Texas, Minnesota, Ohio Students to Hear from Astronauts in Space

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NASA 14 May, 2021 - 11:02am 15 views

Where is the Chinese space station?

The Tiangong Space Station (Chinese: 天宫; pinyin: Tiāngōng; lit. 'Heavenly Palace'), (TSS) or Chinese large modular space station is a space station placed in low Earth orbit between 340–450 km (210–280 mi) above the surface. wikipedia.orgTiangong space station - Wikipedia

by Steffi Paladini, The Conversation

There are many reasons for China to invest in this costly and technologically challenging project. One is to conduct scientific research and make medical, environmental and technological discoveries. But there are also other possible motivations, such as commercial gains and prestige.

That said, Tiangong does not aim to compete with the ISS. The Chinese station will be smaller and similar in design and size to the former Soviet Mir space station, meaning it will have limited capacity for astronauts (three versus six on ISS).

After all, it doesn't have as much money behind it as the ISS and there are not as many countries involved. If anything can be called the UN in space, it is the ISS, which has as collaborators former cold war enemies (US and Russia) and old friends (Japan, Canada and Europe). Over its two decades and counting of service, the only permanent human outpost in space has hosted about 250 astronauts from 19 different countries, carrying out hundreds of spacewalks and thousands of scientific experiments.

But the ISS is coming to its natural end. It's scheduled to be decommissioned after 2024 to leave place for the Lunar Gateway, a small outpost that will orbit the moon. This is an international initiative part of the US-led Artemis Program that again sees China excluded.

Until the gateway is launched, however, Tiangong—which will be placed in lower Earth orbit and have an expected life of 15 years—will probably remain the only functioning space station. Some worry this makes it a security threat, arguing its science modules could be easily converted for military purposes, such as spying on countries. But it doesn't have to be this way and, if things go as planned, it won't be.

China may use this opportunity to win back trust and attract international collaboration. This may be particularly important given Nasa's criticism following the recent Chinese out-of-control rocket that plunged into the Indian Ocean. There are signs the country is trying to be more open, having already declared Tiangong will be open to host non-Chinese crews and science projects. Astronauts from Europe's space agency, Esa, have in fact begun training with Chinese "taikonauts," and international projects have been included in the station's first approved batch of selected experiments.

Tiangong might not remain alone for long either. Supported by Nasa, private corporations have started designing their own orbital modules, from Bigelow Aerospace's inflatable habitat B330 to the commercial laboratory and residential infrastructure built by Axiom. Even Blue Origin has shown interest in building a space station. The Russians seem to like the idea, too—they already have plans for a luxury space hotel.

What's more, the already extended ISS lifespan may be further prolonged, although there are many issues surrounding its end date.

Tiangong may not be alone for long, however, as the Lunar Gateway will be launched eventually. In its basic conception, the Lunar Gateway will serve as a science laboratory and short-term habitation module. It will then act as a hub, allowing for spacecraft and rovers to resupply during their multiple trips to the moon. The first launch is planned as early as May 2024 with SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket, taking the essential modules. It should be operational a few years later.

Compared to the ISS, the Gateway will be smaller and more nimble. Of the original ISS members, only four (US, Europe, Japan and Canada) are part of the Gateway.

For now, Russia has not joined, due to the controversies surrounding the Artemis program, which many countries believe is too US-centric.

This is another opportunity for China. It has already started collaborating with other countries on recent space projects. More is coming. In March 2021, it signed an agreement with Russia's space agency Roscosmos to build a joint Russian-Chinese research facility on the moon. Having lost its monopoly for manned flights to the ISS due to the successful SpaceX launch in 2020, Russia seems keen to keep its options open for what concerns lunar projects.

Ultimately, space is both challenging and expensive. While it is a way for many countries to show dominance, cooperation has already proved to be more effective than lone endeavors: if anything, the ISS is the best proof that. We know that space exploration can also defuse tensions on the ground, as it did during the cold war.

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Read full article at NASA

Roscosmos ready to share water with NASA astronauts aboard ISS after US equipment setback

TASS 14 May, 2021 - 05:01pm

MOSCOW, May 13. /TASS/. The Russian side is ready to assist its overseas partners on the International Space Station (ISS) by providing them with water, following a setback that arose with the US equipment, the press office of Russia’s State Space Corporation Roscosmos told TASS on Thursday.

"Parity relations exist between the partners of the ISS project in providing resources necessary for the crew, including water, and that is why we will certainly help our colleagues, if necessary," Roscosmos assured.

As the Russian space agency specified, the US crew has its own stock of water. "As of today, we have received no requests for the provision of our reserves," the press office added.

The US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) reported earlier on Thursday that the WPA (Water Processor Assembly) on the ISS’ American Tranquility living module had been switched off over a possible leak. NASA said that the fault posed no danger to the crew’s life-sustaining activity and repairs would be completed in the days ahead.

Space station flying over Cincinnati 5 nights in a row, how to watch

The Cincinnati Enquirer 14 May, 2021 - 05:01pm

The International Space Station (ISS) will be flying over the Midwest every night May 14-18.

