News Regarding NASA
Japanese Astronaut to Command International Space Station
Japanese astronaut Akihiko Hoshide will become commander of the International Space Station (ISS) in 2021.
Hoshide, 51, will become the second Japanese national to do the job. The first was Koichi Wakata, who was commander for two months in 2014.
Hoshide was originally scheduled to be aboard the space station from May 2020, but the spacecraft he was to use to get there experienced delays in development. The launch is now scheduled for spring 2021.
Hoshide will stay on the ISS for six months. While on board, he will work on maintenance projects and scientific experiments, and operate the space station's robotic arm. The robotic arm, called Canadarm2, is used to move supplies, equipment and even astronauts. It also catches and docks the unmanned spacecraft that deliver supplies to the station.
This isn't Hoshide's first visit to the space station. He also went to the ISS in 2008 using the US Space Shuttle, and in 2012 using a Russian Soyuz.
In 2021, Hoshide will be using the newly developed Crew Dragon spacecraft to get to the ISS. Hoshide said that he has been training for a long stay aboard the station, and is honored to board the new spacecraft.
The Dragon spacecraft has been developed by SpaceX, a US company founded by Elon Musk. Until this year, the spacecraft only carried cargo to the space station. In May, however, it became the first private spacecraft to carry humans to the space station when it took US astronauts Douglas Hurley and Robert Behnken to the ISS, and returned them to Earth 63 days later.
The spacecraft is also designed for private use to take people into orbit to see the Earth from space.
Another Japanese astronaut, Soichi Noguchi, is scheduled to use the Crew Dragon to go to the ISS as early as September this year.
NASA Wants Candidates for Isolation Study
NASA is looking for candidates to go into isolation for eight months in an experiment to help prepare for long stays on the moon and Mars.
Researchers say the study will help them better understand how being in space for long periods affects people physically and mentally.
To date, all long-term stays in space have taken place on the International Space Station (ISS). Most of these missions lasted several months, with the longest continuing for nearly a year. The new experiment is focused on NASA's future goals, which include traveling further into space and for longer periods. It will build on a four-month study that ended in July 2019.
NASA is working with the Institute of Biomedical Problems of Russia's Academy of Sciences for the study. The experiment will take place at a research center in Moscow.
Candidates for the study must be between 30 and 55 years old and speak both English and Russian. They must be highly educated, though military officers or people with a bachelor's degree with relevant experience may also be considered. They must also pass medical and psychological tests.
Those chosen for the study will be put in an environment similar to what astronauts are expected to experience on future missions to Mars, NASA said.
The group will carry out scientific research during their stay, with some of the experiments involving virtual reality and robotics to prepare for future missions to the moon and Mars.
NASA plans to return humans to the moon by 2024 and to build a base there by 2028. Astronauts could live there to do experiments and possibly launch missions from the base to Mars.
NASA Announces First Astronaut Launch from US Since 2011
NASA will send two astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) on May 27. This will be the first spaceflight with a crew launched from the US since 2011. For the last few years, NASA has been using Russian ships to send astronauts to the ISS.
"NASA will once again launch American astronauts on American rockets from American soil!" tweeted NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine.
The two astronauts are Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley. Behnken has been an astronaut with NASA since 2000 and has completed two space flights. Before joining NASA, he was a flight test engineer with the US Air Force.
Hurley has also been with NASA since 2000, and has been to space twice. Before becoming a NASA astronaut, he was a pilot in the US Marines.
Behnken and Hurley will travel in SpaceX's Crew Dragon spacecraft and will join 3 crew members who are already on the ISS. They are expected to stay on the ISS for several weeks or months.
Only three countries have launched people into space since 1961: Russia, the US and China, in that order. SpaceX would be the first company to do so.
NASA plans to use the Crew Dragon for research that will help with future travel to the Moon and Mars, starting with the Artemis program which aims to put the first woman on the Moon in 2024.
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