Category: Space

The first experience on the moon was Swiss

NASA – Apollo 11 Mission patch.

July 19, 2019

A sensor developed by the University of Bern was the only non-American experiment on Apollo 11.

Before the American flag, a “Swiss” flag flew on the moon in the night of July 20 to 21, 1969: the “solar sail” developed by the University of Bern, which aimed to bring back particles of solar wind. The trip to the moon has also helped to better understand the sun.

Image above: Solar Wind Composition Experiment (SWC), deployed by Buz Aldrin. Image Credits: NASA/Apollo 11.

Time was counted on the surface of the moon. Hardly Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin had landed the lunar module “Eagle” he unrolled and planted in the ground the Solarwind Composition Experiment, designed by Professor Johannes Geiss at the Institute of Physics of the University of Bern . It was only four minutes later that the astronaut unfurled the American flag with Neil Armstrong.

The solar wind particle sensor, a sheet of aluminum that has undergone various treatments, was the only non-American experience on Apollo 11. A simple idea that convinced NASA also thanks to the low weight of the device.

The sheet collected particles for 77 minutes. For the first time, authentic solar materials were brought back to Earth and analyzed in laboratories in Zurich and Bern.

Impossible from Earth

It is indeed impossible to study the solar wind from Earth, the magnetic field repelling the particles. “The NASA lunar mission was a good opportunity to capture the solar wind out of the Earth’s magnetic field and thus to have a sample of the Sun,” Peter Wurz, University of Bern, Keystone-ATS told Reuters.

Image above: Solar Wind Composition Experiment (SWC) description (Apollo manual). Image Credit: NASA

The researchers were particularly interested in noble gases: “As they are extremely chemically stable, they give information on the beginnings of the solar system,” says Professor Wurz.

As far as the moon itself is concerned, the various Apollo missions have brought back more than 300 kilos of rocks and dust from our satellite. The University of Bern, an expert in meteorite dating and analysis by mass spectrometry, was one of the few institutions in Europe to be involved in this research from the beginning.

In quarantine

The equipment was first quarantined, remembers Otto Eugster, long in charge of coordinating with NASA. “We did not know if the lunar rocks contained dangerous elements, for example bacteria that could have infected the Earth,” he says.

Image above: Solar Wind Composition Experiment (SWC) during its deployment by Buz Aldrin. Image Credits: NASA/Apollo 11. 

“We gave them to eat mice, they even liked that and had no problem,” says the physicist. Other analyzes quickly showed that there was no trace of life on the moon.

No new items were found, but then unknown minerals. One of them was named Armalcolite, a contraction of the names of the three astronauts Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins.

Again in the viewfinder

In recent years, the Moon is again in the sights of space agencies, including American and Chinese. According to Professor Eugster, this could be due to helium-3, an isotope 300 times more present on the Moon than on Earth and could be exploited as a source of energy.

Apollo 11: “First Moonwalk on TV”, First Men on the Moon

The Moon could also become an intermediate step for future missions to Mars, the specialist adds. Given its small gravitational field, it would require much less energy than leaving the Earth. One could also install on the dark side of the Moon telescopes that would not be disturbed by terrestrial radio waves.

In general, there is still much to discover on the Moon. The Apollo missions have all aluni around the equator and on the face facing the Earth. Even including the probes, it is estimated that only one twentieth of the Moon’s surface has been directly studied.

Bern always part

The University of Bern will be involved in future lunar exploration missions, including that planned for 2024 by the Russian agency Roscosmos, says Professor Wurz. Participation in the Chinese mission “Chang’e 6”, also in 2024, is under discussion.

Image above: Solar Wind Composition Experiment (SWC), developed by the University of Bern. Image Credit: Universität Bern.

The same year, NASA plans to send humans back to the moon, including the first woman, and again the Bernese alma mater is on the line. “But we are just at the beginning of the discussions,” concludes Peter Wurz.

