Testing the Orion Crew Vehicle’s Parachutes

Testing the Orion Crew Vehicle's Parachutes

On April 17, 2012, NASA conducted a test of the Orion crew vehicle’s entry, descent and landing parachutes high above the Arizona desert in preparation for the vehicle’s orbital flight test, . The primary objectives were to determine how the entire system would respond if one of the three main parachutes inflated too quickly and to validate the drogue parachute design by testing at a high dynamic pressure that closely mimicked the environments expected for Exploration Flight Test-1.

Image Credit: NASA


Watch ‘The future of Earth observation’ on the Earth from Space programme



20 April 2012
Discover more about our planet with the Earth from Space video programme. Join us every Friday at 10:00 CEST for an 800 km-high tour with spectacular images from Earth-observing satellites.

Watch the replay

See the full text of ‘The future of Earth observation’ and download the image.

NASA Transfers Shuttle Discovery to National Air and Space Museum

Focuses on Bold New Era of Space Exploration WASHINGTON — NASA transferred space shuttle Discovery to the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum during a ceremony Thursday, April 19, at the Stephen F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Va.

“Today, while we look back at Discovery’s amazing legacy, I also want to look forward to what she and the shuttle fleet helped to make possible,” said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. “As NASA transfers the shuttle orbiters to museums across the country, we are embarked on an exciting new space exploration journey. Relying on American ingenuity and know-how, NASA is partnering with private industry to provide crew and cargo transportation to the International Space Station, while developing the most powerful rocket ever built to take the nation farther than ever before into the solar system.”

National Air and Space Museum Director, General John “Jack” Dailey said, “Discovery has distinguished itself as the champion of America’s shuttle fleet. In its new home, it will shine as an American icon, educating and inspiring people of all ages for generations to come. The Museum is committed to teaching and inspiring youngsters, so that they will climb the ladder of academic success and choose professions that will help America be competitive and successful in the world of tomorrow.”

In this new era of exploration, NASA will build the capabilities to send humans deeper into space than ever before. NASA is using the space station as a test bed and stepping stone for the journey ahead. The agency is changing the way it does business and fostering a commercial industry that will safely service low Earth orbit, so NASA can focus its energy and resources on sending astronauts to an asteroid by 2025 and eventually to Mars in the 2030s.

The space station is the centerpiece of NASA’s human spaceflight activities in low Earth orbit. It is fully staffed with an international crew of six, and American astronauts will continue to live and work there 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, as they have for more than 11 years. Part of the U.S. portion of the station has been designated as a national laboratory, and NASA is committed to using this unique resource for scientific research.

The station is testing exploration technologies such as autonomous refueling of spacecraft, advanced life support systems and human/robotic interfaces. Commercial companies are well on their way to providing cargo and crew flights to the station, allowing NASA to focus its attention on the next steps into our solar system.

For more information about NASA, visit:


ESA #AndreTweetup 29 May 2012, Noordwijk, the Netherlands

Received confirmation today that I am one of the eighty invited to the above event. Plane booked. It will be a flying visit in and out on the same day as I can’t get the time off work.

Looking forward to meeting the rest of the Spacetweeps, having a look around Spacexpo and maybe the chance of communicating with the ISS live.

Space Shuttle Discovery Flown Over the U.S. Capitol

Space Shuttle Discovery Flown Over the U.S. Capitol

Space shuttle Discovery, mounted atop a NASA 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft, is seen as it flies near the U.S. Capitol, Tuesday, April 17, 2012, in Washington. Discovery, the first orbiter retired from NASA’s shuttle fleet, completed 39 missions, spent 365 days in space, orbited the Earth 5,830 times, and traveled 148,221,675 miles. NASA will transfer Discovery to the National Air and Space Museum to begin its new mission to commemorate past achievements in space and to educate and inspire future generations of explorers.

