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NASA’s Psyche Spacecraft moves into final Phase of Operations

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Psyche mission has passed a critical milestone that moves it a step closer to launch. After an intense review of the mission’s progress in building its science instruments and engineering systems, Psyche won clearance to progress into what NASA calls Phase D of its life cycle – the final phase of operations prior to its scheduled launch in August 2022.

Until now, the mission has focused on planning, designing, and building the body of the spacecraft, its solar-electric propulsion system, the three science instruments, electronics, the power subsystem, and the like.

Technicians power on the main body of NASA's Psyche spacecraft, called the Solar Electric Propulsion (SEP) Chassis, at Maxar Technologies in Palo Alto, California, in November 2020. (Maxar Technologies)

Technicians power on the main body of NASA’s Psyche spacecraft, called the Solar Electric Propulsion (SEP) Chassis, at Maxar Technologies in Palo Alto, California, in November 2020. (Maxar Technologies)

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NASA’s First Commercial Crew Flight Test of SpaceX Crew Dragon Splashes Down

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – NASA passed a major milestone Friday in its goal to restore America’s human spaceflight capability when SpaceX’s Crew Dragon returned to Earth after a five-day mission docked to the International Space Station.

About 6 hours after departing the space station, Crew Dragon splashed down at 7:45am CT approximately 230 miles off the coast of Cape Canaveral, Florida. SpaceX retrieved the spacecraft from the Atlantic Ocean and is transporting it back to port on the company’s recovery ship.

Completing an end-to-end uncrewed flight test, Demo-1, SpaceX’s Crew Dragon departed the International Space Station at 1:32am CT Friday, March 8th, 2019, and splashed down at 7:45am in the Atlantic Ocean about 200 nautical miles off the Florida coast. (NASA Television)

Completing an end-to-end uncrewed flight test, Demo-1, SpaceX’s Crew Dragon departed the International Space Station at 1:32am CT Friday, March 8th, 2019, and splashed down at 7:45am in the Atlantic Ocean about 200 nautical miles off the Florida coast. (NASA Television)

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First SpaceX Crew Dragon piloted by NASA Astronauts docks at International Space Station

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley arrived at the International Space Station on Sunday aboard the first commercially built and operated American spacecraft to carry humans to orbit, opening a new era in human spaceflight.

The pair of astronauts docked to the space station’s Harmony module at 90:16am CT Sunday as the microgravity laboratory flew 262 miles above the border northern China and Mongolia.

The Expedition 63 crew welcomes Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the International Space Station. (NASA / Bill Stafford)

The Expedition 63 crew welcomes Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the International Space Station. (NASA / Bill Stafford)

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NASA installs Sample Handling System on Mars Perseverance Rover

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – With the launch period for NASA’s Mars Perseverance rover opening in a little less than four months, the six-wheeler is reaching significant pre-launch milestones almost daily at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

The rover had some components removed prior to being shipped from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California to the Cape in early February.

This illustration depicts NASA's Perseverance rover operating on the surface of Mars. Perseverance will land at the Red Planet's Jezero Crater a little after 2:40pm CST (12:40pm PST) on February 18th, 2021. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This illustration depicts NASA’s Perseverance rover operating on the surface of Mars. Perseverance will land at the Red Planet’s Jezero Crater a little after 2:40pm CST (12:40pm PST) on February 18th, 2021. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Mars 2020 Rover mission gains two Return Sample Scientists

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – In the fall of 2019, the Mars 2020 rover team welcomed ten members to serve as Returned Sample Science Participating Scientists.

Scheduled to launch in July 2020 as NASA’s next step in exploration of the Red Planet, the Mars 2020 mission will search for signs of past microbial life, characterizing the planet’s climate and geology, and will be the first planetary mission to collect and cache Martian rock core and dust samples.

This artist's concept depicts NASA's Mars 2020 rover exploring and taking a core sample on the Red Planet. The mission will investigate the geology of Jezero Crater. It will acquire and store samples of the most promising rocks and soils that it encounters, setting them on the surface of Mars for a future mission to bring back samples to Earth for deeper study. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This artist’s concept depicts NASA’s Mars 2020 rover exploring and taking a core sample on the Red Planet. The mission will investigate the geology of Jezero Crater. It will acquire and store samples of the most promising rocks and soils that it encounters, setting them on the surface of Mars for a future mission to bring back samples to Earth for deeper study. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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SpaceX, NASA to launch final, major In-Flight Abort Demonstration before Astronauts board Crew Dragon Spacecraft

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – NASA and SpaceX postponed the test until Sunday, January 19th, due to sustained winds and rough seas in the recovery area. Further updates will be available from NASA’s commercial crew blog.

