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Space

Axiom Plans A New Private-Sector Outpost in Space (blastingnews.com) 28

A seed-funded company named Axiom wants to build a private-sector outpost in orbit by launching a new module for the International Space Station, according to an article on Space News. Once on the station, Axiom Space would use it for commercial purposes, ranging from research to tourism. [Former space station manager] Suffredini said that it would also be available for use by NASA when the company is not using it, helping the process of transitioning research done on the International Space Station to future private stations. Research hardware elsewhere in the station could eventually be moved to this module to allow its continued use after the station's retirement.
Slashdot reader MarkWhittington shares an article from Blasting News: In the meantime, Nanoracks, a company that is already handling some of the logistics for the ISS, is proposing a commercial airlock for the ISS. The development of commercial space stations, as well as commercial spacecraft such as the SpaceX Dragon and the Boeing Starliner, constitutes NASA's long-term strategy of handing off low-Earth orbit to the private sector while it concentrates on deep space exploration.
Earth

ISS Completes 100,000th Orbit of Earth (phys.org) 103

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Phys.Org: The International Space Station, the space laboratory that showcases cooperation between Russia and the United States, on Monday orbited Earth for the 100,000th time, Russian mission control said. Traveling at an altitude of about 250 miles (400 kilometers) and a speed of about 17,500 miles (28,000 kilometers) per hour, the space station circles the Earth once every 90 minutes. The ISS has now traveled 2.6 billion miles "or about the distance of 10 round trips to Mars," NASA said on the station's official Twitter feed. From two modules, it has grown to 15 modules, occupying a space the size of a football pitch and represents around $100 billion in investment. "Such a long lifespan of the ISS proves that mankind has the necessary technologies for constant presence in orbit, that we have the potential for further space exploration," said Matyushin.
Space

Astronauts Won't Be Flying To Space In Boeing's Starliner Until 2018 (theverge.com) 89

An anonymous reader writes: The Boeing Starliner, one of two new spacecraft meant to break the Russian stranglehold on sending people to orbit, has hit a snag. Originally scheduled to start flying next year, the Starliner won't carry a crewed mission to the International Space Station until 2018 at the earliest. Six years is long enough. Ever since the 2011 retirement of the space shuttle NASA has been pushing for privately built craft capable of ferrying astronauts to orbit, which would let the agency buy American-made ships and end its dependency on renting seats aboard Russian spacecraft. The Starliner and SpaceX's Dragon were chosen, and 2017 was to be the year. But while SpaceX has sent its ship to the ISS on multiple uncrewed cargo resupply missions, the Starliner won't make such trips until 2017 and won't carry people until 2018 at the earliest. SpaceX maintains that it will be able to send crews to orbit in 2017.GeekWire explains: "For Boeing to shift its crewed test flight from 2017 to 2018 isn't as much of a slip as it might sound: The company's earlier schedule had called for the visit to the space station to take place in mid-December."
ISS

British Astronaut Competes in London Marathon from ISS (cnn.com) 61

An anonymous reader writes: "British astronaut Tim Peake became the first man to complete a marathon in space on Sunday, running the classic 26.2 mile distance while strapped to a treadmill aboard the International Space Station..." reports Reuters. "The 44-year-old spaceman saw London's roads under his feet in real time on an iPad as, 250 miles below him, more than 37,000 runners simultaneously pounded the streets." Meanwhile, in a show of solidarity, two earth-bound runners ran the marathon wearing space suits.
CNN notes that Peake "ran the race for real in 1999," but this time competed with avatars that represented actual runners who were using the Run Social app. His zero-gravity run took longer -- more than three and a half hours -- while a Kenyan runner ultimately won the race, completing the whole 26.2-mile course in just two hours, three minutes and four seconds, the second-fastest time ever recorded.
ISS

NASA Feed 'Goes Down As Horseshoe UFO Appears On ISS Live Cam' (mirror.co.uk) 412

schwit1 quotes a report from Mirror Online: NASA has been accused of an alien cover up after a live International Space Station feed appearing to show a horseshoe UFO suddenly went down. Conspiracy theorists are having a field day over the sighting of the strange U-shaped object hovering on the horizon of the the ISS. They claim NASA 'cut the live feed' after the glowing blue object flew too close to the space station. Some have even gone as far to say NASA's funding should be cut over their 'great alien deception.' Scott Waring of UFO Sightings Daily first discovered the UFO. He passed the footage on to Tyler Glockner who uploaded the video to his YouTube channel secureteam10. What do you think: is it an alien spaceship or something more likely such as a reflection from a station window?
NASA

