Scott Kelly Arrives Back On Earth and the USA from Year in Space! Enjoys Dip in His Pool

NASA astronaut Scott Kelly landed at Houston’s Ellington Field around 2:30 AM, Mar. 3, 2016, marking his return to the U.S. following an agency record-setting year in space aboard the International Space Station.  Kelly was greeted in Houston by Second Lady of the United States Dr. Jill Biden, Assistant to the President for Science and Technology Dr. John P. Holdren, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, and Kelly’s identical twin brother and former NASA astronaut Mark Kelly. Credit: NASA

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FL – NASA’s first ever ‘Year in Space’ astronaut Scott Kelly was in good shape and smiling broadly for the Earth bound photographers after safely returning to Earth from his orbiting home of the past year on the International Space Station (ISS), for a smooth touchdown in the steppes of Kazakhstan late Monday evening, March 1.

He soon jetted back to the USA for a grand arrival ceremony back home in Houston in the wee hours of the morning, today, March 3, 2016.

“Great to be back on Earth, said Kelly. “There’s no place like home!”

Kelly landed on US soil at Houston’s Ellington Field early this morning at about 2:30 a.m.

Kelly was welcomed back to the USA by Second Lady of the United States Dr. Jill Biden, Assistant to the President for Science and Technology Dr. John P. Holdren, NASA Administrator and former astronaut Charles Bolden, and Kelly’s identical twin brother and former NASA astronaut Mark Kelly.

Before departing the station after a 340 day stay, Kelly said that among the things he missed most on Earth were fresh air and food and freedom of movement. And swimming in his pool.

Well he quickly made good on those wishes and after arriving back home before daylight soon took a dip in his backyard pool.

Kelly posted a video of his pleasant pool plummet in all its glory on twitter:
https://twitter.com/StationCDRKelly

“Man, that feels good!” he exclaimed.

The long trip back home began after Kelly boarded his Russian Soyuz TMA-18M return capsule along with Russian cosmonaut crewmates Mikhail Kornienko and Sergey Volkov.

Kelly and his Russian cohort Mikhail Kornienko comprised the first ever crew to live and work aboard the ISS for a record breaking year-long mission aimed at taking concrete steps towards eventually dispatching human crews for multiyear-long expeditions to the surface of Mars and back.

Volkov spent a normal six month increment aboard the station.

The goal of the 1 year ISS mission was to collect a variety of data on the effects of long duration weightlessness on the human body that will be used to formulate a human mission to Mars.

Kelly and Kornienko originally launched to the station on March 27, 2015 along with Russian crewmate Gennady Padalka.

The trio undocked from the station inside their cramped Soyuz capsule, pulled away, fired breaking thrusters and plummeted back to Earth a few hours later, surviving scorching reentry temperatures as the passed through the Earth atmosphere.

They safely landed in Kazakhstan at 11:26 p.m. EST on Tuesday night, March 1, 2016 (10:26 a.m. March 2 Kazakhstan time), concluding Expedition 46.

Kelly set an American record for longest time in space on a single mission by living and working for 340 days straight aboard the ISS.

Kelly and Kornienko share the history making distinction of comprising the first ever ‘1 Year Crew’ to serve aboard the massive Earth orbiting science research outpost in space.

With a cumulative total of 520 days in space, Kelly has amassed the most time for an American in space. Kornienko has accumulated 516 days across two flights, and Volkov has 548 days on three flights.

During the yearlong mission 10 astronauts and cosmonauts representing six different nations including the United States, Russia, Japan, Denmark, Kazakhstan and England lived aboard the space station.

The station currently remains occupied by a three person crew hailing from the US, Russia and England. A new three person crew launches later in March.

NASA’s next commercial resupply launch to the station is slated for March 22 by a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket carrying an Orbital ATK Cygnus cargo freighter with over 7000 pounds of fresh science experiments and crew supplies.

Stay tuned here for Ken’s continuing Earth and planetary science and human spaceflight news.

Ken Kremer

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Learn more about SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, ULA Atlas rocket, Orbital ATK Cygnus, ISS, Boeing, Space Taxis, Mars rovers, Orion, SLS, Antares, NASA missions and more at Ken’s upcoming outreach events:

Mar 4: “SpaceX, ULA, SLS, Orion, Commercial crew, Curiosity explores Mars, Pluto and more,” Kennedy Space Center Quality Inn, Titusville, FL, evenings

The post Scott Kelly Arrives Back On Earth and the USA from Year in Space! Enjoys Dip in His Pool appeared first on Universe Today.

