samedi 16 avril 2022

China Space Station - The Shenzhou-13 crew back to Earth


CMS - China Manned Space logo.

April 16, 2022

The Shenzhou-13 crew spacecraft undock from CSS

The Shenzhou-13 crew spacecraft successfully undocked from the radial port of the Tianhe Core Module (天和核心舱) on 15 April 2022, at 16:44 (16 April, at 00:44 China Standard Time).

Shenzhou-13 undocking

The Shenzhou-13 (神舟十三) crew, astronauts Zhai Zhigang (commander), Ye Guangfu and Wang Yaping, completed the first six-month mission on the China Space Station (中国空间站). The Shenzhou-13 spacecraft is expected to land at the Dongfeng landing site, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, north China, on 16 April 2022.

Shenzhou-13 landing

The Shenzhou-13 spacecraft has landed at the Dongfeng landing site, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, north China, on 16 April 2022, at 01:55 (09:55 China Standard Time).

Shenzhou-13 landing

The Shenzhou-13 (神舟十三) crew, astronauts Zhai Zhigang (commander), Ye Guangfu and Wang Yaping, completed the first six-month mission on the China Space Station (中国空间站).

Shenzhou-13 astronauts (taikonauts) egress

The Shenzhou-13 crew was successfully recovered after landing t the Dongfeng landing site, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, north China, on 16 April 2022, at 01:55 (09:55 China Standard Time).

Shenzhou-13 astronauts egress

The Shenzhou-13 (神舟十三) crew, astronauts Zhai Zhigang (commander), Ye Guangfu and Wang Yaping, completed the first six-month mission on the China Space Station (中国空间站).

Related articles & link:

China Space Station (CSS) - Tianzhou-2 undocking and departure

CSS - Robotic Arm Transposition Test on China Space Station

China Space Station - Shenzhou-13 astronauts complete second spacewalk

China Space Station - Shenzhou-13 mission’s second spacewalk begins

China Space Station - Shenzhou-13 crew space lecture highlights

China Space Station - Shenzhou-13 astronauts complete first spacewalk

China Space Station - Astronaut Wang Yaping begins first spacewalk

What’s next for the China Space Station (CSS)

China Space Station (CSS) - Shenzhou-13 hatch opening

China Space Station - Shenzhou-13 mission

For more information about China National Space Administration (CNSA), visit:

Images, Videos, Text, Credits: China Media Group(CMG)/China Central Television (CCTV)/China National Space Administration (CNSA)/SciNews/ Aerospace/Roland Berga.

Best regards,

CASC - Long March-4C launches AEMS


CASC - China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation logo.

April 16, 2022

Long March-4C carrying AEMS liftoff

A Long March-4C launch vehicle launched the Atmospheric Environment Monitoring Satellite (AEMS) from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center, Shanxi Province, northern China, 15 April 2022, at 18:16 UTC (16 April, at 02:16 local time).

Long March-4C launches AEMS

According to official sources, the satellite has entered the desired orbit. AEMS, also known as Daqi-1 (大气一号, Atmosphere-1), is described as “the world’s first satellite with CO₂ laser detection capability” that can “realize all-day and high-precision detection of carbon dioxide”.

For more information about China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), visit:

Image, Video, Text, Credits: China Media Group(CMG)/China Central Television (CCTV)/China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC)/SciNews/ Aerospace/Roland Berga.


vendredi 15 avril 2022

Station Looks to Spacewalk, Crew Departure and Arrival


ISS - Expedition 67 Mission patch.

April 15, 2022

The Expedition 67 crew is heading into a busy period next week that begins with a Russian spacewalk, followed by the departure of four private astronauts and the launch of the SpaceX Crew-4 mission. Meanwhile, the residents aboard the International Space Station continued a broad array of research to understand what happens to the human body during a long-term space flight.

Two cosmonauts are getting ready for Monday’s spacewalk set to begin at 10:25 a.m. EDT to activate the European Robotic Arm (ERA) on the outside of the Nauka multipurpose laboratory module. Roscosmos Flight Engineers Oleg Artemyev and Denis Matveev will go into the weekend reviewing their procedures planned for the six-and-a-half-hour spacewalk. On Monday, the duo will exit the Poisk module, translate to Nauka, and install the ERA control panel and other components on the outside of the orbiting lab’s Russian segment.

Image above: Cosmonauts Anton Shkaplerov (left) and Pyotr Dubrov (right) work to outfit the Nauka multipurpose laboratory module during a seven-hour and 11-minute spacewalk Jan. 19, 2022. Image Credit: NASA.

The next day, four Axiom Mission 1 (Ax-1) astronauts will end their space research and education mission aboard the orbiting lab. Commander Michael Lopez-Alegria will lead Pilot Larry Connor and Mission Specialists Eytan Stibbe and Mark Pathy inside Space Dragon Endeavour when they undock from the Harmony module’s space-facing port on Tuesday at 10:35 a.m. The private foursome will splashdown off the coast of Florida on Wednesday morning completing a 12-day mission in space.

The Ax-1 quartet had a packed schedule on Friday conducting a host of microgravity science. Lopez-Alegria and Connor took turns scanning each other’s heart using the Ultrasound 2 device for the Cardioprotection study. Stibbe explored genetic identification and tested the comfort of a specialized radiation protection vest. Pathy continued his Earth photography sessions while also testing a different vest that monitors vital signs in real-time while an astronaut comfortably works on the station.

