Commentary: The Value of Human Spaceflight, Space

Commentary: The Value of Human Spaceflight

Mr. StevenWeinberg has long been a vocal critic of NASA’s manned spaceflight program,recently questioning the scientific usefulness of the International SpaceStation in particular, and asserting that the entire manned spaceflight programhas produced nothing of scientific value.

TheNational Space Society, composed of members who promote mankind’s future ofliving and working in space, strongly supports NASA’s manned spaceflightprogram, and disagrees with both the spirit and substance of hiscomments.

For a firstresponse, we turn to another renowned physicist, Dr. Stephen Hawking, who hasurged the human race to “spread out into space for the survival of thespecies.” Hawking states the increasing risk of being wiped out by adisaster, such as sudden global warming, nuclear war, or some other unknowndanger as the primary reasons to diversify humanity’s future beyond earth.

NASA hasnumerous examples of “spinoffs” from the space program, such as kidney dialysismachines, fetal heart monitors, programmable heart pacemakers, to name just afew that help Americans every day. Additionally, the International SpaceStation operations enable NASA to learn valuable scientific information aboutthe long term effect of spaceflight on the human body, and how best to helphumans adapt themselves for long trips, either in interplanetary space, orenroute to planets such as Mars.

While theseare all important, they don’t compare to the effect these achievements have onthe human spirit. Many of us still remember the first time we saw Earth fromthe Moon’s orbit, when the astronauts of Apollo 8 filmed it on ChristmasEve, in 1968. Many argue this global awareness started the conservationmovement, which might turn out to be the space program’s greatest spinoff, andmay save the earth’s climate in the long run. Many of us were inspired when wesaw the astronauts walk on the Moon, and realized that if mankind could dothat, we could do almost anything. The achievements of NASA’s unmannedspacecraft are phenomenal, and deserving of acclaim, but they don’t liftpeople’s spirits to these heights.

Weinbergshould understand that many citizens don’t understand the benefits oftheoretical physics to their own lives, and question the utility of thenation’s investment in such work. That is an alternate explanation to why theSuperconducting Super Collider was de-funded: Congress was not convinced ofthe utility of spending $12 billion on the project. Here is where we canobserve a certain parallel with spaceflight: Both spaceflight and particle physicsare basic investments in the future.

As thePresident stated during his Vision for SpaceExploration speech, “The cause of exploration and discovery is not anoption we choose; it is a desire written in the human heart.” The NationalSpace Society members support living and working in space, and the hundreds ofpeople who have already bought their own suborbital spaceflight tickets arefurther proof that this is a vision that is spreading. For all the good NASA’smanned spaceflight program has brought us, at the meager budget levels they’reprovided, we should be thanking and praising them for their dedicatedperseverance.

It is notpossible to predict all of the benefits that either the human space program orparticle physics research will do for our country, but that does not mean thatthe searches are not worthy. It is important for us to pursue, and solve, thedeepest questions of the universe, just as it is important for us to exploreour solar system and eventually live beyond the confines of our home planet. Our descendents will thank us for both pursuits.

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GeorgeWhitesides is the executive director of the National Space Society.

NOTE: Theviews of this article are the author’s and do not reflect the policies of theNational Space Society.

Human spaceflight

Human spaceflight

12 April is International Day of Human Spaceflight. We look at some of the landmark moments for humanity in space.

4 October 1957

The Soviet Union’s Sputnik 1 becomes the first artificial satellite. The 58 cm diameter metal ball later burns up on re-entering the Earth’s atmosphere after three months in orbit.

3 November 1957

Sputnik 2 is launched. Its passenger, the dog Laika, dies due to overheating of the cabin after a few hours.

31 January 1958

The United States launches Explorer 1, the first artificial satellite to carry an onboard telemetry system.

2 January 1959

The Soviet Union’s Luna 1 becomes the first artificial object to leave Earth orbit. Intended to impact the Moon, a rocket burn timed incorrectly causes the spacecraft to miss and end up orbiting the Sun.

28 May 1959

The United States launches a rhesus monkey and a squirrel monkey, named Able and Baker, on a suborbital flight – the first primates in space.

12 September 1959

Luna 2 is launched and succeeds in impacting the Moon where Luna 1 had failed.

19 August 1960

Korabl-Sputnik 2 becomes the first satellite to carry animals in orbit and return them to Earth alive, launched with a crew of two dogs, two rats and 40 mice.

12 April 1961

The first flight of the Soviet Union’s Vostok programme carries cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin in a single orbit of the Earth – the first human spaceflight in history.

The mission was launched from Baikonur in Kazakhstan and its entire journey lasted just 108 minutes. Gagarin, then aged 27, returned safely to the Earth after ejecting from the capsule 7В km above the ground.

27 October 1961

Saturn 1, the rocket used for the first of the United States’ Apollo missions to the Moon, is tested for the first time.

3 February 1966

Unmanned Soviet spacecraft Luna 9 makes the first soft landing on the Moon.

3 April 1966

Luna 10 becomes the first artificial object to orbit the Moon.

27 January 1967

All three astronauts aboard NASA’s Apollo 1 are killed in a cabin fire while the rocket is still on the launchpad.

21 December 1968

Apollo 8 launches and becomes the first manned mission to orbit the Moon.

20 July 1969

Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin become the first humans to set foot on the Moon. The Apollo 11 command module’s pilot, Michael Collins, remains in orbit.

19 April 1971

The Soviet Union launches the first space station, Salyut 1.

13 December 1972

Harrison Schmidt and Eugene Cernan become the last two people to arrive on and to leave the Moon, respectively. Their mission, Apollo 17, is the last in the United States’ programme of manned lunar explanation.

11 July 1979

Skylab, the United States’ first space station, crashes into Australia.

12 April 1981

The Space Shuttle Colombia launches, in the first mission for NASA’s new fleet of reusable spacecraft.

7 February 1984

NASA astronauts Bruce McCandless and Robert Stewart complete the first untethered spacewalk.

28 January 1986

Space Shuttle Challenger explodes shortly after launch, killing all seven crew on board. The shuttle fleet is grounded for two years.

2 November 2000

The first crew arrives on the International Space Station, a joint project involving five different space agencies from across the globe.

