Category: astronaut

Is your health affected from being in outer space?

What does a normal day for you consist of?

How could your research in diseases help missions to the Moon, Mars and other places in our solar system?

3, 2, 1 LIFTOFF! Astronaut Kate Rubins is here answering your questions during this Tumblr Answer Time. Tune in and enjoy. 🚀👩‍🚀

Ever want to ask a real life astronaut a question? Here’s your chance! 

We are kicking off Hispanic Heritage Month a little early this year, and astronaut Serena M. Auñón-Chancellor will be taking your questions in an Answer Time session on Thursday, September 12 from 12pm – 1pm ET here on NASA’s Tumblr! Find out what it’s like to be a NASA astronaut and learn more about her Cuban-American heritage. Make sure to ask your question now by visiting http://nasa.tumblr.com/ask!

Dr. Serena M. Auñón-Chancellor began working with NASA as a Flight Surgeon in 2006 and was later selected as a NASA astronaut in 2009. Her first flight was from Jun 6- Dec. 20, 2018 where she served as Flight Engineer on the International Space Station as a member of Expeditions 56 and 57. During these missions, the crew contributed to hundreds of experiments in biology, biotechnology, physical science and Earth science – including investigations into a new cancer treatment!

She has a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from The George Washington University, Washington, D.C and a Doctorate of Medicine from The University of Texas – Health Science Center at Houston. 

Dr. Auñón-Chancellor Fun Facts:

  • She spent 2 months in Antarctica from 2010 to 2011 searching for meteorites as part of the ANSMET expedition.
  • She served as an Aquanaut on the NEEMO 20 mission in the Aquarius underwater laboratory, which is used to prepare for living and working in space. 
  • She logged 197 days in space during Expeditions 56 and 57.

Follow Serena on Twitter at @AstroSerena and follow NASA on Tumblr for your regular dose of space. 

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August 26 is celebrated in the United States as Women’s Equality Day. On this day in 1920, the Nineteenth Amendment was signed into law and American women were granted the constitutional right to vote. The suffragists who fought hard for a woman’s right to vote opened up doors for trailblazers who have helped shape our story of spaceflight, research and discovery. On Women’s Equality Day, we celebrate women at NASA who have broken barriers, challenged stereotypes and paved the way for future generations. This list is by no means exhaustive. 

Rocket Girls and the Advent of the Space Age

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In the earliest days of space exploration, most calculations for early space missions were done by “human computers,” and most of these computers were women. These women’s calculations helped the U.S. launch its first satellite, Explorer 1. This image from 1953, five years before the launch of Explorer 1, shows some of those women on the campus of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).

These women were trailblazers at a time when most technical fields were dominated by white men. Janez Lawson (seen in this photo), was the first African American hired into a technical position at JPL. Having graduated from UCLA with a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering, she later went on to have a successful career as a chemical engineer.

Katherine Johnson: A Champion for Women’s Equality

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Mathematician Katherine Johnson, whose life story was told in the book and film “Hidden Figures,” is 101 years old today! Coincidentally, Johnson’s birthday falls on August 26: which is appropriate, considering all the ways that she has stood for women’s equality at NASA and the country as a whole.

Johnson began her career in 1953 at the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), the agency that preceded NASA, one of a number of African-American women hired to work as “human computers.” Johnson became known for her training in geometry, her leadership and her inquisitive nature; she was the only woman at the time to be pulled from the computing pool to work with engineers on other programs.

Johnson was responsible for calculating the trajectory of the 1961 flight of Alan Shepard, the first American in space, as well as verifying the calculations made by electronic computers of John Glenn’s 1962 launch to orbit and the 1969 Apollo 11 trajectory to the moon. She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, by President Barack Obama on Nov. 24, 2015.

JoAnn Morgan: Rocket Fuel in Her Blood 

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JoAnn Morgan was an engineer at Kennedy Space Center at a time when the launch room was crowded with men. In spite of working for all of the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs, and being promoted to a senior engineer, Morgan was still not permitted in the firing room at liftoff — until Apollo 11, when her supervisor advocated for her because of her superior communication skills. Because of this, Morgan was the instrumentation controller — and the only woman — in the launch room for the Apollo 11 liftoff. 

Morgan’s career at NASA spanned over 45 years, and she continued to break ceiling after ceiling for women involved with the space program. She excelled in many other roles, including deputy of Expendable Launch Vehicles, director of Payload Projects Management and director of Safety and Mission Assurance. She was one of the last two people who verified the space shuttle was ready to launch and the first woman at KSC to serve in an executive position, associate director of the center.

Oceola (Ocie) Hall: An Advocate for NASA Women 

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Oceola Hall worked in NASA’s Office of Diversity and Equal Opportunity for over 25 years. She was NASA’s first agency-wide Federal Women’s program manager, from 1974 – 1978. Hall advanced opportunities for NASA women in science, engineering and administrative occupations. She was instrumental in initiating education programs for women, including the Simmons College Strategic Leadership for Women Program.

Hall’s outstanding leadership abilities and vast knowledge of equal employment laws culminated in her tenure as deputy associate administrator for Equal Opportunity Programs, a position she held for five years. Hall was one among the first African-American women to be appointed to the senior executive service of NASA. This photo was taken at Marshall during a Federal Women’s Week Luncheon on November 11, 1977 where Hall served as guest speaker.

Hall was known for saying, “You have to earn your wings every day.”

Sally Ride: Setting the Stage for Women in Space

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The Astronaut Class of 1978, otherwise known as the “Thirty-Five New Guys,” was NASA’s first new group of astronauts since 1969. This class was notable for many reasons, including having the first African-American and first Asian-American astronauts and the first women.

Among the first women astronauts selected was Sally Ride. On June 18, 1983, Ride became the first American woman in space, when she launched with her four crewmates aboard the Space Shuttle Challenger on mission STS-7. On that day, Ride made history and paved the way for future explorers.

When those first six women joined the astronaut corps in 1978, they made up nearly 10 percent of the active astronaut corps. In the 40 years since that selection, NASA selected its first astronaut candidate class with equal numbers of women and men, and women now comprise 34 percent of the active astronauts at NASA.

Charlie Blackwell-Thompson: First Female Launch Director 

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As a part of our Artemis missions to return humans to the Moon and prepare for journeys to Mars, the Space Launch System, or SLS, rocket will carry the Orion spacecraft on an important flight test. Veteran spaceflight engineer Charlie Blackwell-Thompson will helm the launch team at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Her selection as launch director means she will be the first woman to oversee a NASA liftoff and launch team.

"A couple of firsts here all make me smile,” Blackwell-Thompson said. “First launch director for the world’s most powerful rocket — that’s humbling. And I am honored to be the first female launch director at Kennedy Space Center. So many amazing women that have contributed to human space flight, and they blazed the trail for all of us.”

The Future of Women at NASA

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As we move forward as a space agency, embarking on future missions to the Moon, Mars and beyond, we reflect on the women who blazed the trail and broke glass ceilings. Without their perseverance and determination, we would not be where we are today.

In this image, NASA astronauts Anne McClain and Christina Koch pose for a portrait inside the Kibo laboratory module on the International Space Station. Both Expedition 59 flight engineers are members of NASA’s 2013 class of astronauts.

Follow Women@NASA for more stories like this one, and make sure to follow us on Tumblr for your regular dose of space: http://nasa.tumblr.com.

Now is your chance to experience what it’s like to live and work on the International Space Station! The new NASA Science: Humans in Space app will let you explore the station while virtually experiencing what it does to your body.

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Life in space is no float in the park. Astronauts contend with everything from motion sickness to face swelling to loss of bone density. That’s why many research investigations on the space station study how humans can better adapt to microgravity both in Earth’s orbit as well as on longer missions to the Moon and Mars. 

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Deal with these challenges and perform crucial daily workouts as you explore the orbiting laboratory and ensure the H-II Transfer Vehicle successfully berths to the station. 

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You can even collect mission patches along the way for completing tasks, counteracting the effects of microgravity and making discoveries. 

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Download the application for Android here and iPhone here. Find more NASA apps here.

Want to learn about more investigations heading to the space station (or even ones currently under way)? Make sure to follow @ISS_Research on Twitter and Space Station Research and Technology News on Facebook.

Make sure to follow us on Tumblr for your regular dose of space: http://nasa.tumblr.com.

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On July 20, 1969, the world watched as Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin took their first steps on the Moon. It was a historic moment for the United States and for humanity. Until then, no human had ever walked on another world. To achieve this remarkable feat, we recruited the best and brightest scientists, engineers and mathematicians across the country. At the peak of our Apollo program, an estimated 400,000 Americans of diverse race and ethnicity worked to realize President John F. Kennedy’s vision of landing humans on the Moon and bringing them safely back to Earth. The men and women of our Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley supported the Apollo program in numerous ways – from devising the shape of the Apollo space capsule to performing tests on its thermal protection system and study of the Moon rocks and soils collected by the astronauts. In celebration of the upcoming 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing, here are portraits of some of the people who worked at Ames in the 1960s to help make the Apollo program a success.

“I knew Neil Armstrong. I had a young daughter and she took her first step on the day that Neil stepped foot on the Moon. Isn’t that something?”

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Hank Cole did research on the design of the Saturn V rocket, which propelled humans to the Moon. An engineer, his work at Ames often took him to Edwards Air Force Base in Southern California, where he met Neil Armstrong and other pilots who tested experimental aircraft.

