This Week at NASA | New Gateway Installed on ISS; more
Outside the International Space Station, Expedition 48 Commander Jeff Williams and Flight Engineer Kate Rubins of NASA installed the first of two International Docking Adapters onto the forward end of the station’s Harmony module, during a spacewalk on Aug. 19. The new docking port will be used by the Boeing CST-100 “Starliner” and SpaceX Crew Dragon commercial crew spacecraft being developed to transport U.S. astronauts to and from the station. The second International Docking Adapter – currently under construction – eventually will be placed on the space-facing side of the Harmony module. Also, Commercial Crew Access Arm Installed on Launchpad, Behind the Scenes of our Journey to Mars, Asteroid Redirect Mission Milestone, Asteroid Sample Return Mission Approaches, and Chasing Greenhouse Gases in the Midwest.
Outside the International Space Station, Expedition 48 Commander Jeff Williams and Flight Engineer Kate Rubins of NASA installed the first of two International Docking Adapters onto the forward end of the station’s Harmony module, during a spacewalk on Aug. 19.
The new docking port will be used by the Boeing CST-100 “Starliner” and SpaceX Crew Dragon commercial crew spacecraft being developed to transport U.S. astronauts to and from the station. The second International Docking Adapter – currently under construction – eventually will be placed on the space-facing side of the Harmony module
On August 15, at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, engineers installed the Crew Access Arm and White Room that astronauts will use to board Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft prior to launches atop the United Launch Alliances Atlas V rocket. This milestone completes the major construction of the first new Crew Access Tower to be built along Florida’s Space Coast since the Apollo era. The Starliner system will be certified by NASA’s Commercial Crew Program to fly crews to and from the International Space Station under a contract with the agency. August 17 marked the 10-year anniversary of the agency’s commercial cargo resupply program, or COTS, which returned American cargo resupply missions to U.S. soil – and laid the groundwork for the effort to return American launches of humans to space.
A NASA Social held on Aug. 18, at the agency’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, Louisiana, and the Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi provided an opportunity for social and traditional media to see the progress the agency is making on the Journey to Mars. The event included exhibits of NASA’s robotic scientific exploration of the Red Planet, tours of manufacturing facilities at Michoud – where construction is underway on the core stage for the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket, and a test firing at Stennis of one of the RS-25 rocket engines that will power the SLS, The SLS will be the world’s most powerful rocket, and launch astronauts in the agency’s Orion spacecraft on deep space missions, including to an asteroid and eventually to Mars..
NASA’s Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM) has reached a key developmental milestone known as Key Decision Point-B, or KDP-B. The milestone clears the mission to proceed to the next phase of design and development for the mission’s robotic segment. KDP-B, which was approved by agency management on Aug. 15, is one in a series of project lifecycle milestones that every NASA spaceflight mission passes prior to launch. Launch of ARM’s robotic mission is targeted for December 2021.The two-part mission will integrate robotic and crewed spacecraft operations in the proving ground of deep space to demonstrate key capabilities needed for the Journey to Mars.
On Aug. 17, NASA hosted a news briefing at the agency’s headquarters in Washington to preview the launch of the Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) spacecraft. OSIRIS-REx is the first U.S. spacecraft designed to rendezvous with, study and return a sample of an asteroid. It’s scheduled to launch Sept. 8 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida to an asteroid called Bennu. The mission represents a valuable opportunity to learn more about the origins of our solar system, the sources of water and organic molecules on Earth, and the hazards and resources in near-Earth space.
NASA’s Atmospheric Carbon and Transport ― America, or ACT-America, airborne science campaign recently spent two weeks flying missions out of Lincoln, Nebraska – collecting data on the movement of carbon dioxide and methane in the skies over the Midwest. America’s agricultural heartland is ripe with greenhouse gas fluxes due to the methane produced by livestock and carbon dioxide consumed by crops there. ACT-America moves to Shreveport, Louisiana for the final leg of the 2016 flight campaign with flights over the Gulf of Mexico and the dense forests of the southeast
And that’s what’s up this week @NASA.