28 April 2001

US businessman Dennis Tito becomes the first tourist to visit the International Space Station, arriving on a Russian Soyuz rocket at a reported cost of $20В m.

14 January 2004

US president George W Bush announces the Vision for Space Exploration, which was intended to see the return of manned missions to the Moon and ones to Mars. It was cancelled by Barack Obama in June 2010.

21 June 2004

SpaceShipOne completes the first ever manned private spaceflight. Its manufacturer, Scaled Composites, is later acquired by Northrop Grumman, and the company is developing an orbital launcher for Virgin Galactic.

25 May 2012

SpaceX becomes the first private company to send a spacecraft to the International Space Station.

Future Visions of Human Spaceflight, Space

Visions of the Future of Human Spaceflight

The Here and Now

Fifty years after the former Soviet Union launched Sputnik on Oct. 4, 1957, a spirit of cooperation has led to the International Space Station and a renewed effort to explore the moon. Shown here in its current state as of Summer 2007, the half-built station is the product of more than 16 nations, including the U.S., Russia, Canada, Japan, Brazil and the member states of the European Space Agency.

Orbital Toehold Complete

This computer-generated rendering shows the International Space Station in its final configuration once NASA’s space shuttle fleet retires in September 2010. When completed, the space station will rival a U.S. football field in length, span the width of two football fields side by side, and house six astronauts and several international laboratories to push the frontiers of human and space science.

NASA’s Workhorse Retires

In 2011, the last of NASA’s three remaining space shuttles is scheduled to retire 29 years after the first flight of Columbia on April 12, 1981. Here, the shuttle Endeavour is docked at the ISS in August 2007. The 100-ton shuttles were the world’s first reusable space planes and will have flown up to 133 successful missions marred by two fatal disasters — the loss of Challenger in 1986 and the Columbia in 2003.

Orion: NASA’s New Spaceship

With NASA’s space shuttle fleet due to retire, the agency is depending on private and Russian spacecraft for International Space Station flights. But the U.S. agency also plans a new capsule-based spaceship — the Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle — to serve as a space station lifeboat and, possibly, as the core of future deep space vehicles.

Private Space Tugs on the Way

NASA’s Orion, Russia’s Soyuz and Progress, and the European Space Agency’s ATV cargo ship aren’t the only space tugs under development. Private companies, some competing for NASA contracts, are building their own spaceships to haul freight into orbit. Here, California-based SpaceX’s Dragon capsule is docked at the International Space Station in an artist’s rendering.

Commercial Space Stations

Despite being a feat of engineering and research, the International Space Station’s days are numbered, with some estimates aiming between 2014 to 2020 for its end of operations. But Bigelow Aerospace of Las Vegas, Nev., hopes to build new inflatable space stations like that shown above for commercial uses ranging from tourism to research and other fields.

Instant Moonbases

Bigelow Aerospace engineers see an instant moon base by using a cluster of expandable modules that are piloted to the moon’s surface.

Operation ‘Plymouth Rock’: Astronauts on an Asteroid

This artist’s illustration depicts a ‘Plymouth Rock’ asteroid mission with astronauts and NASA’s Orion spacecraft as envisioned by Lockheed Martin.

Up Next, the Moon?

NASA’s scrapped Constellation program hoped to forge an international effort to return astronauts to the moon by 2020. While the program itself was canceled, some technologies may survive in new incarnations for future moonbases or other space exploration vehicles. Here, an artist imagines a NASA Orion capsule and an Altair lunar lander – part of Constellation – arriving at the moon.

China in Space

China National Space Administration

NASA, Russia and their space station partners are not the only countries launching humans off the planet. China has launched two manned spaceflight aboard its Shenzhou spacecraft since 2003, with plans set for a three-person flight, spacewalks, future orbital laboratories and even unmanned and crewed moon mission in the coming decades. Here is an image of China’s first spacewalk.

Lunar Outpost

Unlike NASA’s Apollo missions of the 1960s and 1970s, the next lunar missions are aimed at establishing a permanent human presence on the moon. To do that, multiple missions and a growing base camp will serve as humanity’s foothold for continuous lunar exploration.

Human Spaceflight In 2020: What Lies Ahead

Human Spaceflight In 2020: What Lies Ahead

Last Thursday, NASA confirmed that The Boeing Company had completed readiness reviews for a December 20, 2019 launch of its uncrewed Orbital Flight Test (OFT) to the International Space Station (ISS). The launch will be the first flight of Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner vehicle developed under NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, and the second flight overall for the Commercial Crew Program following SpaceX’s uncrewed Dragon 2 launch in March. Pending a successful OFT mission, Boeing plans to launch a crewed mission aboard its Starliner spacecraft early next year. Similarly, SpaceX plans to launch crew to the ISS using its Dragon 2 spacecraft in the near future, pending a successful In-Flight Abort Test in January.

For years, the industry has eagerly awaited SpaceX and Boeing’s first crewed launches. The last space vehicle to receive human-rating certification was NASA’s Space Shuttle in 1981. Since then, space agencies and private companies around the globe have poured significant financial and human capital into developing new crew vehicles, but none of these efforts has yet resulted a crewed mission.

As the year draws to a close, spacecraft manufacturers have begun looking towards 2020 for their next chance to launch humans into space. Below is a peek at what we can expect from the industry next year.

1. Crewed launches from both NASA Commercial Crew Program providers

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NASA 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. The agency assigned nine astronauts to crew the first test flight and mission of both Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX’s Crew Dragon. The astronauts are, from left to right: Sunita Williams, Josh Cassada, Eric Boe, Nicole Mann, Christopher Ferguson, Douglas Hurley, Robert Behnken, Michael Hopkins and Victor Glover.

NASA’s Commercial Crew Program (CCP) has provided funding to U.S.-based private companies to develop orbital human spaceflight capabilities since the first phase of program awards (Commercial Crew Development 1, or CCDev 1) in 2010. The program was created in order to reduce U.S. reliance on Russia for human spaceflight capabilities after the retirement of the Space Shuttle in 2011. Since 2011, NASA has paid Russia approximately $86 million per seat to launch astronauts to the ISS aboard its Soyuz spacecraft.

