samedi 21 décembre 2019

Boeing suffers another setback ... In space, Starliner anomaly explained

Boeing & NASA - Orbital Flight Text (OFT) patch.

Dec 21, 2019

Atlas V launches Starliner

Launched Friday at the international space station by NASA, the Starliner capsule of the manufacturer Boeing encountered a problem in flight.

Boeing suffered a major setback Friday when it failed to send its new Starliner capsule to the International Space Station (ISS), without an astronaut on board. It was to be a dress rehearsal before the sending of NASA crews in 2020. An Atlas V rocket had taken off without problem from Cape Canaveral before dawn, and Starliner, fixed at its top, had detached a quarter of hour after.

Starliner’s orbital insertion maneuver

Video above: Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner crew capsule failed to perform the orbital insertion maneuver approximately 31 minutes after being launched by a United Launch Alliance Atlas V N22 launch vehicle, with a dual engine Centaur upper stage, from Space Launch Complex 41 (SLC-41), Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, on 20 December 2019, at 11:36:43 UTC (06:36 EST). Video Credits: Boeing/NASA/SciNews.

However, the capsule's engines did not start as expected, and the capsule was therefore unable to get on the right trajectory to catch up with the ISS, which flies in Earth orbit at an altitude of approximately 400 km. Having missed the window and consumed too much fuel while trying to correct the position automatically, Starliner will therefore be brought back prematurely to land within 48 hours in New Mexico, in the western United States, announced a Boeing director. at a press conference at the Kennedy Space Center, three hours after launch.

"Obvious challenges"

This test mission, the first in orbit, was crucial both for the reputation of Boeing, tarnished by the setbacks of its 737 MAX aircraft, and for American national pride. Since 2011, NASA has been dependent on the Russians to send its astronauts into space. American companies Boeing and SpaceX are expected to take over in 2020 with their new capsules.

NASA boss Jim Bridenstine, however, said that despite "obvious challenges", all of this was "very positive in general". The aircraft is in good condition and under control, the experiment will be useful, and no astronaut would have been potentially endangered, he said. He did not rule out that the first manned Starliner mission, initially scheduled for early 2020, could be maintained. "I'm not ruling it out," said the agency official, adding that it was still "too early" to predict if or how the schedule would change.

"We could have started this push manually," said Nicole Mann, one of three astronauts scheduled for the first manned mission, who renewed her confidence in the aircraft. "We can't wait to fly aboard the Starliner."

Unknown initial cause

The anomaly occurred in the on-board “elapsed time” counter in the mission. Having an incorrect schedule, Starliner did not perform the push at the time it was supposed to trigger, shortly after detaching from the rocket. When the Boeing and NASA control rooms tried to correct the problem manually, the capsule could not receive the command directly because it was in transition between two communication satellites.

Starliner anomaly explained

Video above: Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner crew capsule will land at the White Sands Space Harbor, on the White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico, on 22 December 2019, at approximately 12:57 UTC (05:57 MST, 07:57 EST, 04:57 PST). A backup opportunity is schedueled at the same site at 20:48 UTC (13:48 MST). Jim Chilton, senior vice president of Boeing’s Space and Launch Division, explained the anomaly that lead to an off-nominal orbital insertion, putting Starliner in an unplanned orbit.  Video Credits: Boeing/NASA/SciNews.

When they regained control, the teams determined that there was not enough fuel left to continue the mission and attempt the docking with the ISS, which was scheduled for Saturday. "We don't yet understand the root cause," said Jim Chilton, vice president of space for Boeing. Under the presidency of Barack Obama, the space agency had contracted billions of dollars with Boeing and SpaceX to develop capsules "made in the USA". After two years of delay, the program finally comes to fruition, but the approval of the vehicles depends on the latest tests.

The SpaceX solution

SpaceX has already passed the stage that Boeing was trying to take with this mission. Elon Musk's company sent its Crew Dragon capsule to the ISS in March and brought it back to Earth without a problem, with a mannequin on board. However, it has yet to complete parachute testing. This is the advantage of having chosen two separate partners, noted Jim Bridenstine. If one vehicle has a problem, the other can continue to serve NASA.

Artist's view of Boeing Starliner in orbit

These programs are distinct from the Artemis project to return to the Moon by 2024, which will be done with a third capsule adapted for deeper journeys in space, Orion, built by Lockheed Martin. At a press conference Thursday, the boss of NASA had declared his confidence in Boeing, stuck in the crisis of its flagship 737 MAX. "The people who develop the spacecraft are different from the people who make the planes," he said.

NASA, Boeing to Provide Update on Starliner Orbital Flight Test Status

The uncrewed Boeing Starliner spacecraft launched on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket at 6:36 a.m. Friday, from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on a flight test to the International Space Station. The Starliner did not reach the planned orbit and will not dock to the space station. Teams worked quickly to ensure the spacecraft was in a stable orbit and preserved enough fuel for a landing opportunity. Boeing, in coordination with NASA and the U.S. Army, is working to return Starliner to land in White Sands, New Mexico, on Sunday, Dec. 22.

Live Coverage Information: NASA Live:

Related articles:

Boeing Starliner Orbital Flight Test Update

Liftoff! Atlas V Clears the Launch Pad with Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner Spacecraft

Related links:

CST-100 Starliner:

Commercial Crew:

International Space Station (ISS):

Images, Videos (mentioned), Text, Credits: ATS/NASA/Boeing/ Aerospace/Roland Berga.


vendredi 20 décembre 2019

Boeing Starliner Orbital Flight Test Update

Boeing & NASA - Orbital Flight Test (OFT) patch.

December 20, 2019

Image above: A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket with Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft launches from Space Launch Complex 41, Friday, Dec. 20, 2019, at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.. Photo Credits: NASA/Joel Kowsky.

After a successful launch at 6:36 a.m. EST Friday on the ULA Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner is in an unplanned, but stable orbit.

Starliner status update

The team is assessing what test objectives can be achieved before a safe return of the spacecraft to land in White Sands, New Mexico. NASA and Boeing officials held a post-launch news conference Friday morning.

