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    • By NASA
      Roscosmos cosmonaut Konstantin Borisov, left, ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Andreas Mogensen, NASA astronaut Jasmin Moghbeli, and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Satoshi Furukawa are seen inside the SpaceX Dragon Endurance spacecraft onboard the SpaceX recovery ship MEGAN shortly after having landed in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Pensacola, Florida, Tuesday, March 12, 2024. Moghbeli, Mogensen, Furukawa, and Borisov are returning after nearly six-months in space as part of Expedition 70 aboard the International Space Station. NASA/Joel Kowsky NASA’s SpaceX Crew-7 completed the agency’s seventh commercial crew rotation mission to the International Space Station on Tuesday after splashing down safely in a Dragon spacecraft off the coast of Pensacola, Florida. The international crew of four spent 199 days in orbit.
      NASA astronaut Jasmin Moghbeli, ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Andreas Mogensen, JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Satoshi Furukawa, and Roscosmos cosmonaut Konstantin Borisov, returned to Earth splashing down at 5:47 a.m. EDT. Teams aboard SpaceX recovery vessels retrieved the spacecraft and its crew. After returning to shore, the crew will fly to NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.
      “After more than six months aboard the International Space Station, NASA’s SpaceX Crew-7 has safely returned home,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “This international crew showed that space unites us all. It’s clear that we can do more – we can learn more – when we work together. The science experiments conducted during their time in space will help prepare for NASA’s bold missions at the Moon, Mars, and beyond, all while benefitting humanity here on Earth.”
      The Crew-7 mission lifted off at 3:27 a.m. Aug. 26, 2023, on a Falcon 9 rocket from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. About 30 hours later, Dragon docked to the Harmony module’s space-facing port. Crew-7 undocked at 11:20 a.m. Monday, March 11, to begin the trip home.

      Moghbeli, Mogensen, Furukawa, and Borisov traveled 84,434,094 miles during their mission, spent 197 days aboard the space station, and completed 3,184 orbits around Earth. The Crew-7 mission was the first spaceflight for Moghbeli and Borisov. Mogensen has logged 209 days in space over his two flights, and Furukawa has logged 366 days in space over his two flights.
      Throughout their mission, the Crew-7 members contributed to a host of science and maintenance activities and technology demonstrations. Moghbeli conducted one spacewalk, joined by NASA astronaut Loral O’Hara, replacing one of the 12 trundle bearing assemblies on the port solar alpha rotary joint, which allows the arrays to track the Sun and generate electricity to power the station.
      The crew contributed to hundreds of experiments and technology demonstrations, including the first study of human response to different spaceflight durations, and an experiment growing food on the space station.
      This was the third flight of the Dragon spacecraft, named Endurance. It also previously supported the Crew-3 and Crew-5 missions. The spacecraft will return to Florida for inspection and processing at SpaceX’s refurbishing facility at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, where teams will inspect the Dragon, analyze data on its performance, and process it for its next flight.
      The Crew-7 flight is part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program and its return to Earth follows on the heels of NASA’s SpaceX Crew-8 launch, which docked to the station March 5, beginning another science expedition.
      The goal of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program is safe, reliable, and cost-effective transportation to and from the International Space Station and low Earth orbit. This already is providing additional research time and has increased the opportunity for discovery aboard humanity’s microgravity testbed for exploration, including helping NASA prepare for human exploration of the Moon and Mars.
      Learn more about NASA’s Commercial Crew program at:
      Joshua Finch
      Headquarters, Washington
      Steve Siceloff
      Kennedy Space Center, Florida
      Leah Cheshier
      Johnson Space Center, Houston
      View the full article
    • By European Space Agency
      Video: 00:03:29 Mission complete. ESA’s second European Remote Sensing (ERS-2) satellite has reentered Earth’s atmosphere over the North Pacific Ocean. The satellite returned at 18:17 CET (17:17 UTC) between Alaska and Hawaii.
      ERS-2 was launched almost 30 years ago, on 21 April 1995. Together with ERS-1, it provided invaluable long-term data on Earth’s land surfaces, ocean temperatures, ozone layer and polar ice extent that revolutionised our understanding of the Earth system.
      ERS-2’s reentry was ‘natural’. ESA used the last of its fuel, emptied its batteries and lowered the satellite from its altitude of 785 km to 573 km. This reduced the risk of collision with other satellites and space debris. As a result, it was not possible to control ERS-2 at any point during its reentry and the only force driving its descent was unpredictable atmospheric drag.
      As well as leaving a remarkable legacy of data that still continue to advance science, this outstanding mission set the stage for many of today’s satellites and ESA’s position at the forefront of Earth observation.
      The ERS-2 reentry is part of ESA's wider efforts to ensure the long-term sustainability of space activities. These include ESA's Clean Space initiative which promotes the development of new technologies for more sustainable space missions in collaboration with the wider European space community, as well as the Zero Debris Approach, which will even further reduce the debris left in both Earth and lunar orbits by future missions.
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    • By European Space Agency
      After 20 days in space, ESA project astronaut Marcus Wandt returned to Earth today at 13:30 GMT/14:30 CET, marking the end of his Muninn mission to the International Space Station (ISS).
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    • By NASA
      On Oct. 29, 1998, NASA astronaut John H. Glenn made history again when he returned to space aboard space shuttle Discovery’s STS-95 mission, nearly 37 years after becoming the first American in orbit during his February 1962 Friendship 7 mission. The seven-member STS-95 crew consisted of Commander Curtis L. Brown, Pilot Steven W. Lindsey, Mission Specialists Stephen K. Robinson, Dr. Scott E. Parazynski, and Pedro F. Duque of the European Space Agency, and Payload Specialists Dr. Chiaki Mukai of the National Space Development Agency of Japan, now the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, and Glenn, who at age 77 became the oldest person to orbit the Earth, a record that stands to this day. During the nine-day mission, they conducted more than 80 experiments, many of them to study how exposure to weightlessness might relate to the aging process.

      Left: The STS-95 crew during their introductory press conference. Right: President William J. “Bill” Clinton introduces the STS-95 crew, including Senator John H. Glenn, during a ceremony at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.
      Glenn, whom NASA essentially grounded after his historic 1962 mission for fear of losing a national hero in a spaceflight accident, had always dreamed of returning to space. Upon learning about the physiological changes that occur during spaceflight, and how they somewhat resemble those brought about by aging, now Senator Glenn began lobbying NASA Administrator Daniel S. Goldin for an opportunity to put that theory to the test, by volunteering himself as a subject. Goldin agreed in principle, providing Glenn passed the same physicals as all the other astronauts and that the flight included valuable peer-reviewed research. Glenn did, and teams at NASA working with the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute on Aging to put together a research program of experiments to study bone and muscle loss, balance disorders, sleep disturbances, and changes in the immune system. In addition, the mission conducted other experiments in fields such as materials processing, protein crystal growth, cell biology, and plant growth. Also part of the mission, the SPARTAN 201-5 free-flyer pallet carried instruments to study the Sun’s corona and the solar wind. On Jan. 16, 1998, NASA announced that Glenn would fly as a payload specialist on STS-95. On Feb. 13, the agency announced the rest of the STS-95 crew, who held a press conference at NASA’s Johnson Space Center (JSC) on Feb. 20, coincidentally the 36th anniversary of Glenn’s Friendship 7 flight. During a visit to JSC on April 14, President William J. “Bill” Clinton introduced the STS-95 astronauts.

      Left: STS-95 astronauts Steven W. Lindsey, seated left, and Curtis L. Brown; Scott E. Parazynski, standing left, Stephen K. Robinson, Chiaki Mukai of the National Space Development Agency of Japan, now the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, Pedro F. Duque of the European Space Agency, and John H. Glenn. Middle: The STS-95 crew patch. Right: Liftoff of space shuttle Discovery on the STS-95 mission, returning Glenn to orbit.
      Space shuttle Discovery’s 25th liftoff took place at 2:19 p.m. EDT on Oct. 29, 1998, from Launch Pad 39B at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida, carrying a double Spacehab module filled with scientific equipment. Brown, making his fifth trip into space and second as commander, and Pilot Lindsey on his second launch, monitored Discovery’s systems as they climbed into orbit, assisted by Mission Specialist Parazynski, a physician making his third trip into space, serving as the flight engineer. Mission Specialist Duque accompanied them on the flight deck. Mission Specialist Robinson, on his second mission, and Payload Specialists Mukai, also a physician and on her second trip to space, and Glenn experienced launch in the shuttle’s middeck.

      Left: View of the Spacehab module and the Canadian robotic arm in Discovery’s payload bay. Middle: The crew’s first view of the interior of the Spacehab module. Right: Chiaki Mukai, left, and Stephen K. Robinson begin activating the Spacehab.
      Upon reaching orbit, the crew opened the payload bay doors, thus deploying the shuttle’s radiators. Shortly after, the crew opened the hatch from the shuttle’s middeck, translated down the transfer tunnel, and entered Spacehab for the first time, activating the module and turning on the first experiments. These included the life sciences experiments that Glenn conducted to compare the effects of weightlessness and aging.

      Left: Physician astronaut Dr. Scott E. Parazynski, left, prepares to draw a blood sample from John H. Glenn. Middle: Glenn, left, and Parazynski prepare to centrifuge the collected blood sample. Right: Glenn, instrumented for a sleep study, prepares to begin his sleep period.

      Left: The STS-95 astronauts use the Canadian-built Remote Manipulator system, or robotic arm, to release the SPARATAN 201-5 free flyer. Middle: Stephen K. Robinson operates the RMS to retrieve the SPARTAN after its four-day autonomous flight. Right: Robinson places the SPARTAN back in the shuttle’s payload bay.
      On the mission’s second day, the crew deployed the PANSAT, a small experimental communications satellite built by the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California. Later in the day, Robinson used the Canadian-built Remote Manipulator System (RMS) or robotic arm to grapple the SPARTAN free flyer. He removed it from its cradle in the payload bay and deployed it for its four-day independent mission. It successfully completed its autonomous flight, traveling up to 30 miles from the shuttle. On flight day 6, Robinson used the RMS to capture SPARTAN and placed it back in its cradle in the payload bay.

