THIS WEEK @NASA: Crew-1 Astronauts Safely Return to Earth, Nelson Sworn-in as NASA Administrator

By  //  May 8, 2021

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ABOVE VIDEO: A record-breaking spaceflight for the Crew-1 mission, swearing-in NASA’s new administrator, and the anniversary of the first American in space … a few of the stories to tell you about – This Week at NASA!

Crew-1 Astronauts Safely Return to Earth

After departing the International Space Station on May 1, the SpaceX “Resilience” Crew Dragon spacecraft safely reentered the atmosphere in the pre-dawn hours of May 2, and slowly descended back to Earth with the astronauts of our SpaceX Crew-1 mission.

“Even though it’s nighttime, we have some great visuals of Dragon there with its four main chutes deployed.” —Landing Commentator

The spacecraft and its crew safely splashed down at 2:56 a.m. EDT off the coast of Panama City, Florida – wrapping up a 168-day mission – a new record for an American long-duration crewed spacecraft mission.

“I think everything went like clockwork, in fact I’m not aware of any objectives that weren’t accomplished for our mission. And so, on behalf of Crew-1, we want to thank all of the organizations and companies and personnel that contributed to this mission.”—Michael Hopkins, NASA Astronaut

Crew-1 also was the first night splashdown of a U.S. crewed spacecraft since Apollo 8’s predawn return in the Pacific Ocean on Dec. 27, 1968.

Nelson Sworn-in as NASA Administrator

“I Bill Nelson. I Bill Nelson. Do solemnly swear. Do solemnly swear …”—Swearing-in Ceremony-Vice President and Nelson speak

Sen. Bill Nelson took office as the 14th administrator of NASA on May 3, after being sworn-in by Vice President Kamala Harris during a ceremony at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington. The U.S. Senate confirmed Nelson to serve as the NASA administrator April 29. He has an extensive history of working with NASA and has been integral to the agency’s current successes. He is looking forward to seeing continued success for the NASA family in the future.

“Not only are we going back to the Moon and then on to Mars. But look at the scientific achievement that we’re going to do. And along the line inspire a whole new generation of students in science, and technology, and engineering, and mathematics.”—Sen. Bill Nelson, NASA Administrator

60th Anniversary of Alan Shepard Spaceflight

May 5 marked the 60th anniversary of NASA astronaut Alan Shepard’s historic flight aboard the Freedom 7 spacecraft – making him the first American to travel into space. The flight, which launched aboard a Redstone rocket from Cape Canaveral, lasted just over 15 minutes and demonstrated that a human being could work and survive in space using American-built technology.

New Target Launch Date for Commercial Crew Mission

NASA and Boeing are targeting 2:53 p.m. EDT Friday, July 30, for the launch of the company’s Starliner uncrewed Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) to the International Space Station. A July 30 launch would lead to rendezvous and docking with the space station on the evening of July 31. Our Commercial Crew Program is working with industry through a public-private partnership to provide safe, reliable, and cost-effective transportation to and from the station – which serves as humanity’s springboard to space exploration, including future missions to the Moon and eventually to Mars.

High Voltage Testing of All-Electric X-Plane

High-voltage functional ground testing with NASA’s first all-electric X-plane, the X-57 Maxwell, is underway at our Armstrong Flight Research Center in southern California. The X-57 is currently in its first configuration as an electric aircraft, called Mod 2. The developmental plane will eventually perform flights to help develop certification standards for emerging electric aircraft. NASA is also supporting these new electric aircraft by developing quiet, efficient, reliable technology these vehicles will need in routine use.

Natural Radio Signal Detected in Venus’ Atmosphere

During a brief swing by the planet Venus, our Parker Solar Probe detected a natural radio signal.

Data from the pass, which were translated to sound using data sonification, revealed that the spacecraft had actually flown through the planet’s upper atmosphere – making it the first direct measurement of the Venusian atmosphere in nearly 30 years. The Parker Solar Probe mission makes a series of close flybys of Venus that are designed to leverage the planet’s gravity to help the spacecraft get closer and closer to the Sun.

That’s what’s up this week @NASA

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