Image Credit: NASA/Smithsonian Institution/Harold Dorwin

Orion Drop Test

test model of the Orion spacecraft with its parachutes


A test model of the Orion spacecraft with its parachutes was tested the skies high above the U.S. Army’s Proving Grounds in Yuma, Ariz. on Feb. 29, 2012. This particular drop test examined the wake — or the disturbance of the air flow behind Orion — that is caused by the spacecraft.

The U.S. Space Launch System, or SLS, will provide an entirely new capability for human exploration beyond Earth orbit and the Orion capsule is a major part of this program. The Orion spacecraft will replace the space shuttle as NASA’s vehicle for human space exploration and is designed to accommodate four to six astronauts traveling into space. It also will supplement commercial and international partner transportation services to the International Space Station. Designed to be flexible for crew or cargo missions, SLS will continue America’s journey of discovery from the unique vantage point of space.

Image Credit: NASA

NASA’s Orion Spacecraft to Appear Alongside Shuttle Discovery

WASHINGTON — A full-scale test version of the Orion spacecraft is one of several NASA-sponsored exhibits that will appear alongside space shuttle Discovery at the National Air and Space Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center near Washington Dulles International Airport in Chantilly, Va.

Discovery is scheduled to fly over the Washington area on Tuesday, April 17, and land at Dulles. A transfer ceremony of the shuttle to the National Air & Space Museum will take place on Thursday, April 19.

In addition to Orion, dozens of NASA-sponsored exhibits are on display at the Udvar-Hazy Center to celebrate the arrival of Discovery and highlight the agency’s current and future exploration missions. The exhibits will showcase the International Space Station, a solar telescope, a planetary spacesuit, an inflatable Mars Science Laboratory rover and many hands-on educational activities.

The Orion spacecraft will be on free display at the Udvar-Hazy Center from April 19-22 as part of the events surrounding the arrival of shuttle Discovery. Engineers, officials and NASA spokespeople will be on-site and available to speak with media and the public.

The Orion test vehicle was used in the Pad Abort-1 Test in 2010, which saw the successful flight of Orion’s launch abort system. This escape capability will protect future crews in the event of an emergency during launch.

NASA is constructing the first space-bound Orion capsule, which will launch on Exploration Flight Test-1, an uncrewed launch planned for 2014. This test will see Orion travel farther into space than any human spacecraft has gone in more than 40 years. After its construction at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, the spacecraft will be shipped to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida for final assembly.

Following its display at the Udvar-Hazy Center, the Orion capsule will appear at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington for the U.S. Science and Engineering Festival from April 27-29.

For more information about the venues, visit:  http://www.nasm.si.edu/udvarhazy

Coverage Set for NASA/SpaceX Launch and Mission to Space Station

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — Following the completion of NASA’s flight readiness review, the second SpaceX demonstration launch for NASA’s Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program is scheduled for Monday, April 30. A Falcon 9 rocket carrying a Dragon capsule will liftoff from Space Launch Complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. There is a single instantaneous launch opportunity at 12:22 p.m. EDT.NASA Television launch commentary from Cape Canaveral will begin at 11 a.m.During the flight, SpaceX’s Dragon capsule will conduct a series of check-out procedures to test and prove its systems, including rendezvous and berthing with the International Space Station (ISS). The primary objectives for the flight include a flyby of the ISS at a distance of approximately 1.5 miles to validate the operation of sensors and flight systems necessary for a safe rendezvous and approach. The spacecraft also will demonstrate the ability to abort the rendezvous. After these capabilities are successfully proven, the Dragon will be cleared to berth with the ISS.

Tim gets his feet wet

NEEMO aquanaut
NEEMO aquanaut

17 April 2012
ESA astronaut Timothy Peake will soon dive to the bottom of the sea to learn more about exploring space. A permanent underwater base almost 20 m below the waves off the coast of Florida will be Tim’s home for more than a week in June.
The NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations, or NEEMO, allows space agencies to test technologies and research international crew behaviour for long-duration missions.

