Falcon 9 Static Fire ahead of the CRS-17 Dragon mission to the ISS is NET (No Earlier Than) April 25 with the window 11 am to 5 pm local (Eastern). Launch NET April 30. As you know, booster landing will now target the drone ship (ASDS) "Of Course I Still Love You".
Saint-Jacques is also training today to capture the SpaceX resupply ship with the Canadarm2 robotic arm when it arrives next Thursday. Dragon will be the sixth spaceship parked at the station and occupy the Harmony module’s Earth-facing port.
No Rocket, No Static Fire. "Critical Support" window (not the same as the SF window) has moved to point towards a test NET this evening. Totally normal, they have plenty of time to make the 30th on the launch date.
Biomedical and Botany Research Today as Station Preps for Sixth Spacecraft ...
The SpaceX Dragon resupply ship is due to liftoff Tuesday at 4:21 a.m. EDT on its 17th contracted cargo mission to the station. Canadian Space Agency astronaut David Saint-Jacques is training to capture Dragon with the Canadarm2 robotic arm when it arrives Thursday May 2 at 6:50 a.m. A pair of new experiments it is delivering will explore atmospheric carbon dioxide as well as X-ray frequency communication techniques.
NASA to Broadcast Next Space Station Resupply Launch, Prelaunch Activities
Editor's Note: Launch time has been upd ated to 4:21 a.m. EDT and spacecraft capture now is se t for 6:50 a.m. NASA TV coverage off capture will begin at 5 a.m. (Updated April 25, 2019)
NASA commercial cargo provider SpaceX is targeting no earlier than 4:21 a.m. EDT Tuesday, April 30, for the launch of its next resupply mission to the International Space Station. Live coverage will begin on NASA Television and the agency’s website Monday, April 29, with prelaunch events.
This is the 17th SpaceX mission under NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services contract. The Dragon spacecraft will deliver supplies and critical materials to support dozens of the more than 250 science and research investigations that will occur during Expeditions 59 and 60. The spacecraft’sunpressurized trunk will transport NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory-3 (OCO-3) and Space Test Program-Houston 6 (STP-H6).
OCO-3 will be installed robotically on the exterior of the space station’s Japanese Experiment Module Exposed Facility Unit, where it will measure and map carbon dioxide fr om space to increase our understanding of the relationship between carbon and climate. STP-H6 is an X-ray communication investigation that will be used to perform a space-based demonstration of a new technology for generating beams of modulated X-rays. This technology may be useful for providing efficient communication to deep space probes, or communicating with hypersonic vehicles wh ere plasma sheaths prevent traditional radio communications.
The spacecraft will take two days to reach the space station before installation on Thursday, May 2. When it arrives, astronaut David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency will grapple Dragon, with NASA astronaut Nick Hague serving as backup. NASA astronaut Christina Koch will assist by monitoring telemetry during Dragon’s approach. After Dragon capture, mission control in Houston will send commands to the station’s arm to rotate and install the spacecraft on the bottom of the station’s Harmony module.
Full mission coverage is as follows (all times Eastern):
Monday, April 29
10:30 a.m. – What’s on Board science briefing from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. This briefing will highlight the following research:
Mike Roberts, deputy chief scientist of the International Space Station U.S. National Laboratory, will give an overview of the science heading to station as part of the ISS National Lab.
Genes in Space winners Rebecca Li, Aarthi Vijayakumar, Michelle Sung and David Li will discuss their experiment to study how cells repair their own DNA in space.
Kristen John, principal investigator at NASA’s Johnson Space Center, will discuss the Hermes Facility, a reconfigurable testing facility that can accommodate up to four experiments at a time. The facility will be used for investigations into the formation and behavior of asteroids and comets, impact dynamics, and planetary evolution.
Annmarie Eldering, project scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, will discuss how OCO-3 observes the complex dynamics of Earth’s atmospheric carbon cycle.
Lucie Low, scientific program manager at the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences at the National Institutes of Health, and Geraldine Hamilton, president and chief scientific officer of Emulate, Inc.,will discuss Tissue Chips in Space, research that will employ tissue chip technology to develop and advance novel medical technologies on Earth.
1 p.m. – Prelaunch news conference with representatives from NASA’s International Space Station Program, SpaceX and the U.S. Air Force’s 45th Space Wing.
