The Launch Is Approaching for NASA’s Next Mars Rover, Perseverance

In a clean room at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, engineers observed the first driving test for NASA’s Mars 2020 rover on Dec. 17, 2019. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

The Red Planet’s surface has been visited by eight NASA spacecraft. The ninth will be the first that includes gathering Mars samples for future return to Earth. 

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover is just over a month from its July 20 targeted launch date. The rover’s astrobiology mission will seek signs of past microscopic life on Mars, explore the geology of the Jezero Crater landing site, and demonstrate key technologies to help prepare for future robotic and human exploration. And the rover will do all that while collecting the first samples of Martian rock and regolith (broken rock and dust) for return to Earth by a set of future missions.

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Space Perspective to Fly People and Payloads to the Edge of Space

View of the capsule at altitude. (Credit: Space Perspective)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (Space Perspective PR) – Space Perspective today announced its plans to fly passengers and research payloads to the edge of space with its Spaceship Neptune, a high-performance balloon and pressurized capsule.

The human space flight company plans to launch from the iconic Shuttle Landing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida, with the first un-crewed test flight scheduled in early 2021 that will include a suite of research payloads.

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Kathy Lueders Selected to Lead NASA’s Human Spaceflight Office

Kathryn Lueders

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine Friday selected Commercial Crew Program Manager Kathy Lueders to be the agency’s next associate administrator of the Human Exploration and Operations (HEO) Mission Directorate. Since 2014, Lueders has directed NASA’s efforts to send astronauts to space on private spacecraft, which culminated in the successful launch of Demo-2 from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on May 30.

“Kathy gives us the extraordinary experience and passion we need to continue to move forward with Artemis and our goal of landing the first woman and the next man on the Moon by 2024,” said Bridenstine. “She has a deep interest in developing commercial markets in space, dating back to her initial work on the space shuttle program. From Commercial Cargo and now Commercial Crew, she has safely and successfully helped push to expand our nation’s industrial base. Kathy’s the right person to extend the space economy to the lunar vicinity and achieve the ambitious goals we’ve been given.”

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NASA Prepares To Send Artemis I Booster Segments to Kennedy for Stacking

Artemis I solid rocket booster. (Credit: Northrop Grumman)

PROMONTORY POINT, Utah (NASA PR) — As it soars off the launch pad for the Artemis I missions, NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket is powered by two solid rocket boosters. Critical parts of the booster will soon head to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida in preparation for the Artemis I launch.

Specialized transporters move each of the 10 solid rocket motor segments from the Northrop Grumman facility in their Promontory Point, Utah, to a departure point where they will leave for NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The cross-country journey is an important milestone toward the first launch of NASA’s Artemis lunar program.

Exploration Ground Systems teams at Kennedy will begin processing the segments with the forward and aft parts of the booster previously assembled in the Booster Fabrication Facility on site at Kennedy.

When the boosters arrive, they are moved into the Rotation, Processing and Surge Facility (RPSF) that in the past to processed shuttle booster segments. Initial stacking of the aft assembly will occur here, and then booster segments will be kept at the RPSF until stacking on the mobile launcher inside Kennedy’s Vehicle Assembly Building.

NASA is working to land the first woman and the next man on the Moon by 2024. SLS, along with NASA’s Orion spacecraft, the Human Landing System and the Gateway in orbit around the Moon, are NASA’s backbone for deep space exploration. SLS is the only rocket that can send Orion, astronauts and cargo to the Moon on a single mission.

NASA Technology Designed to Turn Space Trash into Treasure

Annie Meier, left, and Jamie Toro assemble the flight hardware for the Orbital Syngas/Commodity Augmentation Reactor (OSCAR) in the Space Station Processing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. (Credits: NASA/Cory Huston)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — When you think about what astronauts do in space, you probably don’t picture them taking out the trash.

As NASA prepares to return astronauts to the Moon and then venture to Mars, a lot of planning goes into how to keep crews safe and healthy and enable them to do as much science as possible. One of the challenges is how to handle trash. The Orbital Syngas/Commodity Augmentation Reactor (OSCAR) project, is an avenue to evolve new and innovative technology for dealing with garbage in space.

