Volume 27 – November 29, 2010
ISS Life Extended
It took almost 12 years and $100 billion to develop and expand ISS to its present state. With the recent extension of its life time by the current administration, ISS will remain operational until at least the year 2020 instead of 2016 as originally planned. While this is good news for scientists and researchers, they will have to first plan the experiments and researches to be done in the added time. Next, they need to find a way to get to the space station in the absence of space shuttles.
At any time, there are usually between 40 to 50 experiments on board, in fields such as biomedical, microgravity effects, space-exploration systems and other space-related technologies. These experiments have yielded results such as a salmonella vaccine (being currently tested by US FDA), prostate cancer drugs and many more.
According to Edward Mango, director of the commercial space transportation planning office at NASA, to travel to ISS after the shuttles' retirement, NASA will be using commercial companies such as SpaceX and Orbital Sciences. However until those vehicles are ready, the US will make use of Russian, European and Japanese vehicles.
To learn more, please visit: http://www.technologyreview.com/computing/26748/?nlid=3778&a=f
NASA Test-Fires Commercial Rocket Engine
On November 10, 2010, NASA's John C. Stennis Space Center in Mississippi conducted a successful test firing of the liquid-fuel AJ26 engine that will power the first stage of Orbital Sciences Corp.'s Taurus II space launch vehicle. The AJ26 engine is designed to power the Taurus II space vehicle on flights to low Earth orbit.
The test was conducted by a joint operations team comprised of Orbital, Aerojet and Stennis engineers, with Stennis employees serving as test conductors.
The company is under contract with NASA to provide eight cargo missions to the space station through 2015.
To read more and see a short video of the test, please visit:
NASA and Students
NASA has two new outreach and educational programs. The first came about as a result of the A-Train Symposium in New Orleans when researchers from NASA and university partners went to the classrooms in and around the city, engaging students in discussions about Earth and the role of the A-Train fleet.
The A-Train, or Afternoon Train, is a constellation of satellites that travel one behind the other, along the same track, as they orbit Earth. These satellites collect data on the Earth system, including atmosphere, land surface and oceans. The satellite fleet passes above the equator each afternoon at around 1:30pm, hence the name!
According to Lin Chambers, one of the scientists from NASA Langley Research Center, "the reaction from the students and the teachers was tremendous."
To read more about the A-Train Symposium please visit: http://a-train-neworleans2010.larc.nasa.gov/
The second program is one of the first steps in a three-year partnership between NASA and the LEGO Group. NASA's fundamental goal is to use the partnership to inspire children to learn about science, technical fields, engineering and math.
In this program, astronauts on board the Space Station will build small model spacecraft and working objects in orbit and share the experience with schoolchildren watching on Earth. The students will build some of the same things in their own classrooms and see firsthand how differently objects behave in space.
Space shuttle Endeavour is scheduled to carry nine specialized kits to the station in February during the STS-134 mission. The astronauts will work with them inside a see-through glove box so the small pieces don't get lost in the station.
The website dedicated to this program is already up and counting down the days at:
To learn more about this partnership, please visit:
Snapshots from Above
During the past 10 years, astronauts on board the ISS have collected a treasure trove of beautiful photos of planet Earth from space. Celebrating a decade of human presence on ISS, and the spectacular snapshots over the years, here is a link to some of the best images:
To see more amazing photographs, please visit the collections on the Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth:
My Dream of Stars
My Dream of Stars: From Daughter of Iran to Space Pioneer: a book by Anousheh Ansari and Homer Hickam.
In her memoir, Anousheh recalls her long path to success and to achieving her dream. To learn more about the book, please visit: http://www.anoushehansari.com/book/
To find a book signing, please check the upcoming appearances section of this newsletter.
To obtain a copy please visit: