Space Tourists Have Booked Their Next Private Mission to the International Space Station

International Space Station
The International Space Station stretches out in an image captured by astronauts aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour during a fly-around in November 2021. Credit: NASA

In April of this year, the first all-private astronaut mission to the International Space Station was successfully conducted when Axiom Space sent four non-NASA astronauts to space during the 17-day Axiom-1 Mission (Ax-1). Based on the endeavor’s success, NASA and Axiom Space have signed an agreement for the second such mission to the ISS, which will take place in the second quarter of 2023.

Continue reading “Space Tourists Have Booked Their Next Private Mission to the International Space Station”

Spacewalk Cut Short, Cosmonaut Told to “Drop Everything” and Go Back Into the Space Station

Flight Engineer Denis Matveev makes his way back inside the station after being instructed by Russian flight controllers to end the Aug. 17 spacewalk at the International Space Station due to a battery power issue on Artemyev’s Orlan spacesuit. Credit: NASA.

Russian and US flight controllers decided to cut short a spacewalk by two cosmonauts outside the International Space Station yesterday after voltage fluctuations in Oleg Artemyev’s Orlan spacesuit caused concern. About halfway into a scheduled seven-hour EVA, Artemeyev was repeatedly ordered to drop what he was working on and return to ISS’s airlock.

“Drop everything and start going back right away,” was one of the translated messages heard during a NASA livestream of the spacewalk. “Oleg, you must return to the airlock as soon as possible because if you lose power, it is not only the pumps and the fan, you will lose comm. You have to go back.”

Continue reading “Spacewalk Cut Short, Cosmonaut Told to “Drop Everything” and Go Back Into the Space Station”

China has Added a Science Module to its New Space Station

A rendering of the Chinese Tiangong space station. Credit: CMSA

China has expanded their research capabilities on the Tiangong 3 space station by adding a science module, named Wentian. The new laboratory launched from the Wenchang launch center on July 23 and the module docked to the space station on July 25. China’s Manned Space Agency (CMSA) says the astronauts on board will soon be able to conduct experiments in microgravity and life sciences.

Continue reading “China has Added a Science Module to its New Space Station”

Russia Says They Plan to Leave International Space Station after 2024

International Space Station
The International Space Station stretches out in an image captured by astronauts aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour during a fly-around in November 2021. Credit: NASA

According to Russia’s news agency Tass, leaders at Roscosmos have decided to withdraw from the International Space Station (ISS) after 2024. The report said that by that time, “all obligations to partners will be fulfilled.” Additionally, Russia said they want to build their own space station.

Continue reading “Russia Says They Plan to Leave International Space Station after 2024”

Cygnus Boosts the International Space Station for the First Time. NASA Can Now Potentially Keep the Station Aloft Without Russia’s Progress Spacecraft

Cygnus docked to the International Space Station prior to performing an operational reboost. Image via Northrup Grumman.

Northrup Grumman’s Cygnus cargo spacecraft conducted a successful reboost of the International Space Station over the past weekend, on Saturday, June 25, 2022. The Cygnus NG-17 “Piers Sellers” is the first US-based spacecraft to provide a substantial orbital adjustment to the ISS since the space shuttles retired in 2011. Russia’s Progress cargo spacecraft has been the primary source for station reboosts, attitude control, and debris avoidance maneuvers.

“This reboost of the ISS using Cygnus adds a critical capability to help maintain and support the space station,” said Steve Krein, vice president, civil and commercial space, tactical space systems, Northrop Grumman, in a press release. “It also demonstrates the enormous capability Cygnus offers the ISS and future space exploration efforts.”

Continue reading “Cygnus Boosts the International Space Station for the First Time. NASA Can Now Potentially Keep the Station Aloft Without Russia’s Progress Spacecraft”

Shenzhou-14 Astronauts Begin Their Mission of 6 Months in Space

Screen image captured at Beijing Aerospace Control Center on June 5, 2022 shows three Chinese astronauts, Chen Dong (C), Liu Yang (R) and Cai Xuzhe, waving after entering the space station core module Tianhe. (Xinhua/Li Xin)

The Shenzhou-14 mission, carrying three Chinese astronauts, docked successfully earlier this week with the Tiangong-3 space station. During their six-month mission on board the station, the new crew hopes to continue work on construction of the orbital Chinese outpost, which will be about one-fifth the size of the International Space Station.  

Continue reading “Shenzhou-14 Astronauts Begin Their Mission of 6 Months in Space”

The Lunar Eclipse, Seen From the International Space Station

A partially eclipsed Moon playing hide and seek with the solar panel of the International Space Station. Credit: ESA-S.Cristoforetti

If you were able to witness the lunar eclipse on May 15-16, 2022, the view of the dark red Moon was stunning. But what would such an eclipse look like from space?

Wonder no longer. ESA/Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti captured a series of photos of the lunar eclipse from her unique vantage point aboard the International Space Station (ISS).

Continue reading “The Lunar Eclipse, Seen From the International Space Station”

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.

Continue reading “Astronaut Jessica Watkins Floats Above the Earth in the Space Station’s Cupola”

NASA Astronaut and Cosmonauts Land Safely Together in Kazakhstan

NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei is seen outside the Soyuz MS-19 spacecraft after he landed with Russian cosmonauts Anton Shkaplerov and Pyotr Dubrov in a remote area near the town of Zhezkazgan, Kazakhstan on Wednesday, March 30, 2022. Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls.

After much speculation and concern the past month whether Russia would allow a US astronaut to ride back to Earth in a Soyuz spacecraft, Mark Vande Hei and two cosmonauts landed safely in Kazakhstan on March 30.  

Mostly lost amid the political tensions due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Vande Hei quietly set a record for the longest single spaceflight by an American, at 355 days. Vande Hei eclipsed astronaut Scott Kelly’s seemingly more heralded long-duration mission on the International Space Station in 2015, when he and Cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko spent 340 days in space. Cosmonaut Pyotr Dubrov also spent 355 days on his first spaceflight, along with Vande Hei.

Continue reading “NASA Astronaut and Cosmonauts Land Safely Together in Kazakhstan”

Europe’s ExoMars Rover Will Likely Miss This Year’s Launch Window Because of Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine

Artist's impression of ESA’s ExoMars rover (foreground) and Russia’s stationary surface science platform (background) on the surface of Mars. Artist's impression of ESA’s ExoMars rover (foreground) and Russia’s stationary surface science platform (background) on the surface of Mars. Credit: ESA/ATG medialab

As countries around the world respond to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine with sanctions aimed at crippling Moscow and Vladimir Putin, the global cooperation in space exploration that has been forged over the past 30-plus years will certainly be impacted.

Continue reading “Europe’s ExoMars Rover Will Likely Miss This Year’s Launch Window Because of Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine”