NASA and its international partners celebrated 11 years of permanent human habitation on the International Space Station on Nov. 2. More than 1,400 research and technology development experiments have been conducted aboard the orbiting lab, many of which are producing advances in medicine, environmental systems and our understanding of the universe. NASA selected an independent non-profit organization, the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), to manage U.S. scientific and technological research conducted through the part of ISS that is a National Laboratory, and is transitioning responsibilities to CASIS. Robonaut 2, the first humanoid robot in space, and the Robotics Refueling Mission (RRM), which tests robotic techniques for on-orbit satellite servicing, were delivered to the station in 2011. In preparation for the first commercial resupply missions to ISS in 2012, NASA has been working closely with SpaceX and Orbital Science Corp. of Dulles, Va., to ensure the Dragon and Cygnus cargo vehicles’ designs and operations are compatible with the station. Integration activities include verification of physical and operational interfaces, safety assessments, joint software testing, operations planning, crew training and mission simulations. This year, NASA graduated the astronaut class of 2009 and, on Nov. 15, began recruiting its next astronaut class. These new astronauts will advance research aboard the space station to benefit life on Earth and develop the knowledge and skills needed for longer flights to explore the solar system. Those selected also will be among the first to pioneer a new generation of commercial launch vehicles and travel aboard a new heavy-lift rocket to distant destinations in deep space. Qualified individuals can apply to become an astronaut through the federal government’s website.


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