Tuesday, April 30
4 a.m. – NASA TV launch coverage begins for the 4:21 a.m., liftoff
5:30 a.m. – Postlaunch news conference with representatives from NASA’s International Space Station Program and SpaceX.
Thursday, May 2
5 a.m. – Dragon rendezvous and capture coverage begins. Capture is scheduled for approximately 6:50 a.m.
9 a.m. – Dragon installation to the nadir port of the Harmony module of the station
Dragon will remain at the space station until May 31, when the spacecraft will return to Earth with research and return cargo.
Asteroid researchers on Earth will soon gain a powerful new way to remotely conduct experiments aboard the International Space Station. The device, called the Hermes Facility, is an experiment station that can communicate with scientists on the ground and give them the ability to control their studies almost as if they were in space themselves. Hermes will be carried to the space station aboard the SpaceX CRS-17 ferry flight.
Hermes is the creation of Dr. Kristen John, a researcher with the Astromaterials Research and Exploration Science (ARES) division at NASA’s Johnson Space Center (JSC). John and her research team developed Hermes as a way to study how samples of simulated asteroid particles behave in microgravity and the vacuum of space.
Hermes Principal Investigator, Kristen John, stands in front of the Hermes hardware. On the right is the Hermes Facility, and on the the left is Cassette-1, the first set of science experiments to be installed in the Facility.
The material John is studying with Hermes is called asteroid regolith. The term is used for the layer of dusty, fragmented debris covering asteroids and moons created by impacts from meteorites and other forces on their surfaces.
“We need to study this material to understand how it’s going to affect our spacecraft that interact with the surface of asteroids, or the joints of spacesuits worn by astronauts one day exploring them,” John said.
Studying regolith also helps scientists understand the underpinning of how asteroids, moons and planets, such as our Earth, developed.
Messages from Space
John and her team designed Hermes to connect to the station’s existing systems – including communications – so that it could be completely monitored and controlled from the ground. Hermes is also made to be easily adapted to many types of experiments.
“We named it for the Greek messenger god, Hermes, because we’ve designed a system that can deliver research data and experiments back forth between space and scientists,” John said.
The Cassette-1 hardware sits in a lab at Johnson Space Center. The Cassette includes the four experiments, electronics to control the experiments, and a vacuum system on the underside consisting of transducers, pipes, hoses, and valves.
Hermes is roughly the size of a large desktop computer and the experiments themselves are housed inside a removable carrier, called a cassette, which slides into Hermes.
John was assisted in designing and building Hermes by a team consisting of JSC, the University of Central Florida and researchers and students affiliated with Texas A&M University through a partnership with Texas Space, Technology, Applications and Research.
The JSC team included Kenton Fisher, an ARES engineer who led the development of Hermes’ vacuum system, and project manager Veronica Saucedo with the Project Management and Integration Office of the Engineering Directorate.
“There is no greater satisfaction than seeing this project through from concept to delivery,” Saucedo said. “I’m excited to see how the capability of this game-changing facility impacts asteroid, planetary science and exploration research.”
The space station crew will install Hermes into an EXPRESS rack aboard the lab.
“After that, the crew will flip a few switches, and we’ll basically take over from there,” John said.
John’s experiments for Cassette-1 are housed inside four clear, 10-inch plastic tubes containing materials meant to simulate regolith. Three of the tubes hold different-sized particles of silica glass. The fourth tube has a meteorite simulant which is a blend of variously sized particles, formulated especially for the experiment by Professor Addie Dove and students from the University of Central Florida.
“This experiment gave our students a chance to work on hardware that will actually fly on the ISS,” Dove said. “They had to understand the experiment design and fabrication cycle, how to meet specifications and produce a quality product. This is much different than what they have to do in classes and provides valuable experience.”
Over the coming months, John and her team will be watching to see how the regolith particles behave in response to long duration exposure to microgravity, and to changes in pressure, temperature, shocks from impacts and other forces. Once the regolith experiments inside Cassette-1 are complete, it will be removed from Hermes, returned to Earth and replaced with a new cassette of different experiments.
