THIS WEEK @NASA: First Space Station Spacewalk of 2021, Previewing Mars 2020 Landing

By  //  January 31, 2021

Latest Happenings around NASA

ABOVE VIDEO: The first space station spacewalk of the new year, a new date for a commercial crew test flight, and our next landing on Mars is fast approaching … a few of the stories to tell you about – This Week at NASA!

First Space Station Spacewalk of 2021

On Jan. 27, NASA’s Michael Hopkins and Victor Glover ventured outside the International Space Station for the first of two scheduled spacewalks to finish installing a European science platform and finish battery upgrade work. On this outing, the pair focused on cable and antenna rigging for the “Bartolomeo” science payloads platform. On Feb. 1, the pair will go outside again to wrap up battery replacement work that started in January 2017.

The Next Starliner Flight Test

NASA and Boeing are targeting no earlier than Thursday, March 25, for the launch of Orbital Flight Test-2, or OFT-2, the second uncrewed flight test of Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft to the International Space Station. OFT-2 is a critical developmental milestone on the company’s path to fly crewed missions to the space station as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

Previewing Mars 2020 Landing

The Feb. 18 landing of our Mars 2020 mission with our Perseverance rover and Ingenuity helicopter is fast approaching. We previewed the landing and mission during a Jan. 27 briefing.

Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA Associate Administrator for Science:
“As our cosmic neighbor and as a destination, Mars continues to captivate our imagination both as scientists and as explorers, and it seems every time we learn something new, we uncover more questions.”

Perseverance will search for signs of past microbial life and be our first Mars rover to collect samples from another planet for future return to Earth, while Ingenuity will make history’s first attempt at powered flight on another planet. To learn more, visit

OSIRIS-REx to Bid Farewell to Bennu

Our OSIRIS-REx spacecraft will bid farewell to asteroid Bennu on May 10 and begin the journey back to Earth. The spacecraft collected a substantial amount of material from Bennu’s surface during last year’s Oct. 20 sample collection event – likely in excess of the mission’s requirement of 2 ounces. O-REx’s departure might include a final flyby of Bennu sometime in April. The spacecraft is scheduled to deliver the sample to Earth in September 2023. The material could teach us more about the formation of Earth and our solar system.

New Rocket Engine Test Series

On Jan. 28, our Stennis Space Center kicked off a new series of testing with the RS-25 rocket engines. The seven-test series will provide valuable data for NASA contractor Aerojet Rocketdyne as it begins production of the engines. Four RS-25s will help power our Space Launch System (SLS) rocket on future missions to the Moon and, eventually, to Mars.

NASA Day of Remembrance

On Jan. 28, a small group of officials from NASA Headquarters attended the Day of Remembrance observance at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.

Playing “Taps”

The annual NASA event is one of several around the country in tribute to the fallen astronauts of Apollo 1, space shuttles Challenger and Columbia, and other members of the NASA family who lost their lives in support of the agency’s mission of exploration and discovery.

That’s what’s up this week @NASA