National Team Blazes New Trail from Apollo to Human Landing System (HLS)

Artist’s concept of the Human Landing System (HLS). Image Credit: Blue Origin National Team

As NASA works to formally “down-select” its Human Landing System (HLS) industrial teams from three to two later this spring, one of those teams—the “National Team”, led by Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin and including Northrop Grumman Corp., Lockheed Martin Corp. and Draper Laboratory—presented the current state of its hardware and software, as well as an exciting vision for future exploration of the Moon on Thursday.



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As CRS-21 Dragon Splashes Down, Next U.S. Cargo Mission Gears Up for February Launch

The CRS-21 Dragon is here pictured docked to International Docking Adapter (IDA)-3 on the International Space Station (ISS) last week. The pressurized logistics module of Japan’s Kibo lab is visible at right. Photo Credit: NASA

After almost six weeks in orbit, SpaceX’s CRS-21 Dragon spacecraft returned smoothly to Earth last night, wrapping up the second of up to seven U.S. uncrewed cargo missions to the International Space Station (ISS) planned for 2021.



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New Boeing-Built Solar Arrays to Provide Power Hike for Space Station

Photo Credit: Deployable Space Systems

NASA and Boeing have announced plans to outfit the International Space Station (ISS) with an upgraded set of six power-producing solar arrays, beginning later this year. It is expected that the new arrays—to be combined with the eight “legacy” Solar Array Wings (SAWs) currently in place on the port and starboard sides of the station’s Integrated Truss Structure (ITS)—will afford a “hike” of electrical power production of 20-30 percent for the sprawling multi-national outpost.



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Watch NASA Test Fire America's New SLS Moon Rocket

The 212-foot-tall (64.6-meter) core stage for the first Space Launch System (SLS) is lowered into the B-2 Test Stand for the Green Run. Photo Credit: NASA

Representatives of NASA, Boeing and Aerojet Rocketdyne gathered for a media briefing Tuesday afternoon (12 January) to discuss progress towards the critical eighth and final test in the year-long “Green Run” campaign to prepare the Boeing-built Core Stage of the Space Launch System (SLS) for its maiden voyage as early as November. The Hot Fire Test—targeted as a 485-second full-mission-duration “burn” of Aerojet Rocketdyne’s four RS-25 engines—is targeted for Saturday, 16 January.



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Ready for Space Station: Remembering STS-72, 25 Years On

Leroy Chiao (foreground) works in Endeavour’s payload bay during one of the STS-72 EVAs. Photo Credit: NASA

A quarter-century ago, today, six astronauts began an ambitious mission which put virtually all of the Space Shuttle’s capabilities—satellite deployment and retrieval, rendezvous and proximity operations, research and Extravehicular Activity (EVA)—to the test, as well as providing a great insight into the work that NASA would require to build the International Space Station (ISS). 



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CRS-21 Dragon Packed With Science, Ahead of Monday Return to Earth

The CRS-21 Dragon cargo ship on final approach to the International Space Station (ISS) on 7 December. The Expedition 64 crew’s Dragon Resilience can also be seen, docked to the forward port of the Harmony node. Photo Credit: NASA

After more than a month in orbit, SpaceX’s CRS-21 Dragon cargo ship is due to return to Earth early Monday morning, laden with over 5,200 pounds (2,350 kg) of payloads and experiment results, destined for the eager hands of researchers back home. Undocking of the vehicle—the first Cargo Dragon to dock and undock, rather than berth and unberth—from the International Space Station (ISS) is targeted for 9:25 a.m. EST.



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At its Best: Remembering Columbia's STS-32 Mission, OTD in 1990

More than three decades ago, in January 1990, the Long Duration Exposure Facility (LDEF) was plucked from orbit after almost six years. It was a triumphant moment as the Space Shuttle Program sought to recover from the loss of Challenger. Photo Credit: NASA

More than three decades ago, on this day in January 1990, the Space Shuttle turned a corner. Long touted as a vehicle capable of regular sorties into low-Earth orbit and having captured and repaired satellites to the delight and astonishment of the world, its career was forever dented by the tragic loss of Challenger and the painful years of introspection which followed. Yet having triumphantly returned to flight in September 1988, the shuttle had conducted several highly successful missions and had begun to re-cement its credentials.



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Bad Days: Remembering Shuttle Columbia's Brush With Disaster, 35 Years On

‘Mission Impossible’ finally launches as Columbia roars into the darkened Florida skies on 12 January 1986. Photo Credit: NASA

The opening weeks of every year are a somber time for America’s space program, as many minds reflect upon the triple tragedies of Apollo 1 and shuttles Challenger and Columbia and the catastrophic loss of 17 brave lives. And as Houston-based AxiomSpace prepares to launch the first all-commercial human space voyage later this fall (with a crew that includes movie star Tom Cruise), we look back this month at a real “Mission: Impossible” which took place 35 years ago, in January 1986.



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SpaceX Launches Powerful Turkish Communications Satellite to Start Off 2021

Falcon 9 launching Turksat-5A to orbit from Cape Canaveral on Jan 7, 2021. Photo: Mike Killian / AmericaSpace.com

A powerful (and highly controversial) communications satellite for Turkey smoothly rode a four-times-flown Falcon 9 booster into orbit Thursday night from Space Launch Complex (SLC)-40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Fla. Liftoff of the veteran B1060 core took place at 9:15 p.m. EST, about an hour into an expansive four-hour “window”. It was the third mission out of the newly-renamed U.S. Space Force installation, following last month’s launches of the clandestine NROL-44 payload for the National Reconnaissance Office atop a Delta IV Heavy and SiriusXM’s SXM-7 communications satellite aboard a Falcon 9.



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NG-14 Cygnus Departs Space Station, Two Weeks of Autonomous Fire Safety, Tech Experiments Ahead

The NG-14 Cygnus cargo ship, named in honor of STS-107 hero Kalpana “K.C.” Chawla, departed the International Space Station (ISS) early Wednesday. Photo Credit: NASA

Northrop Grumman Corp.’s NG-14 Cygnus cargo ship has entered the homestretch of its multi-month mission to the International Space Station (ISS), following a picture-perfect unberthing and departure on Wednesday morning. Physical separation of the spacecraft—which is named in honor of the first woman of Indian ancestry to travel into space, STS-107 astronaut and shuttle Columbia’s final flight engineer, Kalpana “K.C.” Chawla—from the Earth-facing (or “nadir”) port of the Unity node occurred at 10:11 a.m. EST. Cygnus will now spend almost three weeks in autonomous free flight, ahead of a destructive dive into the atmosphere and a harmless disintegration over the Pacific Ocean at 1 p.m. EST on 26 January.



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