      Left: Stephen K. Robinson processes a sample in the Advanced Gradient Heating Facility (AGHF). Right: John H. Glenn operates the Osteoporosis Experiment in Orbit (OSTEO) payload investigating the behavior of bone cells in microgravity.

      Left: Scott E. Parazynski prepares an experiment in the Microgravity Science Glovebox. Right: Chiaki Mukai examines plants grown in the Biological Research in Canisters (BRIC) experiment.
      For the remainder of the mission, the seven-member crew busied itself with conducting the 80 experiments in the shuttle’s middeck, the Spacehab, and in the payload bay.

      Left: Chiaki Mukai operates the Vestibular Function Experiment Unit (VFEU) investigation the vestibular systems of toadfish. Middle: John H. Glenn removes cartridges from the Advanced Separation (ADSEP) experiment. Right: Steven Lindsey operates the BIOBOX used to store biological samples.

      Left: Pedro F. Duque operates the Microencapsulation Electrostatic Processing System (MEPS) experiment. Middle: Chiaki Mukai operates the high-definition camcorder provided by the Japanese company NHK. Right: John H. Glenn takes one of the 2,500 Earth observation images obtained during the STS-95 mission.

      A selection of the Earth observation photographs taken by the STS-95 crew. Left: The Hawaiian Islands. Middle left: Houston. Middle right: Florida. Right: Yemen and the Horn of Africa.

      Left: STS-95 astronauts, clockwise from lower left, Pedro F. Duque, Chiaki Mukai, Scott E. Parazynski, John H. Glenn, Curtis L. Brown, Steven W. Lindsey, and Stephen K. Robinson. Middle: Brown, left, and Lindsey review entry checklists before donning their launch and entry suits in preparation for returning to Earth. Right: Mukai, left, and Duque help Glenn, center, put on his launch and entry suit for reentry.
      On their last day in space, the crew finished the experiments, closed up the Spacehab module, donned their launch and entry suits, and strapped themselves into their seats to prepare for their return to Earth. They fired the shuttle’s Orbital Maneuvering System engines to begin the descent from orbit. Brown piloted Discovery to a smooth landing at KSC’s Shuttle Landing Facility on Nov. 7, after completing 134 orbits around the Earth in 8 days, 21 hours, and 44 minutes. The astronauts exited Discovery about one hour after landing and immediately began their postflight data collection to measure their immediate physiological responses after returning to a 1 g environment. Ground crews towed Discovery to the Orbiter Processing Facility to begin preparing it for its next mission, STS-96, the first shuttle docking to the International Space Station. The astronauts returned to Houston’s Ellington Field, where a large crowd of well-wishers, including government officials and the media, welcomed them home.

      Left: Space Shuttle Discovery lands at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida to end the nine-day STS-95 mission. Middle: Dignitaries including Isao Uchida, president of Japan’s National Space Development Agency, KSC Director Roy D. Bridges, and NASA Administrator Daniel S. Goldin greet the returning STS-95 crew after their landing. Right: Dignitaries including Houston Mayor Lee P. Brown, left, U.S. Representative Sheila Jackson Lee, U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, Administrator Goldin, and Johnson Space Center Director George W.S. Abbey greet the STS-95 crew at Ellington Field in Houston.

      Left: U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison addresses the crowd at Ellington Field gathered to welcome the STS-95 crew back to Houston. Right: NASA Administrator Daniel S. Goldin addresses the crowd at Ellington as the STS-95 astronauts listen.
      Enjoy the crew-narrated video about the STS-95 mission.
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    • By NASA
      NASA astronaut Woody Hoburg examines a recently unpacked Astrobee free-flying robot aboard the International Space Station. The Astrobee system is a research platform exploring how robots can maintain spacecraft. NASA The International Space Station is abuzz with the return of one of NASA’s Astrobee smart robots. The yellow Honey Astrobee, one of three free-flying robots, was unboxed in space after spending nearly a year at its home base, NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley. Honey returned to Earth in September 2022 for maintenance and repairs.
      NASA astronaut Woody Hoburg helped unpack Honey from its flight container and verified the robot was ready to get back to work. After initial checks, Honey was able to independently disengage from its docking station, maneuver through the space station’s Japanese Experiment Module (JEM), and re-dock successfully without crew supervision.
      The Astrobee Facility provides the orbiting laboratory with a robotic system for research and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) outreach. Astrobee consists of three cubed-shaped robots, software, and a docking station used for recharging. The robots, which use electric fans as propulsion in the microgravity of the space station, aim to help manage routine spacecraft tasks so that astronauts can focus on jobs that only humans can perform. The project provides payload opportunities as well as guidance to users from academia, private industry, NASA, and other government agencies in the execution of approved research and STEM objectives.
      Astrobee was funded by NASA’s Game Changing Development Program, part of the Space Technology Mission Directorate. Ongoing funding is provided by NASA’s International Space Station Utilization Office.
      View the full article
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