THIS WEEK @NASA: New Leader Chosen for Human Spaceflight, Update on Future VIPER Lunar Robot

By  //  June 14, 2020

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Latest Happenings around NASA

ABOVE VIDEO: A new lead selected for our human spaceflight efforts, the new core capability of our next Mars rover, and news about our future VIPER lunar robot … a few of the stories to tell you about – This Week at NASA!

Kathy Lueders Selected to Lead NASA’s Human Spaceflight Office

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine selected Commercial Crew Program Manager Kathy Lueders to be the agency’s next associate administrator of the Human Exploration and Operations (HEO) Mission Directorate – effective immediately.

Since 2014, Lueders has directed NASA’s efforts to send astronauts to space on private spacecraft, which culminated in the successful launch of our SpaceX Demo-2 test flight to the International Space Station recently from our Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The Administrator says Lueders gives NASA the “extraordinary experience and passion” needed to land the first woman and next man on the Moon by 2024 with the Artemis program.

The Core Capability of the Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover

While the Perseverance rover for our Mars 2020 mission is largely based on the Curiosity rover, Perseverance has a few improvements for high-priority science goals.

For the first time, the rover carries a drill for collecting core samples from Martian rocks and soil, then preserving those samples in tubes for a possible future mission to collect and return to Earth. The launch window for the Mars 2020 mission runs from July 17 through Aug. 5.

NASA Selects Company to Fly VIPER Rover to Moon

On June 11, we announced the selection of Astrobotic to deliver our new water-hunting VIPER mobile robot to the South Pole of the Moon, as part of NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services initiative.

WATCH: SpaceX Falcon 9 Successfully Launched Starlink 8 Saturday Morning at Cape CanaveralRelated Story:
WATCH: SpaceX Falcon 9 Successfully Launched Starlink 8 Saturday Morning at Cape Canaveral

As the first resource-mapping mission on the surface of another world, VIPER will help pave the way for human missions to the Moon as part of our Artemis program. For more information about NASA’s VIPER mission, visit: nasa.gov/viper.

Saturn’s Moon Titan Drifting Away Faster Than Previously Thought

Researchers using data from our Cassini mission, which ended in September 2017, found that Saturn’s moon, Titan is drifting away from the planet a hundred times faster than previously understood — about 4 inches per year.

This new finding may help address questions about when Saturn’s rings and system of more than 80 moons actually formed.

Progress on NASA’s All-Electric X-57 Plane

We’re making significant progress on our first all-electric X-plane, the X-57 Maxwell. Engineers are completing work toward functional ground testing – including taxi testing and first flight. Tests are also underway on the plane’s electric cruise motors and the future high-aspect ratio wing that will fly on the aircraft’s final configuration. Lessons learned from this testing are helping to pave the way for future Federal Aviation Administration airworthiness standards for electric aircraft.

That’s what’s up this week @NASA

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