Related article:

Liftoff! Atlas V Clears the Launch Pad with Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner Spacecraft

Related links:

Live Coverage Information: NASA Live:

CST-100 Starliner:

Image (mentioned), Video, Text, Credits: NASA/Mark Garcia/NASA TV/SciNews.

Best regards,

Hubble’s Close-Up of Spiral’s Disk, Bulge

NASA - Hubble Space Telescope patch.

Dec. 20, 2019

This image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope shows IC 2051, a galaxy in the southern constellation of Mensa (the Table Mountain) lying about 85 million light-years away. It is a spiral galaxy, as evidenced by its characteristic whirling, pinwheeling arms, and it has a bar of stars slicing through its center.

This galaxy was observed for a Hubble study on galactic bulges, the bright round central regions of spiral galaxies. Spiral galaxies like IC 2051 are shaped a bit like flying saucers when seen from the side; they comprise a thin, flat disk, with a bulky bulge of stars in the center that extends above and below the disk. These bulges are thought to play a key role in how galaxies evolve, and to influence the growth of the supermassive black holes lurking at the centers of most spirals. While more observations are needed in this area, studies suggest that some, or even most, galactic bulges may be complex composite structures rather than simple ones, with a mix of spherical, disk-like, or boxy components, potentially leading to a wide array of bulge morphologies in the universe.

This image comprises data from Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 at visible and infrared wavelengths.

Hubble Space Telescope (HST)

For more information about Hubble, visit:

Text Credits: ESA (European Space Agency)/NASA/Rob Garner/Image, Animation Credits: ESA/Hubble & NASA, P. Erwin et al.


CASC - Long March-4B launches China-Brazil Earth Resource Satellite-4A (CBERS-4A)

China-Brazil Earth Resource Satellite-4A (CBERS-4A) patch.

Dec.20, 2019

Long March-4B carrying CBERS-4A liftoff

A Long March-4B launch vehicle launched the China-Brazil Earth Resource Satellite-4A (CBERS-4A) from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center, Shanxi Province, northern China, on 20 December 2019, at 03:22 UTC (11:22 local time).

CBERS-4A launch

CBERS-4A will replace CBERS-4, launched in 2014, and is equipped with three optical payloads: a wide-range panchromatic multispectral camera developed by China, and a multispectral camera and a wide-field imager developed by Brazil.

The same rocket launched into orbit eight microsatellites, including the first Ethiopian satellite, ETRSS-1, a wide-range multispectral remote-sensing microsatellite donated to Ethiopia.

China-Brazil Earth Resource Satellite-4A (CBERS-4A)

Developed by the China Academy of Space Technology and Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research, the CBERS-4A carries three optical apparatus – a Chinese panchromatic, multispectral imager and Brazil’s multispectral camera, as well as a wide-field imager. It is tasked with producing remote sensing data to serve a wide range of public services in the two countries, including land resources survey, environmental inspection, climate change research, disaster prevention and agricultural forecast, according to the China National Space Administration.

Related links:

China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC):

China National Space Administration (CNSA):

Images, Video, Text, Credits: CASC/CNSA/SciNews/ Aerospace/Roland Berga.


Liftoff! Atlas V Clears the Launch Pad with Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner Spacecraft

ULS - Atlas V / STARLINER Mission poster / Boeing & NASA - Orbital Flight Test (OFT) patch.

December 20, 2019

Image above: The United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket with Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft atop lifts off from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on Dec. 20, 2019. Liftoff time was 6:36 a.m. EST. Photo credit: NASA.

Booster ignition and liftoff of the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket at 6:36 a.m. EST from Space Launch Complex 41 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The rocket is on its way, carrying Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft on its Orbital Flight Test to the International Space Station. About one minute after launch, the Atlas V rocket will achieve Mach 1. The Atlas V solid rocket boosters will jettison nearly two-and-a-half minutes into the flight.

Atlas V launches Starliner

About two-and-a-half minutes into flight, a series of key events begin to occur over the next few minutes. The Atlas V solid rocket boosters fall away shortly after launch. The Atlas first-stage booster engine cut off, followed by separation from the dual-engine Centaur second stage. The Centaur first main engine will start, following by aeroskirt jettison. A few minutes later the Centaur engine cut off.

Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner has separated from the Atlas V Centaur and is flying on its own, embarking on its inaugural flight to the International Space Station. The Atlas Centaur will fall back to Earth and impact the ocean near Australia. After a series of orbital adjustments, Starliner will be on course for rendezvous and docking with the space station at 5 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 21.

Starliner’s orbital insertion maneuver

Despite launching successfully at 6:36 a.m. EST Friday on the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner is not in its planned orbit. The spacecraft currently is in a stable configuration while flight controllers are troubleshooting.

NASA are targeting a news conference for 9:30 a.m. EST to discuss the status of Boeing’s uncrewed Orbital Flight Test. Visit for the latest info and news conference schedule.

Related links:

United Launch Alliance (ULA):

CST-100 Starliner:

Space Station Research and Technology:

International Space Station (ISS):

Image (mentioned), Videos, Text, Credits: NASA/Linda Herridge/ULA/Boeing/NASA TV/SciNews.


Spitzer Studies a Stellar Playground With a Long History

NASA - Spitzer Space Telescope patch.

Dec. 20, 2019

Image above: A collection of gas and dust over 500 light-years across, the Perseus Molecular Cloud hosts an abundance of young stars. It was imaged here by the NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope. Image Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech.

This image from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope shows the Perseus Molecular Cloud, a massive collection of gas and dust that stretches over 500 light-years across. Home to an abundance of young stars, it has drawn the attention of astronomers for decades.

Spitzer's Multiband Imaging Photometer (MIPS) instrument took this image during Spitzer's "cold mission," which ran from the spacecraft's launch in 2003 until 2009, when the space telescope exhausted its supply of liquid helium coolant. (This marked the beginning of Spitzer's "warm mission.") Infrared light can't be seen by the human eye, but warm objects, from human bodies to interstellar dust clouds, emit infrared light.

Infrared radiation from warm dust generates much of the glow seen here from the Perseus Molecular Cloud. Clusters of stars, such as the bright spot near the left side of the image, generate even more infrared light and illuminate the surrounding clouds like the Sun lighting up a cloudy sky at sunset. Much of the dust seen here emits little to no visible light (in fact, the dust blocks visible light) and is therefore revealed most clearly with infrared observatories like Spitzer.

On the right side of the image is a bright clump of young stars known as NGC 1333, which Spitzer has observed multiple times. It is located about 1,000 light-years from Earth. That sounds far, but it is close compared to the size of our galaxy, which is about 100,000 light-years across. NGC 1333's proximity and strong infrared emissions made it visible to astronomers using some of the earliest infrared instruments.

Image above: This image from NASA'S Spitzer Space Telescope shows the location and apparent size of the Perseus Molecular Cloud in the night sky. Located on the edge of the Perseus Constellation, the collection of gas and dust is about 1,000 light-years from Earth and about 500 light-years wide. Image Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech.

In fact, some of its stars were first observed in the mid-1980s with the Infrared Astronomical Survey (IRAS), a joint mission between NASA, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands. The first infrared satellite telescope, it observed the sky in infrared wavelengths blocked by Earth's atmosphere, providing the first-ever view of the universe in those wavelengths.

More than 1,200 peer-reviewed research papers have been written about NGC 1333, and it has been studied in other wavelengths of light, including by the Hubble Space Telescope, which detects mostly visible light, and the Chandra X-Ray Observatory.

Many young stars in the cluster are sending massive outflows of material — the same material that forms the star — into space. As the material is ejected, it is heated up and smashes into the surrounding interstellar medium. These factors cause the jets to radiate brightly, and they can be seen in close-up studies of the region. This has provided astronomers with a clear glimpse of how stars go from a sometimes-turbulent adolescence into calmer adulthood.

An Evolving Mystery

Other clusters of stars seen below NGC 1333 in this image have posed a fascinating mystery for astronomers: They appear to contain stellar infants, adolescents and adults. Such a closely packed mixture of ages is extremely odd, according to Luisa Rebull, an astrophysicist at NASA's Infrared Science Archive at Caltech-IPAC who has studied NGC 1333 and some of the clusters below it. Although many stellar siblings may form together in tight clusters, stars are always moving, and as they grow older they tend to move farther and farther apart.

Image above: This annotated image of the Perseus Molecular Cloud, provided by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope, shows the location of various star clusters, including NGC 1333.
Image Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech.

Finding such a closely packed mixture of apparent ages doesn't fit with current ideas about how stars evolve. "This region is telling astronomers that there's something we don't understand about star formation," said Rebull. The puzzle presented by this region is one thing that keeps astronomers coming back to it. "It's one of my favorite regions to study," she added.

Since IRAS's early observations, the region has come into clearer focus, a process that is common in astronomy, said Rebull. New instruments bring more sensitivity and new techniques, and the story becomes clearer with each new generation of observatories. On Jan. 30, 2020, NASA will decommission the Spitzer Space Telescope, but its legacy has paved the way for upcoming observatories, including the James Webb Space Telescope, which will also observe infrared light.

Spitzer Space Telescope. Animation Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech

The Spitzer-MIPS data used for this image is at the infrared wavelength of 24 microns. Small gaps along the edges of this image not observed by Spitzer were filled in using 22-micron data from NASA's Wide-Field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE):

To learn more about Spitzer and how it studies the infrared universe, check out the Spitzer 360 VR experience, now available on the NASA Spitzer channel on YouTube:

Related links:

Spitzer's "cold mission":

Hubble Space Telescope (HST):

Chandra X-Ray Observatory:

James Webb Space Telescope (JWST):

Wide-Field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE):

More information about Spitzer is available at the following site(s):

Images (mentioned), Animation (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/Tony Greicius/JPL/Calla Cofield.


jeudi 19 décembre 2019

Tune in for Launch Coverage of Boeing’s Orbital Flight Test

Boeing & NASA - Orbital Flight Test (OFT) patch.

December 19, 2019

Liftoff of Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket, is targeted for 6:36 a.m. EST Friday, Dec. 20 from Space Launch Complex 41 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. This uncrewed mission, known as Boeing’s Orbital Flight Test, is Starliner’s maiden flight to the International Space Station for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. The main objective of the mission is an end-to-end demonstration of Boeing’s ability to launch astronauts to the orbiting laboratory and return them home. To learn more, read the prelaunch feature.

Meteorologists with the U.S. Air Force 45th Weather Squadron continue to predict an 80% chance of favorable weather for launch on Friday morning. Primary concerns for launch day are the Cumulus Cloud Rule and User Ground Winds violations during the instantaneous launch window.

Image above: The crew access arm is seen after being moved into position for Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket on the launch pad at Space Launch Complex 41 ahead of the Orbital Flight Test mission, Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2019 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The Orbital Flight Test with be Starliner’s maiden mission to the International Space Station for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. The mission, currently targeted for a 6:36 a.m. EST launch on Dec. 20, will serve as an end-to-end test of the system’s capabilities. Photo Credits: NASA/Joel Kowsky.

Join us at 5:30 a.m. EST Friday, Dec. 20, for countdown coverage on the Commercial Crew blog and NASA TV.

NASA will host an Administrator Post-launch News Conference at 9 a.m. followed by a Launch Team News Conference at 9:30 a.m., both on NASA TV.