NASA: Top 10 Space Junk Missions (networkworld.com) 68

coondoggie writes: NASA' s Orbital Debris Program Office said that by far the source of the greatest amount of orbital debris remains the Fengyun-1C spacecraft, which was the target of a People's Republic of China anti-satellite test in January 2007. Much more debris is now floating around Earth's atmosphere since the six years NASA last looked at the top 10 space junk missions. The space agency says that 10 missions out of the 5,160 space missions that have launched since 1957 account for approximately one-third of all cataloged objects now in Earth orbit. NASA said that the second and fourth most significant satellite breakups are Cosmos 2251 and Iridium 33 spacecraft, which were involved in the first ever accidental satellite collision February 2009.
Government

How George W. Bush and NASA Saved SpaceX From Financial Ruin (blastingnews.com) 224

MarkWhittington quotes a report from Blasting News: Elon Musk and the people at SpaceX are rightly basking in the afterglow of finally landing the first stage of the Falcon 9 rocket on a drone barge in the Atlantic. The same flight delivered an expandable module built by Bigelow Aerospace to the International Space Station. But, as Ars Technica points out, the launch, landing, and arrival at the space station would not have taken place had it not been for the generosity of NASA. George W. Bush began the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program, which commercialized first cargo and then crew flights to and from the ISS. Four years later, SpaceX, having endured a number of launch failures of its small Falcon 1 rocket, was running out of cash. They were teetering on the brink of financial ruin as they were trying to develop a much larger and more complex Falcon 9 that would compete with more established launch vehicles such as the Atlas 5 and the Delta 4. Then NASA announced the initial contracts for COTS cargo flights. SpaceXâ(TM)s share was $1.6 billion. The NASA contract saved the company and allowed it to press on with building the Falcon 9 and the Dragon and then successfully compete for the Commercial Crew contracts.
ISS

SpaceX Delivers World's First Inflatable Room For Astronauts (go.com) 102

An anonymous reader writes: The SpaceX Dragon cargo ship which launched from Cape Canaveral on Friday delivered the world's first inflatable room for astronauts. It arrived at the ISS on Sunday after station astronauts used a robot arm to capture the Dragon, orbiting 250 miles above Earth. The compartment should swell to the size of a small bedroom once filled with air next month. It will be attached to the space station this Saturday, but won't be inflated until the end of May. NASA envisions inflatable habitats in a couple decades at Mars, while Bigelow Aerospace aims to launch a pair of inflatable space stations in just four years for commercial lease. Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) will be restricted from the six on-board astronauts while NASA tests the chamber to see how it performs. The rocket used to launch the cargo ship successfully landed on a floating drone ship for the first time ever. It was the second time SpaceX successfully landed one of its rockets post-launch; the first time was in December, when the company's Falcon 9 rocket touched down at a ground-based landing site at Cape Canaveral, Florida, after putting a satellite into space.
Open Source

Infographic: Ubuntu Linux Is Everywhere 185

prisoninmate writes: To celebrate the launch of Ubuntu 16.04 LTS, due for release later this month, on April 21, Canonical put together an interesting infographic, showing the world how popular Ubuntu is. From the infographic, it looks like there are over 60 million Ubuntu images launched by Docker users, 14 million Vagrant images of Ubuntu 14.04 LTS from HashiCorp, 20 million launches of Ubuntu instances during 2015 in public and private clouds, as well as bare metal, and 2 million new Ubuntu Cloud instances launched in November 2015. Ubuntu is used on the International Space Station, on the servers of popular online services like Netflix, Snapchat, Pinterest, Reddit, Dropbox, PayPal, Wikipedia, and Instagram, in Google, Tesla, George Hotz, and Uber cars. It is also employed at Bloomberg, Weta Digital and Walmart, at the Brigham Young University to control the Mars Rover, and it is even behind the largest supercomputer in the world.
NASA

