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International Space Station

NASA astronaut Rick Mastracchio prepares to test the ultraviolet light decontamination har...

The International Space Station (ISS) is perhaps the most artificial environment that human beings have ever taken up residence in. It’s not the sort of place where you’d want a lab accident, because you can’t run out the door and wait in the carpark for the air to clear, so NASA uses gloveboxes to keep the crew and equipment separate from dangerous contaminants. To increase this level of safety and expand the number experiments the station can carry out, the space agency is fitting one of the larger gloveboxes with an Ultraviolet Germicidal Irradiation (UVGI) system to to prevent potentially dangerous microorganisms from escaping.  Read More

Artist's concept of OPALS in operation (Image: NASA)

While the International Space Station may be mankind’s outpost for the conquest of space, it still leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to a decent YouTube connection. That’s because, for all its sophistication, the station’s communications system is still based on 1960s radio technology and has all the bandwidth of a soda straw. That changed this week as NASA took a step into the video age with the test of its Optical Payload for Lasercomm Science (OPALS) demonstrator, which saw a laser used to beam a video to Earth in seconds instead of the usual minutes.  Read More

The ESA Common Berthing Mechanism is intended to replace other devices, such as this Russi...

Docking is the paradox of spaceflight. On the one hand, it’s as boring to watch as an apple turning brown; on the other, it’s white-knuckle suspense when you realise that tons of paper-thin metal are one misstep away from destruction. What’s worse, the number of different docking port designs makes compatibility a major concern, so ESA is developing a universal docking mechanism that will allow any spacecraft to lock onto any other.  Read More

The Dragon V2 was unveiled at a brief media event

Having teased the public by showing off the SuperDraco engine, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk takes the wraps off the Dragon V2 manned spacecraft that it’s designed to propel. In a brief media event at SpaceX’s Hawthorne, California headquarters, Musk introduced the larger, more powerful version of the reusable Dragon capsule, which will one day carry astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) and return to Earth to land under its own power.  Read More

NASA’s Rodent Habitat module (Image: NASA/Dominic Hart)

Attention space rats and astromice, NASA is sending new, posher rodent habitats to the International Space Station (ISS). The high-tech cages will first will fly in August aboard an unmanned SpaceX Dragon cargo ship and are part of an extensive study on the effects of weightlessness on prolonged space voyages.  Read More

SkyWatch is a visual representation of data collected from observatories around the world ...

NASA has announced the five winners of its 2014 International Space Apps Challenge. The contest is an international "hackathon" aimed driving innovation for future space missions and to improve life on Earth. The categories are Earth Watch, Technology in Space, Human Spaceflight, Robotics and Asteroids.  Read More

The Dragon CRS-3 spacecraft connected to the ISS via the Canadarm2 robotic arm (Photo: NAS...

Space X's Dragon spacecraft has splashed down safely in the Pacific Ocean at 3:05 PM EDT on May 18, laden with many scientific experiments ripe for further analysis on Earth. It landed safely 300 miles off the coast of California, pending retrieval and transportation back to the SpaceX McGregor test facility in Texas.  Read More

Visible in the top right is a Soyuz spacecraft, ready to ferry three ISS crewmen back to E...

As of April 30, NASA has been running its High Definition Earth Viewing Experiment (HDEV) which, as well as testing certain aspects such as a camera's ability to survive the radiation levels present in low-Earth orbit, is giving viewers the breathtaking experience of observing their planet in exquisite detail from space.  Read More

The 1/26 scale model ISS built by Pat Acton using 282,000 matchsticks and 8 gallons (30 L)...

During the construction of the International Space Station (ISS), material selection was critical given the extreme environment of space. Chances are that one of those materials up for consideration was not matchsticks. But for Pat Acton of Iowa, the idea of designing and building a complete scale model of the ISS out of matchsticks seemed like a perfectly reasonable idea.  Read More

NASA astronaut Mike Hopkins making the first ham video transmission

ESA has announced the inauguration of Ham TV broadcasts from the ISS, which will allow the station to talk to amateur radio operators using video equipment, as well as providing space crews with a backup means of contacting mission control.  Read More

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