International Space Station Program Science Office
Johnson Space Center
Last Updated: April 25, 2019
Editor: Noah Michelsohn
An astronaut on the International Space Station captured this image of the Florida peninsula April 20. Credit: NASA
A $110 million NASA science instrument twice targeted for cancellation by the Trump administration is set for launch Tuesday inside the trunk of a SpaceX Dragon cargo capsule for delivery to the International Space Station, where it will spend three years charting changing carbon dioxide concentrations in Earth’s atmosphere.
Once mounted outside the space station’s Kibo lab module, the instrument package will scan the planet between 52 degrees north and 52 degrees south latitude with the sensitivity to measure carbon dioxide levels to a precision better than one part per million, or within about 0.3 to 0.5 percent of the total carbon dioxide present in the atmosphere.
The Orbiting Carbon Observatory-3, or OCO-3, instrument is a follow-up to NASA’s OCO-2 satellite launched in 2014. OCO-2 was designed for a two-year mission, but continues collecting carbon dioxide data in its fifth year of operations.
“The key motivation for the OCO-3 experiment is to continue this record of carbon dioxide,” said Annmarie Eldering, OCO-3 project scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. “OCO-2 was built to last two years, we’ve had it up there for four years, but there’s always a risk it’s not going to survive.
“We’d like to have measurements that cover a long duration, and OCO-3 is going to help add to that record,” Eldering said.
OCO-3’s high-resolution spectrometers are fitted to an Earth-pointing telescope with the ability to scan side-to-side, allowing the instrument to measure carbon dioxide in 50-mile by 50-mile (80-kilometer) squares in as little as two minutes. Within that zone, OCO-3 can collect a snapshot of carbon dioxide levels over 1-mile-wide (1.6-kilometer) footprints.
The instrument will also observe faint light emitted by plants during photosynthesis, the process by which they convert light into energy, breathing in carbon dioxide and putting out oxygen. The light signal is called solar-induced fluorescence.
“When plants are doing photosynthesis, they emit a little bit of light, and we can sense that light in our measurements,” Eldering said. “So we have a measure of plant photosynthesis activity in combination with the carbon dioxide.”
Teams at JPL built OCO-3 around a spare instrument originally manufactured for OCO-2, but the new mission is more than a carbon copy, according to NASA scientists.
OCO-2 flies in a polar sun-synchronous orbit providing nearly global coverage, whereas the space station’s orbit does not pass over the poles. OCO-2’s orbit is timed to allow the spacecraft to fly over the same region of the planet in the early afternoon — roughly 1:30 p.m. local time — every day.
An illustration of the OCO-3 instrument’s scanning path under the space station’s orbit. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
The space station’s orbit is not synchronized with the sun, allowing observations over time to cover the entire day, fr om sunrise to sunset.
“That’s really important because plants respond to sun, so we need to see them behaving across the day,” Eldering said.
“We can see how they’re acting in the morning, at midday, what happens when it’s really hot in the afternoon?” she said.
And OCO-2 flies at an altitude of around 438 miles (705 kilometers), nearly 200 miles (300 kilometers) above the space station’s orbit.
“It is the same spectrometer (as OCO-2),” Eldering told reporters Monday. “The telescope is a little different because the orbit altitude is a little different.”
The OCO-3 mission cost around $110 million, including expenses to modify the already-built sensors for use on the space station, according to Eldering. NASA spent $467 million on the instrument, spacecraft and launch vehicle for the OCO-2 mission. Most of those expenses are not required for a hosted payload flying on the space station.
NASA’s efforts to establish a series of carbon dioxide-monitoring satellites have faced setbacks.
The first Orbiting Carbon Observatory, or OCO-1, was lost in a launch failure on a Taurus XL rocket in 2009. The Obama administration approved the OCO-2 replacement mission, which launched in July 2014 on a Delta 2 booster, and the follow-on OCO-3 mission using spare hardware.
Since the beginning of the Trump administration, the White House twice proposed eliminating OCO-3 fr om NASA’s budget, along with other Earth science missions, including the Earth-facing instruments on the Deep Space Climate Observatory spacecraft stationed a million miles (1.5 million kilometers) fr om Earth.
