THIS WEEK @NASA: 300 Days and Counting Aboard ISS, Artemis I Status Update

By  //  February 6, 2022

latest happenings around NASA

ABOVE VIDEO: A milestone for a NASA astronaut, a plan for the future of the space station, and moving a step closer to an historic mission to the station … a few of the stories to tell you about – This Week at NASA!

300 Days and Counting Aboard the Space Station

Feb. 3 was NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei’s 300th consecutive day living and working aboard the International Space Station.

In September 2021, about five months into his stay aboard the space station, Vande Hei’s mission was extended to March 2022. That puts him on track to hold the new American record for the longest single spaceflight by an astronaut by the time he returns to Earth in late March.

Updated Plan for Space Station Transition

In response to Congressional direction, NASA has provided an updated International Space Station Transition Report that details the goals for station operations over the next decade that will lead to a smooth transition to commercial services, the steps being taken to develop both the supply and demand side of a commercial economy in low-Earth orbit, and the technical steps and budget required for the transition.

The Biden-Harris Administration recently made a commitment to extend space station operations until 2030.

Ax-1 Crew Approved for First Private Astronaut Mission to Space Station

We and our international partners have approved the crew members for the first private astronaut mission to the space station. Axiom Space’s Axiom Mission 1 or Ax-1 is targeted for launch to the station March 30 from our Kennedy Space Center, on SpaceX’s Crew Dragon Endeavour spacecraft.

Former NASA astronaut Michael López-Alegría will serve as the commander of the four-person multinational crew, which is scheduled to spend eight days aboard the orbiting outpost conducting science, education, and commercial activities before returning to Earth.

Artemis I Status Update

NASA has updated the schedule to move the combined Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft out of the Vehicle Assembly Building or VAB to the launch pad at our Kennedy Space Center for testing to no earlier than March 2022.

The agency has added additional time to complete closeout activities inside the VAB before rolling the integrated rocket and spacecraft out for the first time.

Teams are not working any major issues but are taking operations a step at a time to ensure the integrated system is ready to safely launch on the Artemis I mission. NASA is reviewing potential launch opportunities in April and May.

Testing Inflatable Landing Technology

We successfully completed the final inflation test with the Bernard Kutter Low-Earth Orbit Flight Test of an Inflatable Decelerator or (LOFTID).

The NASA technology, which could one day help land humans on Mars, is scheduled to launch with a polar-orbiting satellite no earlier than fall 2022.

Once in low-Earth orbit, LOFTID will separate from the satellite and descend back to Earth to demonstrate that the inflatable aeroshell, or heat shield, can slow down and survive re-entry. The demonstration will conclude with a splash landing in the Pacific Ocean.

That’s what’s up this week @NASA