Mission Timeline (all times approximate)

Hour/Min/Sec           Events
-06:00:00              Atlas V fueling commences
-04:05:00              Atlas V fueling is complete
-04:04:00              T-4 minute built-in hold begins
-01:25:00              Hatch closure complete
-01:15:00              Prelaunch cabin leak checks
-01:05:00              Cabin pressurization complete
-00:20:00              Launch Conductor conducts terminal count briefing
-00:18:00              CST-100 poll for terminal count
-00:15:00              CST-100 to internal power
-00:10:00              Crew Access Arm retracted
-00:08:00              Launch vehicle poll for terminal count
-00:04:45              Starliner configured for terminal count
-00:04:00              T-4 minute built-in hold releases
-00:01:00              CST-100 is configured for launch
-00:00:03              RD-180 engine ignition

Launch, Landing and CST-100 Deployment (all times approximate)

Hour/Min/Sec          Events
+00:00:01             Liftoff
+00:00:06             Begin pitch/yaw maneuver
+00:00:41             Maximum dynamic pressure
+00:01:05             Mach 1
+00:02:22             SRB jettison
+00:04:29             Atlas booster engine cutoff (BECO)
+00:04:35             Atlas Centaur separation
+00:04:41             Ascent cover jettison
+00:04:45             Centaur first main engine start (MES-1)
+00:05:05             Aeroskirt jettison
+00:11:54             Centaur first main engine cutoff (MECO-1)

Related articles:

Astronauts “Train Like You Fly” in Boeing Starliner Simulations

Boeing Flight Test for Commercial Crew Program Will Pave the Way for Future Science

Boeing and NASA Approach Milestone Orbital Flight Test

Related links:


Atlas V rocket:


Commercial Crew Program:

International Space Station:

Commercial Crew blog (NASA):

Image (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/Linda Herridge.

Best regards,

'Cotton Candy' Planet Mysteries Unravel in New Hubble Observations

NASA - Hubble Space Telescope patch.

Dec. 19, 2019

"Super-Puffs" may sound like a new breakfast cereal. But it's actually the nickname for a unique and rare class of young exoplanets that have the density of cotton candy. Nothing like them exists in our solar system.

Image above: This illustration depicts the Sun-like star Kepler 51 and three giant planets that NASA's Kepler space telescope discovered in 2012–2014. These planets are all roughly the size of Jupiter but a tiny fraction of its mass. This means the planets have an extraordinarily low density, more like that of Styrofoam rather than rock or water, based on new Hubble Space Telescope observations. The planets may have formed much farther from their star and migrated inward. Now their puffed-up hydrogen/helium atmospheres are bleeding off into space. Eventually, much smaller planets might be left behind. The background starfield is correctly plotted as it would look if we gazed back toward our Sun from Kepler 51's distance of approximately 2,600 light-years, along our galaxy's Orion spiral arm. However, the Sun is too faint to be seen in this simulated naked-eye view. Image Credits: NASA, ESA, and L. Hustak, J. Olmsted, D. Player and F. Summers (STScI).

New data from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope have provided the first clues to the chemistry of two of these super-puffy planets, which are located in the Kepler 51 system. This exoplanet system, which actually boasts three super-puffs orbiting a young Sun-like star, was discovered by NASA's Kepler space telescope in 2012. However, it wasn't until 2014 when the low densities of these planets were determined, to the surprise of many.

The recent Hubble observations allowed a team of astronomers to refine the mass and size estimates for these worlds — independently confirming their "puffy" nature. Though no more than several times the mass of Earth, their hydrogen/helium atmospheres are so bloated they are nearly the size of Jupiter. In other words, these planets might look as big and bulky as Jupiter, but are roughly a hundred times lighter in terms of mass.

How and why their atmospheres balloon outwards remains unknown, but this feature makes super-puffs prime targets for atmospheric investigation. Using Hubble, the team went looking for evidence of components, notably water, in the atmospheres of the planets, called Kepler-51 b and 51 d. Hubble observed the planets when they passed in front of their star, aiming to observe the infrared color of their sunsets. Astronomers deduced the amount of light absorbed by the atmosphere in infrared light. This type of observation allows scientists to look for the telltale signs of the planets' chemical constituents, such as water.

To the amazement of the Hubble team, they found the spectra of both planets not to have any telltale chemical signatures. They attribute this result to clouds of particles high in their atmospheres. "This was completely unexpected," said Jessica Libby-Roberts of the University of Colorado, Boulder. "We had planned on observing large water absorption features, but they just weren't there. We were clouded out!" However, unlike Earth's water-clouds, the clouds on these planets may be composed of salt crystals or photochemical hazes, like those found on Saturn's largest moon, Titan.

Image above: This illustration depicts the three giant planets orbiting the Sun-like star Kepler 51 as compared to some of the planets in our solar system. These planets are all roughly the size of Jupiter but a very tiny fraction of its mass. NASA's Kepler space telescope detected the shadows of these planets in 2012–2014 as they passed in front of their star. There is no direct imaging. Therefore, the colors of the Kepler 51 planets in this illustration are imaginary. Image Credits: NASA, ESA, and L. Hustak and J. Olmsted (STScI).

These clouds provide the team with insight into how Kepler-51 b and 51 d stack up against other low-mass, gas-rich planets outside of our solar system. When comparing the flat spectra of the super-puffs against the spectra of other planets, the team was able to support the hypothesis that cloud/haze formation is linked to the temperature of a planet — the cooler a planet is, the cloudier it becomes.

The team also explored the possibility that these planets weren't actually super-puffs at all. The gravitational pull among the planets creates slight changes to their orbital periods, and from these timing effects planetary masses can be derived. By combining the variations in the timing of when a planet passes in front of its star (an event called a transit) with those transits observed by the Kepler space telescope, the team better constrained the planetary masses and dynamics of the system. Their results agreed with previous measured ones for Kepler-51 b. However, they found that Kepler-51 d was slightly less massive (or the planet was even more puffy) than previously thought.

In the end, the team concluded that the low densities of these planets are in part a consequence of the young age of the system, a mere 500 million years old, compared to our 4.6-billion-year-old Sun. Models suggest these planets formed outside of the star's "snow line," the region of possible orbits where icy materials can survive. The planets then migrated inward, like a string of railroad cars.

Now, with the planets much closer to the star, their low-density atmospheres should evaporate into space over the next few billion years. Using planetary evolution models, the team was able to show that Kepler-51 b, the planet closest to the star, will one day (in a billion years) look like a smaller and hotter version of Neptune, a type of planet that is fairly common throughout the Milky Way. However, it appears that Kepler-51 d, which is farther from the star, will continue to be a low-density oddball planet, though it will both shrink and lose some small amount of atmosphere. "This system offers a unique laboratory for testing theories of early planet evolution," said Zach Berta-Thompson of the University of Colorado, Boulder.

