THIS WEEK @NASA: Crew-1 Preparing for Return to Earth, Artemis I Rocket’s Core Stage Arrives at Kennedy Space Center

By  //  May 1, 2021

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Latest Happenings around NASA

ABOVE VIDEO: Confirming the nomination of NASA’s next administrator, an update on a commercial crew mission, and remembering a spaceflight pioneer … a few of the stories to tell you about – This Week at NASA!

Nelson Confirmed as NASA Administrator

Former Senator Bill Nelson has been confirmed by the U.S. Senate to be the 14th Administrator of NASA. President Biden nominated Nelson for the administrator’s post on April 19.

In 1986, while serving as the chair of the House space subcommittee, Nelson flew aboard the space shuttle Columbia on the STS-61C mission.

Crew-1 Preparing for Return to Earth

As of Friday, April 30, mission managers for NASA’s SpaceX Crew-1 mission to the International Space Station were watching the weather forecast and targeting an early Sunday morning splashdown off the coast of Florida. Crew-1 is the first of six crewed missions NASA and SpaceX will fly as part of our Commercial Crew Program, which has worked with the U.S. aerospace industry to return launches of astronauts on American rockets and spacecraft from American soil.

NASA Remembers Astronaut Michael Collins

NASA is remembering former astronaut Michael Collins, who passed away April 28. He served as the command module pilot on Apollo 11 – remaining in orbit while crewmates Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin took the first human steps on the lunar surface. Before that, he flew aboard Gemini X, the eighth mission in a series of spaceflights between the Mercury and Apollo programs that helped pave the way for the Moon landings. In the years following his spaceflights, Collins often spoke about the profound impact seeing Earth from space had on him.

“Well, I think the main thing about flying in space and then looking back and seeing a tiny little fragile blue and white globe, and it makes you think about our Earthly problems with a slightly different perspective. We have to do a better job of taking care of what we have, we have to do a better job of getting along with each other, we have to do a better job of protecting, nurturing this tiny, little, fragile planet.”—Michael Collins, Gemini X/Apollo 11 Astronaut

In a statement on the passing of Collins, acting NASA Administrator Steve Jurczyk said, “His legacy will always be as one of the leaders who took America’s first steps into the cosmos. And his spirit will go with us as we venture toward farther horizons.” Michael Collins was 90 years old.

Next Steps for Ingenuity Mars Helicopter

Our Ingenuity Helicopter met all of its mission objectives with its third flight on Mars. During a virtual briefing on April 30, the Ingenuity team discussed plans to push the limits of the rotorcraft for the remainder of its flight campaign.

“With this new phase, we will now concentrate on utility in aerial platform and work on operational products; such as aerial observation of specific science targets, or looking at context features from, you know, places that are not accessible by rovers.”—MiMi Aung, Ingenuity Project Manager

Ingenuity is a technology demonstration that landed on Mars Feb. 18 with our Perseverance rover to perform a series of test flights over a 30-Martian-day experimental window. The rotorcraft became the first aircraft to successfully complete powered controlled flight on another world on April 19.

Artemis I Rocket’s Core Stage Arrives at KSC

On April 27, the core stage for the Space Launch System or SLS rocket that will send our uncrewed Artemis I mission to the Moon, arrived at our Kennedy Space Center in Florida, aboard the agency’s Pegasus barge. The core stage is the final piece of Artemis hardware to arrive at the spaceport and will be integrated atop the mobile launcher, with the completed stack of solid rocket boosters ahead of the Artemis I launch.

RS-25 Rocket Engine Testing Continues

Engineers at our Stennis Space Center conducted a long-duration RS-25 engine test on April 28, continuing the latest seven-part test series to support development and production of the engines for use on future missions with our Space Launch System rocket, including missions that will land the first woman and person of color on the surface of the Moon, as part of our Artemis program.

That’s what’s up this week @NASA