After supporting 6 companies through the initial development and proposal phases of the program, NASA ultimately selected Boeing and SpaceX for Commercial Crew Transportation Capability (CCtCap) contracts in 2014. The multibillion dollar CCtCap contract provides funding for each provider to complete an uncrewed mission to the ISS, verify its vehicle’s in-flight abort capabilities, and finally complete a crewed demonstration mission during which two NASA astronauts are successfully ferried to and from the ISS.

Though the program has experienced the delays common to human spaceflight development, it had a productive year in 2019, with one uncrewed test flight complete and another on the books for this month. While the program has not publicly released specific launch dates for its crewed flights, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine has expressed confidence that the providers will launch crew in the first half of 2020.

Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner

Boeing’s first CST-100 Starliner spacecraft sits atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket on pad . [+] 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on December 4, 2019 in Cape Canaveral, Florida. The Starliner crew capsule, designed to carry as many as seven astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS), is scheduled to make its first unmanned test flight to the ISS on December 19. (Photo by Paul Hennessy/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

NurPhoto via Getty Images

Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft is scheduled to launch its OFT mission to the ISS aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket on December 20. According to NASA’s press release, the spacecraft will dock to the ISS on December 21 and will remain attached for approximately a week. On December 28, the spacecraft will undock from the ISS and re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere before performing a parachute and airbag-assisted landing at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico.

The OFT launch comes on the heels of the Starliner Pad Abort Test, which the company successfully completed at the beginning of November. Boeing previously experienced a setback when during a 2018 attempt of the test, a propellant leak occurred during engine shutdown. Based on the results of the subsequent anomaly investigation, Boeing implemented an operational control to prevent the leakage from re-occurring.

Since Boeing has chosen to verify its vehicle’s in-flight abort capabilities via analysis rather than test, the OFT mission is intended to be the vehicle’s final flight test before it launches crew early next year. The vehicle’s crewed flight test (CFT) will provide ISS transportation for 3 crew: NASA astronauts Nicole Mann and Edward “Mike” Fincke, along with Boeing Commercial Crew Director and former NASA astronaut Christopher Ferguson. Upon successful execution of the mission, Ferguson could become the first individual in history to travel to the ISS in both a government and commercial capacity.

SpaceX’s Crewed Dragon 2 Spacecraft

The SpaceX Dragon spacecraft which is designed to carry people and cargo to orbiting destinations . [+] such as space stations, is displayed at the SpaceX headquarters in Los Angeles on July 21, 2019. (Photo by Mark RALSTON / AFP) (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP via Getty Images)

SpaceX’s Dragon 2 vehicle (sometimes referred to as “Crew Dragon”) launched to the ISS for the first time this March, when it successfully completed an uncrewed 5 day mission before splashing down safely in the Atlantic Ocean. Shortly afterwards, the company experienced a setback when the same vehicle used for this mission exploded on a test stand in Cape Canaveral during a capsule static fire. SpaceX has since completed a full investigation of the anomaly, which traced the fault back to a leaky component that has since been replaced on its other capsules. A newly assembled capsule completed a successful static fire earlier this month, and the company remains on track for a January 2020 launch of its In-Flight Abort Test ahead of its crewed Demo-2 mission early next year.

SpaceX’s Demo-2 mission will provide ISS transportation for NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken, who have undergone training with the company at SpaceX’s Hawthorne, California headquarters for several years. Though the company has been given the option to transport a SpaceX employee or private passenger to the ISS on this test flight in addition to the two NASA astronauts, it has not publicly announced any plans to do so.

2. Crewed launches of commercial suborbital vehicles

Suborbital human spaceflight has captured the public imagination since the 1990s, when renewed interest from investors in space tourism began spurring development of “affordable” spaceflight options. For the “low” price of $100,000 to $1M USD, companies such as XCOR Aerospace, WorldView and Armadillo Aerospace promised private citizens a taste of the astronaut experience with short “hops” into space. Though the experience would last only a few hours and provide less than 10 minutes of weightlessness, the substantial price reduction from orbital tourism opportunities (which often cost upwards of $20M USD) gave hope to those who dreamt of bringing space exploration to the masses.

Unfortunately, launching humans into space is difficult, and many early players in the commercial suborbital market faced technical and financial setbacks that forced them to shut their doors. Over time, Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic have emerged as leaders in the suborbital space race with their New Shepard and SpaceShipTwo vehicles. While both companies have experienced repeated delays in their flight schedules, both have been completing successful test flights on a regular basis. As of fall 2019, executives from both companies have publicly stated that they expect crewed flight to occur within the next few months. If things continue to go as planned, 2020 could finally be their year.

Blue Origin’s New Shepard

Participants enjoy the Blue Origin Space Simulator during the Amazon Re:MARS conference on robotics . [+] and artificial intelligence at the Aria Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada on June 5, 2019. (Photo by Mark RALSTON / AFP) (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP via Getty Images)

Blue Origin’s New Shepard suborbital rocket and capsule have been under development since at least 2006, when the program’s first subscale demonstration vehicle first flew. Since April 2015, the fully integrated New Shepard system has visited space regularly, and on its second flight the rocket became the first in history to land vertically on Earth after visiting space.

Named after Alan Shepard, the first American man to visit space, New Shepard was intended from the start to be a crewed transportation system. However, to date, the vehicle’s flights have carried only cargo beyond the Karman line. As of December 2019, Blue Origin has completed 12 test flights of the vehicle, 9 of which have carried commercial payloads. Recent tests have also carried a dummy named Mannequin Skywalker, which is outfitted with sensors to measure how future commercial passengers could be affected by the flight.

Blue Origin CEO Bob Smith has talked about the first crewed flight of New Shepard happening as early as 2018, but this date has repeatedly been pushed back. Smith has attributed these delays to the company’s desire to be “cautious and thorough,” so as not to jeopardize passenger safety.

As of December 2019, the company has not publicly announced a date for the first crewed flight of the capsule, but founder Jeff Bezos has hinted that he expects it to occur in the near future. The first passengers on New Shepard are likely to be Blue Origin employees, and the company has stated that it will not begin taking deposits for commercial passenger flights until these initial crewed flights have occurred.

Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo

MOJAVE, CA – FEBRUARY 19, 2016 – Sir Richard Branson, center, poses with the employees for photos . [+] by the new Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo at its roll out in the Mojave Desert, about a year and a half after Virgin’s last rocket plane broke into pieces and killed the test pilot. (Photo by Al Seib/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Virgin Galactic’s human spaceflight capabilities have technically been in development since 1996, when the Ansari XPRIZE was created to award $10M USD to a team who could launch a reusable manned spacecraft into space twice in two weeks. Mojave Aerospace Ventures (MAV), a joint venture between Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen and Burt Rutan’s Scaled Composites, ultimately won the prize with its SpaceShipOne reusable spaceplane design and White Knight launcher. Following the award, MAV signed a contract with Virgin Galactic to develop a suborbital spacecraft based on the XPRIZE-winning technology for space tourism. This deal resulted in the formation of The Spaceship Company, a joint venture between Virgin Galactic and Scaled Composites, to manufacture the spacecraft.

Since 2004, the team has been hard at work developing Virgin Galactic’s spaceplane and launcher, dubbed SpaceShipTwo and White Knight 2. A mockup of the design was revealed to the press in January 2008, with a company statement that the vehicle itself was around 60% complete at the time.

UNSPECIFIED – JANUARY 24: Virgin Galactic Flight Simulator in January 24th, 2008 – Test pilot Brian . [+] Binnie in the Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo flight simulator, which will take passengers a year to just over 100 km altitude; Virgin Galactic’s first world is the spaceline owning an (Photo by Thierry BOCCON-GIBOD/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

As is often the case in human spaceflight, the vehicle’s development has not been without hiccups. In July 2007, an explosion occurred during a SpaceShipTwo oxidizer test at Mojave Air and Space Port, killing three employees and injuring three others with flying shrapnel. The company suffered an additional setback in October 2014 when a SpaceShipTwo vehicle broke up during a crewed test flight and crashed in the Mojave desert. The vehicle’s co-pilot was killed and the pilot was seriously injured. A subsequent inquiry by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) concluded that the crash was caused by the co-pilot’s premature deployment of the spacecraft air brake device for atmospheric re-entry. The board also cited inadequate design safeguards against human error, poor pilot training and lack of Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) oversight as contributors to the accident.

Since conclusion of the NTSB investigation in 2015, the SpaceShipTwo team has conducted 13 successful crewed test flights using its upgraded VSS Unity spaceship. These tests are in addition to the 54 successful test flights that occurred using the VSS Enterprise ship prior to its 2014 crash. Since the crash, Virgin Galactic has also taken over construction of the spacecraft from Scaled Composites, and has redesigned critical components in house to ensure passenger safety.

To date, more than 600 individuals have put down deposits for crewed tourist flights onboard SpaceShipTwo. The total price tag for a flight is $250,000 USD, and customers are asked to front half the ticket price to reserve their spot in advance. A specific launch date for the vehicle’s first commercial passenger flight has not been announced, but founder Sir Richard Branson said earlier this year that he hoped it would occur “in months not years.” In fall 2019, the company began its “Astronaut Readiness Program,” a preparatory course for customers that have reserved seats onboard one of the company’s first passenger flights.

3. Steady launch cadence for Russia’s Soyuz

KYZYLORDA REGION, KAZAKHSTAN – JUNE 6, 2018: A Soyuz-FG rocket booster carrying the Soyuz MS-09 . [+] spacecraft with the ISS Expedition 56/57 prime crew members, European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Alexander Gerst, Roscosmos cosmonaut Sergey Prokopyev, and NASA astronaut Serena M. Aunon-Chancellor, aboard blasts off to the International Space Station from the Baikonur Cosmodrome. Sergei Savostyanov/TASS (Photo by Sergei SavostyanovTASS via Getty Images)

While NASA’s Commercial Crew providers continue their work towards operational flights, Russia’s Soyuz vehicle retains its monopoly on crew transportation to the ISS. Launching from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, the Soyuz program has been transporting astronauts and cosmonauts into orbit since 1968. With a fatality rate of 1 in 63 people sent to orbit, Soyuz is thus far the safest human spaceflight system in history. (In contrast, the Space Shuttle’s fatality rate was approximately 1 in 56.)

As of December 2019, Soyuz Expeditions 62 and 63 are on the books for April and May 2020 launches, respectively. Each mission will ferry a crew of 3 astronauts between the Earth and ISS. While NASA hopes to reduce its dependence on the Russians for ISS transportation in the near future, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine stated in October 2019 that the agency was looking into purchasing an additional Soyuz seat for fall 2020 or spring 2021 to protect for additional Commercial Crew delays. Although both Commercial Crew partners are expected to launch crew in early 2020, Bridenstine noted that when it comes to human spaceflight development, “usually things don’t go according to plan.”

4. China’s Shenzhou 12 mission and Tiangong Space Station

BEIJING, Oct. 19, 2016 — Photo taken on Oct. 19, 2016 shows the screen at the Beijing Aerospace . [+] Control Center showing a simulated picture of an automated docking between the Shenzhou-11 manned spacecraft and the orbiting space lab Tiangong-2. The Shenzhou-11 manned spacecraft successfully completed its automated docking with the orbiting Tiangong-2 space lab Wednesday morning, according to Beijing Aerospace Control Center. (Xinhua/Ju Zhenhua via Getty Images)

As of 2019, China is the only nation with human spaceflight capabilities that is not a member of the ISS program. The Chinese manned spaceflight initiative, dubbed the “Shenzhou” program, successfully sent its first crew member into orbit in October 2003. Since then, the country has successfully completed 5 other crewed missions using its Shenzhou spacecraft and Long March rocket.

The last of these 5 missions – Shenzhou 11 – was launched in October 2016. After a 4 year hiatus, China plans to send its next crew up in 2020. As China does not participate in the ISS, the country plans to create its own Tiangong Space Station, which will be constructed, owned, and operated solely by the Chinese government. Tiangong is expected to have an orbital lifetime of at least 10 years and to be able to accommodate 3 to 6 astronauts at a time, making it a project of similar scale to the ISS. The Chinese government has stated that it aims to complete construction of the station by 2022.