Swiss solar sail on the Moon

Just 50 years ago, the first steps on the Moon also marked one of the first achievements of the University of Bern in the space field. To celebrate the event, Swissmint issues a new 20-franc silver coin. Initially sketched in pencil by the engraver Swissmint Remo Mascherini, the pattern of the piece was then reworked numerically. As part of the Apollo 11 mission, Edwin Aldrin and Neil Armstrong were the first men to walk on the moon on July 21, 1969. The only non-American experience aboard the lunar module, the solar sail of the University of Bern, was installed by Buzz Aldrin even before he raised the American flag.

Swissmint Apollo 11, commemorative coin of 50 years. Image Credit: Swissmint

The Solar Wind Composition Experiment (SWC) was developed by the Bernese physicists surrounding Professor Johannes Geiss at the Institute of Physics at the University of Bern. Its purpose was to verify the presence of the solar wind, whose existence was suspected but that could not be measured from Earth. The simplicity of the experience and the low weight of the craft had convinced the NASA space agency.

Related links:

Solar Wind Composition Experiment (SWC):

University of Bern:



Apollo 11:

Images (mentioned), Video (NASA), Text, Credits: Reuters/ATS/ Aerospace/Roland Berga.

Best regards,
Full article

50 Years Ago: One Small Step, One Giant Leap

NASA – Apollo 11 Mission patch / NASA – 50 Years Apollo 11 patch.

July 19, 2019

Words such as these were emblazoned in dozens of languages on the front page of newspapers around the world, echoing the first part of President John F. Kennedy’s bold challenge to the nation, made more than eight years earlier – to land a man on the Moon. That part was successfully accomplished on July 20, 1969. The second part of the challenge, the safe return to Earth, would have to wait four more days.

Apollo 11 astronauts Neil A. Armstrong, Edwin E. “Buzz” Aldrin, and Michael Collins awoke to start their fifth day in space at the end of their ninth revolution around the Moon. In Mission Control at the Manned Spacecraft Center, now the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Eugene F. Kranz’s White Team of controllers arrived on console, with astronaut Charles M. Duke serving as Capcom. After a quick breakfast, Aldrin and Armstrong began re-activating the Lunar Module (LM) Eagle, including deploying its landing gear, and donned their pressure suits. Near the end of the 12th orbit around the Moon, Duke radioed up to Apollo 11 that they were GO to undock. The event took place behind the Moon during the start of their 13th revolution, the astronauts filming each other’s spacecraft as they began their independent flights (clip 1, clip 2). After they reappeared from behind the Moon, Armstrong radioed their status to MCC saying, “The Eagle has wings.” Collins in the Command Module (CM) Columbia observed, “I think you’ve got a fine looking flying machine there, Eagle, despite the fact you’re upside down,” prompting Armstrong to reply, “Somebody’s upside down.”

Images above: Top: Eagle shortly after undocking. Bottom: Columbia shortly after undocking. Images Credit: NASA.

From this point on, it was time to get down to business as events happened rather quickly. As the Moon landing attempt was less than an hour away, the viewing gallery in Mission Control was filling with NASA managers from across the agency, and many astronauts were present in the control room itself to witness the historic event. Later during the 13th orbit, about 10 minutes before Apollo 11 disappeared again behind the Moon, Duke radioed up the GO for Descent Orbit Insertion (DOI). The DOI burn, a 30-second firing of the LM’s Descent Propulsion System (DPS) engine took place behind the Moon, lowering the low point of Eagle’s orbit to about 50,000 feet, as close as Apollo 10 got to the Moon’s surface. The two craft now flying separately reappeared from behind the Moon on their 14th orbit.  Duke radioed up the GO for Powered Descent Initiation (PDI), the beginning of the landing maneuver. Eagle’s antenna repeatedly lost lock on the Earth so Mission Control had to communicate with Eagle through Collins in Columbia until reliable radio links were re-established.

At the beginning of PDI, the LM’s DPS engine ran at 10% thrust for 26 seconds for a smooth initial deceleration before increasing to full thrust. Eagle was flying engine first and windows facing down toward the Moon’s surface and was about 300 miles east of the landing site in the Sea of Tranquility. Eagle’s attitude allowed Armstrong to track landmarks as they passed over them against the predicted times. Based on Eagle passing landmarks about two to three seconds early, Armstrong predicted that they would land about three miles further downrange than planned – and he was proved correct. At an altitude of 40,000 feet, Armstrong maneuvered Eagle to a windows up orientation. This was in preparation for the pitch-over maneuver, which placed the windows facing forward in the direction of flight, and also positioned the landing radar so it could see the lunar surface.