Image above: The SpaceX Dragon Endeavour crew ship that carried four Axiom Mission 1 astronauts to the space station is pictured docked to the Harmony module. Image Credit: NASA.

The four Expedition 67 astronauts from NASA and ESA (European Space Agency) continued their complement of space research and lab maintenance while assisting the Ax-1 crew. Commander Tom Marshburn scanned the eyes of Pathy using medical imaging gear to understand how weightlessness affects an astronaut’s vision. Flight Engineer Raja Chari packed cargo inside the SpaceX Dragon Endurance and inspected the vehicle’s hatch while NASA Flight Engineer Kayla Barron spent Friday cleaning crew quarters and performing orbital plumbing duties. Astronaut Matthias Maurer videotaped an educational event for German students demonstrating the CIMON mobile artificial intelligence companion.

Finally, four SpaceX Crew-4 astronauts are in quarantine counting down to a liftoff aboard the Dragon Freedom crew ship from Florida at 5:26 a.m. EDT on April 23. Commander Kjell Lindgren will lead Pilot Robert Hines and Mission Specialists Jessica Watkins and Samantha Cristoforetti on a ride to the station’s Harmony module where they will dock just over 24 hours later.

Related articles:

NASA Coverage Set for Axiom Mission 1 Departure from Space Station

Coverage Set for NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 Briefing, Events, Broadcast

Related links:

Expedition 67:

Nauka multipurpose laboratory module:

Poisk module:

Ultrasound 2:


Genetic identification:

Specialized radiation protection vest:

Vest that monitors vital signs:

Astronaut’s vision:


Harmony module:

Space Station Research and Technology:

International Space Station (ISS):

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

Best regards,

Return of Russia to the Moon: the details of the mission that will land in 2022



April 15, 2022

During a visit to Belarus, Vladimir Putin explained Russia's wishes regarding space exploration. The Russian president announced a return to the Moon in 2022 with the Luna 25 robotic mission, from which the ESA withdrew a few days ago.

Image above:  An artist's depiction of a lunar lander in Russia's second-generation Luna program. Image credit: Roscosmos.

Space exploration is taking on the appearance of the Cold War. On April 12, Vladimir Putin made his first outing from Moscow since the start of the war in Ukraine, on February 24, 2022. He was visiting his Belarusian counterpart, Alexander Lukashenko, the two heads of state making a televised intervention since the Vostotchny cosmodrome, in the east of Russia.

On this highly symbolic date, marking the 61st anniversary of the first manned space flight by Yuri Gagarin, Vladimir Putin wanted to recall the importance of Russia in the field of space conquest and announced the return of lunar missions from 2022. The agency space Roscosmos should coordinate the Luna 25 mission, a robotic scientific mission to study the Moon. It will be the first Russian probe to land on our natural satellite since 1976 and the Luna 24 mission.

Image above: Landing of the Luna 25 probe which would mark the return of Russia to the Moon. Image Credit: Roscosmos.

Back to the future

Russian news agency RIA Novosti revealed on April 8 that Roscosmos plans to launch the Luna 25 probe on August 22, 2022. If the mission has already experienced delays, Vladimir Putin reportedly asked the space agency's director general, Dmitry Rogozin , that the probe will be ready before September according to the Tass news agency. Luna 25 could effectively mean a return of Russia to the aerospace field, the sector having suffered a deep economic crisis induced by the collapse of the Soviet bloc in 1991.

The first sketches for Luna 25 emerged in 1997. The project, then called "Luna Glob", was formalized in 2005 and the probe was to take off for the Moon in 2012. But as the delays followed, the failure of the mission Martian Fobos-Grunt leads to a postponement of Luna 25 to 2016. Luna 25 will be launched from the Vostotchny cosmodrome with a Soyuz 2.1b and will land near the South Pole after five days of travel.

Image above: The Soyuz 2.1b rocket will send the Luna 25 probe to the Moon. Image Credits: Roscosmos, A. Morgunov.

Once on the Moon, Luna 25 will engage in various experiments on the lunar soil. The main objectives relate to the analysis of the regolith, covering the entire surface of the Moon with a layer of white dust. The probe will also be able to observe the thermal variations of the regolith in the region, which could provide clues to researchers on the potential presence of water in the inner layers of the Moon.

Russia goes it alone

The Luna 25 mission was to take place in collaboration with the European Space Agency (ESA), but the war triggered by Russia got the better of scientific collaborations between this country and Western space institutions. On April 13, the ESA declared it was withdrawing from Luna missions 25, 26 and 27. A new setback, while the ExoMars mission also suffered the wrath of geopolitical tensions with Russia and will surely not leave in 2022.

Image above: From 2026, China should begin the construction of a permanent lunar base, in collaboration with Russia. Image Credit: Chinese National Space Administration (CNSA).

It is difficult to predict whether Roscosmos will meet its deadlines and succeed in launching Luna 25 in August. Most specialists agree that landing on the Moon is a perilous task. But the Luna 25 mission is of major importance for Russia, and could be a first milestone for cooperation with China on the construction of the permanent lunar base, the International Lunar Research Station (ILRS), which should start in 2026.


Images (mentioned), Text, Credits: ROSCOSMOS/ Aerospace/Roland Berga.


Hubble Snaps a Spectacular Spiral


NASA - Hubble Space Telescope patch.

