NASA Receives European Commitment To Continue Space Station
The Multilateral Coordination Board (MCB) for the International Space Station partner agencies met Wednesday, April 27, to discuss increased efforts to use the station as a test-bed for exploration. The MCB also congratulated the European Space Agency (ESA) on its recent decision to continue station operations to at least 2020. The MCB is working diligently to extend the benefits to future exploration beyond low-Earth orbit through enhanced station research, technology development and other opportunities. Other topics on the agenda included a report on efforts to create international standards for docking and berthing; rendezvous and proximity operations; interfaces for replaceable items and payloads; and standardization of command protocols for spacecraft.

Station research with potential societal impact includes:

-- The Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer-2, which will fly aboard STS-134, scheduled to launch on April 29. The experiment is a cosmic ray detector that will search for dark matter and antimatter, components critical to understanding the origin and structure of our universe.

-- The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) continues its life science research program on mitigating health risks associated with spaceflight. These health experiments and activities will monitor crew health and deliver health care on space missions.

-- ESA began the GeoFlow experiment in the Fluid Science Laboratory payload. This experiment will take advantage of the microgravity environment on the station in combination with electrical fields, thermal gradients and rotation to simulate many parameters of geo-physical flows under the Earth's crust. Results will help scientists understand thermal convection in planets and the outer shells of celestial bodies. It also will verify numerical simulations of fluid dynamics of liquid core planets with real experimental data.

-- Roscosmos, the Russian Federal Space Agency, continues experimental programs aimed at human adaptation to future long- term expeditions. Dedicated medical experiments study the effects of flight conditions on the cardiovascular system, respiratory system and bones. Other research includes planting wheat and vegetables them performing genetic, microbiological and biochemical tests on the plants.

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