New NASA Launch Control Software Late, Millions Over Budget (go.com) 205

schwit1 writes: The launch control software NASA is writing from scratch for its Space Launch System (SLS) rocket is way behind schedule and way over budget. According to ABC News, "Development of this new launch control software is now projected to exceed $207 million, 77 percent above 2012 projections. The software won't be ready until fall 2017, instead of this summer as planned, and important capabilities like automatic failure detection, are being deferred, the audit noted. The system is vital, needed to control pumps, motors, valves and other ground equipment during countdowns and launches, and to monitor data before and during liftoff. NASA decided to write its own computer code to "glue together" existing software products a decade ago -- while space shuttles still were flying and commercial shippers had yet to service the space station. Both delivery companies, SpaceX and Orbital ATK, rely on commercial software, the audit noted."

In other words, even though NASA could have simply purchased already available software that other launch companies were using successfully, the agency decided to write its own. And that decision really didn't come before the arrival of these commercial companies, because when it was made a decade ago that was exactly the time that SpaceX was beginning to build its rocket. This is simply more proof that SLS is nothing more than a pork-laden waste of money designed not to explore space but to generate non-productive jobs in congressional districts.

Earth

Behind the Scenes of NASA's Orbital ATK ISS Resupply Mission (hothardware.com) 25

Reader MojoKid sheds more light on NASA's unmanned cargo ship: The Orbital ATK CRS-6 mission that launched last week at NASA Cape Canaveral, Florida not only delivered supplies to the International Space Station (ISS), but also carried a number of research projects on NASA's Cygnus spacecraft. On board the CRS-6 were Gecko Grippers, which attempt to mimic the adhesion properties of gecko feet. Through the use of nanomaterials, Gecko Grippers can be repeatedly applied and removed from a surface without losing their adhesive properties via the use of van der Waals forces. They are also unaffected by temperature, pressure or radiation. Also in tow for the mission are supplies for the Saffire Experiment, which will be the largest man-made fire in space with data beamed back to earth so researchers can understand its properties and results. It's also impressive to see the NASA VAB (Vehicle Assembly Building), which is one of the biggest structures in the world covering 8 acres and measuring 525 ft tall, as well as the SLS Crawler, which is designed to move large spacecraft components supporting up to 18 million pounds and has been utilized for the Apollo and Space Shuttle programs.
ISS

Unmanned Cargo Ship Reaches ISS On Resupply Mission (telegraph.co.uk) 51

An anonymous reader writes: NASA partner Orbital ATK reports an unmanned cargo shipped has successfully docked at the ISS, delivering 7,900 lbs (3.6 metric tons) worth of supplies for the crew of six astronauts. The supplies consisted of food, water, clothes, and materials needed for scientific research such as a new 3D printer and Gecko Gripper. The operation was over by 1452 GMT as the space station's robotic arm, operated by crew members, captured Cygnus and guided it into its berthing port. Orbital has launched five supply missions to the ISS as part of a $1.9 billion contract with NASA. "Our flexible Cygnus spacecraft has a lot of work left to do. Following its stay at the ISS, and for the first time, we will undertake three experiments onboard the unmanned spacecraft," said Frank Culbertson, president of Orbital ATK's Space Systems Group.

SpaceX Sets April 8 For Next Dragon Launch 42

schwit1 writes: SpaceX has scheduled April 8 for the next Falcon 9 launch, set to carry its first Dragon capsule since the launch failure last year. Though this is the most important news contained by the article, its focus is instead on the various preparations that SpaceX is doing at its Texas test facility to prepare for this launch as well as the increased launch rate required for the company to catch up on its schedule. Note that the Dragon launch will also be significant in that it will be carrying Bigelow's inflatable test module for ISS, built for only $17 million in less than two years. NASA, ESA, or JAXA would have required at least half a billion and several years to have accomplished the same.
ISS

Two Astronauts Return To Earth After Record 340 Days In ISS (technews.mobi) 78

An anonymous reader writes: U.S. astronaut Scott Kelly and Russian astronaut Mikhail Kornienko returned to Earth Wednesday after spending a year aboard the ISS, conducting experiments for future missions to Mars. Mikhail Kornienko, 55, and Scott Kelly, 52, completed the longest uninterrupted period aboard the ISS since the station was deployed in 2000. Kelly, who has made four trips to the ISS, also breaks the record for cumulative time in space by an American, with 540 days. Kelly and Kornienko performed this mission to study the biological and psychological effects of long stays in space in order to prepare for future missions to Mars in 2030 or sooner. During their stay at the station, both were frequently subjected to medical examination and a battery of tests to study the long-term effects of micro-gravity on the human body.