At about 33,000-foot altitude, Armstrong and Aldrin were surprised by the first 1202 program alarm, which they had not seen in simulations. After a few seconds of analysis in MCC, Duke gave them a GO to proceed. The alarm simply meant the computer was overloaded with too much data and couldn’t process it all, but controllers felt confident they could proceed with the landing. When a second 1202 alarm sounded less than a minute later Duke once again gave the GO to proceed. Eagle maneuvered to a more vertical orientation for the final phase of the descent. At about 5,000 feet and descending about 100 feet per second, Armstrong took over manual control of Eagle’s attitude. As they passed through 3,000 feet with their descent rate slowed to 70 feet/second, Duke gave them the GO for landing, and they received the 1201 program alarm. Once again, Duke gave them the GO to proceed. Another 1202 flashed at about 1,000 feet altitude. At about 600 feet, noticing Eagle’s computer was taking them down into a boulder-strewn area near West Crater, Armstrong took over manual control of the descent. He pitched Eagle to a more vertical orientation, which slowed the descent, and decided to overfly the rough area and look for smoother terrain to land on. Armstrong found and flew to a clearer spot for landing, and Aldrin called out that he saw the LM’s shadow on the Moon. Armstrong picked his final spot, about 60 meters east of Little West Crater. At about 100 feet, the fuel quantity warning light came on, indicating only 5% fuel remaining, giving Armstrong about 90 seconds of hover time left. With 60 seconds of fuel remaining, they were down to about 40 feet and the descent engine was kicking up dust from the surface, increasingly obscuring Armstrong’s visibility.  At precisely 3:17:40 PM Houston time on July 20, 1969, Aldrin called out “Contact light,” indicating that at least one of the three 67-inch probes hanging from the bottom of three of the LM’s footpads had made contact with the Moon. Eagle drifted to the left when three seconds later, Armstrong called out, “Shutdown,” followed by Aldrin’s, “Okay. Engine stop,” indicating the DPS engine was shut off. They were on the Moon. In Houston, Duke noted via telemetry that the engine had shut down, and called to Armstrong and Aldrin, “We copy you down, Eagle.” Armstrong responded with the historic words, “Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.”

Images above: Top: In Mission Control during the descent to the Moon (left to right) Capcom Duke, and Apollo 11 crewmembers James A. Lovell and Fred W. Haise. Bottom: In Mission Control during the Moon landing (left to right) Apollo 12 prime crewmembers Charles Conrad and Alan L. Bean and their backups David R. Scott and James B. Irwin. Images Credit: NASA.

It should be noted that for everyone on Earth, the first Moon landing was purely an audio experience. Controllers in MCC had the added benefit of telemetry from the spacecraft, but there was no live television of the landing. A 16-mm silent film camera mounted in the right hand (Aldrin’s) window recorded the event, but was not available for viewing until it was returned to Earth and developed. An annotated video of the landing was prepared from this film (courtesy of Apollo Flight Journal), and synchronized with space-to-ground communications, several loops in Mission Control, and video clips from MCC.

Images above: Three views of the lunar surface as Armstrong and Aldrin saw it shortly after landing, taken through Armstrong’s left side LM window (top), and through Aldrin’s right side window (middle and bottom). Images Credit: NASA.

