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International Space Station

Chris Ferguson (center) at the simulator controls

The commander of the last Space Shuttle mission recently returned to space, but never left the ground. No, this isn’t one of those annoying lateral thinking puzzles. Chris Ferguson, commander of the STS-135 Atlantis mission in 2011 and currently director of Crew and Mission Operations at Boeing, went on a virtual flight to the International Space Station (ISS) in a ground-based simulator as part of NASA’s testing requirements for Boeing’s Crew Space Transportation (CST)-100 spacecraft.  Read More

The SPHERES robots are designed for upgrading (Image: NASA)

If you want to know how big the crew of the International Space Station (ISS) is at present, the answer depends on whether or not you’re counting the robots on board. Some of the non-human residents will soon be getting smarter, with NASA announcing that the Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites (SPHERES) robots currently on the station will later this year get a new smartphone. The increased capability of the soon to be Smart SPHERES is designed to help transition them from engineering testbeds to workaday companions that can take over some of the duties of the station astronauts.  Read More

Artist's conception of a quantum atomic gas undergoing laser cooling in an ultracold refri...

Quantum physics likes the cold. In particular, macroscopic quantum phenomena such as superconductivity, superfluidity, and Bose-Einstein condensates (BECs) are only found at quite low temperatures. While current refrigeration methods can attain temperatures of a few nanoKelvins, attaining still lower temperatures is largely prevented by the need to support the cooling matter against the pull of Earth's gravity. Now NASA's Cold Atom Lab, scheduled for installation on the ISS in 2016, will aim for temperatures roughly four orders of magnitude smaller.  Read More

The Concordia Research Station's inhospitable setting makes it useful for studying the eff...

The Concordia Research Station, a joint interest between the French IPEV polar institute and the Italian PNRA Antarctic program, is by all accounts one of the most isolated and inhospitable locations available to humanity, requiring more time to reach than it takes to travel to the International Space Station (ISS). The European Space Agency (ESA) takes advantage of the facility's unique location and conditions, conducting extensive research into the implications of long-term space flight on the human body. Read on as we take a look at the conditions at the station, and the importance of the research being carried out there.  Read More

Russian cosmonauts laboured for six hours to install the cameras

On Jan. 27, two Russian Cosmonauts undertook a six hour spacewalk in order to install two new British-manufactured Earth imaging cameras to the Russian segment of the ISS. The initiative, announced in 2011, will allow anyone with an internet connection access to the near-live feed, which will provide higher quality results than the currently-installed standard definition cameras.  Read More

ISS receives reprieve to 2024 (Photo: NASA)

The Obama Administration has approved an extension of the International Space Station (ISS) program from 2020 until at least 2024. This is an unfunded statement of intent, which must be both approved and funded by the US Congress. Neither NASA nor the White House have revealed from where the additional US$4 billion per year of funding for this extended operation will come. At present none of the ISS international partners have plans to support such an extension. Is this the best decision for the future of manned space exploration?  Read More

An Antares launch vehicle boosts the Orbital Sciences Cygnus spacecraft on it's way to the...

Orbital Sciences Corporation today successfully launched the first of eight Cygnus cargo supply missions to the International Space Station (ISS). Orbital's Antares medium-lift rocket (originally called the Taurus II) carried the Cygnus into an initial orbit of 135 x 175 miles (220 x 280 km), inclined at 51.6 degrees relative to the equator. The Cygnus is flying solo now, with full communications and deployed solar arrays, carrying roughly 2,800 lb (1,300 kg) of cargo toward a January 12 rendezvous and docking with the ISS.  Read More

Gizmag looks back on the space highlights of 2013

This has been a busy year in space, with rovers roving on Mars and the first landing on the Moon in 40 years, the search for life beyond our Earth heating up, and 3D printing moving into orbit. As a Chinese rover explores the lunar surface and astronauts work to repair the International Space Station (ISS), Gizmag looks back on the space highlights of 2013.  Read More

Lead spacewalk officer Allison Bolinger with a prototype of the space snorkel (Photo: NASA...

Putting a snorkel on a space suit seems about as daft as making water wings for a meerkat, but that’s exactly what NASA has done. It isn’t some bureaucratic error, but a serious piece of life-saving engineering inspired by an incident in July, when an astronaut on the International Space Station (ISS) almost drowned in his own helmet when water started leaking in. Now faced with urgent repairs due to a faulty cooling system, NASA has come up with a quick fix, so a team can venture outside the station in safety while the cause of the leak remains under investigation.  Read More

A US$30,000 grant will see human stem cells sent to the International Space Station (ISS) ...

A drawback for the use of stem cells in medical treatment is their limited supply due to slow rate of growth in conventional laboratories. Dr Abba Zubair of the Cell Therapy Laboratory at Mayo Clinic in Florida believes this problem could be overcome and stem cell generation sped up by conducting the process in space. He will now have the opportunity to put his hypothesis to the test, courtesy of a US$30,000 grant that will see Zubair send human stem cells to the International Space Station (ISS) to observe whether they do in fact grow at a greater rate than on terra firma.  Read More

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