Space Farmer Scott Kelly Harvests First ‘Space Zinnias’ Grown Aboard Space Station

NASA astronaut Scott Kelly harvested his space grown Zinnia’s on Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14, 2016 aboard the International Space Station.  Credit: NASA/Scott Kelly/@StationCDRKelly

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FL – Nearing the final days of his history making one-year-long sojourn in orbit, space farming NASA astronaut Scott Kelly harvested the first ever ‘Space Zinnias’ grown aboard the International Space Station (ISS) on a most appropriate day – Valentine’s Day, Sunday, Feb. 14, 2016.

After enduring an unexpected series of trial and tribulations – including a fearsome attack of ‘space mold’ – Kelly summoned his inner ‘Mark Watney’ and brought the Zinnia’s to life, blossoming in full color and drenched in natural sunlight. See photo above.

He spent weeks lovingly nursing the near dead plants back to health and proudly displayed the fruits of his blooming labor through the windows of the domed Cupola, jutting out from the orbiting outpost and dramatically back dropped by the blue waters of Earth and the blackness of space.

“Nursed the #SpaceFlowers all the way to today and now all that remains are memories,” tweeted NASA astronaut and Expedition 46 Commander Scott Kelly on Feb 14, 2016. “Happy #Valentines Day!”

The zinnias are thus contributing invaluable experience to scientists and astronauts learning how to grow plants and food in microgravity during future deep space human expeditions planned for NASA’s “Journey to Mars” initiative.

The experimental Space Zinnias are truly an important part of NASA’s ongoing crop research activities and are being grown in the stations Veggie plant growth facility.

But it wasn’t always looking so rosy for the zinnias. Just before Christmas, Kelly found that these same Zinnias were suffering from a serious case of space blight when he discovered traces of mold on the flowers growing inside Veggie – as reported here.

Kelly asked to be given decision making power and was assigned as an “autonomous gardener,” Gioia Massa, NASA Kennedy payload scientist for Veggie, explained to Universe Today during a visit to the Veggie ground control experiment facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida.

Ever since then, the zinnias have been on the rebound.

“I think we’ve learned a lot about doing this kind of experiment. We’re being farmers in space,” Kelly explained before the harvest.

“I was extra motivated to bring the plants back to life. I’m going to harvest them on Valentine’s Day.”

Meanwhile back on Earth, scientists harvested the counterpart ‘ground truth’ Zinnia’s being grown at Veggie ground control in the Space Station Processing Facility at KSC on Feb. 11, the same way they are being grown and harvested on the ISS.

The team will compare and contrast the results of the ground and space grown zinnias in designing future space farming experiments.

Kelly’s space farming success comes just in the nick of time, as he is now less than two weeks away from the culmination of his ‘1 Year in Space’ mission aboard the ISS.

Kelly is the first American to spend a year in space.

And he comprises one half of the first ever ‘1 Year ISS crew’ – along with Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko.

Kelly and Kornienko serve as human guinea pigs for studying the effects of long term spaceflight in zero gravity on the human body that will aid planning for sending people on years long expeditions to Mars.

The dynamic duo and their four co-orbiting international crewmates are conducting hundreds of experiments aimed at paving the path for the eventual multi-year expeditions to the Red Planet.

NASA’s agency wide goal is to send humans on a ‘Journey to Mars’ during the 2030s.

The experimental space zinnias are normally bathed with red, green and blue LED lighting in the Veggie growth chamber. Kelly decided to occasionally nurture the plants further with some all natural sunlight from our life giving sun.

The Veggie experiment is comprised of “pillows” holding the Zinnia flower seedlings that provide nutrients to the plants root system inside the experimental and low-cost illuminated growth chamber.

The “Veggie” plant growth system is housed inside the European Space Agency’s Columbus laboratory located at the end of the US section of the ISS.

Veggie-01 was delivered to the ISS by the SpaceX-3 Dragon cargo resupply mission launched in April 2014, Massa told me.

The Veggie pillow sets contained the zinnia seeds and as well as romaine lettuce that was successfully grown in Veggie earlier in 2015, by Kelly and his crewmates.

Tomatoes will be the next crop grown inside Veggie, according to Massa.

Stay tuned here for Ken’s continuing Earth and planetary science and human spaceflight news.

Ken Kremer

The post Space Farmer Scott Kelly Harvests First ‘Space Zinnias’ Grown Aboard Space Station appeared first on Universe Today.

