vendredi 24 mars 2023

Crew Bioprints Cells, Prepares for Final Plant Harvest, and Conducts Robotics Operations With Students


ISS - Expedition 68 Mission patch.

March 24, 2023

The Expedition 68 crew members conducted space health experiments and prepared for the final plant harvest aboard the International Space Station while inspiring the next generation of explorers in a virtual robotics competition.

NASA Flight Engineer Woody Hoburg spent most of his day installing tissue cassettes for the BFF-Meniscus-2, an investigation to print and culture a meniscus using the BioFabrication facility aboard the space station. Crew members who experience musculoskeletal injuries on future deep space missions may benefit from the capability to bioprint tissue to promote recovery. The research could lead to the ability to print complex tissues and organs that may be used to treat patients on Earth.

Image above: NASA astronaut and Expedition 68 Flight Engineer Frank Rubio checks tomato plants growing inside the International Space Station for the XROOTS space botany study on Oct. 14, 2022. Image Credits: Koichi Wakata/Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).

NASA Flight Engineer Frank Rubio conducted the Astrobee-Zero Robotics operations, a programming competition where students earn the opportunity to control an autonomous flying robot and observe its performance aboard the space station. Finalists have their code downloaded by NASA to the Astrobee platform and observe its performance. Rubio also continued to transfer the 6,200 pounds of research hardware and supplies between the orbital outpost and the uncrewed SpaceX CRS-27, which arrived at the space station on March 16.

Afterward, Rubio spent the rest of his day preparing for the final harvest of the Veg-05 plants by collecting plant swabs and water samples to be stored in cold stowage for later use in research. The plant botany study is the next step in addressing the need for a food production system in space. The Vegetable Production System supplies crew members with a continuous source of fresh food and a tool for relaxation and recreation.

International Space Station (ISS). Animation Credit: ESA

NASA Flight Engineer Stephen Bowen installed Materials International Space Station Experiment-17-Commercial hardware onto the Japanese Experiment Module airlock slide table. The investigation tests how the space environment affects the durability of materials and components, including 3D-printed polymers, thermal protection systems, spacecraft materials, biopellets made from dried microbes, paraffin wax thermal protection, and thin solar cells.

Flight Engineer Sultan Alneyadi from UAE (United Arab Emirates) removed the Dry-EEG Headband and synchronized the unit to the European Physiology Module laptop for data transfer. The sleep monitoring technology investigates astronauts’ sleep quality by measuring duration, sleep stages, heart rate, and the number of awakenings. Alneyadi then positioned the Astrobee free flyer in the Japanese Experiment Module and conducted software test runs.

Image above: Sept. 21, 2022 - The Soyuz MS-22 crew ship, carrying NASA astronaut Frank Rubio and Roscosmos cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitri Petelin, approaches the International Space Station for a docking 262 miles above the Adriatic Sea off the coast of Croatia. Image Credit: NASA.

Flight Engineer Andrey Fedyaev of Roscosmos continued to replace the condensate evacuation lines that carry away excess moisture from the cabin atmosphere. Meanwhile, Roscosmos cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitri Petelin prepared cargo to return in the Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft, slated to undock from the station’s Rassvet module on March 28.

Related article (NASA):

NASA Coverage Set for Uncrewed Soyuz Undocking, Departure

Related links:

Expedition 68:


BioFabrication facility:

Astrobee-Zero Robotics:


Vegetable Production System:

Materials International Space Station Experiment-17-Commercial:

Dry-EEG Headband:

Space Station Research and Technology:

International Space Station (ISS):

Images (mentioned), Animation (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/Heidi Lavelle.

Best regards,

SpaceX Starlink 77 launch


SpaceX - Falcon 9 / Starlink Mission patch.

March 24, 2023

Falcon 9 carrying Starlink 77 liftoff

A SpaceX Falcon 9 launch vehicle launched 56 Starlink satellites (Starlink-77 / Starlink 5-5) to low-Earth orbit, from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida, on 24 March 2023, at 15:43 UTC (11:43 EDT). 

SpaceX Starlink 77 launch and Falcon 9 first stage landing, 24 March 2023

Following stage separation, Falcon 9’s first stage landed on the “A Shortfall of Gravitas” droneship,  stationed in the Pacific Ocean. 

Falcon 9’s first stage landing on the “A Shortfall of Gravitas” droneship

Falcon 9’s first stage (B1067) previously supported nine missions: CRS-22, Crew-3, Turksat-5B, Crew-4, CRS-25, Eutelsat HOTBIRD 13G, O3b mPOWER and two Starlink mission.
Related links:



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


NASA Prepares for Historic Asteroid Sample Delivery on Sept. 24


NASA - OSIRIS-REx Mission patch.

Mar 24, 2023

NASA's OSIRIS-REx spacecraft is cruising back to Earth with a sample it collected from the rocky surface of asteroid Bennu. When its sample capsule parachutes down into the Utah desert on Sept. 24, OSIRIS-REx will become the United States’ first-ever mission to return an asteroid sample to Earth.

Sample capsule parachutes down into the Utah desert. Image Credit: NASA

After seven years in space, including a nail-biting touchdown on Bennu to gather dust and rocks, this intrepid mission is about to face one of its biggest challenges yet: deliver the asteroid sample to Earth while protecting it from heat, vibrations, and earthly contaminants.  

