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    • By Space Force
      Air Marshal Paul Godfrey took the position June 17 and will serve the U.S. Space Force as assistant chief of Space Operations for Future Concepts and Partnerships after three years as the first commander of the U.K. Space Command.

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    • By NASA
      When the first humans travel to the Red Planet, they will need to know how to repair and maintain equipment, grow their own food, and stay healthy, all while contending with Earth-to-Mars communication delays. They must also find ways to build comradery and have fun. 

      The first all-volunteer CHAPEA (Crew Health and Performance Exploration Analog) crew accomplished all of that and more during their 378-day analog mission on the surface of Mars.  

      Living in the isolated Mars Dune Alpha, a 3D-printed, 1,700-square-foot habitat, crew members Kelly Haston, Ross Brockwell, Nathan Jones, and Anca Selariu faced the rigors of a simulated Mars expedition, enduring stressors akin to those of a real mission to the Red Planet. They also celebrated holidays and birthdays, gave each other haircuts, and found moments of levity in isolation. Their journey will help scientists understand the challenges of deep space missions and offer invaluable insights into the resilience of the human spirit. 
      NASA’s CHAPEA (Crew Health and Performance Exploration Analog) crew member Kelly Haston greets Deputy Director of Flight Operations Kjell Lindgren and Johnson Space Center Deputy Director Stephen Koerner at the habitat’s door. NASA/Josh Valcarcel As the crew concluded their journey on July 6, NASA astronaut and Deputy Director of Flight Operations Kjell Lindgren opened the habitat door and welcomed them home. 

      “The crew and their families have committed a year of their lives in service to NASA, the country, and humanity’s exploration of space. Thank you to for committing yourselves to research that will enable our future exploration of space,” he said. “Your fingerprints are going to be an indelible part of those first footprints on Mars.” 

      The CHAPEA crew brought their diverse backgrounds and experiences to the mission, collaborating with NASA’s scientists and engineers to collect data that will provide insight into maintaining crew health and performance for future missions to Mars. 
      PHOTO DATE: July 06, 2024 LOCATION: Bldg. 220 – CHAPEA Habitat SUBJECT: ASA Crew Health and Performance Exploration Analog (CHAPEA) Mars Analog Mission 1 Egress Event with crew Anca Selariu, Nathan Jones, Kelly Haston, Ross Brockwell. PHOTOGRAPHER: NASA/Josh ValcarcelNASA/Josh Valcarcel Kelly Haston: Mission Commander and Pioneering Scientist 

      Haston, the mission commander, is a research scientist who builds human disease models. She has spearheaded innovative stem cell-based projects, deriving multiple cell types for work in infertility, liver disease, and neurodegeneration. Her role was pivotal in maintaining crew morale and ensuring the success of daily operations. 
      She highlighted the importance of teamwork and adaptability in a mission with such high stakes.
      “We had to rely on each other and our training to navigate the challenges we faced,” she said. “Every day brought new obstacles, but also new opportunities for growth and learning.” 

      Nathan Jones: Medical Officer and Expert Communicator 

      Jones, the crew medical officer, used his emergency and international medicine experience to tackle the unique challenges of the Mars mission. His expertise in problem-solving and effective communication in a time-sensitive and resource-limited environment was essential due to the approximately one-hour transmission delay. “Even something as simple as when to communicate is important,” said Jones. The crew had to consider what observations were essential to report to each other or Mission Control to avoid overburdening the team or unnecessarily using the limited bandwidth to Earth. 

      “Everything we do in CHAPEA is touched by the heroes working on the ground at NASA,” he said. “We couldn’t ask for a better experience or better people to work with.” 

      The experience evolved into a journey of personal growth for Jones. “I am constantly looking forward, planning for the future,” he said. “I learned to take time to enjoy the current season and be patient for the coming ones.” 
      He also discovered a new hobby: art. “I have even surprised myself with how well some of my sketches have turned out,” he said. 

      Anca Selariu: Microbiologist and Innovative Thinker 

      Anca Selariu brought expertise as a microbiologist in the U.S. Navy, with a background in viral vaccine discovery, prion transmission, gene therapy development, and infectious disease research management. 

      Selariu expressed that she owes much to the Navy, including her involvement in CHAPEA, as it helped shape her both personally and professionally. “I hope to bring back a fresh perspective, along with a strong inclination to think differently about a problem, and test which questions are worth asking before we set out answering them,” she said.  

      Reflecting on the mission, Selariu said, “Every day seemed to be a new revelation about something; about Earth, about art, about humans, about cultures, about the history of life in the universe – what little we know of it.” 
      She added, “As much as I appreciate having information at my fingertips, I will miss the luxury of being unplugged in a world that now validates humans by their digital presence.”  

      Ross Brockwell: Structural Engineer and Problem Solver 

      Brockwell, the mission’s flight engineer, focused on infrastructure, building design, and organizational leadership. His structural engineering background influenced his approach to problem solving in the CHAPEA habitat. 
      “An engineering perspective leads you to build an understanding of how things will react and interact, anticipate possible failure points, and ensure redundancy and contingency planning,” he said. 

      That mindset helped the crew develop creative solutions to mission challenges, such as using a 3D printer to design part adapters and tools and find ways to connect as a team. “Several things we wanted to do for fun required innovation, one being developing a bracket so we could safely and securely mount our mini-basketball hoop,” he said. 
      He advises Artemis Generation members interested in contributing to future analog missions to think about systems engineering theory and learn to develop and integrate whole systems while solving individual challenges.  