First Space Zinnia Blooms and Catches Sun’s Rays on Space Station

Photo of first ever blooming space Zinnia flower grown onboard the International Space Station's Veggie facility moved to catch the sun’s rays through the windows of the Cupola backdropped by Earth.  Credit: NASA/Scott Kelly/@StationCDRKelly

The first Zinnia flower to bloom in space is dramatically catching the sun’s rays like we have never seen before – through the windows of the Cupola on the International Space Station (ISS) while simultaneously providing a splash of soothing color, nature and reminders of home to the multinational crew living and working on the orbital science laboratory.

NASA astronaut and Expedition 46 Commander Scott Kelly is proudly sharing stunning new photos showing off his space grown Zinnias – which bloomed for the first time on Jan. 16, all thanks to his experienced green thumb.

The most breathtaking view, seen above, shows the newly blooming Zinnia soaking up sunlight inside the seven windowed Cupola – backdropped by our beautiful Earth and one of the stations huge power generating solar arrays. The domed Cupola is the astronauts favorite place on station.

“Yes, there are other life forms in space!” Kelly tweeted in glee over the weekend with a magnificent series of photos of the fruits of his space gardening labor.

“How does your garden grow? Here’s how my #spaceflower came to bloom,” Kelly noted.

The six humans aboard the ISS are now sharing the orbiting outpost with the experimental Zinnias being grown in the stations Veggie plant growth facility.

Whereas the Zinnia plants are normally bathed with red, green and blue LED lighting in the chamber, Kelly decided to further nurture the plants with some all natural sunlight from our life giving sun.

The Veggie experiment is comprised of “pillows” holding the Zinnia flower seedlings that provide nutrients to the plants root system inside the experimental and low-cost illuminated growth chamber.

Kelly is clearly relishing his new role as “Veggie commander” of the now thriving Zinnias by following in the fictional footsteps of botanist Mark Watney in “The Martian” and deciding on his own how best to care for the plants.

But it almost wasn’t to be. Only a few weeks ago, these same Zinnias were suffering from a serious case of space blight when he discovered traces of mold just before Christmas – as reported here.

“Our plants aren’t looking too good. Would be a problem on Mars,” tweeted Kelly.

“I’m going to have to channel my inner Mark Watney.”

So Kelly set about to save the Zinnias from a potential near death experience.

The survival of the Zinnias is a direct result of Kelly requesting permission to take personal change of caring for the plants without having to constantly ask Mission Control for instruction and direction.

The Zinnias have been on the rebound ever since and the proof is in the blooming.

The “Veggie” plant growth system is housed inside the European Space Agency’s Columbus laboratory located at the end of the US section of the ISS.

Veggie-01 was delivered to the ISS by the SpaceX-3 Dragon cargo resupply mission launched in April 2014, carrying the pillow sets containing the romaine lettuce and zinnia seeds.

Stay tuned here for Ken’s continuing Earth and planetary science and human spaceflight news.

Ken Kremer

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Space Zinnias Rebound from Space Blight on Space Station

Space Zinnias growing inside the International Space Station's Veggie facility are on the rebound! Credit: NASA/Scott Kelly/@StationCDRKelly

Zinnia plants growing aboard the International Space Station (ISS) have staged a dramatic New Year’s comeback from a potential near death experience over the Christmas holidays, when traces of mold were discovered.

And it’s all thanks to the experienced green thumb of Space Station Commander Scott Kelly, channeling his “inner Mark Watney!”

After suffering from a serious case of space blight on the space station, the ‘Space Zinnia’s’ growing inside the orbiting outposts Veggie facility are now on the comeback trail from space bound trials and tribulations.

“Some of my space flowers are on the rebound!” tweeted Kelly, in an ISS Weekend Update to space enthusiasts and horticulturalists worldwide.

“No longer looking sad!”

Earlier this year, the ISS crew had already proven they could successfully grow, cultivate and eat space grown romaine lettuce they gleefully harvested from Veggie – as reported here.

Kelly, along with newly arrived British astronaut Tim Peake, had started growing the Zinnia flowers in December in the Veggie experimental facility as part of the Veg-01 investigation.

Veggie is comprised of “pillows” holding the Zinnia flower seedlings that provide nutrients to the root system inside an experimental low-cost growth chamber that provides lighting for the plants.

The purpose is to grow plants in the growth chamber in space and comparing their progress to plants grown on Earth as “ground truth” counterparts.
At first the space station Zinnias made great progress, sprouting healthily into larger plants with bigger leaves than those growing on Earth.

“These plants appear larger than their ground-based counterparts and scientists expect buds to form on the larger plants soon,” researchers reported in mid-December 2015.

But over the Christmas holidays, Kelly discovered the mold infestation snapped the photo below of the dire looking Zinnia plants.

