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Apollo Astronaut James McDivitt Dies at Age 93


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    • By NASA
      Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft approaches the International Space Station on May 20, 2022. Credit: NASA As part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, the agency opened media accreditation for the launch of NASA’s Boeing Crew Flight Test to the International Space Station. The mission will be the company’s first Starliner spacecraft mission with crew.
      NASA astronauts Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams will launch aboard Starliner on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket and dock at the orbiting laboratory, where they will stay for up to two weeks. Liftoff is currently targeted for mid-April 2024 from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.
      The mission will test the end-to-end capabilities of the Starliner system, including launch, docking, and return to Earth in the desert of the western United States.
      Following a successful mission, NASA will begin the final process of certifying Starliner and systems for crewed missions to the space station.
      U.S. media may apply separately for a photo opportunity during the rollout of the Starliner spacecraft from Boeing’s Commercial Cargo and Processing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The operational activity is scheduled to take place in early April.
      Media accreditation deadlines are as follows:
      International media without U.S. citizenship interested in covering the launch must apply by 11:59 p.m., Thursday, March 14 U.S. media interested in a photo opportunity of Starliner rollout must apply by 11:59 p.m., Thursday, March 21 U.S. media interested in covering the launch must apply for credentials by 11:59 p.m., Sunday, April 7 All accreditation requests must be submitted online at:
      NASA’s media accreditation policy is online. For questions about accreditation or special logistical requests, please email: ksc-media-accreditat@mail.nasa.gov. Requests for space for satellite trucks, tents, or electrical connections are due by Monday, April 15.
      For other questions, please contact the newsroom at NASA Kennedy: 321-867-2468.
      Para obtener información sobre cobertura en español en el Centro Espacial Kennedy o si desea solicitar entrevistas en español, comuníquese con Antonia Jaramillo: 321-501-8425, o Messod Bendayan: 256-930-1371.
      NASA’s Commercial Crew Program is working with the American aerospace industry through a public-private partnership to launch astronauts on American rockets and spacecraft from American soil. The goal of the program is to provide safe, reliable, and cost-effective transportation on space station missions, which will allow for additional research time.
      For more information about the agency’s Commercial Crew Program, visit:
      Joshua Finch / Julian Coltre
      Headquarters, Washington
      joshua.a.finch@nasa.gov / julian.n.coltre@nasa.gov
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    • By NASA
      NASA astronaut Tracy Dyson poses for a portrait at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. Credits: NASA NASA astronaut Tracy C. Dyson is available in limited opportunities to discuss her mission beginning at 8 a.m. EST on Monday, Feb. 26. The interviews will take place ahead of Dyson launching to the International Space Station in March.
      The virtual interviews will stream live on NASA+, NASA Television, and the agency’s website. Learn how to stream NASA TV through a variety of platforms including social media.
      Interested media must submit a request to speak with Dyson no later than 12 p.m. Friday, Feb. 23, to the NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston newsroom at 281-483-5111 or jsccommu@mail.nasa.gov.
      Dyson is scheduled to launch aboard the Soyuz MS-25 spacecraft Thursday, March 21, and will spend approximately six months aboard the space station. She will travel to the station with Roscosmos cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy and spaceflight participant Marina Vasilevskaya of Belarus, both of whom will spend approximately 12 days aboard the orbital complex.
      During her expedition, Dyson will conduct scientific investigations and technology demonstrations that help prepare humans for future space missions and benefit people on Earth. Among some of the hundreds of experiments ongoing during her mission, Dyson will continue to study how fire spreads and behaves in space with the Combustion Integrated Rack, as well as contribute to the long-running Crew Earth Observations study by photographing Earth to better understand how our planet is changing over time.
      After completing her expedition, Dyson will return to Earth this fall with Roscosmos cosmonauts Oleg Kononenko and Nikolai Chub on the Soyuz MS-25 spacecraft.
      Learn more about International Space Station research and operations at:
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    • By NASA
      In early 1969, the goal set by President John F. Kennedy to land a man on the Moon seemed within reach. A new president, Richard M. Nixon, now sat in the White House and needed to chart America’s course in space in the post-Apollo era. President Nixon directed his science advisor to evaluate proposals for America’s next steps in space. He established a Space Task Group (STG), chaired by Vice President Spiro T. Agnew, to report back to him with their recommendations. The STG delivered its report to President Nixon on Sept. 15, 1969, who declined to select any of the options proposed. Instead, more than two years later, he directed NASA to build the space shuttle, just one element of the ambitious plans the STG had proposed.

