ESA Astronaut Will Visit Station for Months

ESA astronaut Thomas Reiter from Germany, will be the first to do a long-duration spaceflight. Image credit: ESA. Click to enlarge.
This July, ESA astronaut Thomas Reiter from Germany is about to become the first European to live and work on the International Space Station (ISS) on a long-duration mission.

ESA Director of Human Spaceflight, Microgravity and Exploration, Daniel Sacotte, recently signed an agreement on the mission with the Head of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos), Anatoli Perminov. “The agreement covers the ESA astronaut?s flight in a crew position originally planned for a Russian cosmonaut”, explained Sacotte, “and he will perform all the tasks originally allocated to the second Russian cosmonaut on board the ISS and, in addition, an ESA experimental programme.”

The agreement forms part of a set of bilateral understandings between Roscosmos and NASA and between ESA and NASA, enabling the implementation of the mission.

Thomas Reiter, the astronaut assigned to the mission, is a member of the European Astronaut Corps, based at ESA’s European Astronaut Centre (EAC) in Cologne, Germany. L?opold Eyharts, from France, a member of the same Corps, will be the back-up for this mission.

Reiter will reach the ISS on Space Shuttle flight STS-121 currently planned for next July, and return to Earth on flight STS-116 in February.

This will be Reiter’s second long-duration mission on board a space station, following his six-month stay on the Russian Mir, ten years ago, during the ESA Euromir 1995 mission.

“With the maiden flight of the Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) and the launch of the European laboratory Columbus, both in 2006, ESA is making important contributions to the ISS and its scientific capabilities and, consequently, we are assuming significant operational responsibilities in this programme. I am confident that this mission will give Europe a lot of operational experience and scientific results which will further prepare us for the exciting and challenging times ahead,” said Thomas Reiter.

“Moreover,” L?opold Eyharts pointed out, “as the back-up astronaut for this mission, I am receiving the same training as Thomas Reiter, which will be an excellent preparation for my tasks as prime astronaut for a future ESA mission to the ISS in connection with Columbus.”

Both astronauts are already in training for the mission in the various ISS training facilities at Houston, Moscow and Cologne, together with their Russian and American astronaut colleagues.

“For the first time, and as a test for later European long-duration missions to the ISS, mission preparation, training, operations and multilateral coordination will be carried out as far as possible through the multilateral decision-making and management structures established for ISS exploitation,” underlined ESA’s Mission Manager Aldo Petrivelli.

“This will be an excellent opportunity for testing coordination and cooperation between ground control and support centres like the Houston and Moscow Mission Control Centres, the Columbus Control Centre in Oberpfaffenhofen, near Munich (*), the European Astronaut Centre in Cologne and the various User Support and Operations Centres throughout Europe that will be involved in the mission. The operational teams from ESA, national space agencies, industry and research institutions in Europe will thus gain very useful operational experience, also for future Columbus system, subsystems and payload operations.”

Original Source: ESA News Release

Expedition 10 Lands Safely

After traveling more than 78 million miles aboard the International Space Station, Expedition 10 Commander and NASA ISS Science Officer Leroy Chiao and Flight Engineer Salizhan Sharipov returned to Earth today. With them was European Space Agency Astronaut Roberto Vittori, who had spent eight days aboard the orbiting complex doing research.

After a flawless descent by the ISS Soyuz 9 spacecraft, Chiao, Sharipov and Vittori landed on target in north-central Kazakhstan, about 53 miles (85 kilometers) northeast of Arkalyk, at 5:08 p.m. CDT. Recovery forces arrived at the site within minutes of the touchdown. The area was saturated from recent rains and melting winter snow, so the first members of the recovery team to reach the scene decided to fly the crew to Arkalyk to meet with remaining members of the recovery team.

The crew’s friends and families are expected to greet them upon their arrival at Star City, Russia, about eight hours after landing. Chiao and Sharipov will remain in Star City for a few weeks of post-flight debriefings and medical exams before returning to Houston in mid-May.