“Our plants aren’t looking too good. Would be a problem on Mars,” tweeted Kelly.

“I’m going to have to channel my inner Mark Watney.”

Kelly is now on the home stretch of his “1-Year-Long” mission aboard the ISS aimed at paving the way for multi-year expeditions to the Red Planet.

In essence Kelly’s efforts are directly contributing towards turning the realistic science fiction exploits of NASA astronaut Mark Watney in “The Martian” – played by Matt Damon – into science fact for NASA’s future astronauts on a “Journey to Mars.”
Learning to grow edible food is a key task that future astronauts will have to master to enable voyages to the Red Planet and back.

After assessing the “sad” situation, Mission Control in Houston asked Kelly to take action by collecting some samples for later analysis on Earth and. more urgently, increasing the Veggie facilities fan speed to cut down on the high humidity that’s likely the “root cause” of the mold infestation.

“The experiment (Veg-01) team has been monitoring signs of high humidity within the Veggie compartment, and had planned to turn up the interior fan to dry out the environment. The larger plant leaves had become wet due to the formation of droplets – known as guttation – and as a result, created conditions for mold growth,” NASA reported.

So, Kelly trimmed and dried the leaves after Christmas. He double bagged the leaf samples and stored them into the stations ultra low temperature freezer, named MELFI (Minus Eighty Degree Celsius Laboratory Freezer for ISS). They will be returned to Earth later this year aboard a SpaceX cargo Dragon for eventual analysis by researchers.
Tomato plants will be grown inside Veggie at a future date.

“ Understanding how flowering plants grow in microgravity can be applied to growing other edible flowering plants, such as tomatoes,” says NASA.

Stay tuned here for Ken’s continuing Earth and planetary science and human spaceflight news.

Ken Kremer

The post Space Zinnias Rebound from Space Blight on Space Station appeared first on Universe Today.

Gorgeous Views of Earth from Space Ring in New Year 2016 From the Space Station and Beyond

#HappyNewYear! NOAA’s GOES East satellite captured this image of our home on the first day of #2016.   Credit: NOAA

Happy New Year 2016 from the International Space Station (ISS) and Beyond!

Behold Earth ! Courtesy of our Human and Robotic emissaries to the High Frontier we can ring in the New Year by reveling in gorgeous new views of our beautiful Home Planet taken from the space station and beyond.

The Americas come to life in the Happy New Year image (above) captured by NOAA’s GOES East satellite “of our home on the first day of #2016.”

And the six person multinational crew of Expedition 46, led by Station Commander Scott Kelly of NASA sends hearty greetings and spectacular imagery to all Earthlings while soaring some 250 miles (400 kilometers) above us all.

“Happy New Year to all the people of Planet Earth,” wished Kelly in a special New Year’s 2016 video message beamed down from the massive orbiting science complex.

Kelly was accompanied in the short video by two of his fellow Expeditions 46 crewmembers with well wishes for into the inhabitants of Earth: Flight Engineer Tim Kopra of NASA and Flight Engineer Tim Peake of the European Space Agency.

https://youtu.be/9SY7ojOx6mo

Video Caption: Aboard the International Space Station, Expedition 46 Commander Scott Kelly of NASA, Flight Engineer Tim Kopra of NASA and Flight Engineer Tim Peake of the European Space Agency wished the people of Earth a Happy New Year. Credit: NASA/ESA

Kelly is now three quarters of the way through his year-long mission on the ISS. Kelly comprises one half of the first ever ‘1 Year ISS crew’ – along with Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko.

Indeed New Years Day marked Day 280 for Kelly aboard the ISS and he snapped the photo of Earth below to celebrate the occasion of passing of 2015 into 2016.

“We’d like to say what a privilege it is to serve on board the International Space Station. And how grateful we are for all the teams on the ground that support our flying in space, and the science that’s on board,” Kopra added.

Kopra and Peake just arrived at the station barely two weeks ago following a flawless launch on Dec. 15 in their Russian Soyuz TMA-19M capsule from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Along with six time Russian space flyer Yuri Malenchenko they are begining a six-month mission aboard the complex.

“I’d like to wish everyone down on our beautiful planet Earth a very happy New Year, and a fantastic 2016,” said Tim Peake, the first British astronaut to journey to the ISS.

Here’s stunning view of an Aleutian island volcano blowing off some steam taken today, Jan. 2, by Scott Kelly.

Stay tuned here for Ken’s continuing Earth and planetary science and human spaceflight news.

Ken Kremer

The post Gorgeous Views of Earth from Space Ring in New Year 2016 From the Space Station and Beyond appeared first on Universe Today.