“Once the sample capsule touches down, our team will be racing against the clock to recover it and get it to the safety of a temporary clean room,” said Mike Moreau, deputy project manager at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

NASA Prepares for Historic Asteroid Sample Delivery on Sept. 24

Video above: NASA's OSIRIS-REx spacecraft is cruising back to Earth with a sample it collected from the rocky surface of asteroid Bennu. When its sample capsule parachutes down into the Utah desert on Sept. 24, OSIRIS-REx will become the United States’ first-ever mission to return an asteroid sample to Earth. Video Credits: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.

So, over the next six months, the OSIRIS-REx team will practice and refine the procedures required to recover the sample in Utah and transport it to a new lab built for the material at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. There, scientists will unpack the sample, distribute up to a quarter of it to the OSIRIS-REx science team around the world for analysis, and curate the rest for other scientists to study, now and in future generations.  

Flight dynamics engineers from NASA Goddard and KinetX Aerospace are reviewing the trajectory that will bring the spacecraft close to Earth. At Lockheed Martin in Denver, team members are keeping tabs on the spacecraft and preparing a group to recover the sample capsule. This summer, crews in Colorado and Utah will practice all of the steps to recover the capsule safely, while protecting it from contamination. At Johnson Space Center, the curation team is rehearsing their procedure to unpack and process the sample inside glove boxes. Meanwhile, members of the sample science team are preparing the investigations they will perform with the sample material once received.

“The OSIRIS-REx team has already performed amazing feats characterizing and sampling asteroid Bennu,” said Dante Lauretta, OSIRIS-REx principal investigator from the University of Arizona, Tucson. “These accomplishments are the direct result of the extensive training and rehearsals that we performed every step of the way. We are bringing that level of discipline and dedication to this final phase of the flight operations.”

Image above: Members of NASA’s OSIRIS-REx curation team practice with a mock glove box at the agency's Johnson Space Center in Houston. The curation team will be among the first to see and handle the sample OSIRIS-REx is returning from asteroid Bennu. They are also responsible for storing and distributing the sample to science team members around the world. Most of the sample will be stored for future generations. Image Credits: NASA Johnson/Bill Stafford.

Asteroids are the ancient materials left over from the original era of planet formation and may contain molecular precursors to life. Scientists have learned a great deal from studying asteroid fragments that have naturally reached the ground as meteorites. But to understand whether asteroids played a role in delivering these compounds to Earth’s surface over 4 billion years ago, scientists need a pristine sample from space, free from terrestrial contaminants.

In addition, the most fragile rocks observed on Bennu probably would not have survived passage through Earth’s atmosphere as meteorites. “There are two things pervasive on Earth: water and biology,” said Dr. Jason Dworkin, OSIRIS-REx project scientist at NASA Goddard. “Both can severely alter meteorites when they land on the ground and muddle the story told by the sample’s chemistry and mineralogy. A pristine sample could provide insights into the development of solar system.”

On Sept. 24, as the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft flies by Earth, it will release its sample return capsule, thereby ending its primary mission. The capsule, which is estimated to hold about a cup of Bennu’s material – 8.8 ounces +/- 3.6 ounces (250 grams +/- 101 grams) to be precise – will land within a 37-mile by 9-mile ellipse (59 km by 15 km) within Department of Defense property that is part of the Utah Test and Training Range and Dugway Proving Grounds.

OSIRIS-REx team members from NASA Goddard, KinetX, Lockheed Martin, and NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, are using computer models to test navigation plans in various weather, solar activity, and space debris scenarios to ensure that when the capsule enters Earth’s atmosphere at 10:41 a.m. ET (8:41 a.m. MT), it will touch down inside the targeted area 13 minutes later.

Recovery crews are responsible for securing the sample return capsule’s landing site and helicoptering it to a portable clean room located at the range. Additionally, crews will collect soil and air samples all around the landing capsule. These samples will help identify if any minute contaminants contacted the asteroid sample.

Once the capsule is inside the building with the portable clean room, members of the team will remove the heat shield, back shell, and other components to prepare the sample canister for transport to Houston.

The return to Earth of samples from asteroid Bennu will be the culmination of a more than 12-year effort by NASA and its mission partners but marks the beginning of a new phase of discovery as scientists from around the world will turn their attention to the analysis of this unique and precious material dating from the early formation of our solar system.

NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center provides overall mission management, systems engineering, and the safety and mission assurance for OSIRIS-REx. Dante Lauretta of the University of Arizona, Tucson, is the principal investigator. The university leads the science team and the mission's science observation planning and data processing. Lockheed Martin Space in Littleton, Colorado, built the spacecraft and provides flight operations. Goddard and KinetX Aerospace are responsible for navigating the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft. Curation for OSIRIS-REx, including processing the sample when it arrives on Earth, will take place at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. International partnerships on this mission include the OSIRIS-REx Laser Altimeter instrument from the Canadian Space Agency and asteroid sample science collaboration with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s Hayabusa2 mission. OSIRIS-REx is the third mission in NASA's New Frontiers Program, managed by NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, for the agency's Science Mission Directorate Washington.

Related links:

OSIRIS-REx (Origins Spectral Interpretation Resource Identification Security Regolith Explorer):


Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC):

Images (mentioned), Video (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/Rob Garner/GSFC/By Rani Gran.

Best regards,

Space Station Science Highlights: Week of March 20, 2023


ISS - Expedition 68 Mission patch.