April 15, 2022

The spiral galaxy M91 fills the frame of this Wide Field Camera 3 observation from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. M91 lies approximately 55 million light-years from Earth in the constellation Coma Berenices and – as is evident in this image – is a barred spiral galaxy. While M91’s prominent bar makes for a spectacular galactic portrait, it also hides an astronomical monstrosity. Like our own galaxy, M91 contains a supermassive black hole at its center. A 2009 study using archival Hubble data found that this central black hole weighs somewhere between 9.6 and 38 million times as much as the Sun.

While archival Hubble data allowed astronomers to weigh M91’s central black hole, more recent observations have had other scientific aims. This observation is part of an effort to build a treasure trove of astronomical data exploring the connections between young stars and the clouds of cold gas in which they form. To do this, astronomers used Hubble to obtain ultraviolet and visible observations of galaxies already seen at radio wavelengths by the ground-based Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array.

Observing time with Hubble is a highly valued, and much sought-after, resource for astronomers. To obtain data from the telescope, astronomers first have to write a proposal detailing what they want to observe and highlighting the scientific importance of their observations. These proposals are then anonymized and judged on their scientific merit by a variety of astronomical experts. This process is incredibly competitive: Following Hubble’s latest call for proposals, only around 13% of the proposals were awarded observing time.

Hubble Space Telescope (HST)

Are you interested in finding out what Hubble is observing right now? You can follow the space telescope’s observations in real time here:

For more information about Hubble, visit:

Text Credits: European Space Agency (ESA)/NASA/Andrea Gianopoulos/Image, Animation Credits: ESA/Hubble & NASA, J. Lee and the PHANGS-HST Team.

Best regards,

Space Station Science Highlights: Week of April 11, 2022


ISS - Expedition 67 Mission patch.

April 15, 2022

Crew members aboard the International Space Station conducted scientific investigations during the week of April 11 that included studying solidification of transparent alloys, testing hydrogen sensors for the station’s oxygen generation system, and ongoing collection of data on changes in body composition during spaceflight. The Axiom Mission-1 (Ax-1) crew – former NASA astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegria, Larry Connor, Eytan Stibbe, and Mark Pathy – arrived at the station on Saturday, April 9.

Image above: The southwest coast of Australia is pictured from the International Space Station as it orbits 263 miles above the Indian Ocean. Image Credit: NASA.

The space station, continuously inhabited by humans for 21 years, has supported many scientific breakthroughs. A robust microgravity laboratory with dozens of research facilities and tools, the station supports investigations spanning every major scientific discipline, conveying benefits to future space exploration and advancing basic and applied research on Earth. The orbiting lab also provides a platform for a growing commercial presence in low-Earth orbit that includes research, satellite services, and in-space manufacturing.

Here are details on some of the microgravity investigations currently taking place:

Looking inside alloys

Transparent Alloys - METCOMP, an investigation from ESA (European Space Agency), studies the timing of the formation of layered structures during solidification of an alloy. Alloys are mixtures of different metals, and certain combinations can make lighter, stronger, and even self-healing materials. Metals are not transparent, so to observe the solidification process, researchers are using specific organic materials that solidify like a metal yet remain transparent. Alloys are used in a wide variety of applications from smartphones to aircraft, and lighter, stronger versions could benefit consumers and industry. During the week, crew members installed the hardware and sample cartridges in the Microgravity Science Glovebox (MSG) for operation of the experiment.

Image above: NASA astronaut Kayla Barron works stowing items aboard the space station. Image Credit: NASA.

Every breath you take

OGA H2 Sensor Demo tests new sensors for the space station’s oxygen generation system. This system produces breathable oxygen via electrolysis and has sensors to ensure that hydrogen does not enter the cabin. However, these sensors are sensitive to humidity and drift over time, which limits their operational life. Results could provide more stable and durable replacement sensors, reducing the number of spare parts needed on longer space missions such as to the Moon or Mars. Improved technology for monitoring oxygen generation systems also has potential applications in contained environments on Earth, such as underwater facilities and those in remote and dangerous conditions. Crew members installed hardware for the investigation during the week.

Monitoring body mass

Astronauts experience changes during long-duration spaceflight that can include bone and muscle loss and reduction of body mass. The ESA NutrISS investigation assesses changes in an individual’s body composition and energy balance throughout spaceflight. Results could provide insight into what causes these changes and lead to ways to improve physical health and quality of life for astronauts during and after their flight. The investigation also could contribute to better clinical management of malnourished, obese, or immobilized patients on Earth. During the week, a crew member prepped for collection of data, which occurs roughly once a month.

Image above: Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus space freighter is pictured attached to the Unity module. Lower center in front of Cygnus is the Rassvet module's docking port, behind Cygnus at left is the Columbus laboratory module, and at right is the Kibo laboratory module. Image Credit: NASA.

Other investigations involving the crew:

- Vascular Aging, a Canadian Space Agency (CSA) investigation, collects data on vascular changes in astronauts. Results could support development of ways to reduce the potential health risks to crew members as well as guide prevention measures and treatments for the effects of aging on Earth.

- Students across Europe use two augmented Raspberry Pi computers aboard the space station for AstroPi, an education program coordinated by ESA. The program helps motivate students to study science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

- Myotones, an investigation from ESA, observes properties of muscles such as tone and stiffness during long-term spaceflight. Results could lead to the development of new countermeasures for muscle changes on future space missions as well as alternative rehabilitation treatments on Earth.