Chiao and Sharipov spent 192 days, 19 hours and 2 minutes in space. They launched on Oct. 13, on the same Soyuz spacecraft that brought them home. For six months, the pair maintained systems and conducted scientific research onboard the Station.

Among their accomplishments on the Station was replacing critical hardware in the Joint Quest Airlock, repairing U.S. spacesuits, submitting a scientific research paper on ultrasound use in space and voting for the first time in an American Presidential election from space. They completed two spacewalks, including experiment installation and tasks that prepared the Station for the arrival of a new European cargo ship next year.

Aboard the Station, the Expedition 11 crew, Commander Sergei Krikalev and Flight Engineer and NASA Station Science Officer John Phillips, are beginning a six-month mission that will include the resumption of Space Shuttle flights and two spacewalks from the Station. Expedition 11 is scheduled to return to Earth on Oct. 7, 2005.

Krikalev and Phillips will have light duty for the next three days as they rest after completing a busy handover period. For the past week, they have been learning about Station operations from the two men who called the ship home since October. Chiao and Sharipov briefed Krikalev and Phillips on day-to-day operations and gave them hands-on opportunities at Station maintenance: Chiao and Phillips restored functionality of the Quest for future spacewalks and practiced operating the Canadarm2 robotic arm.

Information on the crew’s activities aboard the Station, future launch dates, as well as Station sighting opportunities from anywhere on the Earth, is available on the Internet at:

http://www.nasa.gov/station

Original Source: NASA News Release

Astronauts Running Low on Food

The International Space Station?s Expedition 10 crewmembers completed the first 50 days of their six-month mission this week, highlighted by a short flight in their Soyuz spacecraft.

To put the Station in the preferred configuration for two spacewalks out of the Russian Pirs Docking Compartment next year, Commander Leroy Chiao and Flight Engineer Salizhan Sharipov moved their ISS Soyuz 9 spacecraft Monday from Pirs to the Earth-facing docking port on the Zarya module during a 21-minute flight. The work to prepare the Station for possible autonomous operations, and then to reconfigure it for normal operations, stretched from Sunday afternoon until early Monday afternoon.

After getting off duty time Tuesday and Wednesday to rest, Chiao and Sharipov spent the rest of the week on routine maintenance tasks, such as the regeneration of filter cartridges in the Elektron oxygen generation system. They also completed audits of on board computer hardware and food as mission managers finalize the appropriate manifest for the next Russian cargo craft. The ISS Progress 16 spacecraft will ferry food, fuel, clothing and other supplies to the Station. The audit of food supplies aboard the Station confirmed that sufficient food remains for the crew until arrival of the next supply craft. Managers have adjusted the amount of food to be carried on the Progress, however, to ensure onboard stores are fully replenished.

Included in the cargo are three laptop computers that will return the Station Support Computer network to full functionality. This week, one of the computers that crewmembers use to access messages while working at the Zvezda module?s command post, failed. Another computer is being temporarily moved from Sharipov?s sleep station to the command post until the new laptops are delivered.

The new Progress cargo ship is targeted for launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 4:19 p.m. CST on Dec. 23 (2219 GMT), and is due to arrive at the Station just after 6 p.m. CST on Christmas night (0005 GMT on Dec. 26).

Chiao and Sharipov will spend time over the next three weeks loading unneeded materials from throughout the Station into the Progress currently mated to the Zvezda module. It will be undocked and deorbited on Dec. 22.

On Tuesday, Sharipov located a missing component of an American spacesuit?s cooling pump. The shim, a washer-shaped piece of metal that is custom fit for each spacesuit, was missing last month at a time when Chiao was repairing the spacesuit?s pump assembly. The shim was planned to be installed in a portion of the spacesuit in a pure oxygen environment to ensure it is in pristine condition and free of contamination. Spacewalk specialists at the Johnson Space Center decided further spacesuit repair attempts will utilize a new shim to be delivered on the upcoming Progress to avoid any potential contamination from the shim that was temporarily lost.