“I worked in a lab analyzing Apollo 11 lunar dust samples for microbes. We wore protective clothing from head to toe, taking extreme care not to contaminate the samples.”

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Caye Johnson came to Ames in 1964. A biologist, she analyzed samples taken by Apollo astronauts from the Moon for signs of life. Although no life was found in these samples, the methodology paved the way for later work in astrobiology and the search for life on Mars.

“I investigated a system that could be used to provide guidance and control of the Saturn V rocket in the event of a failure during launch. It was very exciting and challenging work.”

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Richard Kurkowski started work at Ames in 1955, when the center was still part of the National Advisory Committee on Aeronautics, NASA’s predecessor. An engineer, he performed wind tunnel tests on aircraft prior to his work on the Apollo program.

“I was 24 and doing some of the first computer programming work on the Apollo heat shield.  When we landed on the Moon it was just surreal. I was very proud. I was in awe.”

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Mike Green started at Ames in 1965 as a computer programmer. He supported aerospace engineers working on the development of the thermal protection system for the Apollo command module. The programs were executed on some of earliest large-scale computers available at that time.

“In 1963 there was alarm that the Apollo heat shield would not be able to protect the astronauts. We checked and found it would work as designed. Sure enough, the astronauts made it home safely!”

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Gerhard Hahne played an important role in certifying that the Apollo spacecraft heat shield used to bring our astronauts home from the Moon would not fail. The Apollo command module was the first crewed spacecraft designed to enter the atmosphere of Earth at lunar-return velocity – approximately 24,000 mph, or more than 30 times faster than the speed of sound.

“I was struck by the beauty of the photo of Earth rising above the stark desert of the lunar surface. It made me realize how frail our planet is in the vastness of space.”

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Jim Arnold arrived at Ames in 1962 and was hired to work on studying the aerothermodynamics of the Apollo spacecraft. He was amazed by the image captured by Apollo 8 astronaut Bill Anders from lunar orbit on Christmas Eve in 1968 of Earth rising from beneath the Moon’s horizon. The stunning picture would later become known as the iconic Earthrise photo.

“When the spacecraft returned to Earth safely and intact everyone was overjoyed. But I knew it wasn’t going to fail.”

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Howard Goldstein came to Ames in 1967. An engineer, he tested materials used for the Apollo capsule heat shield, which protected the three-man crew against the blistering heat of reentry into Earth’s atmosphere on the return trip from the Moon. 

“I was in Houston waiting to study the first lunar samples. It was very exciting to be there when the astronauts walked from the mobile quarantine facility into the building.”

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Richard Johnson developed a simple instrument to analyze the total organic carbon content of the soil samples collected by Apollo astronauts from the Moon’s surface. He and his wife Caye Johnson, who is also a scientist, were at our Lunar Receiving Laboratory in Houston when the Apollo 11 astronauts returned to Earth so they could examine the samples immediately upon their arrival.

“I tested extreme atmospheric entries for the Apollo heat shield. Teamwork and dedication produced success.”

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William Borucki joined Ames in 1962. He collected data on the radiation environment of the Apollo heat shield in a facility used to simulate the reentry of the Apollo spacecraft into Earth’s atmosphere.  

Join us in celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing and hear about our future plans to go forward to the Moon and on to Mars by tuning in to a special two-hour live NASA Television broadcast at 1 pm ET on July 19. Watch the program at www.nasa.gov/live.

Make sure to follow us on Tumblr for your regular dose of space: http://nasa.tumblr.com.

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It’s been one year since Jim Bridenstine was sworn in as our 13th administrator, starting the job on April 23, 2018. Since then, he has led the agency towards taking our nation farther than ever before — from assigning the first astronauts to fly on commercial vehicles to the International Space Station, to witnessing New Horizon’s arrival at the farthest object ever explored, to working to meet the challenge of landing humans on the lunar surface by 2024.

Here is a look at what happened in the last year under the Administrator’s leadership:

1. Assigned the first astronauts to fly on commercial spacecraft to the International Space Station.

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Administrator Bridenstine introduced to the world on Aug. 3, 2018 the first U.S. astronauts who will fly on American-made, commercial spacecraft to and from the International Space Station — an endeavor that will return astronaut launches to U.S. soil for the first time since the space shuttle’s retirement in 2011.

“Today, our country’s dreams of greater achievements in space are within our grasp,” said Administrator Bridenstine. “This accomplished group of American astronauts, flying on new spacecraft developed by our commercial partners Boeing and SpaceX, will launch a new era of human spaceflight.”

