Oferte Emag

Leonardo attached to Space Station

Copyright ESA

After a flawless launch last Thursday and a textbook docking on Saturday, the Space Shuttle today delivered the European-built Leonardo Permanent Multipurpose Module to the International Space Station.

This final flight of Discovery marks the eighth and final trip of Leonardo to the orbiting complex. This visit will be longer: the module will be left attached to the Station as a permanent extension. Originally built to ferry cargo to and from the Station in the Shuttle cargo bay, Leonardo’s modifications include improved debris shielding and easier access by the crew to its internal equipment.

Leonardo flew into space for the first time in 2001, also on Discovery, as the first of three Multipurpose Logistics Modules built by the Italian space agency, ASI, under an agreement with NASA.

Its final cargo for the Station includes an experiment rack and a range of stowage facilities. Leonardo can also support microgravity research into fluid physics, materials science, biology and biotechnology.

Leonardo was removed from the Shuttle’s cargo bay using the Station’s robotic arm and mated to the Earth-facing port of the Unity node. Attachment was called complete at 16:05 CET.

Discovery is scheduled to return to Earth on 8 [...]

A greenhouse in space

Copyright ESA

t’s small, but it’s a greenhouse for space voyagers – and for you. Paolo Nespoli will take a special greenhouse with him to the International Space Station and he’s inviting young science enthusiasts to conduct an experiment with him.

Growing plants in space will be crucial for the astronauts of the future. When flying to Mars or even further, it will be necessary to produce fresh food onboard and become partially self-sufficient. Setting up greenhouses on the Moon, Mars or other planetary bodies will also be an important part of future exploration missions. Greenhouses also provide oxygen and bring some life to the bleakness of space. Caring for plants is a good way to maintain memories of Earth and an enjoyable way to pass time during the long and possibly boring interplanetary cruise.

There is no danger of boredom during Paolo’s MagISStra mission, as it will be packed with activity and science. The ‘Greenhouse in space’ project, proposed and conceived by ESA’s Directorate of Human Spaceflight, is not only a scientific experiment but also an educational opportunity for schoolchildren aged between 12 and 14.

Paolo will use a specially-developed greenhouse in space to grow plants and make [...]

Star Wars Meets UPS as Robonaut Packed for Space

Copyright NASA

Getting into space isn’t necessarily easy for astronauts, and it’s not much easier for a robotic astronaut, either.

Cocooned inside an aluminum frame and foam blocks cut out to its shape, Robonaut 2, or R2, is heading to the International Space Station inside the Permanent Multipurpose Module in space shuttle Discovery’s payload bay as part of the STS-133 mission.

Once in place inside the station, R2, with its humanlike hands and arms and stereo vision, is expected to perform some of the repetitive or more mundane functions inside the orbiting laboratory to free astronauts for more complicated tasks and experiments. It could one day also go along on spacewalks.

Making sure the first humanoid robot to head into space still works when it gets there has been the focus of workers at NASA’s Kennedy and Johnson space centers. Engineers and technicians with decades of experience among them packing for space have spent the last few months devising a plan to secure the 330-pound machine against the fierce vibrations and intense gravity forces during launch.

“I think back in May we realized we had a huge challenge on our hands,” said Michael Haddock, a mechanical engineer designing the [...]

A Perfect STORRM

Copyright NASA

It was a perfect STORRM. On Tuesday, July 20, NASA and its industry partners Lockheed Martin Space Systems and Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp., successfully demonstrated a new sensor technology that will make it easier and safer for spacecraft to rendezvous and dock to the International Space Station.

This new docking navigation system prototype consists of an eye-safe lidar Vision Navigation Sensor, or VNS, a high-definition docking camera, as well as the avionics and flight software. Both sensors will provide real-time three-dimensional images to the crew with a resolution 16 times higher than the current space shuttle sensors. This next generation system also provides data from as far away as three miles – three times the range of the current shuttle navigation sensor.

“You are looking at the future of rendezvous and docking right here,” said David L. Taylor, president and CEO of Ball Aerospace, as he welcomed dozens of NASA and industry engineers to the demonstration.

The hardware will be tested by astronauts aboard STS-134, the last planned shuttle mission, currently scheduled for February 2011, as part of the Sensor Test for Orion Relative Navigation Risk Mitigation (STORRM) Development Test Objective (DTO). On Flight Day 11 [...]

ESA giving a spare arm to Space Station

Copyright ESA

Space Shuttle Atlantis lifted off on Friday evening with an important hardware delivery from Europe to the International Space Station: spare portions of the European Robotic Arm and the first Russian payloads to use the arm.

The European Robotic Arm (ERA) is the second ‘intelligent’ robot arm for the International Space Station (ISS). The first, used extensively for ISS assembly for almost 10 years, is Canadarm-2 – an iconic part of the ISS photos. The second arm, for launch in 2012, will be based on Russia’s Multipurpose Laboratory Module (MLM), from where it can ‘walk’ to other locations. “Already now more than a third of the pressurised Station elements are built and designed in Europe and European knowhow is keeping Station in operation,” says Simonetta Di Pippo, ESA’s Director of Human Spaceflight.

“Launching the ERA spare arm is an important step in keeping the ability for demanding robotic operations in case of technical failures – these may happen during the prolonged life of the ISS.”

ERA will be used to service the Russian segment of the ISS and to transfer small payloads directly to space via MLM’s special airlock, liberating astronauts from time-consuming, fatiguing and potentially [...]