Astronauts get a feeling of how it is to work and live in space, learning to cope as individuals and as a team to stressful situations.

During their 10-day stay in the underwater base, the aquanauts will conduct ‘waterwalks’ to perform repairs simulating real spacewalks.


NEEMO aquanaut
NEEMO base

They will have to solve problems on their own. Even in an emergency, they will not be able to come up to the surface immediately.

Spending only a few hours deep underwater requires a safety stop and decompression before coming back up. There is no quick emergency exit from the NEEMO base.

“NEEMO is the best space exploration analogue used in official astronaut training, followed tightly by ESA’s cave training programme,” says astronaut trainer Loredana Bessone from the European Astronaut Centre.

“When I dived down to the underwater habitat, it looked exactly how I imagine a lunar base will look like.

“Aquanauts were ‘floating’ around in slow motion, performing repairs and mounting equipment. I could not take my eyes off the scene.”

Tim’s training starts on 11 June and will centre on exploring asteroids – communication delays, anchoring to the surface and crew size.


Tim Peake cave training
Tim Peake cave training

Training astronauts for space requires remote and inhospitable places to test their reactions to stress and their ability to work in an international team. ESA and international partners also send astronauts underground in Sardinia in Italy for cave training.
The astronauts have to adjust to this extreme environment, where life depends on their equipment and how they use it. They must show team ingenuity in resolving issues and overcoming obstacles.

Learning to work as a team in isolation, with no outside help and only limited rescue capabilities, is part of becoming an effective astronaut. The ‘right stuff’ can be learned, with the right instruction.

This is the first time that an ESA astronaut is joining a NEEMO mission and, in exchange, NASA will send astronauts to participate in ESA’s cave training later this year.

The base will hold an international crew of six. Tim will work with crew leader Dottie M. Metcalf-Lindenburger, a NASA astronaut who flew on the Space Shuttle. Kimiya Yui of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency will complete the astronaut line-up.

From today Tim Peake will be tweeting about his training in addition to making entries in the astronaut blog. See the links to the right.

NASA Announces 16th Undersea Exploration Mission Dates and Crew

WASHINGTON — An international team of aquanauts will travel again to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean to simulate a visit to an asteroid in the 16th expedition of NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations (NEEMO).

This year’s NEEMO mission will begin June 11. It will build on lessons learned from 2011’s NEEMO 15 mission and test innovative solutions to engineering challenges allowing astronauts to eventually explore asteroids.

“We’re trying to look out into the future and understand how we’d operate on an asteroid,” said Mike Gernhardt, NASA astronaut and NEEMO principal investigator. “You don’t want to make a bunch of guesses about what you’ll need and then get to the asteroid to find out it won’t work the way you thought it would. NEEMO helps give us the information we need to make informed decisions now.”

This NEEMO expedition will focus on three areas: communication delays, restraint and translation techniques, and optimum crew size. The crew of four will spend 12 days living 63 feet below the Atlantic Ocean’s surface on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Aquarius Reef Base undersea research habitat off the coast of Key Largo, Fla.

NASA astronaut and former space shuttle crew member Dottie M. Metcalf-Lindenburger will lead the crew. She will be joined by fellow astronauts Kimiya Yui of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency and Timothy Peake of the European Space Agency and Cornell University professor Steven Squyres, who was also a NEEMO 15 crew member.

To request interviews with the NEEMO 16 crew during the mission, contact Brandi Dean of NASA at brandi.k.dean@nasa.gov, Rosita Suenson of the European Space Agency at Rosita.Suenson@esa.int, Akiko Niizeki of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency at niizeki.akiko@jaxa.jp or Fred Gorell of NOAA at fred.gorell@noaa.gov.

The NEEMO mission is sponsored by NASA’s Advanced Exploration Systems Program. For more information about NEEMO and the crew and links to follow the mission on Facebook and Twitter, visit:   http://www.nasa.gov/neemo