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Resupplying International Space Station with science

The International Space Station (ISS) received a care package this month and it was full of science. SpaceX launched its Dragon spacecraft on June 1 to deliver crew supplies, equipment and scientific research to ISS.

In this timely resupply vessel will be plenty of experiments to keep the crew of six astronauts busy. The supplies include:

Solar panels – The Roll-Out Solar Array (ROSA) is new technology that is lighter and more compact; an important consideration in the snug confines of ISS and any missions beyond low Earth orbit. This new technology stores cells on a flexible framework that rolls out like a tape measure.

Neutron star investigations – There’s no better place to study cosmic phenomena than ISS. A new module to be added onto the station’s structure will study neutron stars. These stars are the densest objects in the galaxy and are left behind after supernova explosions. They are called “pulsars” because they emit light in unique ways. These new instruments will seek to study both the physics of these unique stars and record information that could help scientists develop a space navigation system based on them.

More heart research – Recently, astronauts saw heart tissue beat on ISS in an experiment. Now, they’re continuing that research into how the heart operates in reduced gravity environments with an unusual subject: fruit flies. The study will use the fruit fly to better understand the underlying mechanisms responsible for the adverse effects of prolonged exposure to microgravity on the heart. Flies are smaller, with a well-known genetic make-up, and very rapid aging that make them good models for studying heart function.

Surviving in space – Currently, the life-support systems aboard the space station require special equipment to separate liquids and gases. The Capillary Structures investigation studies a new method of water recycling and carbon dioxide removal. As opposed to the processes currently in use aboard the station, this equipment is made up of small, 3-D printed geometric shapes of varying sizes that clip into place. Using time lapse photography, on-ground research teams will observe how liquids evaporate from these capillary structures.

See the suits that changed how we (space)walk

On June 3, 1965, Ed White became the first American to walk in space as part of the Gemini IV mission. White spent 21 minutes tethered to a 25-foot cord floating in low-earth orbit. The experience was so affecting that, at the end of his mission, White said, “I’m coming back in and it’s the saddest moment of my life.”

Gemini IV was also the first mission controlled from Houston’s Mission Control center. All the previous American missions were controlled from Cape Canaveral in Florida.

You can celebrate this wonderful space anniversary by seeing an inspiring collection of spacesuits at Space Center Houston as well as a recreation of White’s spacewalk overhead in our Starship Gallery.

From the suit in which White trained for his historic spacewalk to Pete Conrad’s Apollo 12 moon suit to a replica of the space shuttle-era extra vehicular maneuvering unit worn by the first woman spacewalker, Kathy Sullivan, we are proud to host one of the largest spacesuit collections in the United States.

New Girl Scout Camp-In activities

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Come experience Space Center Houston’s all-new Girl Scout Camp-In activities. Immerse yourself in a setting where your imagination can take flight as you design, build, create, program and launch into a new world of opportunity and exploration.

Demonstrate Girl Scout leadership skills as you work with your peers to solve the real-world problems NASA often encounters. How can you make an astronaut’s job easier? How do you program a robot? How do you plan an astronaut rescue mission on Mars? Get ready to launch into an incredible experience in our all-new Girl Scout Camp-Ins.

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Imagine the Future through Space Center Houston’s Summer Exhibit

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If you thought teleportation, holograms, invisibility and mind control were only in the movies — think again. Space Center Houston’s summer exhibit Science Fiction, Science Future, presented by Coca-Cola, May 27-Sept.4 engages visitors to move objects with their mind, be mimicked by a lifelike robot and see augmented reality in action.

“Our summer exhibit takes visitors on an adventure connecting science fiction to actual science principles,” said the center’s President and CEO William T. Harris. “There’s something for everyone whether you’re a science fiction fan, interested in how robots work or in what’s happening now in space exploration.” 

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Scouts remodel Space Center Houston Mars Yard

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On Feb. 18 and 19, Boy Scout Troop 598 from Houston remolded the Space Center Houston Mars Yard, an educational area mimicking a Martian environment.

Eagle Scout Kyle Hagedorn chose this project to improve the landscape and aimed to replicate the Gale Crater and Mt. Sharp, which are actual geological features on Mars. The Scouts also redefined the border along the grass edge, added a fresh layer of ground material and added more rocks to the landscape.

Space Center Houston’s Education Department uses the Mars Yard for activities related to the red planet including robotics and planetary geology. These enhancements enable instructors to provide a better educational experience for students and scouts.

Click here to learn more about our Scout programs.

