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Wanna Be An Astronaut?

Friday, September 21, 2007

NASA's hiring several new astronauts! The positions are advertised on the USAJobs website. Duties are described as:

Astronauts are involved in all aspects of assembly and on-orbit operations of the ISS. This includes extravehicular activities (EVA), robotics operations using the remote manipulator system, experiment operations, and onboard maintenance tasks. Astronauts are required to have a detailed knowledge of the ISS systems, as well as detailed knowledge of the operational characteristics, mission requirements and objectives, and supporting systems and equipment for each experiment on their assigned missions.

Long-duration missions aboard the ISS generally last from 3 to 6 months. Training for long duration missions is very arduous and takes approximately 2 to 3 years. This training requires extensive travel, including long periods away in other countries training with our international partners. Travel to and from the ISS will be by Space Shuttle until its retirement in 2010. Following the Shuttle retirement, all trips to and from the ISS will be aboard the Russian Soyuz vehicle. Consequently, astronauts must meet the Soyuz size requirements. Additional information about the position can be found at

USAJobs: Astronaut Candidate - Announcement Number JS07A0176 (open until July 2008)

NASA shuttle to launch Luke's lightsaber

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

When the space shuttle Discovery launches the STS-120 crew in October, the force will be with them. Stowed on-board the orbiter, in addition to a new module for the international space station, will be the original prop lightsaber used by actor Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker in the 1977 film "Star Wars". The laser-like Jedi weapon is being flown to the orbiting outpost and back in honor of the 30th anniversary of director George Lucas' franchise. Before it can make its trip to orbit though, the lightsaber will first fly to Houston, Texas, home of NASA's Johnson Space Center, by way of Southwest Airlines and a Star Wars-studded send off from Oakland International Airport in California on Tuesday.

More: collectSPACE - NASA shuttle to launch Luke's lightsaber

Shuttle Endeavour Comes Home

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Endeavour landing on runway 15 at NASA's Kennedy Space Center, August 21, 2007
Endeavour landing on runway 15 at NASA's Kennedy Space Center, August 21, 2007. Image credit: NASA/George Shelton
The space shuttle Endeavour and its crew are home after completing a 13-day mission. Endeavour's STS-118 mission successfully added another truss segment, a new gyroscope and external spare parts platform to the International Space Station. Endeavour's Commander Scott Kelly, Pilot Charlie Hobaugh and mission specialists Tracy Caldwell, Rick Mastracchio, Barbara R. Morgan, Alvin Drew and Canadian Space Agency astronaut Dave Williams landed at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Tuesday at 12:32 p.m. EDT.

Williams, Mastracchio and station flight engineer Clayton Anderson, with the help of their crewmates, made four spacewalks to accomplish the construction tasks. The spacewalkers also completed work in preparation for upcoming assembly missions, such as relocating an equipment cart and installing support equipment and communication upgrades. During the mission, a new system that enables docked shuttles to draw electrical power from the station to extend visits to the outpost was activated successfully. Because the system worked, two additional days were added to Endeavour's mission.

Although managers addressed several issues with Endeavour's heat shield, including a small gouge in the protective tile on the orbiter's belly, inspections in orbit revealed no critical damage. Endeavour's thermal protection system was declared safe for re-entry on Monday. The orbiter will be processed immediately for its next flight, targeted for February 2008.

NASA: Shuttle Endeavour Crew Returns Home After Successful Mission

NASA: Space Shuttle News Site currently features high resolution images from STS-118 tile damage and landing

NPR: Space Shuttle Endeavour Lands in Florida

'In the Shadow of the Moon' makes Sedona debut

Monday, July 2, 2007

From the Sedona Film Festival website:

In the Shadow of the Moon, the first-hand thoughts of the surviving crew members from every Apollo moon mission between 1968 and 1972, will be featured at the July installment of the popular Second Tuesday Cinema Series. It is the feature presentation at 7 p.m., July 10 at the Harkins Sedona Six Theatres. Presented by the Sedona International Film Festival and Workshop, “In the Shadow of the Moon” was the top documentary at the Sundance Film Festival, winning the prestigious “Audience Choice World Cinema Best Documentary” Award and going on to audience and critical acclaim at high-profile film festivals around the world since then.


Where: Harkins Sedona Six Theatres

When: July 10, 2007

Time: 7:00pm Cost: $10, or $8 for Film Sedona members

More: Internet Movie Database "In the Shadow of the Moon"

More: Sundance Film Festival "In the Shadow of the Moon"

Scientists make simulated lunar soil

Friday, January 5, 2007

Life is tough for a humble grain of dirt on the surface of the Moon. It's peppered with cosmic rays, exposed to solar flares, and battered by micrometeorites--shattered, vaporized and re-condensed countless times over the billions of years. Adding insult to injury, Earthlings want to strip it down to oxygen and other elements for "in situ resource utilization," or ISRU, the process of living off the land when NASA returns to the Moon in the not-so-distant future.

Living with moondust and striping it down may be trickier than anyone supposes. To find out how tricky, researchers would like to test their ideas for ISRU and their designs for lunar rovers on real lunar soil before astronauts return to the Moon. However, such testing requires tons of lunar material. Since large quantities of lunar material aren't available here on Earth, researchers at NASA's Space Flight Center are working on developing material which simulates lunar material.