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Look up in the sky – it's not a bird, it's not a plane, it's something much higher up. It's the International Space Station (ISS), and it will be flying over the Midwest every night May 14-18.

The ISS is traveling about 18,000 miles per hour and circles the Earth every 90 minutes. And it's huge (about the size of a football field). You can see it looking like a bright, slow-moving, non-blinking star on the following evenings (times are given for best viewing in Cincinnati. Your time and location may vary).

May 14: 9:25-9:30 p.m., face south and 11:01-11:07 p.m. face northwest.

May 15: 10:13-10:20 p.m., moving from southwest to northeast.

May 16: 9:26-9:32 p.m., face south.

May 17: 10:15-10:21 p.m., face northwest.

May 18: 9:28-9:34 p.m., face northwest.

ISS is 239 feet wide, 356 feet long, 66 feet tall, and weighs over 900,000 pounds.

It circles about 250 miles above Earth.

You can track the path of ISS using apps like Sputnik and ISS spotter or websites like heavens-above.com.

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California on Friday released audio of its Ingenuity helicopter humming through the thin Martian air. (May 7) AP Domestic

© 2021 www.cincinnati.com. All rights reserved.

Space to Ground: Celestial Immunity: 05/14/2021

NASA Johnson 14 May, 2021 - 05:01pm

China's solo space dreams create nightmare for US

Nikkei Asia 14 May, 2021 - 05:01pm

TOKYO -- The Academy Award-winning 2013 film "Gravity" begins with two astronauts on a spacewalk being caught in a massive storm of debris caused by a Russian missile strike on a defunct satellite.

The astronauts flee to the International Space Station in hopes of using a Russian Soyuz module to return to Earth, only to find that the sole remaining capsule is no longer usable for that purpose. In desperation, one of the two astronauts rides in the Soyuz to China's nearby Tiangong station and manages to board its Shenzhou module to reach Earth.

China's presence in space played a critical role in the plot. But, as shown by the recent uncontrolled splashdown of debris from a Chinese rocket, reality is rather more complicated.

The actual Tiangong space station, which was still in the initial planning stages when "Gravity" was released, is set to be completed as soon as late 2022. Beijing on April 29 launched a Long March-5B rocket carrying the station's core module, the Tianhe.

Meanwhile, the ISS -- a U.S.-led project finished back in 2011 -- is seriously deteriorating. Whether it will be used beyond 2025 remains an open question, and Russia has already indicated that it will withdraw from the station that year. If the ISS is retired, the Tiangong could be left as the only orbiting space station in operation.

China had originally sought to participate in the ISS but was blocked by existing members, particularly the U.S., over concerns about technology leaks.

Ironically, that forced decoupling was what set China on its own military-led path to its ambition of becoming a superpower capable of challenging American superiority in space.

This is not to say it has caught up just yet. Beijing is still desperate to get its hands on ISS technology -- if not from the U.S., then from such other members as Japan, the home country of the station's new commander, Akihiko Hoshide. The Chinese military is believed to have been involved in cyberattacks on the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency that came to light in April.

The expansion of Sino-American competition into space involves not only technology, but also security. U.S. ally Japan is caught squarely in the middle.

On Sunday, remnants of the rocket that delivered the Tianhe module fell back into Earth's atmosphere. Most of the debris burned up on reentry, while the rest landed in the Indian Ocean near the Maldives, according to Chinese media.

How much this should be believed is far from clear. Beijing similarly rattled the world before in 2016, when it lost control of the first Tiangong prototype. That station made an uncontrolled descent into the atmosphere in 2018.

If the situation is left unchecked, the nightmare in "Gravity" of space debris threatening human lives could become a reality.

Liberal democracies must band together to ensure that China, with its iron grip on speech and information, does not turn space into its playground.

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STEMonstrations: Earth Observations

NASA Johnson 14 May, 2021 - 05:01pm

Texas Students Getting A 'Long Distance' Call From Astronauts In Space

CBS Dallas / Fort Worth 14 May, 2021 - 08:52am

HARRIS COUNTY (CBSDFW.COM) — Students from Texas and two other states will soon have an opportunity to hear from and see astronauts aboard the International Space Station.

On May 17 NASA astronaut Megan McArthur will answer prerecorded video questions from students across the greater Houston area coordinated by the Ismaili Council for the Southwestern United States.

Participating students are from the Aldine, Alief, Fort Bend, Houston, and Stafford school districts, as well as the private Awty International, Etoile Academy, The Honor Roll, and The Village Schools.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner will offer prerecorded opening remarks.

On May 18 NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei will answer prerecorded video questions from students in Minnesota. And on May 19 NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough and European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet will answer prerecorded video questions from students in Ohio.

Organizers say linking students directly to astronauts aboard the space station provides ‘unique, authentic experiences designed to enhance student learning, performance, and interest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.’

Astronauts living in space on the ISS communicate with NASA’s Mission Control Center in Houston 24 hours a day.

For more than 20 years, astronauts have continuously lived and worked on the space station, testing technologies, performing science, and developing the skills needed to explore farther from Earth.

The Earth-to-space calls with students will air live on NASA Television, the NASA app, and on the agency’s website. All events will take place virtually.

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