- For ESA’s CalliopEO, German school children write software to run experiments on a Calliope mini-computer aboard the space station. The experience helps motivate students to pursue science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields and become the next generation of explorers.

- Actiwatch is a wearable monitor that continuously collects data on a crew member’s circadian rhythms, sleep-wake patterns, and activity during flight, beginning as soon as possible after arrival aboard the station.

- Standard Measures collects a set of core measurements from astronauts before, during, and after long-duration missions to create a data repository to monitor and interpret how humans adapt to living in space.

Space to Ground: A New Chapter: 04/15/2022

Related links:

Expedition 67:

Transparent Alloys - METCOMP:

OGA H2 Sensor Demo:


ISS National Lab:

Spot the Station:

Space Station Research and Technology:

International Space Station (ISS):

Images (mentioned), Video (NASA), Text, Credits: NASA/Carrie Gilder/John Love, ISS Research Planning Integration Scientist Expedition 67.

Best regards,

CASC - Long March-3B launches ZhongXing-6D (ChinaSat-6D)


CASC - China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation logo.

April 15, 2022

Long March-3B carrying ZhongXing-6D liftoff

A Long March-3B rocket launched the ZhongXing-6D satellite from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center, Sichuan Province, southwest China, on 15 April 2022, at 12:00 UTC (20:00 local time).

Long March-3B launches ZhongXing-6D (ChinaSat-6D)

ZhongXing-6D (中星6D, also known as ChinaSat-6D) is a communications satellite designed to “provide reliable, stable and safe radio and television transmission and communication services”, replacing the ZhongXing-6A satellite launched in 2010.

ZhongXing-6D (ChinaSat-6D) satellite

For more information about China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), visit:

Images, Video, Text, Credits: China Media Group(CMG)/China Central Television (CCTV)/China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC)/SciNews/Günter's Space Page/ Aerospace/Roland Berga.


NASA Selects Proposals to Enable Manufacturing In Space for Earth


ISS - International Space Station emblem.

April 15, 2022

Following a decade of assembly of the International Space Station and the subsequent decade of research onboard the ISS National Lab, NASA moves boldly into the decade of results with the award of new and promising technologies for in-space manufacturing of advanced materials and products for use on Earth. With more than 21 years of continuous occupation, the International Space Station continues to demonstrate the benefits of microgravity not just for discovery but for the development of new technologies and products that have the potential to improve the quality of life on Earth.

Image above: NASA Astronaut and Expedition 64 Flight Engineer Victor Glover poses for a portrait in front of the Microgravity Science Glovebox (MSG) located in the International Space Station's U.S. Destiny laboratory module. The MSG supports a wide variety of space studies exploring everything from biology to physics. Image Credit: NASA.

Decades of microgravity research have laid the foundation for U.S. industry to demonstrate the unique market value of in-space manufacturing, technology advancement, and drug development with the help of NASA’s investment in dedicated transportation and research time for ISS National Laboratory investigations. To date, NASA has provided seed money in excess of $38 million for more than a dozen technologies to enable innovative companies to mature their concepts and stimulate demand for future markets. The awards are a key element of NASA’s goal to develop a robust economy in low-Earth orbit where NASA will be one of many customers.

NASA has selected additional proposals to enable U.S. businesses, institutions of higher learning, and other organizations to raise the technological readiness level of their manufacturing technologies and products, move them to market, and to propel U.S. industry toward developing a sustainable, scalable, and profitable non-NASA demand for products and services in low-Earth orbit.

“NASA is excited to begin collaboration with these new partners in our efforts to enable development of a robust commercial economy in low-Earth orbit,” said Kevin Engelbert, In Space Production Applications portfolio manager. “Enabling proof-of-concept demonstrations on the International Space Station National Lab is a first step towards future production of important new materials and products that will benefit people everywhere on Earth, while strengthening U.S. leadership in advanced materials and manufacturing in space.”

NASA selected the following eight proposals submitted in response to Focus Area 1A of the NASA Research Announcement(NRA) seeking In Space Production Applications (InSPA) flight demonstrations:

- Biomanufacturing of Drug-Delivery Medical Devices, Auxilium Biotechnologies, Inc., San Diego, California

- Expansion of Hematopoietic Stem Cells for Clinical Application, BioServe Space Technologies and the University of Colorado, Boulder

- Establishing Production of Stem Cell Therapies, Cedars-Sinai Regenerative Medicine Institute, Los Angeles

- Fabrication of FlawlessGlass in Microgravity, Flawless Photonics, Inc., Los Altos Hills, California

- Volumetric Additive Manufacturing for Organ Production, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Livermore, California

- Pharmaceutical In-space Laboratory (PIL), Redwire Corporation Inc., Greenville, Indiana

- Biomimetic Fabrication of Multifunctional DNA-inspired Nanomaterials, University of Connecticut, Storrs, Connecticut

- Semimetal-Semiconductor Composite Bulk Crystals, United Semiconductors, LLC, Los Alamitos, California

The selected proposals have a total award value of up to $21 million through fiscal year 2025, depending on milestones achieved.