First British Astronaut Blasts Off to ISS on Soyuz with Russian/American Crewmates

The Soyuz TMA-19M rocket is launched with the Expedition 46 crew of Yuri Malenchenko of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos), Flight Engineer Tim Kopra of NASA, and Flight Engineer Tim Peake of ESA (European Space Agency), on Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2015 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.  Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky

The first British astronaut to blast off on a journey to the International Space Station (ISS) soared gloriously skyward early today, Dec 15, following the flawless launch of a Russian Soyuz capsule with his Russian/American crewmates from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

The picture perfect liftoff of the Soyuz TMA-19M rocket with Expedition 46 Soyuz Commander and six time space flyer Yuri Malenchenko of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos), Flight Engineer Tim Kopra of NASA, and Flight Engineer Tim Peake of ESA (European Space Agency), occurred at 6:03 a.m. EST (5:03 p.m. Baikonur time, 1103 GMT) on Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2015.

The Soyuz crew executed a series of delta velocity burns after liftoff to adjust the orbit to intersect with the space station after launching from the same pad used by Yuri Gagarin, the first human to launch into space back in 1961.

The launch culminated with a very rapid 4-orbit 6-hour fast track arrival at the massive Earth orbiting complex.

However, the crews successful docking only took place after a slight delay when an unexplained glitch occurred in the final moments.

The very experienced Soyuz commander Yuri Malenchenko took over manual control of the crafts approach after a technical issue with the automated Kurs docking system aborted the vehicles approach at about 20 meters distance.

The crews are trained extensively for both automated and manual docking operations.

Soyuz contact and docking capture at the ISS was confirmed at 12:33 p.m. EST, about 10 minutes later than originally planned, while flying about 222 statute miles over India.

The hooks and latches were then activated and closed to complete the spacecrafts hard mating to the station.

“We have finally arrived at the station,” announced a gleeful Malenchenko.

The Soyuz capsule and crew will remain at the space station for some six months until May 2016.

Today’s arrival restores the station to its full complement of six people altogether for Expedition 46. The new astronaut trio joins three crewmembers already aboard.

Malenchenko is now starting his sixth space flight. Notable be will eventually become one of only three cosmonauts to exceed 800 days in space – along with Russian cosmonauts Sergei Krikalev and Gennady Padalka.

This is the second flight for NASA’s Tim Kopra.

Tim Peake is the first UK astronaut to reach the station and the 221st person to live on the ISS.

The three person Expedition 46 crew will spend approximately six months living and working aboard the orbiting outpost. They will return to Earth in May 2016.

In the final minutes of approach to the space station, the Soyuz slowed precipitously to a velocity of about 0.1 meters pert second as it closed in to within less than 100 meters distance from the docking port at the Russian Rassvet module.

The crosshairs were perfectly aligned during approach and docking as the Soyuz approached to with about 20 meters, when the Soyuz Kurs automatic docking system suddenly took control to abort the docking.

The vehicle backed off to a distance of about 100 to 120 meters while Russian mission controllers carefully evaluated the situation.

The Rassvet docking port was only recently vacated 4 days ago by the departure of the Expedition 45 crew on Dec 11- as detailed here.

The Soyuz launch and ISS docking operations were all carried live on NASA TV.

“It was a beautiful launch and we are glad to have the crew arrive at the ISS,” said NASA’s ISS program manager Kurt Shireman.

“This launch shows the strength of the ISS partnership in space.”

“This is a very busy time of vehicles coming and going at the ISS. And we have spacewalks upcoming.”

Today’s manned launch also follows closely on the heels of the unmanned Dec. 6 launch and subsequent arrival of the Orbital ATK Cygnus CRS-5 resupply ship loaded with over 7000 pounds of science experiments, food and gear.

“A lot of research is getting done on the space station, probably the most ever,” said William Gerstenmaier, Associate Director for NASA Human spaceflight at NASA Headquarters.

“It’s great to get three more crewmembers on orbit and continue the first 1 Year ISS mission.”

“This will all help us with the Journey to Mars!”

Stay tuned here for Ken’s continuing Earth and planetary science and human spaceflight news.

Ken Kremer

Space Station Trio Returns Safely to Earth for Rare Night Landing After 141 Day Mission

Plummeting to Earth during a fiery atmospheric reentry within the cramped confirms of their Russian Soyuz capsule, an international trio of space flyers returned safely to the Home Planet today, Dec. 11, for a rare nighttime landing, after departing the International Space Station (ISS) which had been their home in space for the past 141 […]