No Earlier Than: Dec. 4, 2014
Mission: First Launch of New Orion Spacecraft on Exploration Flight Test-1
Description: Orion’s first flight test, called Exploration Flight Test-1, will launch this year atop a Delta IV Heavy rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Space Launch Complex 37. This test will evaluate launch and high speed re-entry systems such as avionics, attitude control, parachutes and the heat shield.
NASA’s Orion spacecraft is built to take humans farther than they’ve ever gone before. Orion will serve as the exploration vehicle that will carry the crew to space, provide emergency abort capability, sustain the crew during the space travel, and provide safe re-entry from deep space return velocities.
Orion’s first flight test, called Exploration Flight Test-1, will launch this year atop a Delta IV Heavy rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Space Launch Complex 37. This test will evaluate launch and high speed re-entry systems such as avionics, attitude control, parachutes and the heat shield.
In the future, Orion will launch on NASA’s new heavy-lift rocket, the Space Launch System. More powerful than any rocket ever built, SLS will be capable of sending humans to deep space destinations such as an asteroid and eventually Mars. Exploration Mission-1, scheduled for 2017, will be the first mission to integrate Orion and the Space Launch System.
Date: Oct. 29, 2014
Mission: Progress 57
Description: Launching on a Russian Soyuz from Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, Progress 57 will deliver cargo and crew supplies to the International Space Station.
|First launch to ISS||2000|
|Launch site||Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan|
|Launch vehicle||Soyuz rocket|
|Length||7.4 m (24.3 ft)|
|Diameter||2.7 m (8.9 ft)|
|Launch mass||7,440 kg (16,402 lb)|
|Cargo mass||1,700 kg (3,748 lb)|
|Pressurized volume||7 m3 (247.2 ft3)|
|Length on orbit||6 months|
|Docking method/location||Automatic docking/Russian segment|
|Return method||Destructive reentry|
No Earlier Than: Sep. 19, 2014 — 2:38 a.m. Eastern
Mission: SpaceX 4 Commercial Resupply Services flight with ISS-RapidScat
Description: Launching from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., SpaceX-4 will deliver cargo and crew supplies to the International Space Station. It will also carry the ISS-RapidScat instrument, a replacement for NASA’s QuikScat Earth satellite to monitor ocean winds for climate research, weather predictions, and hurricane monitoring.
|First launch to ISS||2011|
|Launch site||Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.|
|Launch vehicle||Falcon 9 rocket|
|Length||5.9 m (19.4 ft)|
|Diameter||3.66 m (12 ft)|
|Cargo mass||3,310 kg (7,297 lb)|
|Pressurized volume||6.8 m3 (240.1 ft3)|
|Unpressurized volume||14 m3 (495 ft3)|
|Length on orbit||2 weeks|
|Docking method/location||Captured by the station’s robot arm/U.S. segment|
|Return method||Splashdown in the Pacific Ocean|
Expedition 41 will begin in September 2014. The remainder of the crew is scheduled to launch in September 2014.
Crew: Reid Wiseman, Maxim Suraev, Alexander Gerst
Launch: May 28, 2014, 3:57 p.m. EDT
Docking: May 28, 2014, 9:44 p.m. EDT
Landing: November 2014
Expedition 42 will begin in November 2014. The other half of the team is scheduled to launch in November 2014.
Crew: Barry Wilmore, Elena Serova, Alexander Samoukutyaev
Launch: Sept. 25, 2014, 4:23 p.m. EDT
Landing: March 2015
Expedition 43 will begin in March 2015 with the departure of Soyuz 40. Three additional crew members will launch later in March.
Crew: Terry Virts, Samantha Cristoforetti, Anton Shkaplerov
Launch: November 2014
Landing: May 2015
Imagine you’re an astronaut exploring the surface of Mars, when suddenly you fall ill or injure yourself. As your team struggles to get you safely back to base, you become seriously dehydrated. With their trusty — and ingenious — kit, the medical officer hooks into the drinking water supply, using it to create a saline solution that they can inject directly into your blood stream for quick and safe rehydration.
That’s the idea behind the Intravenous Fluid Generation for Exploration Missions, or IVGEN, investigation that was conducted on the space station over five days in the spring of 2010. Since standard IV fluid bags used in hospitals would be too costly to send and hard to keep from spoiling on long-duration space missions, the ability to make fresh saline right from the drinking water supply could save the day in emergency scenarios.
Using the station’s current recycled drinking water, the IVGEN investigation demonstrated that it is possible to produce medical-grade saline in space. Now, the focus has turned to the longevity of the IVGEN hardware and the shelf life of the solution produced.