Hubble Space Telescope (HST). Animation Credits: NASA/ESA

The good news is that all is not lost for determining the atmospheric composition of these two planets. NASA's upcoming James Webb Space Telescope, with its sensitivity to longer infrared wavelengths of light, may be able to peer through the cloud layers. Future observations with this telescope could provide insight as to what these cotton candy planets are actually made of. Until then, these planets remain a sweet mystery.

The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of international cooperation between NASA and ESA (European Space Agency). NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, manages the telescope. The Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore conducts Hubble science operations. STScI is operated for NASA by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy in Washington, D.C.

Related links:

Hubble Space Telescope:


Images (mentioned), Animation (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/Rob Garner/Claire Andreoli/University of Colorado/Daniel Strain/Space Telescope Science Institute/Ray Villard.

Best regards,

Astronauts “Train Like You Fly” in Boeing Starliner Simulations

Boeing & NASA - Orbital Flight Test (OFT) patch.

Dec. 18, 2019

While Starliner tests its capabilities during Boeing’s first uncrewed Starliner flight test, astronauts are getting ready to fly through extensive training at NASA’s Johnson Space Center. As home to the astronaut corps and training, Johnson is equipped with various Starliner simulators and trainers to ensure the astronauts are prepared for any situation that may arise during their missions. While Starliner is designed to fly autonomously, astronauts are trained to step in for almost any emergency situation – as always, training as they will fly and preparing for the unexpected.

Image above: The Boeing Company unveils its fully outfitted CST-100 mock-up at the company's Houston Product Support Center in Texas. This test version is optimized to support five crew members and will allow the company to evaluate crew safety, interfaces, communications, maneuverability and ergonomics. Image Credits: Boeing/NASA.

Boeing’s first uncrewed test flight, known as Orbital Flight Test (OFT), will launch aboard an Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. During OFT, Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner will autonomously rendezvous, dock and undock with the International Space Station and return to Earth at White Sands Space Harbor in New Mexico. This will be the first flight to space for Starliner and is a major step toward demonstrating the spacecraft is ready to begin carrying astronauts to the station.

NASA caught up with Jim May, Boeing’s Starliner crew training specialist and software engineer, to learn more about Starliner training at Johnson.

How many Starliner training components are housed at Johnson?

May: We have three largescale simulators bigger than a computer – the Boeing Mission Simulator and two part-task trainers. We also have a mockup of the Starliner spacecraft in the Space Vehicle Mockup Facility to use for training.

How is the Boeing Mission Simulator used for training?

Image above: NASA commercial crew astronaut Josh Cassada trains for docking to the International Space Station. Cassada is assigned to the second crewed flight to the International Space Station of Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner. Image Credits: Boeing/NASA.

May: The Boeing Mission Simulator is meant to be our main mission simulator. It’s a cutting-edge simulator that looks, feels and operates just like the Starliner itself. The crew uses the mission simulator, which is the exact same size as the flight deck of the Starliner, so they can interact with one another and get used to sitting in the exact same location as they would be in for their mission. The simulator ties into the broader spectrum of both training assets and simulators that NASA already uses as well to present flight-like conditions of the controls for every phase of a Starliner mission. The Starliner mission simulator sits on the same footprint as the former space shuttle mission simulator, and the Starliner instructors work from rooms just down the hall like the shuttle instructors, so the overall training environment should feel familiar. When the crew is training for Starliner-specific tasks they have a dedicated set of Starliner instructors, and when they’re training for things like rendezvous and undocking with the International Space Station, we tie our simulator into the station simulator. All of systems also tie into the Mission Control Center to enable integrated training runs with the same ground control teams and astronauts will work with during their mission.

How is the Boeing Mission Trainer (BMT) used?

May: The Boeing Mission Trainer is the same size and dimensions as a real Starliner vehicle and is positioned upright in the attitude Starliner will be in when it’s sitting on the launch pad or after landing on Earth. The trainer is meant for crews to practice getting into and out of the spacecraft in various situations, as well as learning how to efficiently move around inside the vehicle. For things like pad entry or emergency egress, that training is all done in the trainer. Flipping switches and working on control panels usually is all done in the mission simulator. Since the mockup is sitting upright like it would be for launch and landing, the crew has opportunity to practice getting in and out of the spacecraft, should they have to in the scenario that they’ve landed somewhere that emergency crews couldn’t get to them immediately. We also practice with the emergency crews getting into the spacecraft through the side hatch or the top hatch to practice pulling the flight crew out of the spacecraft. The mockup trainer gives the pad and landing crews the opportunity to refine procedures for crew support for launch and landing and to rehearse cargo loading and unloading.

What is the purpose of the Crew Part Task Trainers?

Image above: Commercial Crew astronauts Suni Williams and Eric Boe practice docking operations for Boeing's CST-100 Starliner using part-task trainers designed to mimic the controls and behavior of the spacecraft. They are part of a suite of cloud-based and hands-on trainers that Boeing has built to prepare astronauts and mission controllers. Image Credits: Boeing/NASA.

May: We have two part-task trainers here on site at Johnson in building 5. The part task trainers are designed to let astronauts practice individual elements of a Starliner mission in a more classroom-style environment. They are lower fidelity in the sense that they don’t have a full physical flight-like console, but instead have four large touchscreens. Certain parts are between 80- to 100-percent scale, but these trainers provide a similar control layout as if a pilot were sitting in the real spacecraft seat. It has control functionality identical to the real Starliner vehicle, so astronauts can run through procedures and training with instructors who sit in the same room with them. Things are meant to be done in small pieces, so a “part task,” for example, has an astronaut learn how to rendezvous the vehicle or learn how to use the joysticks. That type of individual training for individual people are all done in the part task trainers. It keeps crews from having to fully strap into a flight seat and also minimizes the number of people involved for a more intimate learning environment; the instructor is sitting behind the student and they can have casual conversations without voice loops and headsets.