Auxilium Biotechnologies, Inc. of San Diego has been selected for its proposal to develop a second-generation drug-delivery medical device to more effectively treat people who have sustained traumatic peripheral nerve injury. Auxilium’s Gen 1.0 NeuroSpan Bridge is a biomimetic nerve regeneration device that guides and accelerates nerve regeneration, eliminating the need for a patient to sacrifice a nerve in the leg to repair a nerve in the arm or face. Auxilium will use its expertise in fast, high-resolution 3D-printing to adapt its proprietary platform to a Gen 2.0 3D-print device in microgravity by adding novel drug delivery nanoparticles with the potential to substantially accelerate regeneration and improve functional outcomes for people on Earth.

BioServe Space Technologies and The University of Colorado of Boulder, Colorado, in collaboration with the Mayo Clinic, ClinImmune Cell and Gene Therapy (University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus), RheumaGen, and with support from Sierra Space has been selected for their proposal to develop a specialized bioreactor that will produce large populations of Hematopoietic Stem Cells (HSCs) in microgravity to treat serious medical conditions including blood cancers (leukemias, lymphomas, multiple myeloma), blood disorders, severe immune diseases, and certain autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis. Expansion of HSCs in microgravity is expected to result in greater stem cell expansion with less cell differentiation than is seen in 1g. If successful, the technology may enable safe and effective cell therapy transplantation, especially in children and younger adults, where long-term bone marrow cell repopulation is critical to the patient’s lifetime health.

Cedars-Sinai Regenerative Medicine Institute, located in Los Angeles, in partnership with Axiom Space of Houston has been selected for proposing to use cutting-edge methods related to the production and differentiation of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) on the International Space Station. Cedars-Sinai will explore in-space production of stem cells into heart, brain, and blood tissues in support of regenerative medicine uses on Earth. While stem cells and stem cell-derived tissues hold great promise for use in research and as clinical-grade therapeutic agents, safe and efficient expansion of stem cells and their derivatives continues to be a major challenge on Earth. Generating, expanding, and differentiating cells at scale in the microgravity environment of space with sufficient yields of a constant therapeutic cell product that meets FDA biologics requirements may be the answer to overcome those challenges.

Flawless Photonics, Inc. of Los Altos Hills, California, in partnership with the University of Adelaide, Axiom Space, and Visioneering Space has been selected for their proposal to develop specialized glass manufacturing hardware to process Heavy-Metal Fluoride Glasses (HMFG) in microgravity. HMFG glasses are used in the terrestrial manufacturing of exotic optical fibers and other optics applications. Without convective forces present in 1g, HMFG made in microgravity are expected to achieve the ideal amorphous microstructure during synthesis, eliminating light scattering defects that limit lasing power and transmission over long fiber lengths.

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, located in Livermore, California, in partnership with Space Tango, has been selected for their proposal to adapt their terrestrial volumetric 3D bioprinting device for use in microgravity to demonstrate production of artificial cartilage tissue in space. The Volumetric Additive Manufacturing (VAM) technology is a revolutionary, ultra-rapid 3D printing method that solidifies a complete 3D structure from a photosensitive liquid resin in minutes. Because of the absence of settling and gravity-driven buoyancy and convective flows in the prepolymer, the cartilage tissues manufactured and matured in microgravity are expected to have superior structural, organizational, and mechanical properties suitable for use in long-term tissue repair and replacement.

Volumetric Additive Manufacturing (VAM)

Redwire Corporation Inc. of Greenville, Indiana, has been selected for its proposal to produce small, uniform crystals as stable seed batches for pharmaceutical and institutional research customers seeking improvements/refinements in product purification, formulation and/or delivery using crystalline formulations. Their Pharmaceutical In-space Laboratory Bio-crystal Optimization Xperiment (PIL-BOX) Dynamic Microscopy Cassette (DMC) will be capable of testing multiple crystallization conditions and providing samples to be returned to Earth for analysis. When grown in microgravity, crystals are produced more uniformly and have very low size coefficients of variation thereby allowing a more stable crystal growth, high concentration, and low viscosity parenteral formulation. The proposed innovation will provide manufacturing services to companies, institutions, and agencies pursuing uniform crystallization research.

The University of Connecticut out of Storrs, Connecticut, in partnership with Eascra Biotech of Boston, Massachusetts and Axiom Space of Houston, has been selected for their proposed biomimetic fabrication of multifunctional nanomaterials, a cutting-edge breakthrough in biomedicine that can benefit from microgravity in space to accomplish controlled self-assembly of DNA-inspired Janus base nanomaterials (JBNs). These JBNs will be used as effective, safe and stable delivery vehicles for RNA therapeutics and vaccines, as well as first-in-kind injectable scaffolds for regenerative medicine. By leveraging the benefits of microgravity, the UConn/Eascra team expects to mature in-space production of different types of JBNs with more orderly structures and higher homogeneity over what is possible using terrestrial materials, improving efficacy for mRNA therapeutics and structural integrity for cartilage tissue repair.

United Semiconductors of Los Alamitos, California, has been selected for their proposal to produce semimetal-semiconductor composite bulk crystals commonly used in electromagnetic sensors for solving challenges in the energy, high performance computing and national security sectors. Together with teammates Axiom Space of Houston and Redwire of Greenville, Indiana, United Semiconductors intends to validate the scaling and efficacy of producing larger semimetal-semiconductor composite crystals under microgravity conditions with perfectly aligned and continuous semimetal wires embedded across the semiconductor matrix. If successful at eliminating defects found in those manufactured with terrestrial materials, United Semiconductors will have developed a processing technology for creating device-ready wafers from space-grown crystals.