Looking beyond 2020, the rest of the decade appears rife with opportunity for both the commercial space industry and for government programs with deeper space ambitions. NASA’s Artemis program aims to send “the first woman and next man” to the Moon by 2024. The program has yet to announce a launch date for its uncrewed Artemis 1 test flight, but earlier this month, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine stated that he believed it would be sometime in 2021 based on the current Space Launch System (SLS) development schedule.

A model of the SLS rocket on display during the 35th Space Symposium at The Broadmoor in Colorado . [+] Springs, Colorado on April 9, 2019. – NASA is preparing to use the SLS rocket to send US astronauts to the moon in 2024. The four day symposium is the largest space trade show in the world, attracting leaders focusing on space technology, satellite development, rocket design, and space policy. (Photo by Jason Connolly / AFP) (Photo credit should read JASON CONNOLLY/AFP via Getty Images)

SpaceX, in turn, looks to continue pushing the boundaries by exploring destinations beyond the ISS. The company’s #dearMoon project, which is scheduled for launch no earlier than 2023, aims to send Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa to orbit the Moon in a SpaceX Starship vehicle along with a crew of several artists. In addition to advancing human spaceflight, one of the project’s major goals is to inspire the creation of new art to promote peace across the world. Initial tests of the Starship system have commenced in Boca Chica, Texas, using subscale models of the spacecraft.

SpaceX Starship design as of September 2018, at the unveiling of the #dearMoon mission.

The successful certification and operation of any of the aforementioned vehicles will be a huge milestone, both for the space industry and for humanity as a whole. If the 2010s were the decade of SpaceX, perhaps the 2020s will be the decade where space tourism finally becomes a reality. With a little luck, it could even be the decade where humans once again venture beyond low-Earth orbit.

This year may finally fulfill the promise of private human spaceflight, Ars Technica

This year may finally fulfill the promise of private human spaceflight

Big and small rockets. The Moon and Mars. Lots of asteroid stuff, too.

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This year could see the fulfillment of a number of long-promised achievements in human spaceflight. For the first time, private companies could launch humans into orbit in 2020, and two different companies could send paying tourists on suborbital missions. The aerospace community has been watching and waiting for these milestones for years, but 2020 is probably the year for both.

We may also see a number of new rocket debuts this year, both big and small. A record number of missions—four—are also due to launch to Mars from four different space agencies. That’s just the beginning of what promises to be an exciting year; here’s a look at what we’re most eagerly anticipating in the coming 11.5 months.

Commercial crew

Yes, it’s happening. Probably. Both SpaceX and Boeing have made considerable progress toward launching humans to the International Space Station from Florida. They’ve also had setbacks. SpaceX’s Crew Dragon performed a successful test back in March, but a month later the capsule exploded during a thruster test. Boeing completed an orbital uncrewed test flight in December, but it was hampered by a software issue and unable to perform the primary task of its flight, approaching and docking with the International Space Station.

These issues are likely surmountable. SpaceX plans to conduct a test of its in-flight abort systems on Saturday—using a slightly modified version of the SuperDraco thrusters that caused problems in April. Success with this test could set up a crewed launch in late spring depending on how fast NASA can review data from that and other tests before signing off on Crew Dragon’s readiness for flight.

Further Reading

Less clear is how long Boeing’s software issues will set the company back. Starliner also experienced some thruster issues during its test flight. NASA has said it will spend the next two months reviewing the issue before deciding how to proceed. The bottom line is that it seems likely that one or both companies probably will get crewed flights off in 2020. We can’t wait.

Space tourism

Let’s face it: we’ve heard this before. Richard Branson has been promising to take tourists on a suborbital space ride for a long time. As far back as July 2008, Sir Richard said Virgin Galactic would be ready to bring its first paying customers into space within 18 months. More than a decade has since passed since then, but Virgin appears to be getting close.

The company has completed two successful suborbital test flights to the edge of space with its VSS Unity spacecraft, and Virgin has since begun refitting the cabin interior for customer missions. The first paying customers will likely fly later this year—including Sir Richard himself.

The Future of Human Spaceflight – MIT Technology Review

The Future of Human Spaceflight

Are astronauts close to extinction?

The International Space Station (ISS) is one of the most complex and expensive engineering projects ever undertaken. When it is completed in 2011, it will have cost nearly $100 billion. And then, just five years later, the space station will be destroyed when NASA deliberately takes it out of orbit and plunges it into Earth’s atmosphere.

This story is part of our January/February 2010 issue

That, at least, is NASA’s current plan. The agency would like to keep the station running, but funding for it is projected only through 2015, much to the consternation of researchers who are just beginning to use it and international partners who have invested billions of dollars in the project. Extending the life of the station would cost $2 billion to $3 billion a year. Even “deorbiting” it–dumping its remains safely into the ocean–will not be cheap, costing at least $2 billion.

The 2015 deadline means that after decades of largely directionless space policy, Congress will be forced to make at least one clear decision: it must allocate funds for either the space station’s continued operation or its destruction. And that is just one of a number of urgent issues facing the country’s human spaceflight program. The space shuttle is due to be retired by late 2010 or early 2011, leaving NASA without a means of sending astronauts anywhere for several years. And the key elements of NASA’s exploration program, the Ares I rocket that will launch astronauts into orbit and the Orion capsule that will ferry them around in space, are several years behind schedule.

In October, the Augustine Committee, a panel chartered by the White House and chaired by former Lockheed Martin CEO Norman Augustine, issued its report on the future of space travel. The committee examined NASA’s plans and explored alternatives. Much of the report discussed the merits of different destinations in space and the rocket and spacecraft technologies that could be used to reach those destinations. But embedded in the report is a rationale for why there should be a human spaceflight program at all. “The Committee concluded that the ultimate goal of human exploration is to chart a path for human expansion into the solar system,” it states.

