THIS WEEK @NASA: Preparing the Space Station for Future Power Boost, Milestone for Artemis III Orion Crew Module

By  //  September 19, 2021

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ABOVE VIDEO: Preparing the space station for a future power boost, a mission extension for a couple of station crew members, and a spaceflight first for one of our commercial partners … a few of the stories to tell you about – This Week at NASA!

Preparing the Space Station for Future Power Boost

On Sept. 12, astronauts Akihiko Hoshide of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency and Thomas Pesquet of the European Space Agency conducted a nearly 7-hour spacewalk outside the International Space Station.

The pair attached a support bracket needed for the future installation of the station’s third new solar array.

Six of the station’s eight existing power channels are being augmented with new arrays to ensure there is sufficient power for future Artemis exploration technology demonstrations and other activities. This was the first spacewalk conducted by two international partner astronauts out of the station’s Quest airlock.

Space Station Stay Extended for Two Crew Members

NASA’s Mark Vande Hei and Pyotr Dubrov of Roscosmos have had their stay onboard the International Space Station extended to March 2022. For Vande Hei, that means he will hold the record for the longest single spaceflight for an American when he returns to Earth. His extended stay could also provide valuable insight into how the human body adapts to long-duration spaceflight, which could help us prepare for Artemis missions to the Moon and eventually to Mars.

“I think all astronauts are explorers at heart and having the opportunity to contribute to furthering exploration is a great opportunity. It’s a new experience and I’m looking forward to, as a human being, understanding how it feels to do something like this.”—Mark Vande Hei, NASA Astronaut

NASA Partner Launches Private Astronaut Spaceflight

On Sept. 15, our commercial partner, SpaceX launched its Inspiration4 mission from our Kennedy Space Center. Inspiration4 is a non-NASA mission and the company’s first orbital spaceflight featuring an entire crew of private astronauts. NASA has an agreement with another company – Axiom Space – for the first private astronaut mission to the International Space Station. That mission is currently targeted for no earlier than January 2022.

Milestone for Artemis III Orion Crew Module

Technicians at our Michoud Assembly Facility recently completed welding of the Orion spacecraft’s pressure vessel for our Artemis III mission to the Moon. The structure is the underlying frame of Orion’s crew module – the air-tight compartment designed to carry astronauts. It is also the first major piece of hardware off the line as NASA shifts from the development phase to the production phase of the spacecraft. Through Artemis, NASA will land the first woman and the first person of color on the Moon, establish a long-term presence on the lunar surface, and prepare for human missions to Mars.

Flight Tests with Next Gen Air Taxi

We recently teamed with Joby Aviation to flight test an all-electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft as part of NASA’s Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) National Campaign. It was the first time NASA has tested one of these aircraft as part of the campaign. These could be used in the future to transport people, packages, or other goods within cities and surrounding areas throughout the country. Learn more about NASA’s work to help incorporate next-generation aircraft into the National Airspace System at

That’s what’s up this week @NASA