Information on the crew’s activities aboard the Space Station, future launch dates, as well as Station sighting opportunities from anywhere on the Earth, is available on the Internet at:

http://spaceflight.nasa.gov/

Details on Station science operations can be found on an Internet site administered by the Payload Operations Center at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., at:

http://scipoc.msfc.nasa.gov/

Original Source: NASA Status Report

Astronauts Move Soyuz on Station

Image credit: NASA
The Expedition 10 crewmembers are back inside the International Space Station after taking a short ride this morning. They flew their Soyuz spacecraft from one docking port to another to clear the way for two spacewalks next year.

Having configured Station systems for autonomous operation, Expedition 10 Flight Engineer and Soyuz Commander Salizhan Sharipov and Expedition 10 Commander Leroy Chiao undocked the Soyuz from the Station’s Pirs Docking Compartment at 4:32 a.m. EST, as they flew 225 miles over the southern Atlantic Ocean.

Sharipov, seated in the center seat of the Soyuz descent module compartment, and Chiao seated to his left, backed the capsule away from the Station approximately 98 feet. They flew the Soyuz laterally along the Station approximately 45 feet before rotating the craft 135 degrees to align it with the Earth-facing docking port on the adjacent Zarya module. The vehicle was held in position for eight minutes of station-keeping, ensuring correct alignment of docking mechanisms, before the crew began the final approach toward the Station.

Docking was at 4:53 a.m. EST, as the Soyuz and the Station passed over western Asia. Within minutes, hooks and latches engaged between the Soyuz and Zarya firmly linking the return vehicle and the Station. After a series of leak checks, the crew reentered the Station at 6:54 a.m. EST, and they began reconfiguring Station systems for normal operations.

Repositioning of the Soyuz cleared Pirs, which also serves as an airlock, for a pair of spacewalks by Chiao and Sharipov planned for early next year.

Information about crew activities on the Space Station, future launch dates and Station sighting opportunities from Earth, is available on the Internet at: http://spaceflight.nasa.gov/

Details about Station science operations are available on the Internet from NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Ala., Payload Operations Center at: http://scipoc.msfc.nasa.gov/

For information about NASA and other agency missions, visit: http://www.nasa.gov

Original Source: NASA News Release

Astronauts Begin Repairing Oxygen System

The oxygen-producing Elektron in of the International Space Station was restarted today after a troubleshooting procedure by Expedition 9 Commander Gennady Padalka, but shut down again after operating for just over an hour.

Russian specialists decided to forego further troubleshooting until Monday to give them more time to determine why a gas analysis mechanism in the system commanded the Elektron to shut down two other times after Padalka had cleaned and flushed lines in the device.

Despite the intermittent performance of the Elektron, there is plenty of oxygen in the Station?s cabin atmosphere. U.S. flight controllers slightly increased nitrogen levels on board with nitrogen from the Quest airlock tanks, but no further repressurization of the cabin atmosphere is required in the near future. The Elektron?s temporary shutdown has no impact to any Station operations.

After several hours of work on the system in the Zvezda Service Module this morning, Padalka told Russian flight controllers that the reassembled Elektron, which separates water into oxygen for the Station and hydrogen that is vented overboard, had twice run for about five minutes before shutting down. Eventually, Padalka and flight controllers disabled an Elektron gas analyzer sensor system, and the device continued to operate for just over an hour before it commanded itself to shut off again. The Elektron originally shut down on Wednesday, prompting Padalka?s maintenance work.

At the moment, Russian flight controllers believe that a modification in the software that regulates commanding for the gas analyzer could fix the problem early next week.

On Wednesday, Padalka used spare parts sent up on a Russian Progress resupply ship last May to bring a spare liquids unit for the Elektron back to operational status. There are no plans to use the backup unit at the moment, but it is available, if needed. The Progress currently docked to the Station has full oxygen and air tanks and additional oxygen is available in two high-pressure tanks on Quest, if they are needed. A total of 84 Solid Fuel Oxygen Generator canisters, a 42-day supply of oxygen for the crew, also are available, but there are no plans to use any reserve oxygen supplies.