After a few minutes, Aldrin provided the first verbal description of their surroundings, including the types and sizes of rocks and the general color of the surface. Duke radioed to them, “Be advised there’re lots of smiling faces in this room and all over the world,” prompting Armstrong’s response, “Well, there are two of them up here.” Armstrong reported that neither he nor Aldrin had any trouble adjusting to the one-sixth gravity on the lunar surface. He continued with a more detailed description of their view out the forward windows. As they continued their postlanding activities, Armstrong called MCC to advise that he and Aldrin would like to forego the planned rest period before their Extra-Vehicular Activity (EVA), or spacewalk, and MCC concurred with their proposal. Aldrin made the following request to anyone who might be listening, “I’d like to take this opportunity to ask every person listening in, whoever and wherever they may be, to pause for a moment and contemplate the events of the past few hours and to give thanks in his or her own way.” He then proceeded to take communion with a chalice and consecrated wine he brought along for the occasion. He and Armstrong then began preparations for their historic spacewalk, including donning their Portable Life Support Systems (PLSS), the backpacks that provided oxygen, removed carbon dioxide, and enabled communications. The Green Team of flight controllers led by Clifford E. Charlesworth, with Bruce McCandless serving as Capcom, took their positions in Mission Control to help Armstrong and Aldrin prepare for and execute their EVA. They reconfigured Eagle’s cabin for depressurization, donned their helmets, visors, and gloves, and then opened the valve that vented the cabin.

Images above: Two views of Armstrong taking the first step on the lunar surface. Top: Still image from the live TV downlink. Bottom: Still image from the 16-mm camera mounted in Eagle’s window. Images Credit: NASA.

Aldrin opened Eagle’s forward hatch, which swung inward toward him, giving Armstrong access to the outside front porch. Aldrin added, “About ready to go down and get some Moon rock?” He helped Armstrong navigate through the narrow confines of Eagle’s hatch and onto the front porch. Once on the ladder, Armstrong pulled a lanyard that released the Modularized Equipment Stowage Assembly (MESA) on the side of Eagle’s Descent Stage, on which was mounted a black and white TV camera, allowing hundreds of millions of viewers on Earth to see him descend the ladder down to the landing leg’s footpad. As a precaution, he practiced the three-foot jump back up to the ladder’s first rung, made easier in the one-sixth lunar gravity. Once back down on the footpad, Armstrong described that the footpads had only sunk one or two inches into the lunar dust which he noted was fine-grained, almost powdery. Armstrong announced, “I’m going to step off the LM now.” And at 9:56 PM Houston time he did just that, firmly planting his left foot onto the lunar surface, proclaiming, “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.”

Images above: Top: First photograph from the surface EVA, showing a jettison bag and a gouge left in the lunar soil by the landing probe as Eagle drifted just before touchdown. Middle: Still from the 16-mm film of Armstrong collecting the contingency sample. Bottom: View of Eagle’s Descent Stage engine bell, also showing a gouge in the soil by another landing probe. Images Credit: NASA.

After taking his first tentative steps on the lunar surface, Armstrong began his first tasks of the spacewalk, including receiving the Hasselblad still camera from Aldrin via a lanyard and pulley system, using it to take the first photographs of Eagle to document how it fared during the landing as well as of their surroundings, and collecting the contingency sample of lunar material in case they had to make an emergency departure. A few minutes later, Aldrin began his descent to the surface, commenting on the way out of the cabin, “Now I want to … partially close the hatch.  Making sure not to lock it on my way out.” This prompted a laugh from Armstrong who commented, “A particularly good thought.”

Images above: Sequence of images of Aldrin climbing down Eagle’s ladder to join Armstrong on the surface. Image Credit: NASA.

Once Aldrin was on the surface, he and Armstrong unveiled the commemorative plaque that was mounted on the landing leg and read the words that were inscribed on it, “Here men from the planet Earth first set foot upon the Moon, July 1969 A.D. We came in peace for all mankind.” The plaque bore the signatures of the Apollo 11 astronauts as well as of President Richard M. Nixon. Armstrong then removed the TV camera from the MESA, carried it about 60 feet from the LM, and mounted on a tripod so the world audience could watch their subsequent activities. Closer to the LM, Aldrin was setting up the Solar Wind Collector (SWC) experiment, a sheet of aluminum that was exposed to the Sun for 77 minutes to collect ions in the solar wind. Near the end of the EVA, Aldrin rolled up the foil and stowed it for return to Earth for analysis by scientists.

Images above: Top: Aldrin (left) and Armstrong reading the plaque mounted on Eagle’s forward landing leg strut. Bottom: Still from 16-mm film of Armstrong (left) and Aldrin setting up the American flag. Images Credit: NASA.