Things Reviewed

Over the years, NASA and space advocates have put forward many reasons to justify sending astronauts into space. They have garnered support by offering something for everybody, especially the military and scientific communities; scientific progress, strategic superiority, and international prestige have been foremost among the promised benefits. On closer inspection, though, these justifications don’t hold up or are no longer relevant. For example, robotic missions are increasingly capable of scientific work in space, and they cost far less than human crews. Satellites launched on expendable boosters allowed the United States to achieve strategic dominance in space. And Cold War motives disappeared with the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Consequently, some have concluded that there is no longer any reason for human space exploration. A longtime critic of human spaceflight was the late James Van Allen, who in 1958 made the first major scientific discovery of the space age: the radiation belts around Earth that bear his name. In a 2004 essay, Van Allen wondered whether robotic spacecraft had made human spaceflight “obsolete.” “At the end of the day,” he wrote, “I ask myself whether the huge national commitment of technical talent to human spaceflight and the ever-present potential for the loss of precious human life are really justifiable.”

But for most of the engineers and astronauts involved in the space program, astronauts can never be rendered obsolete by robots, because human spaceflight is an end in itself. They share the committee’s belief that the purpose of these manned missions is to allow people to expand into, and ultimately settle, outer space.

For taxpayers who may well consider that prospect a pipe dream or the stuff of science fiction, the question is why their money should be spent to support it. The argument for funding human space exploration becomes similar to the argument for funding fundamental research: that doing so sometimes pays off big, usually in unexpected ways. By definition, high-risk ventures such as space exploration or curiosity-driven science seem unlikely to succeed and have unpredictable outcomes, but just such ventures have led to many inventions and discoveries with vast economic and historic significance.

Those who want a consistent long-term policy must reconcile their agendas, either supporting the rationale of settling space or coming up with an even better unifying purpose of their own. This must happen soon, or NASA’s human space program will sputter to a halt. The committee put it bluntly: “The U.S. human spaceflight program appears to be on an unsustainable trajectory.”

That has been true for some time. In early 2004, President Bush unveiled his strategy for continuing the U.S. space program. Key milestones included completing the ISS and retiring the space shuttle by 2010, developing what would become known as the Orion and Ares I by 2014, and returning humans to the moon by 2020, with long-term but undefined plans beyond that for human missions to Mars.

But Bush failed to provide a clear, unifying rationale for these plans, and they never received full funding. Under a constrained budget, the projects outlined by Bush will take years longer than originally planned. An example is the Ares V heavy-lift rocket needed for human missions to the moon. The current plan calls for it to be ready in the late 2010s, but the committee found that it could not be completed before the late 2020s–and even then there would be no money to develop the necessary lander spacecraft.

Using the Augustine Committee’s rationale, however, we can make a reasonable plan based on the fundamental goal of human expansion into the solar system. With the goal of the space program clarified, money can be better spent and performance can be measured in concrete terms; Congress is far more likely to provide sufficient funding over the long term if it can see along the way that judiciously spent money is yielding tangible results. One of the first, and easiest, decisions to make is to extend the life of the ISS until 2020. If people are going to live and work in space for prolonged periods, we must test technologies and evaluate human performance under those conditions, and the ISS would be the ideal laboratory. Moreover, keeping the station operating will preserve an important international partnership for future missions.

One of the challenges in extending the life of the space station is that once the shuttle is retired, the Russian Soyuz spacecraft will be the only means of transporting crews to and from orbit until Ares I and Orion are ready, theoretically in 2015 (the committee believes that 2017 is more likely). The Augustine report suggests that NASA should get out of the business of shuttling astronauts back and forth and let the commercial sector provide transport to the station. The hope is that companies, serving NASA and other customers (such as space tourists and even other governments), can replace the shuttle sooner and at lower cost than NASA could, freeing up money for exploration.

The report also strongly endorses technology that NASA has largely overlooked to date: in-space refueling. With that capability, we wouldn’t have to develop extremely expensive rockets, like the Ares V, that would be large enough to carry all the propellant needed for a trip to the moon. Fuel tanks–and thus the rockets themselves–could be smaller. Commercial operators could transport propellant and even maintain in-orbit fuel depots. The necessary technologies, the committee found, could be demonstrated in space within a few years.

If America’s space community can’t agree on this approach and thus secure the needed funding, the Augustine Committee concludes, it would be better to stop sending humans into space rather than wasting money and perhaps lives on a program that has no chance of success: “The human spaceflight program … is at a tipping point where either additional funds must be provided or the exploration program first instituted by President Kennedy must be abandoned, at least for the time being.”

Jeff Foust is the editor and publisher of The Space Review.

Space Infrastructures – Space

Human spaceflight

Automated transfer vehicle (ATV)

The Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) dubbed the ISS’s lifeline to Earth, ferried propellants, food, water and equipment to the ISS between 2008 and 2015.

Once docked, an ATV used its own engines to:

  • Correct the station’s orbit
  • Compensate for a regular loss of altitude due to drag
  • Contribute to collision and debris avoidance

At the end of a mission, the ATV was filled with waste, de-docked and burned up as it headed back into the Earth’s atmosphere. The ground-breaking innovations and learnings obtained during the ATV development and missions now serve as a fundamental basis for the development of the Orion ESM.

ATV – the story of success

Orion European Service Module

Orion, NASA’s next-generation spaceship designed for manned space exploration missions of destinations beyond low Earth orbit (asteroids, the Moon, Mars), will be powered by a European Service Module (ESM) developed and built by Airbus Defence and Space. This ESM will power the Orion capsule and its crew deeper into space than ever before, providing propulsion, power, water, oxygen and nitrogen as well as keeping the spacecraft at the right temperature and on course.

Learn more about Orion ESM through Orion´s blog

#1 European supplier for a NASA spacecraft
1st uncrewed flight
planned for 2020
Up to 4 astronauts can be sent to space

Drawing on their experience with the International Space Station (ISS), they know by heart what life support systems need to look like. NASA cannot fly without us, and we cannot fly without them.

Oliver Juckenhoefel, Airbus Defence and Space

Orion European Service Module for NASA’s spacecraft

The commercial use of the ISS is increasing, leading to new and low-cost opportunities to access to space. Whatever the mission in low Earth orbit, Airbus offers affordable and “all-in-one” mission service on-board the International Space Station by hosting either external payloads or experiments inside the ISS.

