Falcon 9 with Crew Dragon vertical at Launch Complex 39A

Falcon 9 with Crew Dragon vertical at Launch Complex 39A

The year 2019 is already off to a fast start with multiple deep space encounters performed by several robotic spacecraft. Closer to home, however, another vehicle is being prepped for its first orbital flight: SpaceX’s Crew Dragon. However, schedule unknowns still remain.

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Astronaut Peggy Whitson retires from NASA

Astronaut Peggy Whitson retires from NASA

Peggy Whitson retired from NASA on June 15, 2018, after 32 years with the space agency—22 as an astronaut. Between 2002 and 2017, she participated in three long-duration International Space Station expeditions, accumulating 665 days orbit—a record for any U.S. space flyer.

Whitson, now 58, concluded her most recent mission in September 2017. Her nine-month stay aboard the ISS as part of Expedition 50, 51 and 52 was the longest for any woman and included multiple spacewalks.

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NASA upgrading ground stations used for emergency ISS communications

NASA upgrading ground stations used for emergency ISS communications

NASA is currently upgrading ground stations utilized in the backup system for communicating with the International Space Station, the U.S. space agency said in an April 24, 2018, news release.

The primary means of communicating with the ISS is NASA’s Space Network, which mainly relies on a constellation of Tracking and Data Relay Satellites in geostationary orbit. As a backup, the agency also maintains a system of ground stations that transmit and receive very high frequency radio waves.

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