      Brockwell believes the most important attributes for a CHAPEA crew member are imagination and a strong sense of wonder. “Of course, one needs to have patience, self-control, emotional regulation, and a sense of humor,” he said. “I would also add perspective, which means understanding the importance of exploration missions on behalf of humankind and appreciating being part of something greater than oneself.” 
      The CHAPEA crew is “back on Earth” after their 378-day mission inside the simulated Martian habitat. NASA /Josh Valcarcel A Vision for the Future 
      As the first CHAPEA mission concludes, the data collected and experiences shared by the crew will pave the way for future explorations, bringing humanity one step closer to setting foot on Mars.  
      “One of the biggest things I have learned on this long-duration mission is that we should never underestimate the effects of small gains over time,” said Jones. “Be willing to do the hard things now and it may make all the difference for the future.” 
      Selariu emphasized the importance of interdisciplinary collaboration in upcoming space missions. “What everyone at CHAPEA seems to have in common is passion for space and drive to pursue it no matter the challenges, inconvenience, and personal sacrifices.” 
      Brockwell looks forward to missions to the Red Planet becoming a reality. “It still fills me with awe and excitement to think that one day there will be people on the surface of other worlds, overcoming immense challenges and expanding the existence and awareness of life from Earth.” 
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    • By NASA
      Several transient luminous events illuminate pockets of Earth’s upper atmosphere. A line of thunderstorms off the coast of South Africa powers the rare phenomena. NASA/Matthew Dominick NASA astronaut Matthew Dominick photographed red sprites in Earth’s upper atmosphere from the International Space Station on June 3, 2024. The bright red flashes (more easily seen by clicking on the photo to see a larger version) are a less understood phenomena associated with powerful lightning events and appear high above the clouds in the mesosphere. Transient Luminous Events (TLEs), including red sprites, are colorful bursts of energy that appear above storms as a result of lightning activity occurring in and below storms on Earth.
      Crew members typically capture TLEs with wide focal lengths during Earth timelapses. Instruments mounted outside station, like Atmosphere-Space Interactions Monitor (ASIM), can capture a range of data for researchers on Earth using cameras, photometers, X-ray and gamma-ray detectors. Learn more about seeing storms from space. 
      While space station crew hunt for TLEs from space, you can help right here on Earth: send your photographs of sprites and other TLEs to NASA’s citizen science project, Spritacular, to contribute to a crowdsourced database that professional scientists can use for research.
      Image Credit: NASA/Matthew Dominick
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    • By NASA
      The inaugural CHAPEA (Crew Health and Performance Exploration Analog) crew is “back on Earth” after walking out of their simulated Martian habitat at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston on July 6. The first of three simulated missions, CHAPEA Mission 1 was designed to help scientists, engineers, and mission planners better understand how living on another world could affect human health and performance.
      Kelly Haston, commander, Ross Brockwell, flight engineer, Nathan Jones, medical officer, and Anca Selariu, science officer, lived and worked in an isolated 1,700-square-foot, 3D-printed habitat to support human health and performance research to prepare for future missions to Mars.
      “Congratulations to the crew of CHAPEA Mission 1 on their completion of a year in a Mars-simulated environment,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “Through the Artemis missions, we will use what we learn on and around the Moon to take the next giant leap: sending the first astronauts to Mars. The CHAPEA missions are critical to developing the knowledge and tools needed for humans to one day live and work on the Red Planet.”
      The crew stepped out of the habitat and back into the arms of family and friends after a 378-day simulated Mars surface mission that began June 25, 2023.
      This high-fidelity simulation involved the crew carrying out different types of mission objectives, including simulated “marswalks,” robotic operations, habitat maintenance, exercise, and crop growth. The crew also faced intentional environmental stressors in their habitat such as resource limitations, isolation, and confinement. For the next two weeks, the volunteers will complete post-mission data collection activities before returning home.
      “We planned the last 378 days with many of the challenges crews could face on Mars and this crew dedicated their lives over that time to achieve these unprecedented operational objectives,” said CHAPEA Principal Investigator Grace Douglas. “I am looking forward to diving into the data we have gathered, preparing for CHAPEA Mission 2 and eventually, a human presence on Mars.”
      As NASA works to establish a long-term presence for scientific discovery and exploration on the Moon through the Artemis campaign, analog missions like CHAPEA provide scientific data to validate systems and develop technological solutions for future missions to Mars.
      Two additional one-year CHAPEA missions are planned, with the next targeted to begin in 2025. The subsequent missions will be nearly identical, allowing researchers to collect data from more participants to expand the dataset and provide a broader perspective on the impacts of Mars-realistic resource limitations, isolation and confinement on human health and performance.
      NASA has several other avenues for gathering isolation research, including the Human Exploration Research Analog, Antarctica, and other analogs, as well as human spaceflight missions to the International Space Station to ensure key research goals can be completed to inform future human missions to the Moon and Mars.
      The CHAPEA simulated missions are unique because they test the impacts of extended isolation and confinement with the addition of Mars-realistic time delays of communicating to Earth – up to 44-minutes roundtrip – along with resource limitations relevant to Mars, including a more limited food system that can be supported on the space station and in other analogs.
      To view the ceremony of crew exiting their habitat, visit here.
      Under NASA’s Artemis campaign, the agency will establish the foundation for long-term scientific exploration at the Moon, land the first woman, first person of color, and its first international partner astronaut on the lunar surface, and prepare for human expeditions to Mars for the benefit of all.
      Learn more about CHAPEA at:
      www.nasa.gov/humans-in-space/chapea/
      View the full article
    • By NASA
      On July 8, 1994, space shuttle Columbia took to the skies on its 17th trip into space, on the second International Microgravity Laboratory (IML-2) mission. Six space agencies sponsored 82 life and microgravity science experiments. The seven-person crew consisted of Commander Robert D. Cabana, Pilot James D. Halsell, Payload Commander Richard J. Hieb, Mission Specialists Carl E. Walz, Leroy Chiao, and Donald A. Thomas, and Payload Specialist Chiaki Mukai representing the National Space Development Agency (NASDA) of Japan, now the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. Jean-Jacques H. Favier of the French space agency CNES served as a backup payload specialist. During their then-record setting 15-day shuttle flight, the international team of astronauts successfully completed the science program. They returned to earth on July 23.