March 24, 2023

Crew members aboard the International Space Station conducted scientific investigations during the week of March 20 that included monitoring changes to arteries that occur during spaceflight, testing the effect of certain drugs on heart cell function, and analyzing how exposure to space affects a variety of materials.

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

Oh, My Aging Heart

Astronauts can experience accelerated arterial stiffening and thicker artery walls after six months in space, and a daily session of aerobic exercise alone may not be sufficient to counteract these effects. Vascular Aging, an investigation from CSA (Canadian Space Agency) monitors these changes using ultrasounds of the arteries, blood samples, oral glucose tolerance tests, and wearable sensors. Results could help identify and assess risk to astronaut cardiovascular health and point to mechanisms for reducing that risk. For the aging population on Earth, understanding the mechanisms behind arterial stiffness could provide insight to guide prevention and treatment. During the week, crew members conducted a blood pressure monitoring session for the investigation.

More Help for Hearts

Animation above: NASA astronaut Warren “Woody” Hoburg works on the Cardinal Heart 2.0 investigation, which tests the effect of certain drugs on changes in heart cell function that occur during spaceflight. Results could support development of effective treatments to improve the health of astronauts and patients on Earth. Animation Credit: NASA.

Research shows that microgravity exposure causes changes in heart cell function and gene expression that could lead to long-term damage. Cardinal Heart 2.0, sponsored by the ISS National Lab, tests whether clinically approved drugs reduce these changes. The investigation uses organoids, 3D structures made up of various types of heart cells that mimic the function of the entire organ. Results could support development of effective drug combinations to improve the health of astronauts and patients on Earth. Crew members removed samples from the Glacier facility and conducted microscopy for the investigation during the week.

Making Mightier Materials

Image above: The MISSE Flight Facility hosts a series of investigations testing how exposure to space affects the performance and durability of specific materials and components. MISSE-17-NASA tests a 3D-printed heat shield material, photonic devices, an adhesive, alloys, coatings, and other materials. Image Credit: NASA.

The MISSE series of investigations analyzes how exposure to space affects the performance and durability of specific materials and components. MISSE-17-NASA, sponsored by the ISS National Lab, tests a 3D-printed heat shield material, photonic devices, an adhesive, alloys, coatings, and other materials. Results could provide insight that supports faster development of better materials for future spacecraft, spacesuits, structures, and other components needed for space exploration. Materials shown to withstand the harsh environment of space have potential applications on Earth, including contributing to improved radiation protection and solar cells. During the week, crew members installed materials to sample carrier decks for exposure to the space environment.

Other Investigations Involving the Crew:

- Monoclonal Antibodies PCG, sponsored by the ISS National Lab, crystallizes and assesses various therapeutic monoclonal antibodies in space. Microgravity enables production of higher quality crystals that could support less expensive development of drugs that are more stable and easier to administer to patients.

Image above: A crew member transfers a science chamber for Rhodium DARPA Biomanufacturing 01, an investigation sponsored by the ISS National Lab that examines gravity’s effect on production of drugs and nutrients from bacteria and yeast. Image Credit: NASA.

- Rhodium DARPA Biomanufacturing 01, sponsored by the ISS National Lab, examines gravity’s effect on production of drugs and nutrients from bacteria and yeast. Results could help improve biomanufacturing in space to supply future missions.

- Lumina, an investigation from ESA (European Space Agency), demonstrates a dosimeter using optical fibers to monitor in the radiation dose received by crew members in real time. Monitoring radiation exposure is key to crew safety, and this technology has potential applications in the medical and nuclear industries on Earth.

- ESA’s Dreams demonstrates a wearable headband as an affordable and comfortable technology to monitor astronaut sleep quality. Sleep plays a major role in human health and well-being, and sleep issues can impair performance on missions in space and increase the risk of medical conditions such as cardiovascular diseases on Earth.

- Veg-05 uses the station’s Veggie facility to grow dwarf tomatoes and examine the effect of light quality and fertilizer on fruit production, microbial food safety, nutritional value, taste acceptability by the crew, and overall behavioral health benefits. Growing plants to provide fresh food and enhance the overall living experience for crew members supports future long-duration missions.

- SoFIE-GEL studies how fuel temperature affects material flammability in microgravity. Results could improve understanding of early fire growth behavior, inform selection of fire-resistant spacecraft cabin materials, and help to determine optimal fire suppression techniques on future missions.

- ISS Ham Radio provides students, teachers, and others the opportunity to communicate with astronauts using amateur radio units. Before a scheduled call, students learn about the station, radio waves, and other topics, and prepare a list of questions based on the topics they have researched.

Space to Ground: It's All About Science: March 24, 2023

The space station, a robust microgravity laboratory with a multitude of specialized research facilities and tools, has supported many scientific breakthroughs from investigations spanning every major scientific discipline. The ISS Benefits for Humanity 2022 publication details the expanding universe of results realized from more than 20 years of experiments conducted on the station.

The ISS Benefits for Humanity 2022:

Related links:

Expedition 68:

Vascular Aging:

Cardinal Heart 2.0:



ISS National Lab:

Spot the Station:

Space Station Research and Technology:

International Space Station (ISS):

Images (mentioned), Animation (mentioned), Video (NASA), Text, Credits: NASA/Carrie Gilder/John Love, ISS Research Planning Integration Scientist Expedition 68.


Hubble Snaps a Galactic Jellyfish


NASA / ESA - Hubble Space Telescope (HST) patch.

