Remembering the Gutsy and Hilarious Apollo Astronaut Jim McDivitt

An image of Jim McDivitt on Apollo 9, March 7, 1969, where McDivitt is conducting the world’s first docking of two crewed spacecraft with internal transfer – a technique that would become critical in the later missions to the moon. The image is from underexposed film and recovered by Andy Saunders, who used it for the cover shot of the new book “Apollo Remastered.” Credit: NASA / JSC / ASU / Andy Saunders.

Former NASA astronaut Jim McDivitt, who commanded the important Gemini IV and Apollo 9 missions – both crucial for NASA’s ability to reach the Moon — has died at age 93. His family said he passed away peacefully in his sleep on October 13, 2022.

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NASA Chooses a Supplier to Build its Moonwalking Spacesuits

Axiom will provide the next generation astronaut spacesuits to NASA to support the Artemis lunar missions. Credit: Axiom

NASA announced they have chosen Axiom Space to build the spacesuits for the next astronauts to walk on the Moon. The spacesuits will be used on the Artemis III mission, which is planned to land the first woman and the first person of color on the lunar surface.

Axiom Space says the new spacesuits will provide astronauts with advanced capabilities for space exploration while providing NASA commercially developed human systems needed to access, live, and work in microgravity as well as on and around the Moon.

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Using Virtual/Augmented Reality and Holoportation to Help Improve Mental Health for Future Mars Astronauts

We recently explored how the Apple TV+ series, For All Mankind, gives us a harsh reality check about the harshness of human space exploration. In the show, astronauts struggle, some go crazy, and a lot of them die in the pursuit of planting our flag just a little farther from home. We discussed how while For All Mankind is both science fiction and takes place in an alternate universe, our future Artemis and Mars astronauts will very likely endure the same struggles and hardships as the show’s beloved characters.

When Artemis astronauts finally land on the Moon, they’ll be there anywhere from a few days to a few months. While the Moon is only a few days travel time from Earth, Artemis astronauts may still get a little cranky being stuck in their habitat and unable to go outside without a spacesuit.

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Socks, The Final Frontier

ISS026-E-011334 (18 Dec. 2010) --- NASA astronaut Catherine (Cady) Coleman, Expedition 26 flight engineer, is pictured with a stowage container and its contents in the Harmony node of the International Space Station.
ISS026-E-011334 (18 Dec. 2010) --- NASA astronaut Catherine (Cady) Coleman, Expedition 26 flight engineer, is pictured with a stowage container and its contents in the Harmony node of the International Space Station.

What is the greatest challenge facing humans as we prepare for the first crewed missions to Mars? Solar and cosmic radiation? Atrophying bone and muscle? Growing food? How about laundry? It’s strange but true, right now we don’t have a way to clean laundry in space.

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Astronauts Going to Mars Will Receive Many Lifetimes Worth of Radiation

In a recent study published in Space Physics, an international team of researchers discuss an in-depth study examining the long-term physiological effects of solar radiation on astronauts with emphasis on future astronauts traveling to Mars, to include steps we can take to help mitigate the risk of such solar radiation exposure. The researchers hailed from the United Arab Emirates, New Zealand, India, United States, Italy, Greece, and Germany, and their study helps us better understand the in-depth, long-term health impacts of astronauts during long-term space missions, specifically to Mars and beyond.

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NASA Astronaut Nicole Aunapu Mann will be the First Indigenous Woman in Space!

NASA Astronaut Nicole Mann in SpaceX training. Credit: NASA

This Fall, the fifth crewed mission (Crew-5) of the NASA Commercial Crew Program will depart for the International Space Station (ISS). This mission will see four astronauts launch from the Kennedy Space Center in Flordia aboard a SpaceX Crew Dragon (atop a Falcon 9 rocket). Once they reach the ISS, they will join the crew of Expedition 67 and conduct science experiments as part of Expedition 68. The mission commander of this flight, Nicole Aunapu Mann, is a naval aviator and test pilot with a distinguished military career. She will also be the first Indigenous woman ever to go to space!

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Astronaut Jessica Watkins Floats Above the Earth in the Space Station’s Cupola

NASA astronaut Jessica Watkins floats in the International Space Station’s cupola, a direct nadir viewing window from which Earth and celestial objects are visible. Credit: NASA.

NASA astronaut Jessica Watkins is seen here floating above Earth in the International Space Station’s cupola, which provides a spectacular viewing spot for those who live and work on the space station.

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Extended Trips to Space Alter the Brains of Astronauts

Astronaut Peggy Whitson in the International Space Station's Cupola during a 2017 tour of duty. Doctors are interested in how long periods in low gravity change an astronaut's brain. (NASA Photo)
Astronaut Peggy Whitson in the International Space Station’s Cupola during a 2017 tour of duty. Doctors are interested in how long periods in low gravity change an astronaut’s brain. (NASA Photo)

Going to space changes a person. We’ve known that ever since NASA and the former Soviet Union started sending people to space back in the mid-20th Century. Not only does that trip affect an astronaut’s outlook (just look what it did to William Shatner) but it changes their body. Space physicians continually study astronauts to understand just what happens to them in space. Their latest target? Astronaut brains.

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A Magnetic Bubble Could Protect Astronauts From Dangerous Space Radiation

Artist rendition of the CREW-HaT concept for creating a magnetic shield for spacecraft. Credit: Elena D'Onghia.

Humans have long dreamed of setting foot on Mars or beyond, and the advances by companies like SpaceX and Blue Origin means perhaps the dream could be closer than ever to becoming reality. But as it stands now, sending astronauts on long-duration missions to other worlds would be impossible because of the hazardous radiation levels in space, outside of Earth’s protective magnetic field.

However, a new concept offers hope on the horizon, and the researchers behind it have received funding from the NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program to build a prototype. Called CREW HaT, the proposal takes advantage of the latest advances in superconducting magnet technology to effectively shield spacecraft – and the astronauts inside — from harmful space radiation.

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