Earlier in the week, Padalka and NASA ISS Science Officer Mike Fincke conducted routine housekeeping tasks and a few post-spacewalk tasks, including the stowage of spacewalking tools and the servicing of the Russian Orlan space suits.

Fincke also conducted optional science activities, including some remaining data takes with a Dutch experiment that helps to characterize the performance of a grooved heat pipe in microgravity. The experiment was brought up to the Station by European Space Agency astronaut Andre Kuipers in April.

Both crewmembers worked with other science and medical experiments this week. Padalka conducted the PLANTS experiment as well as the PROFILAKTIKA experiment. It is designed to study countermeasures to negative physiological effects of lengthy spaceflight.

Fincke also performed proficiency training for the Advanced Diagnostic Ultrasound in Microgravity medical experiment and on Thursday, both crewmembers participated in a bone scanning procedure. That research will not only assist with onboard medical situations but is being developed for possible use in remote areas on Earth.

Padalka and Fincke wrapped up their week with a televised conversation with Native American students at the United Tribes Technical College in Bismarck, ND. It was the featured event during the 35th Annual United Tribes International Powwow. NASA representatives from the Johnson Space Center and the Langley Research Center attended the powwow and tribal meetings to promote NASA education and Explorer Schools.

Padalka and NASA ISS Science Officer Mike Fincke completed their 145th day in space today and their 143rd day aboard the complex.

For information on the crew’s activities aboard the Space Station, future launch dates, as well as a list of opportunities to see the Station from anywhere on the Earth, visit:

http://spaceflight.nasa.gov/

For details on Station science operations provided by the Payload Operations Center at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., visit:

http://scipoc.msfc.nasa.gov/

The next ISS status report will be issued on Friday, Sept. 17 or earlier, if events warrant.

Original Source: NASA Status Report

Astronauts Complete Final Spacewalk

Smoothly and ahead of schedule, Expedition 9 Commander Gennady Padalka and NASA Science Officer Mike Fincke completed the fourth and final spacewalk of their six-month mission today. Padalka and Fincke spent five hours, 21 minutes outside completing mainenance tasks and installing antennas to prepare for the initial arrival of a new European cargo ship next year.

Wearing Russian Orlan spacesuits, Padalka and Fincke began the spacewalk at 11:43 a.m. CDT, emerging from the Pirs airlock affixed to the Zvezda Service Module. It was Padalka?s sixth career spacewalk and the fourth for Fincke, all of his conducted during this expedition. The spacewalk was supervised by Russian flight controllers at the Mission Control Center in Korolev, outside Moscow.

After setting up tools and tethers, Padalka and Fincke quickly went to work. On the Zarya module, they replaced a pump control panel that measures the module’s coolant levels. They then installed a series of tether guides on four handrails. The guides are intended to prevent future spacewalkers? tethers from becoming snagged.

As the Station moved into orbital darkness, the spacewalkers took a rest break. During the break, flight controllers in Houston collected data on the orientation of the outpost. The information will help determine if the cooling systems of the Russian spacesuits contribute to changes in the Station?s orientation. Throughout today’s spacewalk, the Station remained in predicted orientations. No unanticipated measures were needed to maintain its stability.

Padalka and Fincke spent two and a half hours on the exterior of Zvezda, installing three communications antennas at its aft end. Those antennas, along with other equipment installed during an Aug. 3 spacewalk, will be used next year. They will guide the European Space Agency?s unpiloted Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV), the “Jules Verne” cargo ship, to its maiden docking with the Station. Three more ATV navigation antennas will be installed by the next Station crew, Expedition 10, in February. The Expedition 11 crew will install ATV communications gear inside Zvezda as well.

Padalka and Fincke returned to Pirs and installed protective handrail covers at one of the two airlock hatches. The covers will ensure tethers do not inadvertently wrap around the handrails.

Fincke also photographed a suitcase-sized tray of Japanese commercial experiments mounted on Zvezda to measure the effect of micrometeoroids on a variety of materials. Called Micro-Particle Capturer and Space Environment Exposure Devices, they were installed on Zvezda almost three years ago.

