Expedition 53 Spacewalkers Replace Latching End Effector, First Canadarm2 Major Maintenance in 16 Years

Expedition 53 Commander Randy Bresnik (with red stripes on the legs of his suit) and Mark Vande Hei labor outside the International Space Station (ISS) to remove and replace Latching End Effector (LEE)-A on Canadarm2. Photo Credit: NASA/CSA/Jason Seagram/Twitter

Two astronauts representing the Marine Corps and Army branches of the U.S. Armed Forces ventured outside the International Space Station (ISS), earlier today (Thursday, 5 October), to conduct the first major maintenance on the 57.7-foot-long (17.6-meter) Canadarm2 robotic arm. Expedition 53 Commander Randy “Komrade” Bresnik, making the third Extravehicular Activity (EVA) of his career, and first-time spacewalker Mark “Sabot” Vande Hei spent six hours and 55 minutes removing Latching End Effector (LEE)-A and replacing it with a spare unit. This was a change to original plans for this month’s batch of EVAs, following the 22 August “stall” of the latching mechanism at the LEE-A “end” of the arm. Bresnik and Vande Hei’s work has now positioned the 16-year-old Canadarm2 into a more operational state, ahead of its planned use in November to capture both Orbital ATK’s OA-8 Cygnus and SpaceX’s CRS-13 Dragon cargo vehicles.

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Three Spacewalks Ahead for Expedition 53 Crew

Veteran spacewalker Randy Bresnik will lead all three upcoming sessions of Extravehicular Activity (EVA). Photo Credit: NASA, via Joachim Becker/SpaceFacts.de

Three U.S. astronauts will venture outside the International Space Station (ISS) over the next two weeks to undertake a series of maintenance tasks on the exterior of the orbiting outpost. Expedition 53 Commander Randy Bresnik and Flight Engineer Joe Acaba, both of whom have two previous sessions of Extravehicular Activity (EVA) under their belts, and first-time spacewalker, Flight Engineer Mark Vande Hei, will replace and lubricate one of two Latching End Effectors (LEE) on the 57.7-foot-long (17.6-meter) Canadarm2 and replace cameras at a pair of locations on the station’s expansive Integrated Truss Structure (ITS). Outlined in a media briefing at the Johnson Space Center (JSC) in Houston, Texas, earlier today (Monday, 2 October), the current plan will see Bresnik and Vande Hei perform two EVAs on 5 and 10 October, with Bresnik joined by Acaba for the third spacewalk on the 18th.

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SNC Announces Expansion of German Aerospace Center Partnership

Credit: German Aerospace Center (DLR)

SPARKS, Nev. (September 28, 2017) —  Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) announced the execution of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) today, expanding its relationship with the German Aerospace Center (DLR) for further collaboration on space initiatives.

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Webb Launch Slips to 2019 for Integration and Testing Delays at Northrop Grumman

Engineers conducting a white light inspection of the James Webb Space Telescope. Photo NASA/Chris Gunn

The launch of NASA’s multi-billion dollar James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) has slipped from October 2018 to sometime between March and June 2019, following a recently conducted schedule assessment by NASA which determined integration and testing of the spacecraft’s bus and sunshield at Northrop Grumman in Redondo Beach, California will take longer than expected.

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Two Missions to Two Worlds: Ten Years of Exploration by NASA's Dawn Spacecraft

A processed still image from Dawn with Ceres as a crescent as seen on April 10, 2015. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA

Ten years ago, NASA’s Dawn spacecraft launched atop a Delta II Heavy booster from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., bound for one of the most audacious missions of exploration ever undertaken in human history. For the first time, it would utilize xenon-ion propulsion operationally on an exploratory foray, deep into the Solar System, performing not one, but two orbital tours of Vesta and Ceres, dwarf planets of the asteroid belt, between Mars and Jupiter. In doing so, the 2,680-pound (1,210 kg) spacecraft—laden with instruments from the United States, Italy, the Netherlands and Germany—became the first unmanned spacecraft to conduct extended orbital operations around two celestial bodies.

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Elon Updates Plans for SpaceX on Moon and Mars by Mid 2020s with New 'BFR'

SpaceX BFR ships envisioned on Mars over the coming years. Credit: SpaceX

Elon Musk presented an update on progress SpaceX is making with plans for missions to Mars at the International Astronautical Congress (IAC) in Adelaide, Australia on Sep 29, 2017, giving insight on the company’s ambitious vision to build a foundation and infrastructure for colonizing the Red Planet beginning in the next decade.

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Gravitational Waves In Distant Galaxy Observed With Both LIGO and Virgo For First Time

Illustration depicting the gravitational waves produced by two orbiting and then merging black holes. Image Credit: Numerical Simulation: S. Ossokine/A. Buonanno (Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics)/Simulating eXtreme Spacetimes project; Scientific Visualisation: T. Dietrich (Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics)/R. Haas (NCSA)]

Gravitational waves, basically ripples in space and time, have been sought after by astronomers for decades and were finally detected for the first time just over a year and a half ago. Those first observations were made by the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) detector. Two more detections were made since then, and now a fourth detection of gravitational waves has been announced this week. What makes this latest detection even more exciting however is that for the first time, it was done with three different detectors at once, not just one.

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Lockheed Unveils Plans for Orbiting Mars Base Camp and Lander Within 10 Years

Mars Base Camp is Lockheed Martin’s vision for sending humans to Mars in about a decade. The Mars surface lander called the Mars Accent Descent Vehicle (MADV) is a single-stage system that uses Orion systems as the command deck. It could allow astronauts to explore the surface for two weeks at a time before returning back to the Mars Base Camp in orbit around Mars. Credits: Lockheed Martin

Speaking at the International Astronautical Congress (IAC) in Adelaide, Australia, officials with Lockheed Martin today revealed their vision for what they believe is a sound, safe and compelling mission architecture to help NASA get humans to Mars within a decade, using a concept centered around an orbiting outpost they call the Mars Base Camp.

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UN Calls for Interest in Payloads for Dream Chaser Mission

Simonetta Di Pippo and Mark Sirangelo after UNOOSA Call For Interest Announcement. Credits: SNC

This week, the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) and Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) announced a call for interest from participating UN Member States to fly 20-30 powered experiments on a future low-Earth orbit (LEO) mission on SNC’s Dream Chaser spacecraft.

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Ten Years of Dawn: A Decade of Operations for Humanity's First Double-Orbiter

This artist’s concept shows NASA’s Dawn spacecraft heading toward the dwarf planet Ceres. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

“I’m ecstatic,” said Sarah Gavit of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in December 2001, when the space agency announced that the Dawn mission to orbit and explore the dwarf planets Ceres and Vesta—a pair of worlds deep within the asteroid belt, between Mars and Jupiter—was to go ahead. Earlier that year, Dawn had been selected, alongside a concept to examine Jupiter’s internal structure and the Kepler space telescope as the next members of NASA’s medium-cost Discovery program. “Ceres and Vesta are two of the large unexplored worlds in our Solar System,” Gavit continued. “We’ll learn about early planet formation in ways that wouldn’t have been possible before this mission.”

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