Their next task was to remove the Lunar Flag Assembly attached to Eagle’s ladder and set up the American flag about 20 feet from the LM. Because in the vacuum on the Moon there is no way for the flag to stay unfurled, a telescoping horizontal metal rod was inserted along the top of the 3-by-5-foot nylon flag. During the deployment, this metal rod did not extend all the way and left the edge of the flag somewhat wrinkled, giving it the appearance of waving in a non-existent lunar breeze. Aldrin began to experiment with different types of locomotion in the one-sixth gravity when Capcom McCandless requested that both astronauts position themselves in front of the TV camera. For the next two minutes, Armstrong and Aldrin talked to President Nixon in the White House’s Oval Office, who offered the nation’s congratulations on their historic accomplishment.

Images above: Three views of the same scene to provide spatial perspective on the astronauts’ activity. Top: A still from the live TV downlink that millions of viewers on Earth saw. Middle: Photograph of Aldrin and the US flag taken by Armstrong. Bottom: Still from the 16-mm film taken by the automatic camera installed inside the LM on Aldrin’s forward window. Images Credit: NASA.

The phone call concluded, Armstrong and Aldrin resumed their tasks, which included Aldrin performing soil cohesion tests by kicking the lunar surface with his boot and observing the resulting sprays of dust which in the vacuum and one-sixth gravity on the Moon behaved differently from how they would on Earth. Armstrong returned to the MESA to retrieve the equipment for the bulk sample collection of lunar material. Aldrin picked up the Hasselblad to take photographs for the Bootprint Penetration Experiment, and took panoramic photos of the landing site, incidentally taking one of the few photographs of Armstrong on the surface as he packs the bulk sample at the MESA.

Images above: Top: Aldrin standing next to the seismometer. Bottom: The Laser Ranging Retro-Reflector. Images Credit: NASA.

After more photography, Aldrin handed the camera back to Armstrong and walked to the back of the LM where the Scientific Equipment (SEQ) bay containing the Early Apollo Surface Experiment Package (EASEP) was located. The EASEP consisted of two experiments, the Passive Seismic Experiment Package (PSEP) to measure Moon quakes and the Laser Ranging Retro-Reflector (LRRR) that contained an array of mirrors to reflect a laser beam sent from Earth for precise measurements of the Earth-Moon distance. Aldrin removed the two experiments from the SEQ bay and carried them about 40 feet from the LM where he deployed the PSEP and Armstrong the LRRR. At this point, they were running about 30 minutes behind the timeline, but their consumables were within limits so McCandless called to tell them that Mission Control had given them a 15-minute extension on the EVA.  He also mentioned that scientists had activated the seismometer and it was picking up the vibrations from their footsteps.

Images above: Top: One of the few still photographs of Armstrong on the lunar surface, packing the bulk sample at the MESA; the American flag and the Solar Wind Collection experiment can be seen in the left of the photograph. Bottom: Aldrin setting up the Solar Wind Collection experiment. Images Credit: NASA.

Related article: The first experience on the moon was Swiss:

Image above: Panoramic mosaic of several images taken by Armstrong at Little West Crater. Image Credit: NASA.

Aldrin returned to the MESA to begin getting two core samples as part of the documented samples. Armstrong jogged 180 feet to Little West Crater that they had overflown during the descent and took a series of panoramic shots before jogging back to the LM to assist Aldrin with the core samples. Finishing the core samples, Aldrin rolled up the solar wind experiment. Armstrong collected about 20 rock samples weighing about 13 pounds.

And with that, it was time to finish the EVA. Armstrong and Aldrin gathered the film magazines and closed up the rock boxes. Armstrong scooped up about 13 pounds of lunar dirt as packing material for the rocks in the boxes as Aldrin climbed up the ladder and back into the LM. From there he helped Armstrong transfer the rock boxes up to the cabin using the lanyard system. A film cassette attached to the first rock box fell off and into the lunar dirt, but Armstrong retrieved and reattached it. The dirt attached to the cassette would later cause an accidental exposure to one of the employees once in the Lunar Receiving Laboratory in Houston. They hauled the second rock box up to the cabin without incident.

