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August 2014 E-News

Congratulations to the European Space Agency on the launch of its fifth and final Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV), the “George Lemaitre” ATV-5, on July 29. Arriving at the International Space Station Aug. 12, ATV-5 delivered 7 tons of food, spare parts and scientific experiments, including one study called Haptics-1 which has a high-tech joystick that will help researchers better understand how weightlessness affects human motor control.

Orbital’s Cygnus spacecraft, the SS Janice Voss, wrapped up its month-long stay at the station on Aug. 15 clearing the way for the SpaceX launch planned for Sept. 19. SpaceX-4 will carry the ISS-RapidScat instrument, a replacement for NASA’s QuikScat Earth satellite, to monitor ocean winds for climate research, weather predictions, and hurricane monitoring.

JSC just released its latest video on how science on the space station benefits humanity. The Automatic Identification System (AIS) receivers, installed by Randy Bresnick during an STS-129 spacewalk, are improving high seas rescue. This video tells how ISS helped in the rescue of a Norwegian sailor lost at sea in January 2012. I know you will find it informative and I hope you will share on Facebook and Twitter.

The Orion team in Florida has installed the backshell on the spacecraft that will be launching in December. The backshell, made of shuttle heritage tiles, will protect the top of the crew module from temperatures as high as 3,250 degrees Fahrenheit, while the heat shield on the bottom of the crew module bears the brunt of the heating load, with temperatures reaching near 4,000 degrees.

Also, a team of technicians, engineers, sailors and divers spent a week recently on the Pacific Ocean testing and preparing for Orion’s splashdown following its first spaceflight in December. NASA and Orion prime contractor Lockheed Martin teamed up with the U.S. Navy and the Defense Department's Human Space Flight Support Detachment 3 to try different techniques for recovering the 20,500-pound spacecraft safely during a second "underway recovery test."

The science instruments for the Mars 2020 rover were recently announced; JSC’s Astromaterials office is part of the NASA team that is working on an ultraviolet-light instrument on the robotic arm. Called SHERLOC, for Scanning Habitable Environments with Raman & Luminescence for Organics & Chemicals, the instrument will use two types of ultraviolet-light spectroscopy, plus a versatile camera. In addition to searching for signs of past life on the planet, the device includes a calibration target that features NASA space suit materials, used both for calibrating the instrument and to conduct a fundamental science investigation into  the effects of the Martian surface on suit materials.

Here are a few other links you might find interesting: SpaceX-4, set to launch Sept. 19, will be delivering mice and RapidScat to ISS; NEEMO 18 evaluates Bluetooth tech; Microgravity Research Breaks Down How to Build Better Bones; Expeditions 40 and 41, who’s up and who’s down; and the latest on Commercial Crew advancements.

Don’t forget to follow Expedition 40/41 astronaut Reid Wiseman on Twitter @astro_reid and on Vine or on InsideISS for the latest news and videos.

See you next month,

Ellen Ochoa
JSC Director

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Page Last Updated: August 27th, 2014
Page Editor: Jason Roberts