divided into 4,500 kg pressurized cargo and 1,500 kg un-pressurized cargo). HTV can carry 6,000 kg of waste during the re-entry.

 

HTV consists of four modules: the Pressurized Logistics Carrier (PLC), the Unpressurized Logistics Carrier (UPLC), the Avionics Module, and the Propulsion Module. The UPLC carries the Exposed Pallet (EP), which can accommodate unpressurized payloads.

 

Credits: JAXA

 

The PLC is equipped with a Common Berthing Mechanism (CBM). This will allow the crew present on the station to enter the module in order to unload the supplies and load waste material.

 

The EP carried by the UPLC can be either Type I or Type III Exposed Pallets. The Type I EPs will carry payloads for the Kibo’s Exposed Facility (EF), while the Type III EPs will be used to deliver the Orbital Replacement Units (ORUs) to the ISS.

 

 

The systems in the avionics module enable HTV to execute the autonomous flight to the space station. The module also contains communication and power systems. The thirty-two thrusters installed on the propulsion module provide HTV with the capability to execute orbital adjustments and control the attitude during the mission.

 

HTV will add to the existing fleet of transfer vehicles that includes the Russian Soyuz and Progress spacecraft, as well as the European ATV. The first HTV mission is scheduled for late 2009.

 

For more information about HTV, you can visit the H-II Transfer Vehicle page on the JAXA web site.

 

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