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100 Days in Houston

A lot can happen in 100 days…

At our Johnson Space Center, located in Houston, it has been busy since July 10. Here are six things that have been going on in Houston with our astronauts, the International Space Station and our next great telescope! Take a look:

1. Our James Webb Space Telescope is Spending 100 Days in a Freezing Cold Chamber

Imagine seeing 13.5 billion light-years back in time, watching the birth of the first stars, galaxies evolve and solar systems form…our James Webb Space Telescope will do just that once it launches in 2019.

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Webb will be the premier observatory of the next decade, studying every phase in the cosmic history of our universe, ranging from the first luminous glows after the Big Bang, to the formation of solar systems.

On July 10, the Webb telescope entered Johnson Space Center’s historic Chamber A for its final cryogenic test that lasts about 100 days behind a closed giant vault-like door. 

Why did we put Webb in this freezing cold chamber? To ensure it can withstand the harsh environment it will experience in space.

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The telescope has been in a space-like environment in the chamber, tested at cryogenic temperatures. In space, the telescope must operate at extremely cold temperatures so that it can detect infrared light – heat radiation – from faint, distant objects. 

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To keep the telescope cold while in space, Webb has a sunshield the size of a tennis court, which blocks sunlight (as well as reflected light from the Earth and Moon). This means that the sun-facing side of the observatory is incredibly hot while the telescope-side remains at sub-freezing temperatures.

2. Our 12 new astronaut candidates reported to Houston to start training

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Our newest class of astronaut candidates, which were announced on June 7, reported for training on August 13. These candidates will train for two years on International Space Station systems, space vehicles and Russian language, among many other skills, before being flight-ready. 

3. Our Mission Control Center operated for 2,400 hours

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While astronauts are in space, Mission Control operates around the clock making sure the crew is safe and the International Space Station is functioning properly. This means workers in Mission Control work in three shifts, 7 a.m. – 4 p.m., 3 p.m. – midnight and 11 p.m. – 8 a.m. This includes holidays and weekends. Day or night, Mission Control is up and running.

4. Key Teams at Johnson Space Center Continued Critical Operations During Hurricane Harvey

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Although Johnson Space Center closed during Hurricane Harvey, key team members and critical personnel stayed onsite to ensure crucial operations would continue. Mission Control remained in operation throughout this period, as well as all backup systems required to maintain the James Webb Space Telescope, which is at Johnson for testing, were checked prior to the arrival of the storm, and were ready for use if necessary.

5. Crews on the International Space Station conducted hundreds of science experiments.

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Mission Control at Johnson Space Center supported astronauts on board the International Space Station as they worked their typical schedule in the microgravity environment. Crew members work about 10 hours a day conducting science research that benefits life on Earth as well as prepares us for travel deeper into space. 

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The space station team in Houston supported a rigorous schedule of launches of cargo that included supplies and science materials for the crew living and working in the orbiting laboratory, launched there by our commercial partners. 

6. Two new crews blasted off to space and a record breaking astronaut returned from a stay on space station

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Houston is home to the Astronaut Corps, some of whom end up going out-of-this-world. On July 28, NASA Astronaut Randy Bresnik launched to the International Space Station alongside Italian astronaut Paolo Naspoli and Russian cosmonaut Sergey Ryazanskiy. Joining them at the International Space Station were NASA Astronauts Joe Acaba and Mark Vande Hei who launched September 12 with Russian cosmonaut Alexander Misurkin.

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When NASA Astronaut Peggy Whitson landed with crewmates Jack Fischer of NASA and Fyoder Yurchikhin of Roscosmos, she broke the record for the most cumulative time in space by a U.S. astronaut. She landed with over 650 days of cumulative flight time and more than 53 hours of spacewalk time. Upon her return, the Human Research Program in Houston studies her health and how the human body adapted to her time in space.

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Source: NASA

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100 Days in Houston

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