Mar 24, 2023

The galaxy JW100 (lower right) features prominently in this image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. The streams of star-forming gas dripping from the disk of the galaxy like streaks of fresh paint are formed by a process called ram pressure stripping. Their resemblance to dangling tentacles led astronomers to refer to JW100 as a ‘jellyfish’ galaxy. JW100 is over 800 million light-years away, in the constellation Pegasus.

Ram pressure stripping occurs when galaxies encounter the diffuse gas that pervades galaxy clusters. As galaxies plow through this tenuous gas, it acts like a headwind, stripping gas and dust from the galaxy and creating the trailing streamers that prominently adorn JW100. The bright elliptical patches in the image are other galaxies in the cluster that hosts JW100.

Toward the top of this image are two bright blotches surrounded by a remarkably bright area of diffuse light. This is the core of IC 5338, the brightest galaxy in the galaxy cluster. IC 5338 is an elliptical galaxy with an extended halo, a type of galaxy called a cD galaxy. These galaxies likely grow by consuming smaller galaxies, so it’s not unusual for them to have multiple nuclei since it can take a long time for their cores to be absorbed. The bright points of light studding the galaxy’s outer fringes are a rich population of globular star clusters.

This observation took advantage of Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 and its capabilities. The data is part of a sequence of observations designed to explore star formation in the tendrils of jellyfish galaxies. These tendrils represent star formation under extreme conditions and could help astronomers better understand the process of star formation elsewhere in the universe.

Hubble Space Telescope (HST)

For more information about Hubble, visit:

Text Credits: European Space Agency (ESA)/NASA/Andrea Gianopoulos/Image, Animation Credits: ESA/Hubble & NASA, M. Gullieuszik and the GASP team.

Best regards,

Joint NASA, CNES Water-Tracking Satellite Reveals First Stunning Views


NASA / CNES - SWOT Mission patch.

March 24, 2023

The Surface Water and Ocean Topography mission offers the first taste of the detailed perspectives of Earth’s surface water that its cutting-edge instruments will be able to capture. 

Images above: Sea level data gathered Jan. 21 in the Gulf Stream by SWOT’s KaRIn instrument, visualized at left, has 10 times the spatial resolution of data taken over the same area by altimeters on seven other satellites, visualized at right. Red represents sea levels higher than the global average, while blue is lower. Images Credits: Above: NASA/JPL-Caltech; Below: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Copernicus Marine Service of ESA.

The international Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT) mission – led by NASA and the French space agency Centre National d’Études Spatiales (CNES) – has sent back some of its first glimpses of water on the planet’s surface, showing ocean currents like the Gulf Stream in unprecedented detail. SWOT is also capturing views of freshwater features such as lakes, rivers, and other water bodies down to about 300 feet (100 meters) wide.

The satellite will measure the elevation of nearly all the water on Earth’s surface and provide one of the most comprehensive surveys yet of our planet’s surface water. SWOT’s measurements of freshwater bodies and the ocean will provide insights into how the ocean influences climate change and the water cycle; how a warming world affects water storage in lakes, rivers, and reservoirs; and how communities can better manage their water resources and prepare for floods and other disasters.

“SWOT’s advanced imagery will empower researchers and advance the way we manage fresh water and the effects of sea level rise across the globe,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “Water is one of our planet’s most important resources – and it’s proven to be vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. SWOT will provide critical information that communities can use to prepare for the impacts of a warming climate.”

A Whole New View

As seen in these early images, on Jan. 21, 2023, SWOT measured sea level in a part of the Gulf Stream off the coast of North Carolina and Virginia. The two antennas of SWOT’s Ka-band Radar Interferometer (KaRIn) instrument acquired data that was mapped as a pair of wide, colored strips spanning a total of 75 miles (120 kilometers) across. Red and orange areas in the images represent sea levels that are higher than the global average, while the shades of blue represent sea levels that are lower than average.

For comparison, the new data is shown alongside sea surface height data taken by space-based instruments called altimeters. The instruments – widely used to measure sea level – also bounce radar signals off of Earth’s surface to collect their measurements. But traditional altimeters are able to look only at a narrow beam of Earth directly beneath them, unlike KaRIn’s two wide-swath strips that observe sea level as a two-dimensional map.

Image above: This visualization shows water features on New York’s Long Island – shown as bright pink splotches. Purple, yellow, green, and dark blue shades represent different land elevations, while the surrounding ocean is a lighter blue. The data was collected on Jan. 21, 2023, by SWOT’s KaRIn instrument. Image Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech.

The spatial resolution of SWOT ocean measurements is 10 times greater than the composite of sea surface height data gathered over the same area by seven other satellites: Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich, Jason-3, Sentinel-3A and 3B, Cryosat-2, Altika, and Hai Yang 2B. The composite image was created using information from the Copernicus Marine Service of ESA (European Space Agency) and shows the same day as the SWOT data.

KaRIn also measured the elevation of water features on Long Island – shown as bright pink splotches nestled within the landscape. (Purple, yellow, green, and blue shades represent different land elevations.)

Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT). Image Credits: NASA/CNES

“Our ability to measure freshwater resources on a global scale through satellite data is of prime importance as we seek to adjust to a changing climate,” said CNES Chairman and CEO Philippe Baptiste. “In this respect, the first views from SWOT give us a clearer picture than ever before. These data will prove highly valuable for the international scientific community in the fields of hydrology, oceanography, and coastal studies.”

