One Year Mission on the Space Station Set for 2015

Scott Kelly
American Astronaut Scott Kelly
Image Credit: NASA

Mikhail Kornienko
Russian Cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko
Image Credit: NASA

NASA announced on Monday 26 November 2012, that American astronaut Scott Kelly and Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko have been selected by NASA, the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos), and their international partners to conduct a 12 month mission aboard the International Space Station (ISS) in 2015.

The mission aboard the orbiting laboratory is designed to further our understanding of how the human body reacts and adapts to microgravity and other aspects of living in space. Work over the past several years have shown marked improvement in the ability for astronauts on a normal 5-6 month mission aboard the ISS to adapt to microgravity. The year long mission seeks to validate these findings.

Long duration missions to the Moon, Lagrange points, asteroids and Mars will require countermeasures to reduce risks associated with future exploration.

Kelly and Kornienko are veterans of space travel. Kelly served as a pilot on space shuttle mission STS-103 in 1999, commander on STS-118 in 2007, flight engineer on the International Space Station Expedition 25 in 2010 and commander of Expedition 26 in 2011. Kelly has logged more than 180 days in space.

Kornienko was selected as an Energia test cosmonaut candidate in 1998 and trained as an International Space Station Expedition 8 backup crew member. He served as a flight engineer on the station’s Expedition 23/24 crews in 2010 and has logged more than 176 days in space.

The two astronauts will launch aboard a Soyuz spacecraft in the Spring of 2015 and return to land in Kazakhstan in the Spring of 2016.

Proton-M Launches Intelsat-22

Launch of Proton-M with Intelsat 22
Image Credit: ILS

A Proton-M rocket launched the Intelsat-22 communications satellite into a “super-synchronous” orbit this morning. International Launch Systems (ILS) had the contract for the launch, which occurred at 5:10 AM Phoenix time (1210 UTC) from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

Boeing Space & Intelligence Systems built the 6,199 kilogram satellite, which is expected to have a service life of 18 years.

An overview of the launch vehicle and the mission can be found at ILS here (pdf).

Fobos-Grunt Re-enters Earth’s Atmosphere

The Russian Fobos-Grunt spacecraft, launched aboard a two-stage Zenit-2 rocket on 9 November 2011 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, was planned to travel to the Martian moon Phobos, gather samples, and return to Earth. Instead, the rocket motor failed to ignite, and the probe was stranded in orbit.

The Russian Defense Ministry reported that the spacecraft re-entered over the southern Pacific ocean around 10:45 AM Phoenix time on Sunday, 15 January (1745 UTC). The site was 775 miles west of Wellington Island off the coast of Southern Chile. There have been no reports of sightings.