Why did Boeing choose to have training operations on site at Johnson?

Image above: Boeing’s Flight Control Team participated in a rehearsal of prelaunch procedures for the company’s upcoming Orbital Flight Test in the White Flight Control Room in the Mission Control Center at Johnson Space Center in Houston. Image Credits: Boeing/NASA.

May: Everyone’s time is valuable, so being able to have crews get to their training within minutes when they’re at Johnson is very helpful. During the design of the spacecraft, it was extremely convenient for the engineers, training and operations people to just drive across the street and be involved in design discussions or a development simulation. The original four astronauts assigned to commercial crew were also involved with the design and the early analysis on how they would operate Starliner. It was great being able to drive across the street and talk to them or get their inputs in the physical mockups and simulators within minutes. For the future, it helps to be co-located with space station training, as well. When the crews are doing integrated training between the station and Starliner, emergency egress from station for example, they can go directly from the station mockup to the Starliner mockup in the same building or to the mission simulator in a nearby building and can immediately get into practicing their procedures. The idea of train like you fly has been made easy by the co-location.

How will the crews be able to put their training to work during the Orbital Flight Test?

Image above: NASA commercial crew astronauts Eric Boe and Suni Williams train in a Boeing CST-100 Starliner mockup at the agency’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. Boe is assigned to launch to the International Space Station on the first crewed flight of Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner. Williams will fly to the space station on Starliner’s second crewed flight. Image Credits: Boeing/NASA.

May: The crews will have roles both at the launch site and in Mission Control and will get to see their simulation training come to life. For this flight test, a lot of their focus will be situational awareness of how the ground teams operate, since they’ll be in the seats and far removed from the ground teams for the crewed flight. For the uncrewed flight, they’ll get to sit directly with the ground teams they’re going to be working and communicating with remotely when they’re on board the Starliner.

Will astronaut training change in any way after the Orbital Flight Test or will the crews continue with typical training?

May: Training should be pretty close to the same after OFT. We’ve been using every revision of the flight software, and as we’ve narrowed down and finalized the vehicle design and come up with what we consider our baseline training plan. The Crewed Flight Test (CFT) is going to be slightly different, but OFT is unique because parts of the mission are demos to prove the vehicle can do what it is required to, which aren’t always required to be demoed on a crewed flight. We have six demonstration options, and we teach the flight controllers that part of the mission and some of the demos won’t be necessary for CFT. Crewed simulations should be pretty close to the baseline for all our future contract missions. Any revisions to the training will be from lessons learned during OFT or in future crewed missions.

Image above: NASA astronaut Nicole Mann poses for a photograph as she exits the Boeing Mockup Trainer at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. Image Credits: Boeing/NASA.

NASA astronauts Nicole Mann and Mike Fincke and Boeing’s Chris Ferguson are continuing preparations for the first crewed flight aboard Starliner known as the Crew Flight Test. In addition to training on Starliner’s systems, they’re rehearsing both expected and unlikely scenarios, such as water rescue training. They also are well into space station training, and are now focusing on becoming a longer duration crew. Mann and Fincke are training for upcoming spacewalks, and Ferguson is training to support them from inside the station.

Related articles:

Boeing Flight Test for Commercial Crew Program Will Pave the Way for Future Science

Boeing and NASA Approach Milestone Orbital Flight Test

Related links:

Orbital Flight Test (OFT):

Commercial Crew:

International Space Station:

Images (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/Mark Garcia.


20 Years of the 3rd Hubble Servicing Mission

NASA . STS-103 Mission patch.

Dec. 19, 2019

This Week in NASA History: 3rd Hubble Servicing Mission – Dec. 19, 1999

This week in 1999, space shuttle Discovery, mission STS-103, launched from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center on the third Hubble Space Telescope servicing mission.

Over the course of three planned extravehicular activities, the STS-103 crew restored Hubble to working order and upgraded some of its systems, allowing the then decade-old observatory to get ready to begin its second scheduled decade of astronomical observations.

STS-103 Crew

Hubble was released from Discovery’s cargo bay Dec. 24. Here, astronauts Michael Foale and Claude Nicollier install a Fine Guidance Sensor into a protective enclosure in the shuttle’s payload bay.

The NASA History Program is responsible for generating, disseminating and preserving NASA’s remarkable history and providing a comprehensive understanding of the institutional, cultural, social, political, economic, technological and scientific aspects of NASA’s activities in aeronautics and space. For more pictures like this one and to connect to NASA’s history, visit the Marshall History Program’s webpage (NASA).

Related links:

Marshall History Program’s webpage:

NASA History:

Space Shuttle:


Hubble Space Telescope:

Images, Text, Credits: NASA/Lee Mohon.


ESO Observations Reveal Black Holes' Breakfast at the Cosmic Dawn

ESO - European Southern Observatory logo.

19 December 2019

Gas halo observed by MUSE surrounding a galaxy merger seen by ALMA

Astronomers using ESO’s Very Large Telescope have observed reservoirs of cool gas around some of the earliest galaxies in the Universe. These gas halos are the perfect food for supermassive black holes at the centre of these galaxies, which are now seen as they were over 12.5 billion years ago. This food storage might explain how these cosmic monsters grew so fast during a period in the Universe’s history known as the Cosmic Dawn.

“We are now able to demonstrate, for the first time, that primordial galaxies do have enough food in their environments to sustain both the growth of supermassive black holes and vigorous star formation,” says Emanuele Paolo Farina, of the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Heidelberg, Germany, who led the research published today in The Astrophysical Journal. “This adds a fundamental piece to the puzzle that astronomers are building to picture how cosmic structures formed more than 12 billion years ago.”

Artistic impression of a distant quasar surrounded by a gas halo

Astronomers have wondered how supermassive black holes were able to grow so large so early on in the history of the Universe. "The presence of these early monsters, with masses several billion times the mass of our Sun, is a big mystery," says Farina, who is also affiliated with the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics in Garching bei München. It means that the first black holes, which might have formed from the collapse of the first stars, must have grown very fast. But, until now, astronomers had not spotted ‘black hole food’ — gas and dust — in large enough quantities to explain this rapid growth.