Yuri Gagarin: First Man in Space

On April 12, 1961, Yuri Gagarin boarded his Vostok 1 spacecraft and rewrote history. He became the first of many, many people to defy gravity and reach into a new frontier.

The Cold War and ensuing Space Race meant that Gagarin’s achievement wasn’t always universally embraced. Now, though, we can all celebrate International Human Space Flight day on April 12.

What Gagarin achieved was very daring and very brave. His flight lasted 108 minutes and took place 91 nautical miles (169 kilometers) above the earth. It also ended slightly differently than the Mercury missions.

As Gagarin returned to Earth, the cosmonaut had to eject from his capsule 23,000 feet (7 kilometers) above the ground and parachute to safety.

The Space Race didn’t last long. By 1975, the Russians and Americans collaborated on the Apollo-Soyuz mission and by the end of the 20th century, the two superpowers helped build the International Space Station.

That monumental task was made possible by the Space Shuttle Program, which had its own tribute to Gagarin. The first shuttle mission launched on April 12.

Webster Gives $3.5 million to Help Restore Historic Mission Control

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The Webster City Council approved a $3.5 million commitment last night as a lead gift to its longtime partner Space Center Houston to help fund the restoration of NASA’s Historic Mission Control used during the Gemini, Apollo and Shuttle eras.

The restoration of the National Historic Landmark will be coordinated by NASA Johnson Space Center with funds raised by the nonprofit Manned Space Flight Education Foundation, which owns and operates Space Center Houston, the official JSC visitor center. The $5 million campaign is called “On a Mission: Restoring Historic Mission Control.”

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Space Center Houston’s 25th Anniversary Galaxy Gala Is Star-Studded Night

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Space Center Houston’s spectacular gala raised $850,000 for the Manned Space Flight Education Foundation March 31 at the Hilton Americas – Houston. The star-studded Galaxy Gala was led by chairs Keith and Alice Mosing and Kim and Dan Tutcher and honorary co-chairs astronaut Scott Kelly and Amiko Kauderer along with astronaut Mark Kelly and former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona.

The stellar evening celebrated the nonprofit’s 25th anniversary year and its dedication to inspiring people with hands-on science learning and to reaching underserved students.

“We have a powerful opportunity to bring science to life and provide access to experts in space exploration through our educational programs,” said William T. Harris, president and CEO of the science and space learning center. “Thank you to our generous sponsors and donors whose contributions help us provide exceptional learning experiences to current and future explorers.”

The gala honored longtime supporters Susie and Pat Cunningham for their significant contributions to the center. A pre-gala area wowed the 600 guests with a museum experience featuring an array of artifacts and a spacesuit collection from Space Center Houston and NASA Johnson Space Center. Music was by the Lt. Dan Band, led by award-winning actor Gary Sinise, who starred in the film “Apollo 13.”

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Juno’s flybys a breeze

It’s been more than eight months since Juno roared into Jupiter’s orbit. Since then, the NASA spacecraft has been making all manner of scientific measurements of the giant’s atmosphere. It’s also been taking some breathtaking close-ups of the magnificent planet.

So far, revelations include that Jupiter’s magnetic fields and aurora are bigger and more powerful than originally thought and that the belts and zones that create the gas giant’s distinctive look extend deep into the planet’s interior. Peer-reviewed papers with more in-depth science results from Juno’s first three flybys are expected to be published within the next few months.

While we wait on the science, we can revel in the high-quality images Juno already has sent back.

Here is one of pearl-colored, swirling cloud tops.

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Here is one of the great red spot, thought to be a massive hurricane-type storm.

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Here is one of a “Jupiter-rise”

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Want to decide what should be photographed on Juno’s next flyby on March 27? The Jet Propulsion Laboratory set up an online poll here just for that. Vote on what features Juno should capture on that flyby.

https://www.missionjuno.swri.edu/junocam/voting

Until then, enjoy the angry gas giant.

An Epic Lunar Experience Lands at Space Center Houston

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Space Center Houston is the first of four stops of a new exhibit featuring the Apollo 11 command module, which will leave the Smithsonian on a national tour for the first time since 1971. It will be the only location where guests can see the space capsules for both the first and last lunar landings.

The awe-inspiring “Destination Moon: The Apollo 11 Mission” exhibit, on display Oct. 14-March 18, 2018 at Space Center Houston, is part of the nonprofit’s 25th anniversary jubilee. The center is the first Smithsonian Affiliate in greater Houston.

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