November 26th, 2012
03:23 PM ET

Proposed nuclear reactor could power future space flights

By Mark Morgenstein, CNN

For potential power sources on space flights beyond the horizon, scientists are looking back to the future.

A team of NASA and Department of Energy researchers has shown that a reliable nuclear reactor based on technology that's been around for decades could be used in spaceships, according to a news release from the Los Alamos National Laboratory, where some of the researchers are based.

The news release says the team used "heat pipe technology," which was invented at Los Alamos in 1963, and uses a heat pipe to cool a small nuclear reactor and power a Stirling engine, producing 24 watts of electricity.

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First U.S. woman in space
November 26th, 2012
11:14 AM ET

NASA: Longest space mission for U.S. astronaut set for 2015

By Elizabeth Landau, CNN

Capt. Scott Kelly, a veteran astronaut, will set the record for the longest single space mission for an American, NASA announced Monday. Kelly and Roscosmos cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko will embark on a one-year mission to the International Space Station in 2015.

The duo will help scientists explore the effects of living in space on the human body, NASA said. They will provide information regarding health and crew performance and help with determining and validating risk-reduction measures. All of this can help contribute to planning for missions to other celestial worlds, such as an asteroid or Mars.

Kelly is the brother of former space shuttle Cmdr. Mark Kelly, who is married to former Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. Giffords survived a shooting near Tuscon in 2011 and stepped down from public office in January 2012.

Only four humans have logged a continuous year or more in space on a single mission, and all of those missions involved the Russian Mir space station, said NASA spokesman Joshua Buck. The current record is held by Valery Polyakov, who spent 438 days in space between January 1994 and March 1995.

Kelly and Kornienko will depart in spring 2015 from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, traveling aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft.

A native of Orange, New Jersey, Kelly has already experienced more than 180 days in space. On a 1999 space shuttle mission, he was a pilot; in 2007, he was a commander on STS-118. Kelly was a flight engineer in 2010 on International Space Station Expedition 25 and commander of Expedition 26 in 2011.

Kelly is a U.S. Navy captain with degrees from the State University of New York Maritime College and the University of Tennessee.

Kornienko hails from Russia's Syzran, Kuibyshev, region and has worked in the space industry since 1986. On the International Space Station, Kornienko was a flight engineer on the Expedition 23/24 crews in 2010. He has spent a cumulative 176 days in space.

"The one-year increment will expand the bounds of how we live and work in space and will increase our knowledge regarding the effects of microgravity on humans as we prepare for future missions beyond low-Earth orbit," William Gerstenmaier, associate administrator for human exploration and operations at NASA headquarters in Washington, said in a statement.

Jim Ribble interviewed Kelly for CNN Radio while the astronaut was aboard the International Space Station in 2010. Check out their conversation here:


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