      Left: President John F. Kennedy announces his goal of a Moon landing during a Joint Session of Congress in May 1961. Right: President Kennedy reaffirms the goal during his address at Rice University in Houston in September 1962.
      On May 25, 1961, President Kennedy, before a Joint Session of Congress, committed the United States to the goal, before the decade was out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth. President Kennedy reaffirmed the commitment during an address at Rice University in Houston in September 1962. Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson, who played a key role in establishing NASA in 1958, and under Kennedy served as the Chair of the National Aeronautics and Space Council, worked with members of Congress to ensure adequate funding for the next several years to provide NASA with the proper resources to meet that goal. Following Kennedy’s assassination in November 1963, now President Johnson continued his strong support of the space program to ensure that his predecessor’s goal of a Moon landing could be achieved within the stipulated time frame. But with increasing competition for scarce federal resources from the conflict in southeast Asia and from domestic programs, Johnson showed less interest in any space endeavors that might follow the Moon landing. The space agency’s annual budget peaked in 1966 and began a steady decline three years before Kennedy’s goal was met. From a budgetary standpoint, the prospects of a vibrant post-Apollo space program did not look too rosy, the Apollo triumphs of 1968 and 1969 notwithstanding.

      Left: President Richard M. Nixon, right, meets with his science advisor Lee DuBridge in the Oval Office – note the Apollo 8 Earthrise photo on the wall. Right: President Nixon, left, and Vice President Spiro T. Agnew, right, introduce Thomas O. Paine as the nominee to be NASA administrator on March 5, 1969.
      On Feb. 4, just two weeks after taking office, President Nixon directed his Science Advisor Lee A. DuBridge to appoint an interagency committee to advise him on a post-Apollo space program. Nine days later, the President announced the formation of the STG to develop a strategy for America’s space program for the next decade. Vice President Agnew, as the Chair of the National Aeronautics and Space Council, led the group. Other members of the STG included NASA Acting Administrator Thomas O. Paine (the Senate confirmed him as administrator on March 20), the Secretary of Defense, and the Director of the Office of Science and Technology.

      Left: Proposed lunar landing sites through Apollo 20, per NASA planning in August 1969. Right: Illustration of the Apollo Applications Program experimental space station.
      At the time, the only approved human space flight programs included lunar missions through Apollo 20 and the Apollo Applications Program (AAP), later renamed Skylab, that involved three flights to an experimental space station based on Apollo technology. Beyond a general vague consensus that the United States human space flight program should continue, no approved projects existed to follow these missions when they ended by about 1975.

      Left: Concept of a fully reusable space shuttle system from early 1969. Middle: Illustration from early 1969 of low Earth orbit infrastructure, including a large space station supported by space shuttles. Right: Cover page of NASA’s report to the interagency Space Task Group.
      Within NASA, given the intense focus on achieving the Moon landing within President Kennedy’s time frame, officials paid less attention to what would follow the Apollo Program and AAP. During a Jan. 27, 1969 meeting at NASA chaired by Paine, a general consensus evolved that the next step after the Moon landing should involve the development of a 12-person earth-orbiting space station by 1975, followed by an even larger outpost capable of housing up to 100 people “with a multiplicity of capabilities.” In June, with the goal of the Moon landing about to be realized, NASA’s internal planning added the development of a space shuttle by 1977 to support the space station, and truly optimistically, the development of a lunar base by 1976, among other highly ambitious endeavors that included the idea that the U.S. should begin preparing for a human mission to Mars as early as the 1980s. These proposals were presented to the STG for consideration in early July in a report titled “America’s Next Decade in Space.”

