Progress

Progress at ISS
Image Credit: NASA

With the extension of the lifetime of the International Space Station to 2020, and perhaps beyond, the maintenance and resupply of the station becomes critical. This is the third in a series examining the international effort to maintain a robust human mission on the ISS.

The Russian resupply vessel Progress M-09M (P41) docked with the Pirs module of the International Space Station (ISS) on 30 January 2011. It is the second of three resupply spacecraft that will arrive in close succession early in 2011.

Previously, the Japanese HTV2 cargo vessel “Kounotori” docked with the Harmony module on the International Space Station on 27 January 2011. Progress M-07M (P39) undocked from the Zvezda module on the ISS on Sunday 20th February at 1:12 PM GMT, to make way for the European Space Agency’s “Johaness Kepler” ATV-2 resupply mission, which launched on 16 February 2011, and is expected to dock on 24 February.

During the undocking, Russian thrusters were in control of the station’s attitude control. US Control Moment Gyroscopes (CMGs) resumed control of the ISS later on Sunday. Following the undocking, 39P was commanded to conduct it’s de-orbit burn for a destructive re-entry over the Pacific Ocean at 4:12 PM GMT on Sunday.

On 25 February, STS-133 Discovery is expected to launch and dock two days later with the ISS. Kounotori will be moved to the top of the Harmony module (facing away from Earth) and Discovery will dock at the port facing Earth.

Progress M
Cross Section of the Progress M Spacecraft
Image Credit: RKK Energia

Progress M-09M will supply 2,666 kilograms (5,880 lb) of cargo to the space station, including:

  • 1,444 kilograms (3,180 lb) of dry cargo
  • 752 kilograms (1,660 lb) of propellant
  • 50 kilograms (110 lb) of oxygen
  • 420 kilograms (930 lb) of water

NASA Budget for 2012

NASA Budget

NASA’s 2012 Budget Estimate Overview can be found here (pdf).

The Budget Summary can be found here (pdf).

Funding Highlights:

  • Provides $18.7 billion, the same amount the agency received in 2010. Funding focuses on areas that will improve the Nation’s space capabilities, strengthen our competitive edge, and prepare the next generation of leaders in the field. The Budget also proposes to streamline operations and boost efficiencies at facilities
  • Maintains the Nation’s commitment to humanity’s foothold in space—the International Space Station—bringing nations together in a common pursuit of knowledge and excellence
  • Initiates development of a heavy-lift rocket and crew capsule to carry explorers beyond Earth’s orbit, including a mission to an asteroid next decade—the furthest journey in human history
  • Embraces partnership with the commercial space industry and the thousands of new jobs that it can create by contracting with American companies to provide astronaut transportation to the Space Station—thus reducing the risk of relying exclusively on foreign crew transport capabilities
  • Supports groundbreaking innovations by continuing a program of robotic solar system exploration and new astronomical observatories, including a probe that will fly through the Sun’s atmosphere and a new competitively-selected planetary science mission
  • Supports a robust and diverse fleet of Earth observation spacecraft to strengthen U.S. leadership in the field, better understand climate change, improve future weather predictions, and provide vital environmental data to Federal, State, and local policymakers
  • Sharpens the focus of the aeronautics research program by emphasizing enhancing aviation safety and airspace efficiency, and reducing the environmental impact of aviation
  • Initiates a pilot program to provide NASA Centers and surrounding communities with clean energy through the innovative use of NASA property

Astrobotic Technology Signs SpaceX Contract for Lunar XPrize Mission


Astrobotic
Falcon 9 / Lunar Mission
Image Credit:
Astrobotic Technology

Astrobotic Technology, Inc., a spinoff from Carnegie Mellon University, announced the signing of a contract with SpaceX to launch its Lunar XPrize mission using a Falcon 9 rocket.

Astrobotic intends to launch as early as December 2013. The mission includes a rover designed to operate for three months, and commercial payloads on the lander priced at $700,000 per pound, plus a fee of $250,000-per-payload to cover the cost of integration, communications, power, thermal control and pointing services.

Currently, Astrobotic Technology has a contract with NASA to design a lunar mining robot that can extract frozen volatiles (water, methane) at polar locations. These can be used to create propellants for spacecraft returning to Earth.