More: Science@NASA - True Fakes: Scientists make simulated lunar soil

Spacewalkers to Make Critical Space Station Repairs

Monday, July 10, 2006

repairs in space

Houston - Two astronauts are set to step outside the International Space Station (ISS) today and make a critical repair to aid future construction of the orbital laboratory.

Spacewalkers Piers Sellers and Michael Fossum, who spent more than seven hours working outside the ISS Saturday, will once again don their U.S.-built spacesuits to restore the station’s mobile crane to full operations. The spacewalk was set to begin at 8:13 a.m. EDT (1213 GMT).

The primary task for Sellers and Fossum, both mission specialists for NASA’s STS-121 shuttle mission aboard Discovery, is to replace a reel-like power and data cable system that was severed late last year due to a still-unexplained glitch.

Known as a Trailing Umbilical System (TUS) Reel Assembly, the system transfers electricity, data and video to the space station’s railcar-like Mobile Transporter. The transporter itself is a critical movable platform for shifting the ISS robotic arm or massive station components along the orbital laboratory’s main truss.

“It’s mobile now, but it’s only dependable on one string,” Sellers told reporters Sunday during a space-to-ground video link. “And when we’re done tomorrow, it will have two strings and therefore be more reliable.”

More: - Spacewalkers to Make Critical Space Station Repairs

Building NASA's New Spacecraft: Constellation Work Assigned

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Constellation Program
A rocket fires for Translunar Injection, carrying the Crew Exploration Vehicle and lunar lander out of Earth's orbit and toward the moon. Credit: NASA/John Frassanito and Associates.

NASA's Constellation Program is getting to work on the new spacecraft that will return humans to the moon and blaze a trail to Mars and beyond. Thousands of people across the agency are pulling together to meet this challenge, with work assignments that will sustain ten healthy and productive centers.Each NASA center is playing a vital role in making the Vision for Space Exploration a reality.

More information and images on the NASA website:

Humans Living Under the Sea

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Aquarius on the dock before it was towed out to sea and placed in its current position at Conch Reef.
Aquarius on the dock before it was towed out to sea and placed in its current position at Conch Reef.
Credit: NASA

Go ahead and look twice or click your heels three times; you've read the headline right. There is no place like home, but sometimes the NASA Extreme Environment Misson Operations (NEEMO), must do what it must, even if it entails humans living aboard the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Aquarius Underwater Laboratory (NOAA).

Aquarius Underwater Laboratory is off the Florida coast, 62 feet (19 meters) below the surface. It provides a safe harbor for scientists to live. From April 3 to 20, three NASA astronauts and a Cincinnati doctor are living and working under the ocean to test space medicine concepts and moon-walking techniques.

In the Aquarius, are lab equipment and computers that enables scientists to perform research and process samples without leaving their underwater facilities. One example of research is to develop long distance medical care procedures, which may be used to respond to health emergencies on intergalactic space stations or on manned missions. For instance, on March 26, 2006, the astronauts learned about using small robots with small cameras attached that can be inserted into the abdomen to help surgeons see what they are doing as they perform keyhole surgery.

While astronauts appreciate the beauty and mystery of the undersea world and undergo rigorous training, they know that under the sea is an alien, and often hostile environment, as well as an analog to life in outer space.

More imagery, journals, press release and details: more NEEMO, please.

NASA Honors Buzz Aldrin With Exploration Award

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Buzz Aldrin
Buzz Aldrin Explores the Moon
Credit: NASA

West Point graduate. Fighter pilot. Spacewalker. Apollo 11 astronaut. Man on the moon. Such is the storied career of Buzz Aldrin. Part of the first crew to set foot on another world, Aldrin spent more than 2 hours on the lunar surface during the Apollo 11 mission in July 1969. He also became the subject of one of the most iconic images on the 20th century (left), a solitary explorer in white contrasted against the gray landscape, with mission commander Neil Armstrong reflected in his visor. Even before his Apollo 11 fame, Aldrin had broken new ground with a record-settting spacewalk during the Gemini 12 mission in 1966.

For all his contributions to America's space program, Aldrin received NASA's Ambassador of Exploration Award on Saturday, March 25, at the California Science Center in Los Angeles.
In a post-Apollo 11 news conference, Aldrin said, "I think that this demonstrated that we were certainly on the right track when we undertook this commitment to go to the moon. I think that what this means is that many other problems, perhaps, can be solved in the same way, by making a commitment to solve them in a long-time fashion.

Aldrin is one of 38 recipients of the Ambassador of Exploration Award, all of whom were astronauts or other key individuals who participated in the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs. The award is a small sample of lunar material encased in Lucite and mounted for public display. The material is part of the 842 pounds of samples brought back to Earth during the six Apollo lunar expeditions from 1969 to 1972. Aldrin's award will be displayed in the Sketch Foundation Gallery: Air & Space Exhibits, California Science Center, 700 State Street, Los Angeles.

More:Space -- Honors Buzz Aldrin With Exploration Award

Source: Johns Hopkins University

Discovery Docks With ISS

Thursday, July 28, 2005

STS-114 astronauts
From left, STS-114 astronauts Steve Robinson, Jim Kelly, Andy Thomas, Wendy Lawrence, Charlie Camarda, Eileen Collins and Soichi Noguchi. Photo credit: NASA.

Space Shuttle Discovery’s seven astronauts entered the International Space Station (ISS) at 8:50 a.m. EDT today, where they were greeted by the Expedition 11 crew. On the ground, NASA officials provided reporters an update on today’s activities and imagery analysis. The visit to the ISS primarily to test and evaluate new safety procedures. There have been many safety improvements to the Shuttle, including a redesigned external tank, new sensors and a boom that will allow astronauts to inspect the Shuttle for any potential damage.

Two crewmembers, Steve Robinson and Soichi Noguchi, will venture outside the Shuttle three times on spacewalks. The first will demonstrate repair techniques on the Shuttle's protective tiles, known as the Thermal Protection System. During the second spacewalk, they'll replace a failed Control Moment Gyroscope, which helps keep the Station oriented properly. Finally, they'll install the External Stowage Platform, a sort of space shelf for holding spare parts during Station construction. STS-114 will also be the third trip of the Multi-Purpose Logistics Module named Raffaello to the Station. It's essentially a "moving van" that transports supplies to the orbital outpost.

More: NASA - Discovery Docks; STS-114 Crew Enters ISS

Link: NASA - Return to Flight


Columbia Accident Investigation Board Releases Final Report

Tuesday, August 26, 2003

The Columbia Accident Investigation Board presented its final report on the causes of the Feb. 1, 2003 Space Shuttle accident to the White House, Congress and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The CAIB report concludes that while NASA's present Space Shuttle is not inherently unsafe, a number of mechanical fixes are required to make the Shuttle safer in the short term. The report also concludes that NASA's management system is unsafe to manage the shuttle system beyond the short term and that the agency does not have a strong safety culture. The Board determined that physical and organizational causes played an equal role in the Columbia accident - that the NASA organizational culture had as much to do with the accident as the foam that struck the Orbiter on ascent. The report also notes other significant factors and observations that may help prevent the next accident.

More: NASA CAIB - Columbia Accident Investigation Board Releases Final Report (Release CAIB PA 40-03)

More: NASA CAIB - Columbia Accident Investigation Board home page - access news, reports, and findings related to the Feb. 1, 2003 Space Shuttle Columbia accident

Memorial Service for the Astronauts of Shuttle Columbia

Tuesday, February 4, 2003

A memorial for the astronauts of the Shuttle Columbia was held at the Johnson Space Center. President Bush attended and gave a speech honoring the astronauts. A quote from his speech:

"This cause of exploration and discovery is not an option we choose; it is a desire written in the human heart. We are that part of creation which seeks to understand all creation. We find the best among us, send them forth into unmapped darkness, and pray they will return. They go in peace for all mankind, and all mankind is in their debt."

The STS-107 crew were Commander Rick D. Husband, Mission Specialist Kalpana Chawla, Pilot William C. McCool, Mission Specialists David M. Brown, Laurel B. Clark and Michael P. Anderson, and Payload Specialist Ilan Ramon.

More: Whitehouse - Transcript of the President's Remarks

Shuttle Columbia and Seven Crew Members Lost

Saturday, February 1, 2003

Saturday morning over north central Texas, the Space Shuttle Columbia and all seven astronauts were lost during reentry from orbit. Columbia was returning to Kennedy Space Center, Fla. after a 16-day scientific research mission, STS-107.

Link: NASA - Information about the Shuttle Columbia, her crew, the mission, and the ongoing investigation

Shuttle Columbia Launches on Science Mission

Thursday, January 16, 2003

The seven member crew of STS 107 successfully launched aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia at 10:39 a.m. EST on Jan. 16 from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The first shuttle mission of the year carries the first Israeli astronaut, Ilan Ramon. Columbia, the oldest orbiter in the Shuttle fleet, will carry four tons of science to orbit...literally! STS 107 is the first strictly science research mission since STS-99, with 80-plus experiments. The astronauts will conduct round the clock science in 12 hour shifts throughout the 16-day mission, due to return to Earth on Feb. 1.

More: NASA Human Spaceflight - shuttle news and information

More: NASA TV - see live action from the shuttle and mission control!

First Native American to Walk in Space

Friday, November 8, 2002

On November 11, the first tribally registered Native American astronaut will lift off into space aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour from NASA's Kennedy Space Center for the 16th American assembly flight to the International Space Station. During the mission, Astronaut John Bennett Herrington (Cmdr., USN), a member of the Chickasaw Nation, will become the first Native American to walk in space. Serving as Endeavour's flight engineer for launch and landing, Herrington will be one of two astronauts conducting three spacewalks to install a 45-foot, 14-ton girder-like structure, called the Port 1 to the Station. Once the remainder of the truss is complete, the structure will span more than 300 feet to carry power, data and temperature control to the electronic outpost of the Station.

More: NASA - John Herrington, First Native American to Walk in Space

More: NASA Biography - John Bennett Herrington