To complicate matters further, previous observations with ALMA, the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array, revealed a lot of dust and gas in these early galaxies that fuelled rapid star formation. These ALMA observations suggested that there could be little left over to feed a black hole.

3D view of gas halo observed by MUSE surrounding a galaxy merger seen by ALMA

To solve this mystery, Farina and his colleagues used the MUSE instrument on ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) in the Chilean Atacama Desert to study quasars — extremely bright objects powered by supermassive black holes which lie at the centre of massive galaxies. The study surveyed 31 quasars that are seen as they were more than 12.5 billion years ago, at a time when the Universe was still an infant, only about 870 million years old. This is one of the largest samples of quasars from this early on in the history of the Universe to be surveyed.

The astronomers found that 12 quasars were surrounded by enormous gas reservoirs: halos of cool, dense hydrogen gas extending 100 000 light years from the central black holes and with billions of times the mass of the Sun. The team, from Germany, the US, Italy and Chile, also found that these gas halos were tightly bound to the galaxies, providing the perfect food source to sustain both the growth of supermassive black holes and vigorous star formation.

Artistic animation of a distant quasar surrounded by a gas halo

The research was possible thanks to the superb sensitivity of MUSE, the Multi Unit Spectroscopic Explorer, on ESO’s VLT, which Farina says was “a game changer” in the study of quasars. “In a matter of a few hours per target, we were able to delve into the surroundings of the most massive and voracious black holes present in the young Universe,” he adds. While quasars are bright, the gas reservoirs around them are much harder to observe. But MUSE could detect the faint glow of the hydrogen gas in the halos, allowing astronomers to finally reveal the food stashes that power supermassive black holes in the early Universe.

In the future, ESO’s Extremely Large Telescope (ELT) will help scientists reveal even more details about galaxies and supermassive black holes in the first couple of billion years after the Big Bang. “With the power of the ELT, we will be able to delve even deeper into the early Universe to find many more such gas nebulae,” Farina concludes.

More information:

This research is presented in a paper to appear in The Astrophysical Journal.

The team is composed of Emanuele Paolo Farina (Max Planck Institute for Astronomy [MPIA], Heidelberg, Germany and Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics [MPA], Garching bei München, Germany), Fabrizio Arrigoni-Battaia (MPA), Tiago Costa (MPA), Fabian Walter (MPIA), Joseph F. Hennawi (MPIA and Department of Physics, University of California, Santa Barbara, US [UCSB Physics]), Anna-Christina Eilers (MPIA), Alyssa B. Drake (MPIA), Roberto Decarli (Astrophysics and Space Science Observatory of Bologna, Italian National Institute for Astrophysics [INAF], Bologna, Italy), Thales A. Gutcke (MPA), Chiara Mazzucchelli (European Southern Observatory, Vitacura, Chile), Marcel Neeleman (MPIA), Iskren Georgiev (MPIA), Eduardo Bañados (MPIA), Frederick B. Davies (UCSB Physics), Xiaohui Fan (Steward Observatory, University of Arizona, Tucson, US [Steward]), Masafusa Onoue (MPIA), Jan-Torge Schindler (MPIA), Bram P. Venemans (MPIA), Feige Wang (UCSB Physics), Jinyi Yang (Steward), Sebastian Rabien (Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics, Garching bei München, Germany), and Lorenzo Busoni (INAF-Arcetri Astrophysical Observatory, Florence, Italy).

ESO is the foremost intergovernmental astronomy organisation in Europe and the world’s most productive ground-based astronomical observatory by far. It has 16 Member States: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, along with the host state of Chile and with Australia as a Strategic Partner. ESO carries out an ambitious programme focused on the design, construction and operation of powerful ground-based observing facilities enabling astronomers to make important scientific discoveries. ESO also plays a leading role in promoting and organising cooperation in astronomical research. ESO operates three unique world-class observing sites in Chile: La Silla, Paranal and Chajnantor. At Paranal, ESO operates the Very Large Telescope and its world-leading Very Large Telescope Interferometer as well as two survey telescopes, VISTA working in the infrared and the visible-light VLT Survey Telescope. Also at Paranal ESO will host and operate the Cherenkov Telescope Array South, the world’s largest and most sensitive gamma-ray observatory. ESO is also a major partner in two facilities on Chajnantor, APEX and ALMA, the largest astronomical project in existence. And on Cerro Armazones, close to Paranal, ESO is building the 39-metre Extremely Large Telescope, the ELT, which will become “the world’s biggest eye on the sky”.


ESOcast 214 Light: A Black Holes' Breakfast at the Cosmic Dawn:

Research paper:

Project website:

Photos of the VLT:

Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA):

ESO’s Extremely Large Telescope (ELT):

MUSE instrument:

Images, Text, Credits: ESO/Bárbara Ferreira/Max Planck Institute for Astronomy and Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics/Emanuele Paolo Farina/ESO/Farina et al.; ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO), Decarli et al./M. Kornmesser/Videos: ESO/Farina et al.; ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO), Decarli et al.; L. Calçada/ESO/M. Kornmesser.


40 years of Ariane

ARIANESPACE - 40 Years of Ariane Odyssey poster.

Dec. 19, 2019

First launch of Europe's Ariane in 1979

ESA and partners celebrate 40 years of Ariane – a launch vehicle operating in the international space arena, and a symbol of cooperation and innovation that ensures independent access to space for Europe.

On 24 December 1979, the first Ariane 1 was launched from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. Launch L01 carried CAT-1, or Technological Capsule 1, a small satellite used to provide data on the launch characteristics of the new rocket and therefore only powered for eight orbits.

Ariane 2 V18

Ariane 1 was the first launch vehicle to be developed with the primary purpose of sending commercial satellites into geostationary orbit. It was designed mainly to deploy two satellites per mission, thus reducing costs.

From this first flight, Ariane evolved into a highly reliable rocket boosted by the fast-growing demand for commercial space launches in the 1980s. Operated by Arianespace, Ariane claimed over half the satellite market in this period.