With their work done, Padalka and Fincke returned to the airlock and closed the hatch at 5:04 p.m. CDT. The spacewalk was the 56th in support of Station assembly and maintenance and the 31st based from the Station. In all, Padalka and Fincke have spent 15 hours and 45 minutes outside the Station during their four spacewalks together. To date, spacewalkers have spent more than 338 hours outside the Station for maintenance and assembly work.

For information on the crew’s activities aboard the Space Station, future launch dates, as well as a list of opportunities to see the Station from anywhere on the Earth, visit:

http://spaceflight.nasa.gov/

For details on Station science operations provided by the Payload Operations Center at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., visit:

http://scipoc.msfc.nasa.gov/

Original Source: NASA News Release

Expedition 9 Completes Third Spacewalk

Two International Space Station spacewalkers began rolling out the welcome mat for a new cargo vehicle this morning. Expedition 9 Commander Gennady Padalka and NASA ISS Science Officer Mike Fincke spent 4? hours outside the Station swapping out experiments and installing hardware associated with Europe’s Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV), scheduled to launch on its maiden voyage to ISS next year.

The ATV is an unpiloted cargo carrier like the Russian Progress supply vehicles, but has a cargo capacity about 2? times that of a Progress. The European Space Agency’s (ESA) ATV is scheduled for its first launch in the fall of 2005 aboard an ESA Ariane 5 rocket from French Guiana. In addition to carrying cargo, including fuel, water, oxygen and nitrogen, it also can reboost the Station. Like the Progress, the ATV will burn up when it re-enters the atmosphere. During the spacewalk Padalka and Fincke worked smoothly around the exterior of the Russian Zvezda Service Module in their Orlan spacesuits. The pair exited the Pirs Docking Compartment airlock at 1:58 a.m. CDT and began work on the Russian segment immediately.

The crewmembers moved to the aft end cone of Zvezda, where they found a wide open workspace. ISS Progress 14 had been undocked from the area on Friday.

Their first task was to replace an experiment, called SKK that exposes materials the space environment with a fresh sample container. They also replaced a Kromka experiment unit that measures contamination from Service Module thruster firings.

Their attention then turned to preparing the Station for the arrival of ATVs by installing new rendezvous and docking equipment. They installed two antennas and replaced three laser reflectors with three more advanced versions than the ones launched with Zvezda in 2000. One three-dimensional reflector was also installed to replace three other old reflectors the spacewalkers removed.

While in the area, the crew also disconnected a cable for a camera that has broken and will be replaced on a future spacewalk. The crew also retrieved another materials experiment, Platan-M. The crew returned to Pirs with the Platan-M, Kromka No.2, SKK No. 2 and the six old laser reflectors in tow.

As they worked at the rear of the Service Module, the three 600-pound Control Moment Gyroscopes that control the orientation in space of the orbiting laboratory approached their saturation level, a condition that had been expected. The Station was placed in free drift while the spacewalkers continued working. Consequently, as power conservation measures were executed, S-band communication was temporarily lost.

At about 4:15 a.m. CDT, the spacewalkers, who were about 40 minutes ahead of their timeline, were asked to clear the area. Once they moved forward, the thrusters on the Service Module were activated to realign the Station’s attitude and S-band communication was also restored.

Subsequently, at about 5 a.m. CDT, the Control Moment Gyroscopes reassumed attitude control and the Service Module thrusters were turned off. The spacewalkers then returned to work at the rear of the Service Module.

The crew closed the hatch and ended the spacewalk at 6:28 a.m. CDT. This was the 55th spacewalk in support of Station assembly and maintenance, the 30th staged from the Station itself, the fifth for Padalka and Fincke’s third.

Information on the crew’s activities aboard the Space Station, future launch dates, as well as Station sighting opportunities from anywhere on the Earth, is available on the Internet at:

http://spaceflight.nasa.gov/

Details on Station science operations can be found on an Internet site administered by the Payload Operations Center at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., at:

http://scipoc.msfc.nasa.gov/

Original Source: NASA News Release

Astronauts Prepare for Third Spacewalk

The International Space Station’s Expedition 9 crewmembers are now past the halfway point of their six-month mission. This week, they prepared for a third spacewalk and joined the world in observing the 35th anniversary of the first landing of humans on the moon.

July 19 was the midpoint of the flight for ISS Commander Gennady Padalka and Flight Engineer Mike Fincke, who launched Apr. 19 and are targeted to return Oct. 19. On Monday Fincke spoke with Charles Gibson of ABC-TV’s “Good Morning, America” about the birth of his daughter, Tarali, in June while he was in space. Fincke’s wife and children joined the discussion from Houston.

This week the crew continued packing unneeded equipment and trash in the Progress vehicle, scheduled to undock July 30. Undocking the Progress from Zvezda’s aft docking port will clear the area for the next spacewalk, targeted for Aug. 3. Wearing Russian spacesuits and exiting from the Pirs Docking Compartment, Padalka and Fincke are to install retroreflectors and communications equipment needed for the docking of the Automated Transfer Vehicle, a European Space Agency cargo spacecraft scheduled to make its first flight next year. Yesterday, Padalka and Fincke maneuvered the Station’s Canadarm2 into position so its cameras can view the spacewalk, and today they wrapped up a thorough review of the spacewalk timeline with specialists in Moscow.

Fincke and Padalka also continued their support this week of an experiment that looks at the interactions between the crew and the ground teams. This experiment involves a questionnaire on a laptop computer, which the crew and members of their ground support team complete once a week. The data is being used to examine issues involving tension, cohesion and leadership roles in both the crewmembers and their support team. The information gained will lead to improved training and in-flight support of future space crews.

As part of Fincke’s Saturday Afternoon Science, he conducted another session of the Educational Payload Operations or EPO. This EPO activity demonstrated what crewmembers can observe about pollution and the environmental problems on Earth. Fincke showed the window where he observes the Earth, and described what types of pollution can be seen — such as air pollution in urban areas, smoke from wildfires, deforestation and strip mining.

The activity was videotaped and will be used later in classrooms and NASA educational products. EPO is an education payload designed to support the NASA Mission to inspire the next generation of explorers.

Meanwhile, flight controllers in Houston are continuing to investigate why two U.S. spacesuits are not providing the proper cooling. This week, Fincke conducted troubleshooting of a motor in the water pump of one of the spacesuits as engineers on the ground monitored. An analysis of photos and video from that work is underway. Two spare water pumps will be launched in the next Progress supply ship, due to lift off Aug. 11 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

The failure of a computer on the Station’s inactive starboard thermal radiator on Monday has no significant impact on current operations. The radiator is not in use in the present Station configuration, although the computer had assisted flight controllers with monitoring of temperatures and pressures of the unused equipment. The radiator is not scheduled to be used until several missions after the Space Shuttle’s return to flight.

Tuesday, Padalka and Fincke celebrated the anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing and discussed the past, present and future of space exploration — and the role to be played by the International Space Station in future exploration — during in an interview with CBS News.

For information about NASA and agency missions on the Internet, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov

Information about crew activities on the Space Station, future launch dates and Station sighting opportunities from Earth, is available on the Internet at:

http://spaceflight.nasa.gov/

Details about Station science operations are available on an Internet site administered by the Payload Operations Center at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., at:

http://scipoc.msfc.nasa.gov/

Original Source: NASA News Release

NASA Learns More About Bone Loss in Space

Image credit: NASA
A new NASA-funded study revealed how bone loss increases the risk of injuries, highlighting the need for additional measures to ensure the health of spacecraft crews.The study provides new information about bone loss caused by prolonged spaceflight. The study is in the online version of the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research.

The research team was from the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) and Baylor College of Medicine, Houston. The team used three-dimensional X-ray computed tomography (CT) to study the effect of prolonged weightlessness on the bone mineral density and structure of the hip in a group of 14 American and Russian International Space Station crewmembers. The crewmembers spent from four to six months onboard the Station. The research suggests additional conditioning exercises and other countermeasures may be necessary to prevent bone mineral loss.