SpaceX Rocket Launch Postponed Again (www.cbc.ca) 30

ClickOnThis writes with a CBC report that SpaceX has "called off a planned launch of a Falcon 9 rocket carrying a communications satellite less than two minutes before blastoff from Florida on Thursday, citing a technical problem. It marked the second straight day that Elon Musk's privately owned Space Exploration Technologies had postponed the launch."
Space

NASA's Search For Astronauts Yields a Deluge of Applicants 37

NASA, notes Ars Technica, has just produced a bumper crop of applicants for the coveted job of astronaut. 18,300 would-be astronauts applied to be part of the 2017 hiring class. It would be good to keep a backup job in mind, though: NASA's astronaut applications have surged even as its flight opportunities have fallen by about 90 percent. Back in the early 2000s during the peak of the space shuttle program, NASA had more than 150 active astronauts. That's because the shuttle, with six to seven launches a year, afforded 40 to 50 annual flights into space. The number of active astronauts is now about one-third of that peak due to the shuttle's retirement in 2011. With no Shuttle, and only one real destination (the International Space Station), those 18,300 astronauts will be whittled down to 8-14 candidates.
Moon

NASA's Deep Space Habitat Could Support the Journey To Mars and a Lunar Return (spaceflightinsider.com) 43

MarkWhittington writes: Back in 2012, when NASA first proposed building a deep space habitat (DSH) beyond the moon, the Obama administration took a dim view of the idea. However, fast forward over three years, and the idea has become part of the Journey to Mars program. According to a story in Spaceflight Insider, the deep space habitat will be deployed in cis-lunar space in the 2020s to test various technologies related to sending humans to Mars. The DSH could also be part of an infrastructure that would support a return to the moon should the next administration decide to go that route.
Space

Russia Forming Space Alliance With Iran, May Fly Iranian Astronaut (examiner.com) 107

MarkWhittington writes: Quietly, the Russians appear to be forming a space alliance with the Islamic Republic of Iran, according to a story in Sputnik. Not only is Russia in talks to launch Iranian satellites on Russian rockets but also to include an Iranian astronaut on a future space mission. What that space mission might be is open to question. A visit by an Iranian astronaut to the International Space Station would likely kick up a political firestorm with the United States, even though the Obama administration is attempting to develop a rapprochement with the Islamic Republic.
NASA

NASA Awards Sierra Nevada's Dream Chaser an ISS Commercial Resupply Contract (examiner.com) 57

MarkWhittington writes: The Verge reported that NASA has awarded the second round of contracts for the commercial resupply program. Two companies, SpaceX, and Orbital Sciences, which have been hauling cargo to the International Space Station in the first phase of the program, will receive contracts to fly at least six flights each to the ISS through 2024, the anticipated end of operations year for the space station. But Sierra Nevada has also gotten a six flight commitment, using a cargo version of its Dream Chaser spacecraft.
Space

Auroral Show To Dazzle Just Before the New Year; Best View From the ISS (forbes.com) 28

An anonymous reader writes: When the Sun emits a flare or a mass ejection in the direction of Earth, these fast moving particles are when Earth's magnetosphere and atmosphere are of the utmost importance for shielding us. The magnetic field bends these ions harmlessly away from our planet, only funneling a small fraction down into a ring surrounding the poles. The atmosphere absorbs the impact, shielding all living creatures below from this radiation, while simultaneously putting on a show. Thanks to a coronal mass ejection on the 28th, the northern and southern lights will put on quite a display on the night of the 30th for all skywatchers at or above 50 degrees latitude, with chances that observers further towards the equator might have something to see, too. But the best views of all will belong to the unshielded astronauts aboard the ISS, who will pass around the Earth a full 7 times during our "night," and at the peak of the storm.

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