“Basically IVGEN was a project to verify that, somehow, we could take potable or drinking water, purify it, and mix it to make a normal, medical-grade saline solution that could be injected into astronauts if the need arose,” said John McQuillen, IVGEN principal investigator at NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio.
The IVGEN experiment relied on U.S. Pharmacopeia, or USP, guidelines for producing purified water and medical-grade saline. USP is the authoritative source for medicine and healthcare product standards.
Water from the station’s Water Processor Assembly was fed through IVGEN hardware, where a series of filters removed air, bacterial contaminates, particulates, and heavy metals upstream of the heart of the system. The water then continued on through an internal deionizing resin, similar to that used in home water purifiers, removing the bulk of the minerals and organics. The experiment produced six 1.5 liter bags, or about 2.5 gallons, of purified water.
Two of the six bags were used to produce medical-grade saline. To do that, the purified water was added to a bag containing a premeasured amount of salt and a magnetic stir bar for mixing. The resulting solution then was transferred to the final collection bag through a sterilizing filter, which removed any additional remaining air and bacteria.
Once back on Earth, the two bags of saline were shipped to a Food and Drug Administration-certified lab to test whether the contents complied with USP standards. In the meantime, the hardware was placed on the shelf to undergo lifetime testing and ground studies until needed for a future mission.
“We are now wrapping up testing of the post-flight hardware. This testing was performed to see what we can learn from the current state hardware, as opposed to when it was initially launched,” said Terri McKay, IVGEN project scientist at Glenn. “We are also testing the filters to make sure they can satisfy missions of multiple year durations. The pharmaceutical product shelf life needs to be documented, as well.”
The physiological, emotional and psychological stress associated with spaceflight can result in decreased immunity that reactivates the virus that causes shingles, a disease punctuated by painful skin lesions. NASA has developed a technology that can detect immune changes early enough to begin treatment before painful lesions appear in astronauts and people here on Earth. This early detection and treatment will reduce the duration of the disease and the incidence of long-term consequences.
Spaceflight alters some elements of the human immune system: innate immunity, an early line of defense against infectious agents, and specific components of cellular immunity are decreased in astronauts. Astronauts do not experience increased incidence or severity of infectious disease during short-duration spaceflight, but NASA scientists are concerned about how the immune system will function over the long stays in space that may be required for exploration missions.
Selecting one or more biomarkers or indicators of immunity in healthy individuals is difficult, but the herpes viruses have become valuable tools in early detection of changes in the immune system, based largely on the astronaut studies. Eight herpes viruses may reside in the human body, and virtually all of us are infected by one or more of these viruses. Herpes viruses cause diseases including common “fever blisters” (herpes simplex virus or HSV), infectious mononucleosis (Epstein-Barr virus or EBV) and chicken pox and shingles (varicella zoster virus or VZV). In immune-suppressed individuals, herpes viruses may cause several types of cancer, such as carcinoma, lymphoproliferative disease and others.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one million cases of shingles occur yearly in the U.S., and 100,000 to 200,000 of these cases develop into a particularly painful and sometimes debilitating condition known as post-herpetic neuralgia, which can last for months or years. The other seven herpes viruses also exist in an inactive state in different body tissues much like VZV, and similarly they may also reactivate and cause disease during periods of decreased immunity.
The most common cause of decreasing immunity is age, but chronic stress also results in decreased immunity and increases risk of the secondary disease, such as VZV-driven shingles. Chemotherapy, organ transplants and infectious diseases, such as human immunodeficiency virus or HIV, also result in decreased immunity. Thus, viral reactivation has been identified as an important indicator of clinically relevant immune changes. Studies of immune-compromised individuals indicate that these patients shed EBV in saliva at rates 90-fold higher than found in healthy individuals.
The herpes viruses are already present in astronauts, as they are in at least 95 percent of the general adult population worldwide. So measuring the appearance of herpes viruses in astronaut body fluids serves as a much-needed immune biomarker. It is widely believed that various stressors associated with spaceflight are responsible for the observed decreased immunity. Researchers at NASA’s Johnson Space Center found that four human herpes viruses reactivate and appear in body fluids in response to spaceflight. Due to the reduced cellular immunity, the viruses are allowed to emerge from their latent state into active infectious agents. The multiplying viruses are released into saliva, urine or blood and can be detected and quantified by a polymerase chain reaction or PCR assay for each specific virus. The PCR assay detects viral DNA and is very sensitive and highly specific, allowing the user to selectively replicate viral DNA sequences. The finding of VZV in saliva of astronauts was the first report of VZV being reactivated and shed in asymptomatic individuals. Subsequently, the VZV shed in astronaut saliva was found to be intact and infectious, posing a risk of disease in uninfected individuals.