In addition to the awards above, NASA made awards for a global market study and programmatic support of the InSPA portfolio:

- Analyzing Global Competition and U.S. Leadership in Low-Earth Orbit Commercialization of In-Space Production Applications, The Institute for Defense Analyses Science & Technology Policy Institute, Washington, D.C.

- NASA In Space Production Applications (InSPA) Portfolio Support, The Aerospace Corporation, El Segundo, California

The Aerospace Corporation, headquartered in El Segundo, California, was tasked through the NASA-Wide Specialized Engineering, Evaluation and Test Services (NSEETS) contract to provide technical and business expertise and analysis in support of NASA’s evaluation of InSPA proposals. The Aerospace team will provide continued support from subject matter experts in their fields of study during planning, preparation, and execution of the demonstrations on the International Space Station, and also assist NASA with implementation of InSPA program initiatives and lifecycle assessments for selected technologies.

The Institute for Defense Analyses (IDA), headquartered in Alexandria, Virginia, was tasked to help inform NASA’s strategy and plans for enabling in-space manufacturing by studying global competition and the potential impact on U.S. leadership in key technology areas. IDA’s Science and Technology Policy Institute (STPI) will analyze the current and future capabilities, investments, and policies of space-faring nations related to on-orbit manufacturing of advanced materials and products to better inform the priorities for U.S. Government investments in InSPA towards developing a commercial low-Earth Orbit economy.

Related links:

In Space Production Applications (InSPA):

Space Station Research and Technology:

International Space Station (ISS):

Image (mentioned), Graphic, Text, Credits: NASA/Carrie Gilder/Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.


jeudi 14 avril 2022

Station Ramps Up for Crew Swap and Spacewalk Preps


ISS - Expedition 67 Mission patch.

April 14, 2022

NASA and SpaceX are preparing for a Commercial Crew swap taking place this month at the International Space Station. Meanwhile, the Axiom Mission 1 (Ax-1) astronauts are staying busy as two cosmonauts gear up for a pair of spacewalks outside the orbiting lab’s Russian segment.

Two Commercial Crew missions are getting ready to trade places on the orbiting lab by the end of April. The four SpaceX-Crew-4 astronauts are in quarantine counting down to liftoff aboard the Dragon Freedom crew ship from Florida at 5:26 a.m. EDT on April 23. Commander Kjell Lindgren will lead Pilot Robert Hines and Mission Specialists Jessica Watkins and Samantha Cristoforetti on a ride to the station’s Harmony module where they will dock just over 24 hours later.

Image above: The Sun’s light glints off the Atlantic Ocean in this photograph from the International Space Station as it orbited 262 miles above. Image Credit: NASA.

The new quartet will replace the SpaceX Crew-3 astronauts who are due to leave the station at the end of April inside the Dragon Endeavor crew ship. Commander Raja Chari, Pilot Tom Marshburn and Mission Specialists Kayla Barron and Matthias Maurer will splashdown off the coast of Florida after living and working nearly six months in space.

The four Ax-1 crew members continue to focus on their busy slate of space research ahead of their undocking planned for next week. Former NASA astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegria partnered with Pilot Larry Connors and analyzed human cells for the Aging and Heart Health study. The duo also joined Mission Specialist Eytan Stibbe from Israel taking turns wearing a headset that monitors cognitive performance and brain activity in weightlessness. Mission Specialist Mark Pathy from Canada spent some time in the cupola photographing landmarks on Earth.

ISS flying above the Earth. Animation Credits: ISS HD Live / Aerospace

Two cosmonauts are ramping up their preparations for a pair of spacewalks set for April 18 and April 28. Roscosmos Flight Engineers Oleg Artemyev and Denis Matveev are reviewing procedures they will use to activate the European Robotic Arm outside the Nauka multipurpose laboratory module during both excursions. Roscosmos Flight Engineer Sergey Korsakov spent the day helping the cosmonauts get ready for their spacewalks.

Related articles:

NASA Sets Coverage for Russian Spacewalks Outside Space Station

Coverage Set for NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 Briefing, Events, Broadcast

Related links:

Expedition 67:

Commercial Crew:

Aging and Heart Health:

Brain activity:


Nauka multipurpose laboratory module:

Space Station Research and Technology:

International Space Station (ISS):

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

Best regards,

Artemis I WDR Update: Teams Working Solution to Continue Propellant Loading Operations


NASA - Artemis Exploration Mission 1 patch.

April 14, 2022

Following the completion of slow fill for liquid hydrogen (LH2), teams encountered an issue when they started fast fill operations for LH2. After fast fill on LH2 began, a surge in pressure automatically stopped the flow of liquid hydrogen. Teams are working to troubleshoot this issue and the rocket is in a safe configuration. In the meantime, liquid oxygen flow was paused on the core stage to ensure the tanking operations for LOX and LH2 remain synchronized.

Image above: NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket with the Orion spacecraft aboard is seen atop a mobile launcher at Launch Complex 39B, Monday, April 4, 2022, as the Artemis I launch team conducts the wet dress rehearsal test at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Ahead of NASA’s Artemis I flight test, the wet dress rehearsal will run the Artemis I launch team through operations to load propellant, conduct a full launch countdown, demonstrate the ability to recycle the countdown clock, and drain the tanks to practice timelines and procedures for launch. Image Credits: NASA/Joel Kowsky.

