Russia has many achievements in space field, including the launch of the first satellite, sending the first man into space, first female cosmonaut and a spacewalk, and one might think that the time of remarkable space discoveries is gone and there is nothing to look forward to, but Russia’s State Space Corporation Roscosmos never ceases to amaze
MOSCOW (UrduPoint News / Sputnik – 12th April, 2019) Russia has many achievements in space field, including the launch of the first satellite, sending the first man into space, first female cosmonaut and a spacewalk, and one might think that the time of remarkable space discoveries is gone and there is nothing to look forward to, but Russia‘s State Space Corporation Roscosmos never ceases to amaze.
FIRST 3D-PRINTING OF HUMAN TISSUE IN SPACE
On December 4, 2018, Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko launched Magnetic 3D Bioprinting experiment aboard the International Space Station (ISS). The experiment was successful, the Invitro company, which owns the 3D Bioprinting Solutions laboratory that created the equipment for the experiment, told Sputnik.
Oleg Kononenko used the Russia-made Organavt printer to produce six human cartilages and six mouse thyroid glands. It was the first ever example of 3D bioprinting in space. Russia was six months ahead of the United States, which was also planning to send its first bioprinter to the ISS.
After the obtained samples were returned to Earth, the specialists of the 3D Bioprinting Solutions lab started their research on them. As the company announced later, the received cells turned out to be alive and healthy. According to Invitro, the experimental data confirmed the working capacity of the equipment and the possibility of using the technology of magnetic 3D bioprinting in space.
Now, the company is preparing a new series of experiments. The unmanned Soyuz MS-14 spacecraft is expected to head to the ISS on August 22, 2019. It is planned to deliver cells of beef, tuna and salmon to the space station in order to grow full-fledged muscle tissue samples. Soyuz is also expected to bring to the ISS synthetic materials on the basis of ceramics. These materials will be used to regenerate bone tissue.
It is noteworthy that the bioprinter failed to get to the ISS on the first try. The bioprinter was severely damaged � although some of its elements were still working � after falling from a height of more than 50 miles as a result of the Soyuz-FG launch vehicle accident on October 11, 2018. The backup device, which was used to train cosmonauts on Earth, was sent to the station on December 3 aboard the Soyuz MS-11.
On April 4, 2019, Russia carried out two space launches in six hours. The first one was the launch of the Progress MS-11 space freighter by the Soyuz-2.1a carrier rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome at 2:01 p.m. Moscow time (11:01 a.m. GMT).
After that the Soyuz launch vehicle with four telecoms satellites of the O3b constellation was launched from the Kourou space center in French Guiana at 8:03 p.m. Moscow time. The second launch could have been carried out half an hour earlier, but it was delayed due to the technical glitch at one of the European ground tracking stations.
After the two launches, Roscosmos CEO Dmitry Rogozin has expressed gratitude to the industry experts.
“I would like to congratulate our combat crews in French Guiana and Baikonur on a successful ‘rocket doublet’ in one day! Thanks to the specialists of Progress [Rocket Space Center], Energia [Rocket and Space Corporation], Lavochkin Research and Production Association, TsENKI [Center for Operation of Space Ground Based Infrastructure] and all Roscosmos services for their good work,” Rogozin wrote on Twitter.
The last time such an achievement was made in March 2015, when two rocket launches happened in one day within two hours: the launch of the Soyuz TMA-16M spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome and the liftoff of another Soyuz rocket loaded with two satellites intended for the European Space Agency’s Galileo navigation program from the Kourou space center. However, according to Moscow time, the launches took place on different days.
THE FASTEST EVER PROGRESS MS-11 SPACE FREIGHTER
On April 4, 2019, Progress MS-11 cargo spacecraft reached the ISS in record three hours and 22 minutes after a launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome. It became the fastest space freighter to reach the orbital station.
NASA Astronaut Nick Hague, who is currently working aboard the ISS, called this Russian record very impressive.
“It takes three hours to reach Baikonur from Moscow, and now it also takes three hours to reach the ISS from Baikonur. This is a new record in the history of the ISS,” Rogozin, for his part, wrote on Twitter.
Currently, Russian spacecraft get to the station, using standard, two-day, or short, six-hour, schemes. In July 2018, the Progress MS-09 resupply ship was for the first time sent to the station under an ultra-short three-hour scheme. It set a record by reaching the space station in less than four hours.
On December 11, 2018, Russian cosmonauts Oleg Kononenko and Sergey Prokopyev carried out a spacewalk to take samples of the micrometeoroid protection, surrounding a drilled and subsequently sealed hole on a wall of the living section of the Soyuz MS-09 spacecraft.
In order to do this, the cosmonauts have opened the screen-vacuum insulation with a knife and cut out the ship’s micrometeorite protection with scissors to get to the hole. The samples were sent to Earth to be analyzed and potentially reveal the cause of the microfracture.
Before that, Kononenko had undergone necessary training on Earth, and Prokopyev prepared for that via video materials on board the ISS.
On the night of August 30, 2018, the US Mission Control Center detected an insignificant air leak on the ISS. The pressure drop was insignificant, so the station crew was informed about it only in the morning. Later it became clear that the leak came from the Soyuz MS-09 spacecraft. The hole itself was found near the toilet in the living section of the Soyuz MS-09 spacecraft by the German astronaut Alexander Gerst.
During the first negotiations with the Earth, the astronauts were convinced that the hole was made by a drill, and Roscosmos believed that the hole was caused from outside by a tiny meteorite. By the evening of the same day, the astronauts have patched the hole.
There are currently two versions under investigation. The first one is that the hole could have been caused during the manufacture of the spacecraft on Earth. Meanwhile, the second one suggests that one of the crew members could have drilled the hole in space.
The internal commission at Energia company, which manufactures Soyuz spacecraft, was unable to find any explanation through its investigation of the production process on Earth, so Roscosmos set up a special panel in mid-September. Investigation continues up to this day.
“We do not have an answer to the question where the metal shavings, found in the living section, come from … In order to answer this question, it is necessary, roughly speaking, to drill again at the same place to see where the shavings will go. We have already drilled on the Earth and now we have to do it in zero gravity,” Rogozin said.
The chief of Roscosmos also noted that the state corporation had not yet approached the competent authorities to initiate a criminal case in connection with the appearance of a hole in the Soyuz MS-09 spacecraft.