2. Announced the first commercial effort to regularly send science payloads to the Moon.

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Administrator Bridenstine announced new Moon partnerships with American companies — an important step to achieving long-term scientific study and human exploration of the Moon and Mars. Nine U.S. companies were named as eligible to bid on NASA delivery services to the Moon through Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) contracts on Nov. 29, 2018.  

3. Witnessed the teamwork that led to the latest mission to the Red Planet with Mars InSight’s landing.

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On Nov. 26, 2018, the InSight lander successfully touched down on Mars after an almost seven-month, 300-million-mile (485-million-kilometer) journey from Earth. Administrator Bridenstine celebrated with the members of Mars Cube One and Mars InSight team members after the Mars lander successfully landed and began its mission to study the “inner space” of Mars: its crust, mantle and core.

“Today, we successfully landed on Mars for the eighth time in human history,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. “InSight will study the interior of Mars, and will teach us valuable science as we prepare to send astronauts to the Moon and later to Mars…The best of NASA is yet to come, and it is coming soon.”

4. Oversaw the arrival of the first American mission to an asteroid designed to return samples and New Horizon’s arrival at Ultima Thule, the farthest object ever explored.

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The spacecraft OSIRIS-REx traveled 1.4 million miles (2.2 million kilometers) to arrive at the asteroid Bennu on Dec. 3. The first asteroid sample mission is helping scientists investigate how planets formed and how life began, as well as improve our understanding of asteroids that could impact Earth. OSIRIS-Rex has already revealed water locked inside the clays that make up the asteroid.

And on the early hours of New Year’s Day, 2019, our New Horizons spacecraft flew past Ultima Thule in Kuiper belt, a region of primordial objects that hold keys to understanding the origins of the solar system.

“In addition to being the first to explore Pluto, today New Horizons flew by the most distant object ever visited by a spacecraft and became the first to directly explore an object that holds remnants from the birth of our solar system,” said Administrator Bridenstine. “This is what leadership in space is all about.”

5. Directed the first major milestone in commercial crew flights with the successful Space X Demo-1 mission.

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Demonstration Mission-1 (Demo-1) was an uncrewed flight test designed to demonstrate a new commercial capability developed under NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. The mission began March 2, when the Crew Dragon launched from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida and docked to the International Space Station for five days.

“Today’s successful re-entry and recovery of the Crew Dragon capsule after its first mission to the International Space Station marked another important milestone in the future of human spaceflight,” said Administrator Bridenstine. “I want to once again congratulate the NASA and SpaceX teams on an incredible week. Our Commercial Crew Program is one step closer to launching American astronauts on American rockets from American soil.”

6. Is currently working to meet the challenge of advancing human exploration of the lunar surface to 2024.

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Administrator Bridenstine has accomplished a lot since he swore in one year ago — but the best is yet to come. On March 26, Vice President Mike Pence tasked our agency with returning American astronauts to the Moon by 2024 at the fifth meeting of the National Space Council. 

“It is the right time for this challenge, and I assured the Vice President that we, the people of NASA, are up to the challenge,” said Administrator Bridenstine. “There’s a lot of excitement about our plans and also a lot of hard work and challenges ahead, but I know the NASA workforce and our partners are up to it.”

Learn more about what’s still to come this year at NASA:

Make sure to follow us on Tumblr for your regular dose of space: http://nasa.tumblr.com

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There are some things only humans can do in space. The rest can be left to robots. To free up valuable time for astronauts living and working aboard the International Space Station, we’re sending three robotic helpers to the orbiting outpost. Developed and built at our Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley, the cube-shaped Astrobee robots will each stay as busy as a bee flying around the space station and assisting crew with routine tasks like maintenance and tracking inventory. The robots will also help researchers on the ground carry out experiments, test new technologies and study human-robot interaction in space. Learning how robots can best work with humans in close proximity will be key for exploring the Moon and other destinations. Get to know more about our new robots headed to space: 

The Astrobee robots were tested inside a special lab at our Ames Research Center where researchers created a mockup of the space station’s interior. 

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The flying robots are propelled by fans. They can move in any direction and turn on any axis in space. 

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Each robot is equipped with cameras and sensors for navigating inside the space station and avoiding obstacles.

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Claw power! Astrobees have a robotic arm that can be attached for handling cargo or running experiments.

Astrobee is battery powered. When its battery runs low, the robot will autonomously navigate and dock to a power station to recharge.

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The robots can operate in either fully automated mode or under remote control by astronauts or researchers on Earth.

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Astrobee builds on the success of SPHERES, our first-generation robotic assistant that arrived at the space station in 2006.  

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Two of the three Astrobee robots are scheduled to launch to space this month from our Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia! Tune in to the launch at www.nasa.gov/live.

Make sure to follow us on Tumblr for your regular dose of space: http://nasa.tumblr.com