After fast fill resumes for liquid hydrogen to the core stage, teams will load minimal cryogenic propellants on the interim cryogenic propulsion stage. Because of an issue with a helium check valve found several days ago, teams will chill down the lines used to load propellant into the upper stage but not flow any actual propellant to the stage.

The clock is continuing to count down for now, and the team will work to re-synchronize the operations timeline and clock during a planned T-10-minute hold at which point the launch team will establish a new T-0.


Artemis is the first step in the next era of human exploration. Together with commercial and international partners, NASA will establish a sustainable presence on the Moon to prepare for missions to Mars.

Related articles:

Artemis I Update: Countdown is Underway for Wet Dress Rehearsal

NASA Prepares for Next Artemis I Wet Dress Rehearsal Attempt

Artemis I WDR Update: Go to Proceed for Tanking – Countdown Resumes

NASA ‘Go’ for Artemis I Wet Dress Rehearsal

Standing tall: Moon rocket milestone for Artemis

NASA Readies Rocket for Artemis I Wet Dress Rehearsal

Related links:

Space Launch System (SLS):

Orion spacecraft:

Artemis I:

Image (mentioned), Text, Credit: NASA.


mercredi 13 avril 2022

Science, Spacewalks Preps Underway as Crew-4 Targets Launch


ISS - Expedition 67 Mission patch.

April 13, 2022

It was a very busy day aboard the International Space Station as the 11-person crew focused on human research experiments and spacewalk preparations. Back on Earth, four Commercial Crew astronauts are in quarantine ahead of their planned to launch to the orbiting lab in less than two weeks.

Image above: Expedition 67 Commander Thomas Marshburn configures hardware for material flammability and fire safety experiment. Image Credit: NASA.

Expedition 67 Commander Tom Marshburn of NASA began his day continuing to explore how living in space affects cellular aging and cardiac cells. Afterward, he moved on and assisted the four Axiom Mission 1 astronauts with their packed schedule of microgravity research. Flight Engineers Kayla Barron of NASA and Matthias Maurer of ESA (European Space Agency) collected and stowed their blood samples in the morning for an ongoing muscle biochemical properties study.

International Space Station (ISS). Animation Credit: NASA

Next, Barron serviced a diverse array of research hardware throughout the day including the Life Science Glovebox, a mixed-reality headset, and finally a science freezer. Maurer set up acoustic monitoring hardware before powering up the CIMON mobile artificial intelligence companion for a technology demonstration.

NASA Flight Engineer Raja Chari configured a commercial microscope that can be operated on the station and remotely from the ground to streamline imaging and analysis for a variety of space research. Chari then turned his attention to departure preparations for he and his SpaceX Crew-3 crewmates at the end of the month before wrapping up the day with orbital plumbing activities.

Image above: Cosmonauts Anton Shkaplerov (left) and Pyotr Dubrov (right) work to outfit the Nauka multipurpose laboratory module during a seven-hour and 11-minute spacewalk Jan. 19, 2022. Image Credit: NASA.

Two spacewalks with cosmonauts Oleg Artemyev and Denis Matveev are currently scheduled for April 18 and 28. Today, the duo was joined by fellow cosmonaut Sergey Korsakov and reviewed the procedures the spacewalkers will use during both excursions to ready the Nauka multipurpose laboratory module for the European Robotic Arm (ERA).

The four Axiom Mission 1 astronauts had a full day of space science and commercial and private activities. Commander Michael Lopez-Alegria resumed his cancer research while Pilot Larry Connor continued testing a miniature antenna. Mission Specialists Eytan Stibbe and Mark Pathy were back exploring brain dynamics and transmitting 3D images of humans to space.

Image above: NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 astronauts participate in a training session at SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, CA. From left to right: NASA astronaut and SpaceX Crew-4 mission specialist Jessica Watkins; NASA astronaut and SpaceX Crew-4 pilot Robert “Bob” Hines; NASA astronaut and SpaceX Crew-4 commander Kjell Lindgren; and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut and Crew-4 mission specialist Samantha Cristoforetti of Italy. Photo credit: NASA.

The next Commercial Crew mission to the orbiting lab, SpaceX Crew-4, is now targeted to launch on April 23 at 5:26 a.m. EDT. The mission’s four astronauts, including Commander Kjell Lindgren, Pilot Robert Hines, and Mission Specialists Jessica Watkins and Samantha Cristoforetti, have entered their quarantine period to ensure their health and protect the crew aboard the orbiting lab.

Related articles:

NASA Sets Coverage for Russian Spacewalks Outside Space Station

NASA and SpaceX Adjust the Agency’s Crew-4 Launch Date

Related links:

Expedition 67:

Cellular aging and cardiac cells:

Muscle biochemical properties:

Life Science Glovebox:

Mixed-reality headset:

Science freezer:

Acoustic monitoring:


Commercial microscope:

Nauka multipurpose laboratory module:

Cancer research:

Miniature antenna:

Brain dynamics:

3D images of humans:

Space Station Research and Technology:

International Space Station (ISS):

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

Best regards,

Space Butterfly


NASA - Spitzer Space Telescope patch.

April 13, 2022

What looks like a red butterfly in space is in reality a nursery for hundreds of baby stars, revealed in this infrared image from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope. Officially named W40, the butterfly is a nebula – a giant cloud of gas and dust in space where new stars may form. The butterfly's "wings" are giant bubbles of hot, interstellar gas blowing from the hottest, most massive stars in this region.