      Left: The STS-65 crew patch. Middle: Official photo of the STS-65 crew of Richard J. Hieb, seated left, Robert D. Cabana, and Donald A. Thomas; Leroy Chiao, standing left, James D. Halsell, Chiaki Mukai of Japan, and Carl E. Walz. Right: The payload patch for the International Microgravity Laboratory-2.
      In August 1973, NASA and the European Space Research Organization, reorganized as the European Space Agency (ESA) in 1975, agreed to build a reusable laboratory called Spacelab to fly in the space shuttle’s cargo bay. As part of the agreement, ESA built two pressurized modules in addition to other supporting hardware. First flying on STS-9 in 1983, the 18-foot-long pressurized Spacelab module made its 10th flight on STS-65. In September 1992 NASA named Hieb as the IML-2 payload commander and Mukai and Favier as prime and backup payload specialists, respectively, adding Chiao and Thomas as mission specialists in October 1992, finally designating Cabana, Halsell, and Walz as the orbiter crew in August 1993. For Cabana and Hieb, both selected as astronauts in 1985, STS-65 marked their third spaceflight.  NASA selected Halsell, Walz, Chiao, and Thomas in 1990, in the class nicknamed The Hairballs. Walz would make his second flight, with the other three making their first. NASDA selected Mukai in 1985 and she holds the distinction as the first Japanese woman in space. Chiao and Mukai as part of the STS-65 crew marked the first time that two Asians flew on the shuttle at the same time, and with Kazakh cosmonaut Talgat A. Musbayev aboard Mir, the first time that three people of Asian origins flew in space at the same time.

      Left: The STS-65 crew during preflight training at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. Right: Technicians at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida prepare the Spacelab module for the STS-65 mission.
      Columbia returned to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida following its previous flight, STS-62, in March 1994. Technicians in KSC’s Orbiter Processing Facility (OPF) serviced the orbiter, removed the previous payload, and installed the Spacelab module in the payload bay. Following a successful leak check of the Spacelab module, rollover of Columbia from the OPF to the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) took place on June 8, where workers mated it with an external tank (ET) and two solid rocket boosters (SRBs). Following integrated testing, the stack rolled out to Launch Pad 39A seven days later. The crew participated in the Terminal Countdown Demonstration Test on June 22.

      Liftoff of space shuttle Columbia on STS-65 carrying the second International Microgravity Laboratory.
      On July 8, 1994, precisely on time, Columbia thundered off KSC’s Launch Pad 39A to begin the STS-65 mission. For the first time in shuttle history, a video camera recorded the liftoff from the orbiter’s flight deck, showing the vibrations during the first two minutes while the SRBs fired, smoothing out once the shuttle main engines took over. Mounted inside Columbia’s payload bay, the Spacelab 18-foot-long module provided a shirt-sleeve environment for the astronauts to conduct the scientific experiments. As during many Spacelab missions, the STS-65 crew carried out science operations 24-hours a day, divided into two teams – the red shift comprised Cabana, Halsell, Hieb, and Mukai, while Chiao, Thomas, and Walz made up the blue shift.

      Left: Still image from video recorded on the shuttle’s flight deck during powered ascent. Middle: James D. Halsell, left, and Carl E. Walz moments after Columbia reached orbit. Right: View of the Spacelab module in the shuttle’s payload bay.

      Left: Richard J. Hieb opens the hatch from the airlock to the tunnel leading to the Spacelab module. Middle: Hieb and Chiaki Mukai begin activating Spacelab and its experiments. Right: The view from the tunnel showing astronauts at work in the Spacelab module.
      After reaching orbit, the crew opened the payload bay doors and deployed the shuttle’s radiators, and removed their bulky launch and entry suits, stowing them for the remainder of the flight. Shortly after, Hieb opened the hatch to the transfer tunnel and translated through it to enter the Spacelab module for the first time. He and Mukai activated the module and turned on the first experiments. For the next 14 days, the astronauts worked round the clock, with Cabana, Halsell, and Walz managing the shuttle’s systems while Hieb, Chiao, Thomas, and Mukai conducted the bulk of the research. The astronauts commemorated the 25th anniversary of the Apollo 11 launch on July 16 and the Moon landing four days later, recalling that their spacecraft and the Command Module shared the name Columbia.

