THIS WEEK @NASA: President Biden Funding Request for NASA, OSIRIS-REx Completes Final Tour of Asteroid Bennu

By  //  April 10, 2021

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Latest Happenings Around NASA

ABOVE VIDEO: The President’s funding request for NASA, preparing for first flight on another world, and a new crew heads to the space station … a few of the stories to tell you about – This Week at NASA!

The President’s Funding Request for NASA

Acting NASA Administrator Steve Jurczyk discussed the President’s Fiscal Year 2022 discretionary funding request for NASA. The $24.7 billion funding request …

“Allows NASA to address the climate change challenge in more significant ways than we have in the past. It allows us to understand the Earth as a system from the oceans to the atmosphere.”—Steve Jurczyk, NASA Acting Administrator

The request includes funding also related to climate change for programs associated with the first “A” in NASA’s name.

“Aeronautics has been charged with developing a more environmentally-friendly aviation system. One of them is the X-57 Maxwell flight demonstrator. It’s going to demonstrate electric aircraft technology, including distributive propulsion.”—Steve Jurczyk, NASA Acting Administrator

Other milestones expected under the new funding request include the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope, which will look back in time to the first galaxies in the early universe. The funding request also is a strong show of support for our Artemis program and Moon to Mars exploration approach. The Space Launch System rocket, the Orion spacecraft, Gateway in lunar orbit, and a commercial human landing system will land the first woman and first person of color on the surface of the Moon, and are the systems we will use to establish sustainable exploration and research in preparation for the first human missions to Mars.

Preparing for First Flight on Another World

During a preflight briefing on April 9, the team for our Ingenuity Mars Helicopter discussed the helicopter’s status and what to expect on its first attempt at powered, controlled flight on another planet – currently targeted for no earlier than Sunday, April 11.

“We have carefully designed; we have carefully tested on Earth. We have been checking carefully on Mars up to now, and it’s time to attempt the first flight. And we will test, prove, and learn regardless of what the outcome is.”—MiMi Aung, Ingenuity Project Manager

If Ingenuity flies on April 11, as expected, a livestream confirming the historic first flight is targeted to start around 3:30 a.m. EDT on April 12. Ingenuity, a technology demonstration to test powered flight on another world for the first time, arrived at Mars on Feb. 18, with our Perseverance Mars rover.

Expedition 65 Crew Launches to Space Station

The International Space Station’s newest crew, including our Mark Vande Hei, blasted off on April 9 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. A few hours later, Vande Hei, Oleg Novitskiy, and Pyotr Dubrov, both of the Russian Space Agency, Roscosmos, were welcomed aboard the station by the crew already onboard – including our Kate Rubins, and NASA’s SpaceX Crew-1 astronauts, Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover, Shannon Walker, and Soichi Noguchi.

A First for U.S. Commercial Crew on Space Station

April 5 marked a first for commercial spaceflight aboard the International Space Station when the Crew Dragon Resilience spacecraft, carrying NASA’s SpaceX Crew-1 astronauts, autonomously undocked from the forward port of the station’s Harmony module and relocated to the space-facing port. The move will enable the extraction of new solar arrays from a SpaceX cargo spacecraft that will arrive after Crew-1 departs.

Second Engine Test in Latest Series for Artemis

On April 6, engineers conducted an RS-25 engine test on the A-1 Test Stand at our Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi.

The full-duration test is the second in a scheduled series of seven tests to provide valuable data for development and production of the engines. Four RS-25s will help power the agency’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket on future missions to the Moon, including the Artemis I uncrewed flight test targeted for this year, that will pave the way for future flights with astronauts to explore the Moon and prepare for missions to Mars.

OSIRIS-REx Completes Final Tour of Asteroid Bennu

NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft completed a last flyover of asteroid Bennu on April 7, to document surface changes that resulted on the asteroid during the mission’s sample collection maneuver last October. It will take until at least April 13 to downlink all of the data from the flyby. A survey of the sample collection site could teach us more about the nature of the surface and subsurface materials, and the mechanical properties of the asteroid. OSIRIS-REx is scheduled to return to Earth, with the sample material it collected from Bennu, in September 2023.

That’s what’s up this week @NASA

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