      Left: The Space Task Group’s (STG) Report to President Nixon. Right: Meeting in the White House to present the STG Report to President Nixon. Image credit: courtesy Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum.
      Still bathing in the afterglow of the successful Moon landing, the STG presented its 29-page report “The Post-Apollo Space Program:  Directions for the Future” to President Nixon on Sep. 15, 1969, during a meeting in the White House Cabinet Room. In its Conclusions and Recommendations section, the report noted that the United States should pursue a balanced robotic and human space program but emphasized the importance of the latter, with a long-term goal of a human mission to Mars before the end of the 20th century. The report proposed that NASA develop new systems and technologies that emphasized commonality, reusability, and economy in its future programs. To accomplish these overall objectives, the report presented three options:
      Option I – this option required more than a doubling of NASA’s budget by 1980 to enable a human Mars mission in the 1980s, establishment of a lunar orbiting space station, a 50-person Earth orbiting space station, and a lunar base. A decision would be required by 1971 on development of an Earth-to-orbit transportation system to support the space station. A strong robotic scientific and exploration program would be maintained.
      Option II – this option maintained NASA’s budget at then current levels for a few years then anticipated a gradual increase to support the parallel development of both an earth orbiting space station and an Earth-to-orbit transportation system, but deferred a Mars mission to about 1986. A strong robotic scientific and exploration program would be maintained, but smaller than in Option I.
      Option III – essentially the same as Option II but deferred indefinitely the human Mars mission.
      In separate letters, both Agnew and Paine recommended to President Nixon to choose Option II. 

      Left: Illustration of a possible space shuttle orbiter from 1969. Right: Illustration of a possible 12-person space station from 1969.
      The White House released the report to the public at a press conference on Sep. 17 with Vice President Agnew and Administrator Paine in attendance. Although he publicly supported a strong human spaceflight program and enjoyed the positive press he received when photographed with Apollo astronauts, and initially sounding positive about the STG options, President Nixon ultimately chose not to act on the report’s recommendations. Faced with the still ongoing conflict in southeast Asia and domestic programs competing for scarce federal dollars, the fiscally conservative Nixon decided these plans were just too grandiose and far too expensive. He also believed that NASA should be considered as one America’s domestic programs without the special status it enjoyed during the 1960s, one of the lasting legacies of the Nixon space doctrine. Even some of the already planned remaining Moon landing missions fell victim to the budgetary axe. On Jan. 4, 1970, NASA canceled Apollo 20 since it needed its Saturn V rocket to launch the Skylab experimental space station – NASA Administrator James E. Webb had turned off the Saturn V assembly line in 1968 and none remained beyond the original 15 built under contract. In September 1970, reductions in NASA’s budget forced the cancellation of two more Apollo missions, and for a time in 1971 President Nixon considered cancelling two more but he relented, and they flew as the final two Apollo Moon landing missions in 1972.

      Left: NASA Administrator James C. Fletcher, left, and President Richard M. Nixon announce the approval to proceed with space shuttle development in 1972. Right: First launch of the space shuttle in 1981.
      More than two years after the STG submitted its report, in January 1972 President Nixon directed NASA Administrator James C. Fletcher to develop the Space Transportation System, the formal name for the space shuttle, the only element of the recommendations to survive the budgetary challenges. At that time, the first flight of the program was expected in 1979; in actuality, the first flight occurred two years later. It would be 12 years after Nixon’s shuttle decision before President Ronald W. Reagan approved the development of a space station, the second major component of the STG recommendation, and another 14 years after that before the first element of that program reached orbit. In those intervening years, the original American space station had been redesigned and evolved into the multinational partnership called the International Space Station.

      The International Space Station as it appeared in 2021.
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    • By NASA
      NASA astronauts must prepare their bodies for the physical stresses of living and working in microgravity before they launch on a spaceflight. Fortunately, they get customized training programs and plenty of help from astronaut fitness trainer Corey Twine, who shares decades of strength and conditioning expertise with astronauts every day at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.