Ariane 3 V10

Altogether, Ariane 1, 2 and 3 launched 28 times between 1979 and 1989, placing a total of 38 satellites in orbit.

Ariane 4 entered service in 1988 and made 113 successful launches. Its last was on 15 February 2003. It featured an elongated first stage and strap-on liquid and solid-fuel boosters providing more thrust at liftoff. For this version of Ariane, a lighter Sylda fairing structure was introduced. The Sylda allows two payloads to be stacked one on top of the other.

Ariane 4 and Ariane 5 launchers artist view

Ariane 5 is the result of continual investment in new technology, a wider, heavier and shorter design, and new production methods. This has extended Ariane's benchmark lifting capability from its initial 1850 kg to geostationary orbit, to today’s dual payload record of 10 865 kg to geostationary orbit with an Ariane 5 ECA on 2 June 2017.

Ariane 5’s ES was used for various missions, such as the Automated Transfer Vehicle in low orbit and Galileo in medium orbit. It was retired from service on 25 July 2018.

The protective fairing is lowered over Automated Transfer Vehicle Edoardo Amaldi

Europe's Spaceport lies just above the equator in South America, and hosts facilities for Ariane, Soyuz and Vega launchers.

Continued updates to the Spaceport’s facilities have kept up with the requirements of each new launch vehicle. The pad used by Ariane 1, 2 and 3 was later repurposed for Vega in 2012 and is currently being modified to accommodate the upcoming more powerful Vega-C successor.

Artist's view of Ariane 6 and Vega-C

ESA is currently preparing for the next decade in space transportation. Part of this involves the transition from Ariane 5 to the new modular Ariane 6 for which a dedicated launch site has been built.

Ariane 6 has two versions, Ariane 62 with two strap-on boosters and Ariane 64 with four, for more power.

The new Ariane design is intended to serve the diverse needs of a wide range of customers offering new payload dispensers for a variety of configurations while dramatically decreasing the cost of launches compared to Ariane 5.

Ariane 5 liftoff

Changes in the way in which Ariane 6 is assembled, paired with new manufacturing techniques, is set to speed up the turn around time, allowing more Ariane launches than ever before.

Europe can celebrate Ariane’s history and look forward to building on its successes through innovation and an extreme design-to-cost approach to maintain its lead in a fiercely competitive launch services market.

40 years of Ariane

Read more about Europe’s Spaceport history and development here:

You can also read the article in the ESA Bulletin 172:

Related links:


Ariane 5:



Ariane 6:

Images, Video, Text, Credits: ESA/D. Ducros/CNES/Arianespace/Optique Video du CSG/P.Baudon/John Kraus.

Best regards,

International Space Station computer gets a heart transplant

ISS - International Space Station logo.

Dec. 19, 2019

Space Station office

The Space Station has grown to the size of a football field and space agencies are looking to extend its lifetime until 2030. European-built computers have quietly been keeping this orbital outpost on track and in the right position, running in the background since 2000.

The Data Management System (DMS) computers in the Russian Zvezda module were built over 20 years ago by what is now Airbus. Two fault-tolerant computers collect data and provide navigation, communications and operations for the Russian segment.

Zvezda burning its engines to adjust the Space Station's orbit

These are required for International Space Station operations, and a sudden breakdown could lead to catastrophic consequences. To ensure continuity three units work in parallel with two active and one standby to take over if one fails. A fourth computer is kept as spare that is used as soon as one of the computers in active duty has problems.

Mission-critical upgrade

More fault-tolerant computers were built for a Russian module soon to be launched to the International Space Station, the Multipurpose Laboratory Module. The new computers exhausted the spare parts kept aside for ground repairs and production of new computers.

Data Management System (DMS) computers

After years of operations, engineers noticed that most of the failures on ground and on-orbit computers occurred in memory modules on one the printed circuit boards of the computers. Each time, a failed computer was removed, returned to ground for repairs and then re-launched, with a long turn-around and impact on logistics. In addition it soon became clear that this approach was not sustainable due to the lack of parts.

Following extensive technical discussions and testing on Earth, engineers proved that a new printed circuit board, with the same form and function but built using modern and available components, could be the solution.

Full house on the Space Station

Teams in Russia and Europe considered upgrading the computer boards directly by an astronaut on the Space Station in weightlessness – the equivalent of open heart surgery on Earth! This was no easy task to demonstrate, considering the computers were not designed for maintenance on orbit and the units were closed with small screws, sometimes even glued in place.

Much like preparing for a spacewalk, engineers and Russian cosmonauts practiced and demonstrated the process on Earth to ensure the operations were feasible and could be performed in space without risk.

Convinced that this approach would work new computer boards were ordered in 2015 and sent to the Space Station in 2018.

Space transplant

Waiting for the new mainboards to reach the Space Station, a failed computer was kept on-orbit. When the new parts and trained astronauts arrived teams decided to use a failed unit as a test case.

Data Management System space upgrade

In January 2019 the older board was replaced with the new stock. At that time cosmonauts confirmed that the computer had survived the operation but were not yet certain that it was fully fit. Crew time in space is scarce and the teams planned to wait for the next failure before installing the computer that had undergone a heart transplant and fully check it. Last month one of the old computers had problems and so it was removed and replaced with the new unit.

All is now confirmed to be working properly, with great satisfaction to the personnel at RSC-Energia, Airbus and ESA. This solution requires less costly transport to Earth orbit as only the boards need to be swapped instead of the whole units – the repair time is now reduced from six months to a few days.

Future missions

This kind of behind-the-scenes work is the type that does not get much attention unless something goes wrong, but the new approach is needed as humans explore farther into our Solar System, starting on the Gateway, where supplies from Earth are not readily available.

International Space Station in 2018

Maintenance on the International Space Station demonstrates the experience and design knowledge needed to support future missions while ensuring more sustainable operations – a win-win situation.

Gateway and Moon

Related links:

Human and Robotic Exploration:

Science & Exploration:

International Space Station (ISS):

Images, Text, Credits: ESA/NASA/Roscosmos/ATG Medialab.

Best regards,