The Trump administration has also proposed cancelling the Plankton, Aerosol, Cloud, ocean Ecosystem, or PACE, satellite mission, and the Climate Absolute Radiance and Refractivity Observatory Pathfinder, or CLARREO Pathfinder mission, on three occasions. The White House’s fiscal year 2020 budget proposal, released earlier this year, did away with the request to terminate funding for the OCO-3 and DSCOVR missions.
Congress continued to fund OCO-3 and the other Earth science missions in fiscal year 2018 and 2019 budget bills signed by President Trump, keeping the projects alive.
NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory-3 (OCO-3) and the U.S. military’s Space Test Program-Houston 6 (STP-H6) payloads are in view installed in the trunk of SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft inside the SpaceX facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on March 23, 2019. Credit: NASA
“Since about the start of the industrial revolution, we’ve seen CO2 levels in the atmosphere increase by about 30 percent,” said Ralph Basilio, NASA’s OCO-3 project manager at JPL. “Human activity is causing a tipping of the scales, this very fine delicate balance that we have in what we call the carbon cycle.”
“OCO-3 is going to specifically produce a dataset of carbon dioxide measurements,” Basilio said. “We’d like to be able to keep an eye on this atmospheric CO2. Wh ere did it come from? Wh ere is it going? And how is it related to other global processes?”
Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas, and scientists say rising levels of CO2 in the atmosphere caused by the burning of fossil fuels is driving temperatures warmer. Like its predecessor OCO-2, the OCO-3 instrument will seek to identify natural and human-made sources and sinks of carbon dioxide, places wh ere the gas is emitted into the atmosphere and ingested into plants and oceans.
Eldering said plants and oceans take out about half of the carbon dioxide produced by human activity, dampening the impact of rising CO2 emissions. But there’s some variability year-to-year.
“We think it’s tied to things like El Niño, drought, precipitation and temperature, but we really need to understand more if we want to predict accurately what will happen in the future,” Eldering said. “We’ve got to understand these processes.”
Using the new targeted pointing capability, which is not available on the OCO-2 satellite, the OCO-3 instrument will take snapshots of carbon dioxide concentrations over the oceans, forested regions, volcanoes, cities and industrial zones, such as power plants.
“This capability of OCO-3 to map out some of those areas and start to see some change over time, that really is how we’re going to advance our understanding and our modeling for the future of understanding our climate,” Eldering said.
OCO-3’s ability to measure carbon dioxide at all times of the day will also help scientists collect more observations without interference from clouds, which are more prevalent in the afternoon, when OCO-2 flies overhead.
“For example, the vast carbon stores of the rapidly changing Amazon rainforest are a critical part of Earth’s carbon cycle, but when OCO-2 flies over the forest at about 1:30 p.m., afternoon clouds have usually built up, hiding the region from the instrument’s view,” NASA said in a press release. “OCO-3 will pass the Amazon at all times of day, capturing far more cloud-free data.
In the above video, scientists used data from NASA’s OCO-2 satellite to create a model of carbon dioxide motion in the atmosphere from Sept. 1, 2014, to Aug. 31, 2015.
The OCO-3 instrument is about the size of a refrigerator. The package will ride to the space station in the rear payload bay of a SpaceX Dragon cargo capsule set for launch Tuesday from Cape Canaveral.
Assuming an on-time launch, the robotic cargo carrier is scheduled to arrive at the space station next Thursday, May 2. Several days later, the station’s Canadian-built Dextre robot will pull the instrument from the Dragon spacecraft’s unpressurized trunk and hand it off to a Japanese robotic arm, which will position OCO-3 on the external science deck outside of the station’s Kibo lab module.
After activation, OCO-3 is designed to collect carbon dioxide data for at least three years, and it requires no assistance from the astronauts living on the space station.
OCO-3 will be joined in the Dragon’s trunk by a pallet sponsored by the U.S. military’s Space Test Program containing multiple experiments for the Defense Department, NASA and university researchers. The STP-H6 payload will also be mounted outside the space station to conduct its investigations, which include an X-ray communications experiment that could prove useful for deep space probes and hypersonic missiles.
Several tons of food, experiments and supplies will also ride to the station inside the Dragon capsule’s pressurized compartment.
#SpaceX is now targeting no-earlier than May 1st for the launch of #CRS17 from SLC-40 at Cape Canaveral. April 30th is no longer possible due to delays with the static fire which is now scheduled for Saturday.