This initial inland image is a tantalizing indication of how SWOT can measure details of smaller lakes, ponds, and rivers in ways that satellites could not before. Such data will be used to produce an extraordinary accounting of the freshwater on Earth’s surface in ways useful to researchers, policymakers, and water resource managers.

“The KaRIn instrument took years to develop and build, and it will collect information on bodies of water across the globe – data that will be freely and openly available to everybody who needs it,” said Parag Vaze, SWOT project manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California.

More About the Mission

Launched on Dec. 16, 2022, from Vandenberg Space Force Base in central California, SWOT is now in a period of commissioning, calibration, and validation. Engineers are checking out the performance of the satellite’s systems and science instruments before the planned start of science operations in summer 2023.

The data for these first images was collected by SWOT’s KaRIn instrument, the scientific heart of the satellite. KaRIn has one antenna at each end of a boom that’s 33 feet (10 meters) long. This enables the instrument to look off to either side of a center line directly below the satellite as it bounces microwave signals off Earth’s surface. The returning radar signals arrive at each antenna slightly out of sync, or phase, from one another. When these signals are combined with other information about the antennas and the satellite’s altitude, scientists will be able to map the height of water on Earth’s surface with never-before-seen clarity. KaRIn encountered an issue earlier this year with one of its subsystems; engineers have now resolved the situation, and the instrument is up and running.

SWOT was jointly developed by NASA and CNES, with contributions from the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) and the UK Space Agency. JPL, which is managed for NASA by Caltech in Pasadena, California, leads the U.S. component of the project. For the flight system payload, NASA provided the KaRIn instrument, a GPS science receiver, a laser retroreflector, a two-beam microwave radiometer, and NASA instrument operations. CNES provided the Doppler Orbitography and Radioposition Integrated by Satellite (DORIS) system, the dual frequency Poseidon altimeter (developed by Thales Alenia Space), the KaRIn radio-frequency subsystem (together with Thales Alenia Space and with support from the UK Space Agency), the satellite platform, and ground operations. CSA provided the KaRIn high-power transmitter assembly. NASA provided the launch vehicle and the agency’s Launch Services Program, based at Kennedy Space Center, managed the associated launch services.

To learn more about SWOT, visit:

Related link:

Ka-band Radar Interferometer (KaRIn):

Images (mentioned), Text, Credits. NASA/JPL/Jane Platt/Andrew Good.

Best regards,



Blue Origin logo.

March 24, 2023


- The direct cause of the NS-23 mishap was a thermo-structural failure of the engine nozzle. The resulting thrust misalignment properly triggered the Crew Capsule escape system, which functioned as designed throughout the flight.

- The Crew Capsule and all payloads onboard landed safely and will be flown again.  
- All systems designed to protect public safety functioned as planned. There were no injuries. There was no damage to ground-based systems, and all debris was recovered in the designated hazard area. 
- Blue Origin expects to return to flight soon, with a re-flight of the NS-23 payloads.

The NS-23 mishap resulted in the loss of NS Propulsion Module Tail 3. The Crew Capsule escape system worked as designed, bringing the capsule and its payloads to a safe landing at Launch Site One with no damage. As part of the response to the Crew Capsule escape, the Propulsion Module commanded shutdown of the BE-3PM engine and followed an unpowered trajectory to impact within the defined flight safety analysis prediction, resulting in no danger to human life or property. Public safety was unaffected by the mishap, and no changes to crew safety system designs were recommended as a result of the investigation.

Image above: Photo of the safe landing of the NS-23 capsule, which functioned as designed throughout the flight. All payloads landed safely. Image Credit: Blue Origin.

In accordance with the New Shepard Mishap Investigation Plan, Blue Origin formed a Mishap Investigation Team (MIT), led by members of Blue Origin’s Safety & Mission Assurance organization. The investigation was conducted with FAA oversight and included representatives of the National Transportation Safety Board and NASA’s Flight Opportunities Program and Commercial Crew Office. The MIT stood up debris search and recovery efforts at Launch Site One immediately following the mishap and recovered all critical flight hardware within days.

Image above: Photos of Launch Site One. Right: The recovered NS-23 nozzle fragment. Image Credit: Blue Origin.

Blue Origin also convened a Mishap Review Board (MRB), which included external non-advocate advisors. The MRB reviewed causal determinations made by the MIT and will continue to exercise oversight of the corrective action implementation.  

Aided by onboard video and telemetry, flight hardware recovered from the field, and the work of Blue Origin’s materials labs and test facilities, the MIT determined the direct cause of the mishap to be a structural fatigue failure of the BE-3PM engine nozzle during powered flight. The structural fatigue was caused by operational temperatures that exceeded the expected and analyzed values of the nozzle material. Testing of the BE-3PM engine began immediately following the mishap and established that the flight configuration of the nozzle operated at hotter temperatures than previous design configurations. Forensic evaluation of the recovered nozzle fragments also showed clear evidence of thermal damage and hot streaks resulting from increased operating temperatures. The fatigue location on the flight nozzle is aligned with a persistent hot streak identified during the investigation.

The MIT determined that design changes made to the engine’s boundary layer cooling system accounted for an increase in nozzle heating and explained the hot streaks present. Blue Origin is implementing corrective actions, including design changes to the combustion chamber and operating parameters, which have reduced engine nozzle bulk and hot-streak temperatures. Additional design changes to the nozzle have improved structural performance under thermal and dynamic loads.  