Named after the younger brother of Christopher Columbus, the Bartolomeo platform is attached to the European Columbus Module and operated by Airbus Defence and Space. Bartolomeo application areas include (but are not limited to) Earth observation, robotics, material science or astrophysics. This all-in-one Mission Service comprises all mission elements into one commercial contract (mission preparation, payload launch, payload on-orbit installation, commissioning, operation, payload data processing and delivery), in order to provide the customer a reliable integrated mission solution. The offer includes:

  • Launch opportunities are available on every servicing mission to the ISS, payloads can be launched pressurised or unpressurised.
  • Easy mission preparation: payload sizes, interfaces, preparation steps and integration processes largely standardised.
  • Highly Cost-Efficient: customers can save significantly compared to traditional mission cost. This makes Bartolomeo ideal for research and development missions, e.g. technology demonstrations.
A 10-year experience
in integrating/operating payloads
Only 12 months
of lead time
20 years of experience in cargo transportation/operation

Our ‘ISS balcony’ provides a highly cost-and-time-efficient means to perform a space mission in low Earth orbit or to test and validate new technology in orbit.

America Is About to Take Back Human Spaceflight, and It – s a Lot More Than Just Flag-Waving

America Is About to Take Back Human Spaceflight, and It’s a Lot More Than Just Flag-Waving

Crewed missions, launched by private companies, will be seen as an American achievement. But really, it’s a global one.

There’s an American flag affixed to a hatch on the International Space Station, circling about 250 miles above the planet. The crew of the first space shuttle mission, STS-1, carried that very flag in 1981. The final shuttle flight, in 2011, left the flag behind in orbit to be claimed by the next crew to fly into space from U.S. soil.

This is the year the flag comes home.

A Long-Awaited Return

After years of radical invention, aerospace design, political feuding, and faith in ingenuity—and eight years since the shuttle retirement—the United States is on the cusp of recapturing the ability to reach space from U.S. soil. Two companies, Boeing and SpaceX, are assembling hardware for testing capsule launches, a dress rehearsal for future crewed flights.

It’s a big moment for the U.S. For one, the launches represent a break from renting Russian hardware to launch astronauts. With recent feats by China in orbit and on the moon, the impulse among many Americans will be extreme pride verging on jingoism, and the return of the U.S. flag, stranded in orbit for the past eight years, will be a useful symbol.

The flights planned from Florida in 2019 will change the way the world approaches human spaceflight.

Of course, some pride is warranted. After all, the modern NASA space program is doing something uniquely American—unleashing the private sector by opening space to commercial interests. Instead of owning the spacecraft and rockets, NASA pays for their development and enables companies to sell rides to anyone who wants a ticket.

But it’s crucial that this achievement not be lost amid the flag-waving. There’s more at stake with these human launches than feeling good about the U.S. The flights planned from Florida in 2019 will change the way the world approaches human spaceflight.

Impending Astronauts

Observers and space freaks flocked to Kennedy Space Center yesterday to see the most tangible, dramatic sign of NASA’s commercial crew program progress yet. Shrouded in fog, SpaceX brought its Falcon 9 rocket, mated with the Dragon 2 capsule, to launch pad 39A for prelaunch testing. The capsule’s flight is scheduled for December 17, 2019.

Boeing will get its turn in March when its Starliner spacecraft will launch on an Atlas V rocket. These empty capsules will travel to orbit, rendezvous with the ISS, dock, detach, and return for splash-down in the Atlantic.

The second demonstration flights will have two test pilot astronauts each. NASA astronauts Robert Behnken, Eric Boe, Douglas Hurley, and Sunita Williams have been preparing for the missions for years, while also developing the capsules and training procedures for the operational missions.

This return to flight will likely happen this summer, around the time that the U.S. celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Apollo lunar landing. Although reminiscent of the Cold War, these launches will be a declaration of independence from the Soyuz capsule.

A space program is still seen as a qualification of a true global superpower, but these manned space missions have an inflated importance when it comes to geopolitical perceptions. In terms of immediate economic impact and national security, CubeSats in low-Earth orbit are more important than any crewed spaceship.

But that will change as space programs mature and the exploration and industrialization of space begins. To see the full, dramatic impact of 2019’s flights requires looking at spaceflight on a longer timeline.

One of the things that becomes clear—looking past the contract to deliver astronauts to ISS—is that American spacecraft will also enable other nations to access space. The customer base for these spacecraft will extend to Europe, South America, Asia, and Africa. The Dragon 2 and Starliner will fly Americans at first, but the whole point is to sell them on the open market.

The American space program could even help geopolitical foes, particularly if export laws are relaxed. John Lodgson, founder of the Space Policy Institute at George Washington University, once listed some potential customers in an interview with Popular Mechanics.

“Thinking off the top of my head, the United Arab Emirates,” Lodgson says when prodded to name for possible customers. “Nigeria? Iran always wanted a human spaceflight program.”

He also said that China’s program could benefit. “China has said that its space station is open to non-Chinese visitors,” he said. “So where does that fit in to the future of human spaceflight?”

Entering a New Spacefaring Future

In the grand scheme of humanity’s exploration of space, the commercial crew achievement in Florida seems less like an American victory and more like a global moment.

It’s a major transition away from government control, and while this hopefully will have major economic and national security advantages, it’s hard to see NASA’s outsourcing as the pinnacle of government success.

Even with delays and engineering snafus, the coming success of this program should put an end to the debate over whether private businesses can be trusted with crewed spaceflight. NASA has adopted the model that the Commercial Crew program will create a new generation of lunar landers. If these work as planned, the NASA-sponsored landers will be touching down to start planning a lunar outpost, around the same time as other nations are doing the same.

There are many red flags surrounding the American timelines for human missions to the moon and Mars. Administrations change, budgets shift, and missions are killed off with spreadsheet keystrokes. But if—or when—Uncle Sam cuts exploration funds, the private companies who created the hardware will still be in the race, using the moon equipment originally designed for NASA.

The space industry could finally have what it always needed and something the Chinese already enjoy—a steadily funded space program with unchanging destinations and an immunization from political point-scoring. The private sector may be the way to keep some continuity in human space exploration. That is, if there’s money to be made.

2019: A New Era

So be proud of the American victory we will witness in Florida this year. Be happy that the Soyuz contracts will be replaced by something better. Be relieved that the space hardware will no longer be a political football between Moscow and Washington, DC. Be inspired by the engineering on display and the political courage inside and out of NASA to loosen their grip.

