Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi to join new ISS mission from 2019

The Japan Times

Astronaut Soichi Noguchi has been selected to take part in a six-month mission aboard the International Space Station starting around the end of 2019, Japan's space agency said Tuesday. It will be the third ISS mission for the 52-year-old, following earlier expeditions in 2005 and 2009. Training for the mission, which will be carried out in both Japan and the United States, starts from Nov. 20. "I am extremely honored as I may be able to witness a big turning point in the history of manned space flights," Noguchi said. Noguchi will be responsible for maintaining ISS facilities, including the Japanese laboratory module Kibo, as well as conducting experiments and operating the station's robotic arm.

ISS Astronauts Operating Remote Robots Show Future of Planetary Exploration

IEEE Spectrum Robotics Channel

In late August, an astronaut on board the International Space Station remotely operated a humanoid robot to inspect and repair a solar farm on Mars--or at least a simulated Mars environment, which in this case is a room with rust-colored floors, walls, and curtains at the German Aerospace Center, or DLR, in Oberpfaffenhofen, near Munich. European Space Agency astronaut Paolo Nespoli commanded the humanoid, called Rollin' Justin, as the robot performed a series of navigation, maintenance, and repair tasks. Instead of relying on direct teleoperation, Nespoli used a tablet computer to issue high-level commands to the robot. In one task, he used the tablet to position the robot and have it take pictures from different angles. Another command instructed Justin to grasp a cable and connect it to a data port.

NASA is teaming up with Russia to put a new space station near the moon. Here's why.

Popular Science

"While the deep space gateway is still in concept formulation, NASA is pleased to see growing international interest in moving into cislunar space as the next step for advancing human space exploration," NASA's acting administrator Robert Lightfoot said in a statement. "I envision different partners, both international and commercial, contributing to the gateway and using it in a variety of ways with a system that can move to different orbits to enable a variety of missions," William Gerstenmaier, associate administrator for Human Exploration and Operations at NASA, said in an earlier statement. "The gateway could move to support robotic or partner missions to the surface of the moon, or to a high lunar orbit to support missions departing from the gateway to other destinations in the solar system." NASA has selected six companies to develop prototype habitats for deep space missions, like the Deep Space Gateway and Deep Space Transport.

An Adorable Floating Robot Is Helping Astronauts on the ISS


Japan's space agency has released photos and videos taken on board the International Space Station (ISS) by its grapefruit-sized robot drone. The drone, called Internal Ball Camera (or Int-Ball), can be maneuvered by controllers and researchers from Earth, according a press release from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). It was created to help take videos of astronauts' work and experiments and send them back to the ground. JAXA says the Int-Ball can help cut astronauts' working hours by up to 10%.

Meet the International Space Station's adorable camera drone


Astronauts on board the International Space Station have a new robotic companion to play around with. The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has released the first images shot by the "Int-Ball," a spherical camera that floats around alongside the rest of the crew. JAXA says crew members spend 10 percent of their working hours with a camera in hand, photographing work or equipment that requires further evaluation. A floating camera drone could, in theory, alleviate the crew of that responsibility, giving them more time to conduct experiments and carry out repairs.

The Morning After: Thursday, June 1st 2017


Strangely, however, this iconic control pad was left out of the Nintendo Switch's default controller design, and Sean Buckley missed it so much, he did what any reasonable tech blogger would do: 3D-printed his own. Neutron star Interior Composition Explorer will help shed light on other mysterious pulsars. The Neutron Star Interior Composition Explorer (NICER) will be installed outside the ISS, where it will look for and study the extremely dense objects. Neutron stars begin their lives as stars around seven to 20 times the mass of our sun.

NASA Astronauts On ISS To Make Emergency Spacewalk Tuesday To Replace Faulty Component

International Business Times

A multiplexer-demultiplexer (MDM) data relay box aboard the International Space Station failed Saturday, and will be replaced Tuesday during a spacewalk by NASA astronauts Peggy Whitson and Jack Fischer, the space agency announced Sunday. Whitson prepared a spare data relay box Sunday morning, and tested its components. In the two hours or so that the spacewalk will last, Whitson -- designated as extravehicular crewmember 1 and wearing a suit with red stripes -- will replace the data relay box while Fischer -- designated as extravehicular crewmember 2 and wearing a suit with no stripes -- will perform the additional task of installing a pair of wireless communication antennas on the Destiny Lab. The installation of the antennas was originally scheduled for May 12, when Whitson and Fischer conducted the space station's 200th spacewalk.

Astrobee: The Adorable Little Robot That'll Soon Jet Around the ISS


Surrounded by three walls papered with pictures of the International Space Station's interior, the perfectly polished, perfectly level granite slab at NASA's Ames Research Center supports not a puck, but a robot riding on a cushion of CO2. It's an impressive feat of engineering, and a fascinating glimpse at NASA's robotic future in space. To that end, Astrobee uses blasts of air to steer itself. For the near future, though, Astrobee will be NASA's eye way, way up in the sky.

SpaceX's NASA Mission To International Space Station: Dragon Docking Delayed By A Day

International Business Times

SpaceX's Dragon cargo spacecraft, carrying 5,500 pounds of supplies and scientific experiments to the International Space Station, abandoned its attempts to dock with the ISS early Wednesday after its GPS navigation system had some trouble. The docking maneuver, in which astronauts aboard ISS use the space station's robotic arm to engage Dragon, is now scheduled for 6 a.m. EST Thursday. During the live coverage Wednesday morning on NASA TV, commentator Rob Navias said: "Dragon aborted its approach to the International Space Station because of an apparent problem with what is called the filter on the Relative Global Positioning System (RGPS) hardware that basically tells the Dragon's on-board computers what its relative position in the sky is to the International Space Station." When the safety system on Dragon aborted its approach to the ISS, it was over 3,500 feet away. There was no impact to the space station, and crew onboard was in no danger.

How NASA's Astrobee Robot Is Bringing Useful Autonomy to the ISS

IEEE Spectrum Robotics Channel

Called SPHERES (Synchronized Position Hold Engage and Reorient Experimental Satellites), these robots have spent about 600 hours participating in an enormous variety of experiments, including autonomous formation flying, navigation and mapping, and running programs written by middle school students in team competitions. But beyond serving as a scientific platform, SPHERES weren't designed to do anything especially practical in terms of assisting the astronauts or flight controllers, and it's time for a new generation of robotic free fliers that's fancier, more versatile, and will be a big help for the humans on the ISS. From the beginning, Astrobee was intended to be much more than a successor to SPHERES: It's a completely new platform, designed from scratch to operate autonomously and safely on board the ISS. Astrobee's computing system has three layers of processors inside: one low level, one mid level, and one high level.