Blue Origin expects to return to flight soon, with a re-flight of the NS-23 payloads.

Related link:

Blue Origin:

Images (mentioned), Text, Credit: Blue Origin.


Rocket Lab - Electron launches “The Beat Goes On”


Rocket Lab - Electron / “The Beat Goes On” Mission patch.

March 24, 2023

Electron carrying “The Beat Goes On” mission liftoff

Rocket Lab’s Electron launch vehicle launched “The Beat Goes On” mission from Pad B at Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1 in Mahia, New Zealand, on 24 March 2023, at 09:14 UTC (22:14 NZDT). 

Electron launches “The Beat Goes On”

“The Beat Goes On” mission will deploy two BlackSky high-resolution, multi-spectral, Gen-2 satellites. As a secondary mission, Rocket Lab plans to recover Electron’s first stage after it parachutes back to Earth and splashes down in the ocean.

Mission launch profile

Rocket Lab Successfully Launches 35th Electron Seven Days After Previous Launch, Sets New Company Record for Fastest Launch Turnaround

- Just seven days after a successful Electron mission from Launch Complex 2 in Virginia, Rocket Lab has completed another successful mission from the other side of the planet at Launch Complex 1 in New Zealand, demonstrating responsive launch capability from two hemispheres.   

- The mission also saw Rocket Lab successfully splash down Electron’s first stage in the ocean as part of the Company’s plan to make Electron a reusable rocket.

The mission, named “The Beat Goes On,” lifted off at 09:14 UTC, 24 March 2023 from Pad B at Launch Complex 1, Rocket Lab’s private launch site on New Zealand’s Mahia Peninsula.

"Electron has repeatedly proven itself as a reliable constellation builder and today we’re proud to deliver mission success once again for BlackSky and Spaceflight after many previous missions together,” said Rocket Lab founder and CEO Peter Beck. “Launching two successful missions just seven days apart from two different hemispheres is a real demonstration of responsive space in action, and successfully splashing down Electron’s first stage as part of our reusability program is the icing on the cake.”
BlackSky Constellation

“The Beat Goes On” was Rocket Lab’s seventh launch for BlackSky since 2019, helping to build out BlackSky’s growing real-time geospatial intelligence constellation.

In addition to delivering BlackSky’s satellites to orbit, Rocket Lab accomplished a successful ocean splashdown of Electron’s first stage in an effort to make Electron the world’s first reusable orbital small launch vehicle. The first stage will now be transported back to Rocket Lab’s production complex for assessment, testing and requalification to inform future recovery missions. Pending the outcome of these assessments Rocket Lab may choose to proceed with marine operations as the primary recovery method, opting to transition away from helicopter use.

Electron first stage recovery by helicopter

Rocket Lab is on track this year to surpass its launch record of nine launches set in 2022 with 15 planned launches. Upcoming disclosed Electron missions in 2023 include two launches for the NASA TROPICS constellation, the first of five dedicated missions for Internet-of-Things (IoT) connectivity provider Kinéis; several launches for Capella Space, and the launch of a mission to demonstrate space debris removal technology by Astroscale Japan.

Related links:


Rocket Lab:

Images, Video, Text, Credits: Credits: Rocket Lab/BlackSky/SciNews/ Aerospace/Roland Berga.


jeudi 23 mars 2023

Crew Talk Space With Students, Investigate Fire Control, and Continue Heart Health and Cargo Return Activities


ISS - Expedition 68 Mission patch.

March 23, 2023

Since the earliest days of the International Space Station expeditions, student groups in schools, camps, museums, and planetariums have had the opportunity to talk with astronauts aboard the orbital laboratory about career choices and science activities. On Thursday, NASA Flight Engineer Woody Hoburg conducted an ISS Ham Radio (ARISS) session with Lana’i High and Elementary School, in Lana’i City, Hawaii.  Hoburg also bioprinted cells for the BFF-Meniscus-2, an investigation to print and culture a meniscus using the BioFabrication facility aboard the space station.

Image above: The big island of Hawaii and its two snow-capped volcanos, (from left) the active Mauna Loa and the dormant Mauna Kea, are pictured from the International Space Station as it orbited 260 miles above the Pacific Ocean on March 6, 2023. Image Credit: NASA.

NASA Flight Engineer Frank Rubio replaced experiment samples in the Combustion Integrated Rack located in the U.S. Destiny module for the Solid Fuel Ignition and Extinction – Growth and Extinction Limit (SOFi) investigation. SOFi measures the amount of heating in a fuel sample to determine how fuel temperature affects material flammability in microgravity. Results could improve understanding of early fire growth behavior in space and help determine optimal fire suppression techniques.

Rubio also checked the Veg-05 plants and collected detached tomatoes to weigh. The plant botany study is the next step in addressing the need for a food production system in space. The Vegetable Production System supplies crew members with a continuous source of fresh food and a tool for relaxation and recreation.

Image above: (March 4, 2023) - From left, Expedition 68 Flight Engineers Koichi Wakata of JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) and Sultan Alneyadi of UAE (United Arab Emirates) pose for a portrait inside the International Space Station's Quest airlock. Image Credit: NASA.

NASA Flight Engineer Stephen Bowen spent his day wearing the Bio-Monitor garment and headband as part of a 48-hour session. The instrument is equipped with sensors to measure physiological parameters to assess the effect of space travel on heart health.