NASA to Launch Human-Like Robot to Join Space Station Crew

Copyright NASA

NASA will launch the first human-like robot to space later this year to become a permanent resident of the International Space Station. Robonaut 2, or R2, was developed jointly by NASA and General Motors under a cooperative agreement to develop a robotic assistant that can work alongside humans, whether they are astronauts in space or workers at GM manufacturing plants on Earth.

The 300-pound R2 consists of a head and a torso with two arms and two hands. R2 will launch on space shuttle Discovery as part of the STS-133 mission planned for September. Once aboard the station, engineers will monitor how the robot operates in weightlessness.

R2 will be confined to operations in the station’s Destiny laboratory. However, future enhancements and modifications may allow it to move more freely around the station’s interior or outside the complex.

“This project exemplifies the promise that a future generation of robots can have both in space and on Earth, not as replacements for humans but as companions that can carry out key supporting roles,” said John Olson, director of NASA’s Exploration Systems Integration Office at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “The combined potential of humans and robots is a perfect [...]

TerraSAR-X image of the month: The International Space Station

TerraSAR-X image of the month: The International Space Station

On 13 March 2008, the International Space Station (ISS) passed across the field-of-view of Germany’s remote sensing satellite, TerraSAR-X, at a distance of 195 kilometres (122 miles) and at a relative speed of 34,540 kilometres per hour (over 22,000 mph). The encounter lasted for about three seconds, but this brief moment was long enough for the synthetic aperture radar on TerraSAR-X to acquire an image of the ISS, a structure measuring about 110 metres by 100 metres by 30 metres.

Just a few hours before this image was taken, Space Shuttle Endeavour was docked with the ISS as part of the 1J/A mission; its payload was the Japanese Logistics Module. At the time this picture was taken, the ISS was already truly international: the Russian and American modules as well as the European ‘Columbus’ laboratory were all installed. The impressive solar power plant on the Space Station was almost ready for operation, with six of its eight panels already in position. The orbital configuration that provides the opportunity for a picture like this occurs between 10 and 11 times each month, but there is absolutely no risk of a collision because TerraSAR-X and the ISS are on very different [...]

The Cupola opens its seven eyelids

The Cupola opens its seven eyelids

Copyright ESA

Astronauts aboard the International Space Station have opened the shutters on the seven Cupola windows this morning, providing them with the first view of Earth from their new observation deck.

The Cupola is an observation and control tower with six side windows and a top window, which are all equipped with shutters to protect them from passing space debris and micrometeoroids, and will be closed when not in use.

During their third and final spacewalk of the STS-130 mission, astronauts Bob Behnken and Nicholas Patrick worked outside the International Space Station (ISS) to remove the insulating blankets covering the Cupola. They also released the bolts that held each window’s shutter in place during the launch of Endeavour.

Once the blankets and bolts were removed, the astronauts inside the Cupola tested the shutters by opening them one by one. The first to be opened was the big Earth-facing circular window; its shutter swung open at 06:25 CET (05:25 UT). After seeing Earth through the largest window in space for a couple of minutes, the shutter was closed and each of the other shutters was opened for a short period to test they were working. Later all of the windows [...]

Node-3 and Cupola: European technology to complete the ISS

Copyright ESA

Space Shuttle Endeavour was launched at 10:14:08 CET today and is heading for the International Space Station carrying two sophisticated European modules: Node-3 (Tranquility) and Cupola. Their installation will mark the completion of the non-Russian part of the ISS, with more than a third of the pressurised Station elements designed and built in Europe.

Node-3 is part of the Columbus laboratory launch barter agreement with NASA, whereby ESA supplies two of the connecting nodes (Nodes-2 and-3) for the ISS plus additional advanced-technology laboratory equipment and services in return for NASA launching Europe’s Columbus lab to the ISS in February 2008.

Thales Alenia Space Italy developed Node-3 based on the experience acquired by it and the Italian Space Agency ASI in designing and building Node-2 and the Multipurpose Logistics Modules (MPLM), which are used to transport cargo to the ISS. Nodes-2 and -3 were built by European industry led by prime contractor Thales Alenia Space Italy.

Cupola is covered by a separate launch barter agreement in exchange for the launch and return of five ESA payloads by NASA and was also built by European industry, with Thales Alenia Space Italy as prime contractor.

Node-3 will provide more space for [...]

ESA prepares for the next generation of human spaceflight and exploration by recruiting a new class of European astronauts

ESA presents new European astronauts

Copyright ESA The new astronauts were presented at ESA Headquarters

20 May 2009 ESA PR 12-2009. ESA today presented the six individuals who will become Europe’s new astronauts. The new recruits will join the European Astronaut Corps and start their training to prepare for future missions to the International Space Station, and beyond.

The new astronauts are:

1. Samantha Cristoforetti, Italian 2. Alexander Gerst, German 3. Andreas Mogensen, Danish 4. Luca Parmitano, Italian 5. Timothy Peake, British 6. Thomas Pesquet, French

They were selected following a Europe-wide recruitment process that started last year. Following thorough psychological, medical and professional screening that started with 8413 valid applications, they are the first new recruits to join the European Astronaut Corps since 1992 under this second-ever astronaut selection carried out by ESA.

The choice of six was made taking into account flight opportunities planned not only under ESA programmes and activities but also those planned in the frame of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Italian Space Agency (ASI) and NASA. This was done in agreement with the Italian authorities and in accordance with the ESA Council decision in 2002 to create a single corps of astronauts in Europe. “We are at [...]