The material that forms W40's wings was ejected from a dense cluster of stars that lies between the wings in the image. The hottest, most massive of these stars, W40 IRS 1a, lies near the center of the star cluster.

W40 is about 1,400 light-years from the Sun, about the same distance as the well-known Orion nebula, although the two are almost 180 degrees apart in the sky.

Spitzer Space Telescope

Spitzer Space Telescope:
Image, Animation Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Text Credits: NASA/Yvette Smith.


Webb Telescope’s Coldest Instrument Reaches Operating Temperature


NASA / ESA / CSA-ASC - James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) patch.

April 13, 2022

NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope will see the first galaxies to form after the big bang, but to do that its instruments first need to get cold – really cold. On April 7, Webb’s Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI) – a joint development by NASA and ESA (European Space Agency) – reached its final operating temperature below 7 kelvins (minus 447 degrees Fahrenheit, or minus 266 degrees Celsius).

Image above: In this illustration, the multilayered sunshield on NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope stretches out beneath the observatory’s honeycomb mirror. The sunshield is the first step in cooling down Webb’s infrared instruments, but the Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI) requires additional help to reach its operating temperature. Image Credits: NASA GSFC/CIL/Adriana Manrique Gutierrez.

Along with Webb’s three other instruments, MIRI initially cooled off in the shade of Webb’s tennis-court-size sunshield, dropping to about 90 kelvins (minus 298 F, or minus 183 C). But dropping to less than 7 kelvins required an electrically powered cryocooler. Last week, the team passed a particularly challenging milestone called the “pinch point,” when the instrument goes from 15 kelvins (minus 433 F, or minus 258 C) to 6.4 kelvins (minus 448 F, or minus 267 C).

“The MIRI cooler team has poured a lot of hard work into developing the procedure for the pinch point,” said Analyn Schneider, project manager for MIRI at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. “The team was both excited and nervous going into the critical activity. In the end it was a textbook execution of the procedure, and the cooler performance is even better than expected.”

The low temperature is necessary because all four of Webb’s instruments detect infrared light – wavelengths slightly longer than those that human eyes can see. Distant galaxies, stars hidden in cocoons of dust, and planets outside our solar system all emit infrared light. But so do other warm objects, including Webb’s own electronics and optics hardware. Cooling down the four instruments’ detectors and the surrounding hardware suppresses those infrared emissions. MIRI detects longer infrared wavelengths than the other three instruments, which means it needs to be even colder.

Another reason Webb’s detectors need to be cold is to suppress something called dark current, or electric current created by the vibration of atoms in the detectors themselves. Dark current mimics a true signal in the detectors, giving the false impression that they have been hit by light from an external source. Those false signals can drown out the real signals astronomers want to find. Since temperature is a measurement of how fast the atoms in the detector are vibrating, reducing the temperature means less vibration, which in turn means less dark current.

MIRI’s ability to detect longer infrared wavelengths also makes it more sensitive to dark current, so it needs to be colder than the other instruments to fully remove that effect. For every degree the instrument temperature goes up, the dark current goes up by a factor of about 10.

Once MIRI reached a frigid 6.4 kelvins, scientists began a series of checks to make sure the detectors were operating as expected. Like a doctor searching for any sign of illness, the MIRI team looks at data describing the instrument’s health, then gives the instrument a series of commands to see if it can execute tasks correctly. This milestone is the culmination of work by scientists and engineers at multiple institutions in addition to JPL, including Northrop Grumman, which built the cryocooler, and NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, which oversaw the integration of MIRI and the cooler to the rest of the observatory.

James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) instruments. Animation Credits: NASA/ESA

“We spent years practicing for that moment, running through the commands and the checks that we did on MIRI,” said Mike Ressler, project scientist for MIRI at JPL. “It was kind of like a movie script: Everything we were supposed to do was written down and rehearsed. When the test data rolled in, I was ecstatic to see it looked exactly as expected and that we have a healthy instrument.”

There are still more challenges that the team will have to face before MIRI can start its scientific mission. Now that the instrument is at operating temperature, team members will take test images of stars and other known objects that can be used for calibration and to check the instrument’s operations and functionality. The team will conduct these preparations alongside calibration of the other three instruments, delivering Webb’s first science images this summer.

“I am immensely proud to be part of this group of highly motivated, enthusiastic scientists and engineers drawn from across Europe and the U.S.,” said Alistair Glasse, MIRI instrument scientist at the UK Astronomy Technology Centre (ATC) in Edinburgh, Scotland. “This period is our ‘trial by fire’ but it is already clear to me that the personal bonds and mutual respect that we have built up over the past years is what will get us through the next few months to deliver a fantastic instrument to the worldwide astronomy community.”  

More About the Mission

The James Webb Space Telescope is an international program led by NASA with its partners, ESA and the Canadian Space Agency.

MIRI was developed through a 50-50 partnership between NASA and ESA. JPL leads the U.S. efforts for MIRI, and a multinational consortium of European astronomical institutes contributes for ESA. George Rieke with the University of Arizona is the MIRI science team lead. Gillian Wright is the MIRI European principal investigator.

Laszlo Tamas with UK ATC manages the European Consortium. The MIRI cryocooler development was led and managed by JPL, in collaboration with Northrop Grumman in Redondo Beach, California, and NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

For more information about the Webb mission, visit:

Image (mentioned), Animation (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/Tony Greicius/Alise Fisher/GSFC/Laura Betz/JPL/Calla Cofield.