NASA and SpaceX are preparing to launch the final, major test before astronauts fly aboard the Crew Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket to the International Space Station as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program.

The uncrewed in-flight abort demonstration is targeted for 7:00am CT Sunday, January 19th, from Launch Complex 39A in Florida. There is a four-hour test window. (SpaceX)

The uncrewed in-flight abort demonstration is targeted for 7:00am CT Sunday, January 19th, from Launch Complex 39A in Florida. There is a four-hour test window. (SpaceX)

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NASA, SpaceX get ready for In Flight Abort Demonstration

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – NASA and SpaceX are preparing to launch the final, major test before astronauts fly aboard the Crew Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket to the International Space Station as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program.

The test, known as in-flight abort, will demonstrate the spacecraft’s escape capabilities — showing that the crew system can protect astronauts even in the unlikely event of an emergency during launch. The uncrewed flight test is targeted for 7:00amam CT Saturday, January 18th, 2020 at the start of a four-hour test window, from Launch Complex 39A in Florida.

The uncrewed in-flight abort demonstration is targeted for 7:00am CT Saturday, January 18th, from Launch Complex 39A in Florida. There is a four-hour test window. (SpaceX)

The uncrewed in-flight abort demonstration is targeted for 7:00am CT Saturday, January 18th, from Launch Complex 39A in Florida. There is a four-hour test window. (SpaceX)

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NASA, Boeing Orbital Flight Test a Major Step Forward

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationCape Canaveral, FL – NASA says when Boeing’s Orbital Flight Test (OFT) launches on December 20th, 2019, it will be a major step toward returning human spaceflight capability to the U.S. 

The uncrewed mission for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program will rendezvous and dock Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft with the International Space Station and return to Earth on December 28th. Starliner will launch atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 (SLC-41) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket, topped by the Boeing CST-100 Starliner spacecraft, stands on Space Launch Complex 41 at Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on Dec. 4, 2019. Boeing’s Orbital Flight Test will launch on Dec. 20th, 2019. (Boeing)

A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket, topped by the Boeing CST-100 Starliner spacecraft, stands on Space Launch Complex 41 at Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on Dec. 4, 2019. Boeing’s Orbital Flight Test will launch on Dec. 20th, 2019. (Boeing)

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NASA’s Mars 2020 rover to search for Ancient Life

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Scientists with NASA’s Mars 2020 rover have discovered what may be one of the best places to look for signs of ancient life in Jezero Crater, where the rover will land on February 18th, 2021.

A paper published today in the journal Icarus identifies distinct deposits of minerals called carbonates along the inner rim of Jezero, the site of a lake more than 3.5 billion years ago. On Earth, carbonates help form structures that are hardy enough to survive in fossil form for billions of years, including seashells, coral and some stromatolites – rocks formed on this planet by ancient microbial life along ancient shorelines, where sunlight and water were plentiful.

NASA's Mars 2020 Will Hunt for Microscopic Fossils Lighter colors represent higher elevation in this image of Jezero Crater on Mars, the landing site for NASA's Mars 2020 mission. The oval indicates the landing ellipse, where the rover will be touching down on Mars. (NASA)

NASA’s Mars 2020 Will Hunt for Microscopic Fossils Lighter colors represent higher elevation in this image of Jezero Crater on Mars, the landing site for NASA’s Mars 2020 mission. The oval indicates the landing ellipse, where the rover will be touching down on Mars. (NASA)

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NASA engineers test Mars 2020 Rover Descent Stage Separation

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – In this picture from September 28th, 2019, NASA engineers and technicians working on the assembly and testing of the Mars 2020 spacecraft look on as a crane lifts the rocket-powered descent stage away from the rover. They’ve just completed a successful separation test at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

“Firing the pyrotechnic devices that held the rover and descent stage together and then doing the post-test inspection of the two vehicles was an all-day affair,” said Ryan van Schilifgaarde, a support engineer for Mars 2020 assembly at JPL.

In this picture from September 2th8, 2019, engineers and technicians working on the Mars 2020 spacecraft at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, look on as a crane lifts the rocket-powered descent stage away from the rover after a test. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

In this picture from September 2th8, 2019, engineers and technicians working on the Mars 2020 spacecraft at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, look on as a crane lifts the rocket-powered descent stage away from the rover after a test. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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