Images above: Photos taken after the EVA. Top: From Armstrong’s window, showing the two EASEP experiments. Middle: From Aldrin’s window, showing the flag and the TV camera. Bottom: The next morning, also from Aldrin’s window, showing that the flag had changed position due to settling in the lunar soil. Images Credit: NASA.

Just before Armstrong headed up the ladder, he reminded Aldrin about a small package of commemorative items that they wanted to leave on the surface. Aldrin tossed it down through the hatch from inside the cabin. The items included a silicon disc etched with goodwill greetings from 73 world leaders, an Apollo 1 patch commemorating astronauts Virgil I. Grissom, Edward H. White, and Roger B. Chaffee lost in the 1967 fire, two Soviet medals honoring cosmonauts Vladimir M. Komarov killed in the Soyuz 1 accident and Yuri A. Gagarin, the first man in space killed in an airplane crash in 1968, and a small gold olive branch, identical to ones the astronauts carried to the Moon and back for their wives. Armstrong then jumped up to the third rung of the ladder and climbed the rest of the way into the cabin.  Within a minute they had the hatch closed and began repressurizing the LM. They removed their PLSS backpacks, took photographs out the windows to use up their remaining film, and ate a well-earned meal. Aldrin realized that probably while he was removing his PLSS, he broke the circuit breaker that armed the ascent stage engine, critical for their departure the next day. Fortunately, they were able to use a felt tip pen to depress the breaker button.

Images above: Armstrong (Top) and Aldrin (Bottom) back inside Eagle after the first spacewalk on the Moon. Images Credit: NASA.

Director of Flight Crew Operations Donald K. “Deke” Slayton called to the crew, “That’s a real great day, guys. I really enjoyed it.” Armstrong replied, “Thank you. You couldn’t have enjoyed it as much as we did,” and Aldrin, “It was great.” They then depressurized the LM cabin and threw their PLSS backpacks out the hatch along with a jettison bag containing their lunar boots and other items no longer necessary. This freed up space in the cramped cabin and reduced the weight of the LM at liftoff. Since the TV camera on the surface was still transmitting, MCC was able to observe the jettisons, and the PSEP recorded the items hitting the surface, prompting Armstrong to comment, “You can’t get away with anything anymore, can you?” They then repressurized the cabin for the final time. Their last duty before they turned in for a well-deserved albeit restless night’s sleep, having been awake for 21 hours, was to turn off the TV camera. Aldrin curled up on the floor of the LM while Armstrong devised a hammock and slept on the ascent stage engine cover. All was quiet on the Moon, but while the astronauts slept the American flag they planted shifted position as it settled in the loose lunar soil.

Related articles:

Going to the Moon Was Hard — But the Benefits Were Huge, for All of Us

50 Years Ago Apollo 11 Launches Into History

Related links:


Apollo 11:

Images (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/Kelli Mars/JSC/John Uri.

Full article

Trump pits Apollo 11 astronauts against NASA c…

Washington (AFP) July 19, 2019

President Donald Trump welcomed surviving Apollo 11 crew members Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins to the White House Friday, using the occasion to tell his space chief he would prefer to go straight to Mars without returning to the Moon.

It is a theme he had touched upon earlier this month in a tweet, and this time drew on the support of the two former astronauts, who are taking part in celeb
Full article

Space Station Science Highlights: Week of July…

ISS – Expedition 60 Mission patch.

July 19, 2019

Scientific investigations conducted aboard the International Space Station last week included work on muscle health, changes to the body, and growing moss in space as well as other research. The Expedition 60 crew reached its full complement with the arrival of astronauts Drew Morgan and Luca Parmitano and cosmonaut Alexander Skvortsov on Saturday, July 20. The crew also prepared for the 18th SpaceX Commercial Resupply Services (CRS), currently scheduled to launch next week with supplies and additional scientific investigations. Science conducted on the orbiting lab supports commercial research and development and advances NASA’s Artemis program, which plans to return humans to the Moon and to send the first humans to Mars.

