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Archive for the International Space Station category

August 30, 2015

HTV -5 Berthing

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NASA dixit:

“The Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency’s (JAXA) “Kounotori” H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV-5) arrived at the International Space Station Aug. 24 to deliver almost five tons of supplies and scientific experiments to the Expedition 44 crew. The cargo vehicle was launched atop a Japanese H-IIB rocket Aug. 19 from the Tanegashima Space Center in southern Japan.”

Video credit: NASA

 

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July 25, 2015

Soyuz TMA-17M Launch and Docking

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NASA dixit:

“Expedition 44 Soyuz Commander Oleg Kononenko of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos), NASA Flight Engineer Kjell Lindgren and Flight Engineer Kimiya Yui of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency launched on the Russian Soyuz TMA-17M spacecraft on July 23, Kazakh time from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to begin a six-hour journey to the International Space Station and the start of a five-month mission. They docked their craft to the Rassvet module on the Russian segment of the complex.”

Credit: Roscosmos/NASA

 

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July 20, 2015

SpaceX CRS-7 Launch Update

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Credits: SpaceX

 

From the July 20, 2015 press release:

 

“On June 28, 2015, following a nominal liftoff, Falcon 9 experienced an overpressure event in the upper stage liquid oxygen tank approximately 139 seconds into flight, resulting in loss of mission. This summary represents an initial assessment, but further investigation may reveal more over time.

 

Prior to the mishap, the first stage of the vehicle, including all nine Merlin 1D engines, operated nominally; the first stage actually continued to power through the overpressure event on the second stage for several seconds following the mishap. In addition, the Dragon spacecraft not only survived the second stage event, but also continued to communicate until the vehicle dropped below the horizon and out of range.

 

SpaceX has led the investigation efforts with oversight from the FAA and participation from NASA and the U.S. Air Force. Review of the flight data proved challenging both because of the volume of data —over 3,000 telemetry channels as well as video and physical debris—and because the key events happened very quickly.

 

From the first indication of an issue to loss of all telemetry was just 0.893 seconds. Over the last few weeks, engineering teams have spent thousands of hours going through the painstaking process of matching up data across rocket systems down to the millisecond to understand that final 0.893 seconds prior to loss of telemetry.

 

At this time, the investigation remains ongoing, as SpaceX and the investigation team continue analyzing significant amounts of data and conducting additional testing that must be completed in order to fully validate these conclusions. However, given the currently available data, we believe we have identified a potential cause.

 

Preliminary analysis suggests the overpressure event in the upper stage liquid oxygen tank was initiated by a flawed piece of support hardware (a “strut”) inside the second stage. Several hundred struts fly on every Falcon 9 vehicle, with a cumulative flight history of several thousand. The strut that we believe failed was designed and material certified to handle 10,000 lbs of force, but failed at 2,000 lbs, a five-fold difference. Detailed close-out photos of stage construction show no visible flaws or damage of any kind.

 

In the case of the CRS-7 mission, it appears that one of these supporting pieces inside the second stage failed approximately 138 seconds into flight. The pressurization system itself was performing nominally, but with the failure of this strut, the helium system integrity was breached. This caused a high pressure event inside the second stage within less than one second and the stage was no longer able to maintain its structural integrity.

 

Despite the fact that these struts have been used on all previous Falcon 9 flights and are certified to withstand well beyond the expected loads during flight, SpaceX will no longer use these particular struts for flight applications. In addition, SpaceX will implement additional hardware quality audits throughout the vehicle to further ensure all parts received perform as expected per their certification documentation.

 

As noted above, these conclusions are preliminary. Our investigation is ongoing until we exonerate all other aspects of the vehicle, but at this time, we expect to return to flight this fall and fly all the customers we intended to fly in 2015 by end of year.

 

While the CRS-7 loss is regrettable, this review process invariably will, in the end, yield a safer and more reliable launch vehicle for all of our customers, including NASA, the United States Air Force, and commercial purchasers of launch services. Critically, the vehicle will be even safer as we begin to carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station in 2017.”

 

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December 19, 2014

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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December 16, 2010

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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