But don’t wave the flag too hard. If you do, you might just miss the bigger picture—2019 is the year humanity democratized spaceflight and created a reliable gateway to a new frontier for future generations.

India outlines launch plans, progress in human spaceflight and space transportation

India outlines launch plans, progress in human spaceflight and space transportation

HELSINKI — India’s launch plans for the coming year include a range of Earth observation, communication and navigation satellites according to an annual report.

Progress in the areas of space transportation and human spaceflight is also laid out in the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) report.

India is gearing up to launch 10 Earth observation satellites across the next financial year, starting April. These include optical, multi- and hyperspectral, and synthetic aperture radar satellites.

India’s launch plans include three communication satellites and two navigation satellites are also planned for the coming year.

India’s next launch is set for March 5. A Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) is set to launch the 2,100-kilogram GEO Imaging SATellite (GISAT-1).

The Space Docking Experiment (SPADEX) is another mission planned for 2020. A chaser and target will demonstrate the technologies needed for docking two spacecraft. The project is designed as a forerunner to future planetary missions and crew transfer capabilities.

The proposed Indian space budget for 2020-21 is 13,480 Crore ($1.9 billion). ISRO published the annual report ( pdf ) for 2019-2020 earlier in February.

U.S. President Donald Trump praised India’s efforts in lunar exploration and human spaceflight during a state visit this week.

Trump and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi pledged to deepen defense and security cooperation, especially through greater maritime and space domain awareness, according to a White House briefing . The statement also notes discussions related to Earth observation, planetary exploration, heliophysics, human spaceflight, and commercial space cooperation.

Gaganyaan, reusable launcher

The ISRO report outlines recent progress in the areas of human spaceflight and space transportation.

Progress has been made on India’s announced Gaganyaan human spaceflight program, with the configuration of the Gaganyaan Crew Escape System having been finalized. It will utilize five solid motors using a newly developed high burn rate propellant system.

Gaganyaan has the objective of demonstrating human space flight capability in Low Earth orbit. It aims to send three crew members into orbit for 5-7 days and safely return them to Earth. The crew module will be a height of 3 meters and a 3.5-meter-diameter.

An uncrewed test mission on a GSLV MkIII launcher is slated for launch in December 2020 or early 2021. A second test flight is planned for July 2021.

In space transportation India is proceeding with a Reusable Launch Vehicle (RLV) project to demonstrate technologies for developing a wing body vehicle similar to that of an aircraft. A Landing Experiment to test autonomous landing at an airfield in Karnataka, southwest India following airdrop from a helicopter was stated to be planned for the last quarter of 2019. No update on its status or outcome was provided.

The status of the Hypersonic Air Breathing Vehicle with Air frame integrated system (HAVA) is also provided. The hypersonic vehicle uses scramjet engine power and may be used for the design and development of a Two-Stage-to-Orbit (TSTO) vehicle.

India’s light launch plans, commercialization

Two demo flights of the Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV) are also part of India’s launch plans. The 2-meter-diameter, 34-meter-tall launcher will be capable of lifting satellites between 10-500 kilograms to a 500-kilometer orbit. Microsat-2A will demonstrate launch on demand capability with SSLV. The 142-kilogram satellite will operate for 10 months in a 350-kilometer orbit.

NewSpace India Limited, a newly formed commercial arm of the Indian space agency, is tasked with enabling Indian industry to scale up high-technology manufacturing and production base for Indian space efforts. It will be involved in the manufacture of SSLV in collaboration with the private sector. Another major activity will be the productionisation of Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) through Indian industry.

No update on the proposed Chandrayaan-3 lunar landing mission appeared in the report. Chandrayaan-2 launched last year placed an orbiter into a 100 x 100-kilometer lunar orbit, but the Vikram lander failed to land safely.

We ve Found a Serious New Health Risk to Human Spaceflight

We’ve Found a Serious New Health Risk to Human Spaceflight

We’re still learning about the potential effect that extended periods spent in space could have on the human body. Now a new health threat has been identified, one which could put lives at risk on long journeys through the cosmos.

The problem lies in the internal jugular vein (IJV), a major blood vessel running down the neck from the brain. A study of 11 astronauts who spent time on the International Space Station (ISS) found that six of them had developed stagnant or backwards blood flow in this particular vein, within a period of just 50 days.

One crew member was found to have developed thrombosis, or blockage in the internal jugular vein, the first time that this has been recorded as a result of spaceflight.

According to the team behind the new findings, this issue needs to be investigated before we start sending astronauts on long trips to Mars. It’s not yet clear just what the consequences of this kind of thrombosis might be, but the implications could be severe and perhaps even fatal.

“Exposure to a weightless environment during spaceflight results in a chronic headward blood and tissue fluid shift compared with the upright posture on Earth, with unknown consequences to cerebral venous outflow,” write the researchers in their published paper.

Down here on Earth of course, gravity takes care of the job of pulling blood down from the head to the rest of the body – it’s one of the reasons you’d start feeling very strange if you stood on your hands for an extended period of time.

Up in the microgravity environment of the ISS, it’s a different story – and bloodflow issues aren’t the only health risks we need to worry about.

“Headward fluid shifts during prolonged weightlessness result in facial puffiness, decreased leg volume, increased stroke volume, and decreased plasma volume,” write the researchers.

Medical experts used readings and images gathered on board the ISS to identify the potential issue with the IJV, while the astronaut who developed an occlusive thrombus was treated with anticoagulants for the remainder of the mission (the identities of the astronauts are being kept back for privacy reasons).

More research is needed to work out how big of a problem this actually is, and how we might mitigate against it in future spaceflights; but the high number of astronauts who developed some kind of blood flow issue is worrying.

We already know that time in space can reduce bone density, change the make-up of our gut bacteria, and put a squeeze on our brains. At least we’re working to discover these effects before we try to get farther than the Moon, so there’s a better chance of developing potential solutions.

“[These] are novel findings that may have significant human health implications for civilian spaceflight as well as future exploration-class missions, such as a mission to Mars,” conclude the researchers.

The research has been published in the JAMA Network Open.