Image above: NASA astronaut Nick Hague works on maintenance for the space station’s life support hardware. Current investigations aboard the orbiting lab evaluate creating hybrid life support systems by adding biological processes to existing systems. Image Credit: NASA.

Here are details on some of the science conducted during the week of July 15:

Muscles on microgravity

The crew conducted measurements for the Myotones investigation, which observes the properties of muscles, including tone, stiffness and elasticity, during long-term exposure to spaceflight. Insight into principles of human resting muscle tone could lead to development of new treatments and rehabilitation strategies on Earth and future space missions.

Understanding aging-related processes

Some responses to spaceflight in humans and model organisms such as mice resemble accelerated aging. Rodent Research-17 (RR-17) uses mice to evaluate the physiological, cellular, and molecular effects of spaceflight and provide a better understanding of aging-related immune, bone, and muscle disease processes. Results may lead to new therapies for use in space and on Earth. The investigation uses existing Rodent Research hardware including Habitats, which the crew stowed last week.

Tiny plants, big potential

The crew performed setup and testing of the Florescence Microscope in preparation for conducting the Space Moss investigation arriving on SpaceX CRS-18. The investigation determines how microgravity affects the growth, development, and other features of moss. Tiny plants without roots, mosses need only a small area for growth, an advantage for their potential use in space and future bases on the Moon or Mars. The investigation uses the Multi-purpose Small Payload Rack (MSPR), a system in the Japanese Experiment Module (JEM) with two workspaces and a worktable suitable for a variety of science and educational missions.

Image above: This image of the International Space Station shows the Canadarm2 robotic arm on the left and at right, a variety of solar arrays, including the cymbal-shaped Ultra-Flex solar arrays attached to the Cygnus space freighter, a portion of one of the space station’s main solar arrays, and, bottom right, part of a docked Russian spacecraft’s solar array. Image Credit: NASA.

Cleaner combustion

The crew completed final runs for the Advanced Combustion via Microgravity Experiments (ACME) Flame Design, which studies the production and control of soot to optimize oxygen-enriched combustion and the design of robust, soot-free flames. Soot can adversely affect efficiency, emissions, and equipment lifetime. Flame Design is part of a series of independent ACME experiments using the space station’s Combustion Integrated Rack (CIR).

Other investigations on which the crew performed work:

– Photobioreactor tests whether the biological processes of microalgae work together with existing systems to create a hybrid life support system. This approach could reduce the amount of consumables required from Earth for future long-duration missions:

– The ISS Experience creates short virtual reality videos from footage taken during the yearlong investigation covering different aspects of crew life, execution of science, and the international partnerships involved on the space station:

– Veg-04 A is a phased research project to address the need for a continuous fresh-food production system in space:

– Standard Measures captures a consistent and simple set of measures from crew members throughout the ISS Program to characterize adaptive responses to and risks of living in space:

Image above: The space station’s Hermes Facility enables regolith and granular material investigations with applications to asteroids, planetary science, and exploration. Hermes is reconfigurable and capable of accommodating up to four experiments at a time for long duration exposure to microgravity. Image Credit: NASA.

– The HERMES facility enables regolith and granular material investigations with applications to asteroids, planetary science, and exploration, including HERMES Cassette-1, which explores the dynamics and properties of regolith, the loosely aggregated surface on airless bodies and could provide understanding of asteroid and small body dynamics essential for future crewed and robotic missions:

– Food Acceptability examines changes in the appeal of food aboard the space station during long-duration missions. “Menu fatigue” from repeatedly consuming a limited choice of foods may contribute to the loss of body mass often experienced by crew members, potentially affecting astronaut health, especially as mission length increases:

Space to Ground: History’s Greatest Adventure: 07/19/2019

Related links:

Expedition 60:



Rodent Research-17 (RR-17):

Space Moss:

Advanced Combustion via Microgravity Experiments (ACME):

Combustion Integrated Rack (CIR):

Spot the Station:

Space Station Research and Technology:

International Space Station (ISS):

Images (mentioned), Video (NASA), Text, Credits: NASA/Michael Johnson/Vic Cooley, Lead Increment Scientist Expedition 60.