Flight Engineer Sultan Alneyadi from UAE (United Arab Emirates) injected the Cardinal Heart 2.0 with a preservative inside the Life Sciences Glovebox, a sealed work area in the space station where crew members perform developmental biology experiments. The investigation uses heart organoids to study the effects of clinical drugs on improving the function of heart cells exposed to microgravity.

International Space Station (ISS). Animation Credit: ESA

Flight Engineer Andrey Fedyaev of Roscosmos continued to replace the condensate evacuation lines that carry away excess moisture from the cabin atmosphere. Meanwhile, Roscosmos cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitri Petelin prepared cargo to return in the Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft, slated to undock from the station’s Rassvet module on March 28.

Related links:

Expedition 68:

ISS Ham Radio (ARISS):


BioFabrication facility:

Solid Fuel Ignition and Extinction – Growth and Extinction Limit (SOFi):


Vegetable Production System:


Space Station Research and Technology:

International Space Station (ISS):

Images (mentioned), Animation (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/Heidi Lavelle.

Best regards,

NASA-Developed Temperature-Regulating Clothing Additive Heats Up


NASA logo.

March 23, 2023

Materials for coating spaceplanes maintain comfort in outerwear, sports uniforms, jeans

NASA intended its Reusable Launch Vehicle program of the 1990s to demonstrate technologies that would enable hypersonic spaceplanes to make affordable, repeated trips into space. It was never intended to improve the performance of hunting, skiing, and sports gear, but, more than 20 years after its cancellation, that’s what’s happened.

Image above: The Lockheed Martin X-33 X-plane, shown in this artist’s rendering, was intended to demonstrate technology pioneered under NASA’s Reusable Launch Vehicle program in the 1990s. The program was cancelled in 2001, but an emissive heat shield coating invented at Ames Research Center under the initiative has since found widespread commercial success as the Emisshield product line. Image Credit: NASA.

One of the program’s most successful spinoffs has been a substance dubbed Protective Coating for Ceramic Materials, or PCCM, which NASA’s Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley, California, invented to protect the spaceplanes’ heat shields during atmospheric re-entry. NASA patented the coating, and Wessex Inc. – now known as Emisshield Inc. – licensed it and started developing commercial products.

The material isn’t a traditional insulator, and it’s not reflective. Instead, it has remarkably high emissivity, meaning it could absorb heat from a heat shield and radiate it away from the spacecraft. Emisshield has adapted PCCM into dozens of formulas now coating industrial equipment around the world (Spinoff 2001, 2004, 2011, 2019).

Image above: Around 2000, two ceramic tiles – one treated with an early version of Emissield and one untreated – were subjected to an oxyacetylene torch. The untreated tile, left, started beading after 30 seconds, while the one with the paper-thin layer of protection showed little damage after two minutes. Image Credit: NASA.

In 2013, Brad Poorman and Jim Hind incorporated Clean Textile Technology LLC, now of North Naples, Florida, and were looking for a niche in high-tech textiles when they learned of PCCM. They approached Emisshield, which agreed to license its technology exclusively to them for use in fabrics in exchange for a share in the brand.

By 2015, Trizar was up and running, with commercial partners turning out a combined 300,000 or so jackets that year (Spinoff 2016). Since then, the company has advanced its technology and worked its way into jeans, sports uniforms, and even face masks. In cold-weather gear, which is most of the company’s business, the material emits body heat back to the wearer. Trizar also produces low-emissivity formulas for hot weather, which reflect heat away from the body to keep people cool.

Image above: Artilect Systems now incorporates Trizar into the lining of many of its winter apparel items. Image Credit: Ali Vagini.

“During the pandemic, Emisshield was awarded patents around the fibers and fabrics we had developed, and we did a lot of R&D while the factories were shut down,” Poorman said.

At first, the emissive ingredients were printed onto fabrics, but the team has now devised ways to incorporate them into thread or yarn before it’s turned into cloth. “By getting it into the yarn, we’ve been able to deliver performance without adding any weight and with much less cost,” Poorman said.

Many commercial breakthroughs have come with these developments. A few years ago, Endeavor Athletic started using Trizar in some of its training apparel, and O’Neill put it into skiing and snowboarding jackets. Now customers can find Trizar materials in FORLOH hunting gear, Artilect Studio ski jackets and pants, KJUS jacket liners, Ergonomix apparel for hot and cold weather, Levi’s jeans sold in East Asia, and New Balance’s basketball and professional lacrosse uniforms.

Image above: The silver honeycomb print now found on the lining of many of Artilect’s jackets and other winter apparel is Trizar. Image Credit: Artilect Systems.

The company makes its emissive material concentrates in the United States before shipping them to textile mills around the world.

Trizar was growing at about 20% annually until the pandemic hit, and the pace has picked up to 30-40% annual growth since the return to a relative normal, Poorman said. And during the pandemic, Trizar was incorporated into high-end facemasks that sold over 100,000 units.  

Poorman said Trizar’s popularity with consumers has helped it find new brands and markets. But its origins in the space program also don’t hurt, he said, noting that customers know space travel requires extreme temperature management. “Nowadays, everyone’s into NASA,” he added.

NASA has a long history of transferring technology to the private sector. The agency’s Spinoff publication profiles NASA technologies that have transformed into commercial products and services, demonstrating the broader benefits of America’s investment in its space program. Spinoff is a publication of the Technology Transfer program in NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD).