      Left: Chiaki Mukai of the National Space Development Agency of Japan, now the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, talks to students in Japan using the shuttle’s amateur radio. Middle: Richard J. Hieb, left, and Robert D. Cabana take an air sample from an experiment. Right: Hieb in the Lower Body Negative Pressure device.

      Left: Donald A. Thomas, left, Leroy Chiao, Richard J. Hieb, and Chiaki Mukai at work in the Spacelab module. Middle: Chiao, left, and Thomas work on the Biorack instruments. Right: Goldfish swim in the Aquatic Animal Experiment Unit.

      Left: Robert D. Cabana uses the shuttle’s amateur radio. Middle: Leroy Chiao looks out at the Earth. Right: Carl E. Walz working on the shuttle’s flight deck.

      Left: Carl E. Walz flies through the Spacelab module. Middle: Donald A. Thomas gives two thumbs up for the crew’s performance during the mission. Right: Thomas, left, Walz, and Leroy Chiao pay tribute to Apollo 11 on the 25th anniversary of the Moon landing mission.

      Left: The first time two Asians fly on the shuttle at the same time – Chiaki Mukai, left, of the National Space Development Agency of Japan, now the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, left, and NASA astronaut Leroy Chiao. Middle: Donald A. Thomas, left, James D. Halsell, Carl E. Walz, and Chiao, all selected in 1990 as part of astronaut class 13, nicknamed The Hairballs. Right: Inflight photograph of the STS-65 crew.

      A selection of the STS-65 crew Earth observation photographs. Left: Rio de Janeiro. Middle: Barrier islands in Papua New Guinea. Right: Hurricane Emilia in the central Pacific Ocean.

      Left: James D. Halsell uses the laptop-based PILOT to train for the entry and landing. Middle: The astronauts close Columbia’s payload bay doors prior to entry. Right: Flash of plasma seen through Columbia’s overhead window during reentry.
      At the end of 13 days, the astronauts finished the last of the experiments and deactivated the Spacelab module. Managers waved off the planned landing on July 22 due to cloudy weather at KSC. On July 23, the astronauts closed the hatch to the Spacelab module for the final time, closed Columbia’s payload bay doors, donned their launch and entry suits, and strapped themselves into their seats for entry and landing. Cabana piloted Columbia to a smooth landing on KSC’s Shuttle Landing Facility, completing 236 orbits around the Earth in 14 days, 17 hours, and 55 minutes, at the time the longest shuttle flight. Mukai set a then-record for the longest single flight by a woman. In October 1994, Columbia returned to its manufacturer, Rockwell International in Palmdale, California, for scheduled modification and refurbishment before its next mission, STS-73, in October 1995.

      Left: Robert D. Cabana pilots Columbia during the final approach to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida, with the Vehicle Assembly Building visible through the window. Middle: Columbia touches down on KSC’s Shuttle Landing Facility to end the STS-65 mission. Right: Donald A. Thomas, left, and Cabana give a thumbs up after the successful mission.
      The two Spacelab modules flew a total of 16 times, the last one during the STS-90 Neurolab mission in April 1998. Visitors can view the module that flew on STS-65 and eight other missions on display at the Stephen F. Udvar-Hazy Center of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum in Chantilly, Virginia. The other module resides at the Airbus Defence and Space plant in Bremen, Germany, and not accessible to the public.

      The Spacelab long module that flew on STS-65 and eight other missions on display at the Stephen F. Udvar-Hazy Center of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum in Chantilly, Virginia.
      Enjoy the crew narrate a video about the STS-65 mission. Read Cabana’s and Chiao’s recollections of the STS-65 mission in their oral histories with the JSC History Office.
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