      Twine’s official title is “astronaut strength, conditioning, and rehabilitation specialist.” He works with a team dedicated to ensuring NASA’s space explorers are in top shape before launch day and know how to stay physically healthy throughout their mission, whether they’re flying to the International Space Station or journeying around the Moon.
      We sat down with Twine to find out how he launched his career – and what it’s like to get a phone call from an astronaut in space.
      An Aspiring Athlete
      “When I was a kid, I never pictured myself working at NASA,” Twine said. “I pictured myself working in the NFL or professional baseball or all of those other dreams that many kids have.”
      Twine was an athlete in high school and planned to play at the collegiate level. But things changed after he began classes at Norfolk State University in Virginia.
      “One of my professors was the first strength and conditioning specialist I ever knew,” Twine said. “I learned there are people who just train other people to improve their performance. And from that moment on, I knew exactly what I wanted to do.”
      Energized by his passion for strength and conditioning, Twine earned a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology and exercise science at Norfolk State and a master’s of kinesiology from Michigan State. He worked with several collegiate and professional teams while taking his career to new heights.
      From Weight Benches to Weightlessness
      Twine was a graduate assistant coach for the Michigan State football team when he first learned NASA was looking for a strength and conditioning coach. Until that moment, he’d been entirely focused on sports, but he was excited by the new opportunity, and applied. He went to work with NASA in 2002 and trained space shuttle astronauts for their missions. Then, his path shifted again.
      He spent the next 15 years as a conditioning coach in college football, first with West Virginia University and then the University of Michigan. From there, he went to work with the U.S. Army.
      “It was an amazing opportunity to work with the soldiers who were doing so much to protect and serve,” Twine said.
      Twine returned to Johnson Space Center in 2018. Today, he prepares astronauts for flights to the space station and for the Artemis missions to come, which will carry crews – including the first woman and first person of color – to the Moon.
      Astronauts know Twine is always willing to provide guidance. He took that assistance to a new level one day when he received a mysterious call from “U.S. Government” on his cell phone. To his surprise, it turned out to be an astronaut about 250 miles above Earth aboard the space station.
      “They had a question about their training,” said Twine, who chatted with the astronaut. Together, they worked out a solution in real time. “It was a great asset because we were able to adjust and do some things to help their training instead of just going through email.”
      Advice to Students: Success Takes Effort – But You Can Do It
      Twine recalls struggling academically during middle and high school and feeling intimidated about college. Fortunately, a friend who was a few years ahead of him shared some simple but meaningful advice: “No test is hard if you study for it.” If you put in the effort until you know the material, you’ll succeed.
      “I remember to this day, the first test in my freshman year in college, I studied for a test for the first time,” Twine said. “I read every single thing in the chapter. I read everything in the back of the book. I read all of the information the professor gave.”
      His hard work paid off with that test and he vowed to keep up that level of effort.
      “I continued that behavior all through undergrad and also through grad school, and it worked every single time,” he said.
      Twine cautions against believing you’re not smart enough and says you just need to put in the hard work.
      “Study, find resources, find help, continue, and don’t give up.”
      Learn more about Corey Twine and how he helps NASA astronauts stay in spaceflight-ready shape in this episode of Surprisingly STEM.
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    • By NASA
      STS-60 commander Charles F. Bolden is seen at the commander’s station on the forward flight deck of the space shuttle Discovery. He is wearing the orange launch and entry suit. Bolden and his crewmates performed proximity operations with the Russian Mir space station.NASA Astronaut Charles F. Bolden, STS-60 commander, sits at the commander’s station on the forward flight deck of the space shuttle Discovery in this image from February 1994. While aboard Discovery, the crew attempted to deploy the Wake Shield Facility-1, a deployable/retrievable experiment platform designed to leave a vacuum wake in low earth orbit that is 10,000 times greater than achievable on Earth. The crew also conducted in-flight medical and radiological investigations and spoke with world leaders from space.
      Bolden was a member of NASA’s Astronaut Office for 14 years. After joining the office in 1980, he traveled to orbit four times aboard the space shuttle between 1986 and 1994, commanding two of the missions and piloting two others. 
      He then became the 12th NASA Administrator. During his tenure, the agency’s support of commercial space transportation systems for reaching low Earth orbit enabled successful commercial cargo resupply of the space station and significant progress toward returning the capability for American companies to launch astronauts from American soil by 2017. Bolden also supported NASA’s contributions toward development of developing cleaner, faster, and quieter airplanes. The agency’s dynamic science activities under Bolden include an unprecedented landing on Mars with the Curiosity rover, launch of a spacecraft to Jupiter, enhancing the nation’s fleet of Earth-observing satellites, and continued progress toward the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope.
      Watch the first episode of “The Color of Space: The Series” and delve deep into the extraordinary life of Charlie Bolden.
      Credit: NASA
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