For more information on how NASA brings space technology down to Earth, visit:

Related links:

Benefits to You:

Space Tech:

Images (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/Loura Hall/NASA’s Spinoff Publication/By Mike DiCicco.


Worldwide Team Makes Orion’s First Artemis Mission Possible


NASA / ESA - Orion Crew Vehicle patch.

March 23, 2023

Orion spacecraft. Image Credit: NASA

NASA’s Orion spacecraft completed its uncrewed Artemis I flight test in 2022, paving the way for future crewed missions to the Moon and beyond. During the flight, Orion launched atop the Space Launch System rocket, flew by the Moon twice coming within 80 miles of the lunar surface, and at its farthest distance traveled a record-breaking 268,563 miles from our home planet before returning to Earth. The uncrewed 25.5-day mission provided valuable data on the performance of the spacecraft’s critical systems and equipment before astronauts fly aboard beginning with Artemis II.

Orion’s performance validated the technical capabilities of the spacecraft, identified areas where more analysis is taking place, and provided the mission operations team opportunities to learn how the systems work together. The mission would not have been possible without the work of a worldwide team encompassing all 50 U.S. states and 10 European nations. Thousands of individuals helped make the mission successful.

Orion’s service module — the powerhouse of the spacecraft that supplies it with power, propulsion, thermal control, and on future missions, air, and water — was assembled by ESA (European Space Agency) and its lead contractor Airbus in Bremen, Germany, from components supplied by U.S. and European companies.

Image above: During flight day 5 of the Artemis I mission, the Orion spacecraft takes a selfie while approaching the Moon ahead of the outbound powered flyby - a burn of Orion's main engine that gets the spacecraft into lunar orbit. During this maneuver Orion came within 81 miles of the lunar surface. Image Credit: NASA.

“What was really cool for us as a team was to see the pictures that Orion took of itself with the cameras on the solar arrays, and to see in space hardware that was in our clean rooms just a few years ago,” said Annemarie Lohse, the major spacecraft delivery lead for the thermal, consumables and structure subsystems of the service module at Airbus. “We're all very proud that we have the chance to dedicate a big part of our life and our career to this mission of bringing humans back to deep space.”

Although it didn’t carry astronauts on Artemis I, Orion’s crew module housed payloads including the data-collecting manikin Commander Moonikin Campos, which occupied the commander seat facing the spacecraft’s windows. The structural pieces that form the four crew module windows are machined by California-based subcontractor AMRO Fabricating Corp., and are part of Orion’s underlying structure called the pressure vessel that will provide the air-tight, habitable space for astronauts on Artemis II – the first mission with astronauts.

“Being a part of this first mission meant an incredible amount to us,” said Joe Bianchi, project manager at AMRO. “Seeing the success invigorated a lot of people, both our shop and in the office. It reminds us what we're building isn't just part of a job — it's an actual mission, a living, breathing program that we can take pride in. When that crew module splashed down, that was our hardware coming back to Earth from thousands of miles in deep space.”

Inside the spacecraft, critical avionics including Orion’s flight computers are developed by Honeywell Aerospace, headquartered in Phoenix.

“The safety of the astronauts, the success of the mission, and the quality of our hardware has always been our top priority, and we pride ourselves on that,” said Heath Higgins, Orion system project engineer at Honeywell. “We've been here from day one, and we've always been proud to be a partner supplier for this program, and proud of the dedication and perseverance of our teams. It's a great moment for us to finally get to this point and back into exploration on the Moon.”

Image above: On flight day 13, Orion reached its maximum distance from Earth during the Artemis I mission when it was 268,563 miles away from our home planet. Orion has now traveled farther than any other spacecraft built for humans. Image Credit: NASA.

Returning home, Orion encountered its most important objective: demonstrating the heat shield can withstand the high speed and high heat conditions when re-entering Earth’s atmosphere from the Moon. The heat shield protected Orion as it returned to Earth traveling nearly 25,000 mph and reaching temperatures of nearly 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit.

“Working on the thermal protection system is a big responsibility, but a really exciting job,” said Eric Esposito, the thermal analysis lead for Orion’s lead contractor, Lockheed Martin. “There's a lot of pride that comes with ensuring you do your job right. As exciting as Artemis I was, once we're starting to fly crewed missions, perform science, and gather more data on orbit, it's going to be even more exciting for our team to be a part of that process.”

At the end of the mission, a system of 11 parachutes, made by Airborne Systems in Santa Ana, California, slowed the spacecraft to a safe speed of about 16 mph for splashdown in the Pacific Ocean.

“We watched the parachutes operate as we've seen them dozens of times before in tests, but here it was for real,” said Tom Lemm, deputy program manager at Airborne. “It was a moment of elation, a moment of relief. It was just really cool to know we had a part in that.”

Teams are working on de-servicing the Artemis I Orion spacecraft inside the Multi Payload Processing Facility at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, and teams from NASA, international partners, contractors, and suppliers also continue to work together toward future Artemis missions for Orion.

Through Artemis missions, NASA will land the first woman and the first person of color on the surface of the Moon, paving the way for a long-term lunar presence and serving as a steppingstone for astronauts on the way to Mars.

Related links:

Commander Moonikin Campos:


Artemis I:

Artemis II:

Orion Spacecraft:

Images (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/JSC/Erika Peters.

Best regards,