There’s a disturbing lack of hibernation in our space-faring plans. In movies and books, astronauts pop in and out of hibernation—or stasis, or cryogenic sleep, or suspended animation, or something like it—on a regular basis. If we ever figure out some kind of hibernation, can we take advantage of it to get by with smaller spacecraft?
The European Space Agency (ESA) is working to answer that question.
Continue reading “If Astronauts Hibernated on Long Journeys, They’d Need Smaller Spacecraft”
The Moon landings were a huge undertaking. In order to prepare, NASA had to think of every detail, right down to machines for the astronauts to train on. And those machines are an interesting part of space history all on their own.
Continue reading “This is the Machine Astronauts Trained on to Land on the Moon”
When it comes to brand recognition, Airstream‘s got game. Their silver, space-age looking travel trailers and touring coaches are iconic. Almost everyone recognizes their riveted aluminum bodies.
Continue reading “Boeing and Airstream Show off Their New Astronaut Transport Vehicle: the Astrovan II”
NASA is developing new spacesuits for their Artemis program. The new suits will give the astronauts greater mobility, will be safer, and will be designed from the ground up to fit women.
Continue reading “NASA’s New Lunar Spacesuit is Going to be a Lot More Comfortable for Astronauts”
The all-female astronaut walk is back on.
Back on March 26th, 2019, NASA was forced to cancel the first all-female spacewalk because they didn’t have the right spacesuits available on the ISS. There was a short-lived social media storm over that development, as some claimed it was evidence of sexism on the part of NASA. But that small storm didn’t have legs and it died out, because no serious-minded observer thinks that NASA is actually sexist.
Now, the problem has been worked out, and the spacewalk will happen on October 21st, when astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir will walk outside the ISS and install new lithium-ion batteries. Theirs is the first of five walks needed to complete the installation.
Continue reading “They’ve Got Spacesuits that Fit Now. Christina Koch and Jessica Meir Will Spacewalk on October 21st”
The International Space Station’s usual complement of six astronauts grew by 50% recently, making things a little crowded up there. The nine astronauts come from four separate space agencies, and for the first time, an astronaut from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is onboard the ISS.
The ISS is a multicultural place. Astronauts from around the world serve on the station to advance the scientific goals of humanity and to build cooperative ties between Earth’s different peoples. It’s kind of like Star Trek, but in space.
Continue reading “Nine Astronauts from Four Different Space Agencies are on the International Space Station Right Now”
We’re accustomed to astronauts pulling off their missions without a hitch. They head up to the International Space Station for months at a time and do what they do, then come home. But upcoming missions to the surface of the Moon, and maybe Mars, present a whole new set of challenges.
One way astronauts are preparing for those challenges is by exploring the extreme environment inside caves.
Continue reading “Astronauts Explore Caves on Earth, Learning the Skills They’ll Need for the Moon and Mars”
One of the obstacles to long space missions is the muscle loss that astronauts suffer from. It’s called atrophy, and NASA says that astronauts can lose up to 20% muscle mass during missions of only 5 to 11 days. This muscle loss affects what are called “anti-gravity muscles,” including calf muscles, the quadriceps and the muscles of the back and neck.
This muscle loss makes it hard for astronauts to complete their tasks, especially when missions to Mars happen. It can also be very dangerous to astronauts, because they’re weakened when they return to Earth. If there are problems during re-entry, and they need to perform any strenuous emergency procedures, that missing muscle could be the difference between life and death.
Continue reading “New Ideas to Reduce Muscle Loss During Spaceflight”
The Soyuz MS-10 spacecraft carrying crew to the ISS was aborted shortly after launch on Thursday, Oct. 11th when its booster failed. The spacecraft executed an emergency ballistic landing with a sharp angle of descent. Both crew members on board—American astronaut Nick Hague and Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin—exited the capsule safely and are in good condition.
Continue reading “Soyuz Launch Carrying Two Astronauts is Forced to Abort, Landing Safely Back on Earth”
There’s solid evidence for the existence of water on Mars, at least in frozen form at the planet’s poles. And a more recent study confirms the existence of liquid water at the south pole. But visitors to Mars will need to know the exact location of usable water deposits at other Martian locations. A ground-penetrating radar called ScanMars may be up to the task.
Continue reading “Astronauts Could Use the ScanMars Device to Search for Water on Mars”