“This study underlines the importance of continuing to develop countermeasures to preserve musculoskeletal conditioning in long-duration space travelers,” said Guy Fogleman, director of Bioastronautics Research in NASA’s Office of Biological and Physical Research, Washington. “Results of this research, which may aid people on Earth who suffer for similar conditions including osteoporosis, are being shared with the medical community,” he added.

This study is the first to use CT imaging to three-dimensionally quantify spaceflight-related bone loss in the hip and to estimate changes in hipbone strength. Previous studies used a two-dimensional imaging technology called dual X-ray absorptiometry.

The CT measurements in the hip were performed pre- and post-flight to measure bone loss in the porous bone in the interior of the hip and in the dense outer shell of the hipbone. On average, the Station crew lost interior bone at a rate of 2.2 to 2.7 percent for each month in space and outer bone at a rate of 1.6 to 1.7 percent per month.

“Our study demonstrates that bone loss occurs in the Space Station crewmembers at a rate comparable to that observed almost a decade before in the crew of the Russian Mir spacecraft,” said Thomas Lang, UCSF associate professor of radiology and principal investigator on the study. “The lack of clear progress in the interval between Mir and Station missions indicates a need for continued efforts to improve musculoskeletal conditioning regimens during longer space missions, such as those proposed for the moon and Mars,” Lang said.

The investigators used information from the CT images to estimate changes in the strength of the hipbone. They found on average the hipbone strength declined by 2.5 percent for each month of flight. Since the amount of bone loss increases with mission length, crewmembers on multiyear explorations may face increased risk of fracture upon return to Earth gravity. In addition, those who do not recover the lost bone may be at increased risk of fracture as they age.

The researchers also analyzed loss of density in vertebrae (back bones). Vertebrae, along with the hip, are the skeletal sites associated most with serious osteoporotic fractures in the elderly. The study found on average, the Station crew lost vertebral bone at a rate of 0.8 to 0.9 percent per month, which was consistent with data from earlier long-duration missions.

To view the study on the Internet, visit:

http://www.jbmr-online.org

For information about space research on the Internet, visit:

http://spaceresearch.nasa.gov/

Original Source: NASA News Release

French Astronaut Gets Government Position

Image credit: ESA

Claudie Haigner?, an astronaut with the European Space Agency, has been appointed to the post of Minister for Research and New Technologies in the French government. She joined the European Astronaut Corps in 1999 and has been to space twice on board Russian Soyuz spacecraft – she was the first European woman to visit the International Space Station in 2001.

Claudie Haigner?, the ESA astronaut, has been appointed to the post of Minister for Research and New Technologies in the French government announced yesterday.

Claudie Haigner?, 45, with an outstanding ‘cursus honoris’, a doctor with a specialisation in rheumatology and a Ph.D in neurosciences, was selected in 1985 as a candidate astronaut by the French space agency, CNES. She has played a prominent role in the development of scientific applications of manned spaceflight and in fostering scientific relations with Russia. Mrs Haigner? is a permanent member of the French Academy of Technology and holds the honours of Officier de la L?gion d’Honneur and Chevalier de l’Ordre National du M?rite.

In 1999 she joined the European Astronaut Corps of the European Space Agency. She has taken part in two space missions with the Russians, ‘Cassiop?e’ in August 1996 and ‘Androm?de’ in October 2001. She was the first woman to qualify as a Soyuz Return Commander (July 1999), responsible for the three-person Soyuz capsule during a re-entry from space, and was the first European woman to visit the International Space Station (October 2001).

ESA’s Director General, Antonio Rodot?, expressed delight at this appointment, “In our ‘space world’ Claudie Haigner? has demonstrated really outstanding capabilities as a scientist as well as an astronaut during her time with us. This appointment honours the European Space Agency and puts Mrs Haigner? in a key position to shape the future of Europe’s science and technology. I wish her all the best in her new responsibilities.”

Original Source: ESA News Release