Best regards,
Full article

To return to the Moon, astronauts need new spa…

Cape Canaveral (AFP) July 19, 2019

Space engineer Pablo de Leon has designed two spacesuit prototypes for the Moon and for Mars, and knows how long development takes.

If NASA wants to meet its own deadline of returning to the Moon by 2024, it needs to get a move on.

“NASA still doesn’t have a suit because the decision was taken suddenly,” explained the Argentine engineer, who is the director of a lab at the University of
Full article



50 years ago, humanity’s first steps on anothe…

Washington (AFP) July 20, 2019

Fifty years ago on Saturday, American astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first humans in history to set foot on the Moon, an event watched on television by half a billion people.

Their lunar module, named “Eagle,” touched down at 2018 GMT (4:18pm ET) on July 20, 1969.

A little over six hours later, at 0256 GMT, Armstrong placed his left foot on the lunar surface, declar
Full article

Man’s first steps on the Moon, reported live b…

Paris (AFP) July 19, 2019

It was 10:56 pm at mission control in Houston on July 20, 1969 when Neil Armstrong became the first person to step onto the Moon.

AFP despatched several journalists to cover the exploit, which was broadcast live from the Moon’s Sea of Tranquility to NASA’s Johnson Space Center and on to televisions around the world.

This is their summary from that day 50 years ago, translated from the o
Full article

Von Braun: Apollo hero, rocket builder for Hit…

Huntsville, United States (AFP) July 18, 2019

Wernher von Braun was the rocket engineer who designed the Nazi’s dreaded V-2 missile that rained death on Allied cities in World War II, and later the visionary architect behind the Apollo program that put man on the Moon.

But to his children, he was also something else: dad.

“As a child, he was just my father,” said his second daughter Margrit von Braun, who was born in Huntsville, Al
Full article

More Space Biology Work Day Before Crew Launch…

ISS – Expedition 60 Mission patch.

July 19, 2019

Three new Expedition 60 crewmembers are just one day away from launching and joining the space residents aboard the International Space Station. Meanwhile, the orbiting trio worked on space biology hardware today while their crewmates on Earth completed final launch preparations in Kazakhstan.

Two different life science facilities onboard the station are being serviced today to support upcoming research into microgravity’s effect on biological systems. NASA astronaut Nick Hague ensured the Cell Biology Experiment Facility is airtight to contain the high humidity necessary for the Space Moss botany study. NASA Flight Engineer Christina Koch set up power to the Life Science Glovebox for the Cell Science-02 healing and tissue regeneration experiment.

Image above: New Expedition 60 crewmembers (from left) Drew Morgan, Alexander Skvortsov and Luca Parmitano are outfitted in Sokol launch and entry suits for a fit check inside their Soyuz spacecraft. Image Credits: Roscosmos/NASA.

The duo handled a variety of other station tasks today, including Hague reconfiguring the Kibo laboratory module‘s robotic arm backup drive system and testing new station lights. Koch loaded new software on a science laptop computer then replaced components in the station’s restroom, the Waste and Hygiene Compartment.

Station Commander Alexey Ovchinin had a light duty day in space mostly cleaning station hardware in the Russian segment. In the evening, he joined both astronauts reviewing emergency procedures for the arrival of a new crew on Saturday.

International Space Station (ISS). Animation Credit: NASA

NASA astronaut Drew Morgan is launching Saturday at 12:28 p.m. EDT inside the Soyuz MS-13 spacecraft on his first space mission. He joins veteran station residents Luca Parmitano and Alexander Skvortsov for their historic mission lifting off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. They will dock to the space station’s Zvezda service module at 6:50 p.m. 50 years to the day Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin first walked on the Moon.

Related articles:

50 Years Ago: One Small Step, One Giant Leap

Rocket Rolls Out Ready to Launch New Station Crew on Apollo 50th

Related links:

Expedition 60:

Cell Biology Experiment Facility:

Space Moss:

Life Science Glovebox:

Cell Science-02:

Kibo laboratory module:

New station lights:

Zvezda service module:

Space Station Research and Technology:

International Space Station (ISS):

Image (mentioned), Animation (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/Mark Garcia.

Best regards,
Full article