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Meet 8 Teams Sending Payloads to the Moon on Masten’s Lander

Masten’s XL-1 lunar lander will deliver science and technology payloads to the Moon’s South Pole in 2022. (Credits: Masten Space Systems)

MOJAVE, Calif. (Masten Space Systems PR) — Imagine having the opportunity to send your payload to the lunar surface. Not next decade, but in 2022!

Well, that’s the incredible opportunity that the NASA Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) project — and Masten Space Systems — has presented for 8 visionary teams and their instruments. Each and every one is cool in their own way and we couldn’t be prouder to be the lunar lander company that will set them down safely on the surface of the Moon. 

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The Extraordinary Sample-Gathering System of NASA’s Perseverance Mars Rover

The first samples from the Moon were collected by two astronauts. The first samples collected for eventual return to Earth from Mars will take three robots aboard the Perseverance rover working as one. Together, they make up the mission’s Sample Caching System detailed in this video. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — The samples Apollo 11 brought back to Earth from the Moon were humanity’s first from another celestial body. NASA’s upcoming Mars 2020 Perseverance rover mission will collect the first samples from another planet (the red one) for return to Earth by subsequent missions. In place of astronauts, the Perseverance rover will rely on the most complex, capable and cleanest mechanism ever to be sent into space, the Sample Caching System.

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NASA Networks Support 1st Commercial Orbital Launch of Astronauts From U.S.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft is launched from Launch Complex 39A on NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 mission to the International Space Station with NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley aboard, Saturday, May 30, 2020, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls & Joel Kowsky)

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — On May 30, a SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft launched from the historic Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida to the International Space Station as part of SpaceX’s second demonstration mission under the Commercial Crew Program — the first mission to launch American astronauts on American rockets from American soil to the station since the Space Shuttle Program.

The Crew Dragon ferried NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley to join the Expedition 63  crew aboard the space station. NASA’s communications networks — overseen by NASA’s  Space Communications and Navigation  (SCaN) program office — supported this Commercial Crew Program milestone, just as they will support all Crew Dragon and Boeing Crew Space Transportation (CST)-100 Starliner  missions.

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NASA Updates Coverage for Crew Dragon Launch on Saturday

NASA astronauts Douglas Hurley, left, and Robert Behnken, wearing SpaceX spacesuits, are seen in the Tesla taking them to the launch pad for a dress rehearsal of their upcoming flight. (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — NASA will provide live coverage of prelaunch and launch activities for the agency’s SpaceX Demo-2 test flight, carrying NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley to the International Space Station.

NASA and SpaceX now are targeting 3:22 p.m. EDT Saturday, May 30, for the launch of the first commercially built and operated American rocket and spacecraft carrying astronauts to the space station. The first launch attempt, on May 27, was scrubbed due to unfavorable weather conditions.

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Crew Dragon Launch Scrubbed for Weather; Next Window Opens Saturday

NASA astronauts Douglas Hurley, left, and Robert Behnken, wearing SpaceX spacesuits, are seen as they depart the Neil A. Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building for Launch Complex 39A during a dress rehearsal prior to the Demo-2 mission launch, Saturday, May 23, 2020, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

The first SpaceX Crew Dragon mission with astronauts aboard was scrubbed on Wednesday due to weather constraints. The company was not able to meet its instantaneous launch window at 4:33 p.m. EDT.

The next attempt to launch NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken to the International Space Station will occur on Saturday, May 30 at 3:22 p.m. EDT. There is a backup window the following day.

Until the launch was scrubbed, the launch countdown has proceeded smoothly at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Hurley and Behnken are due to fly Crew Dragon on a flight test to the space station. Their stay there will last from six weeks to about four months.

The Demo-2 flight test is the last hurdle before Crew Dragon will be certified to carry astronauts to the station on a commercial basis.

Kelly Clarkson to Sing National Anthem at Crew Dragon Launch

NASA astronauts Douglas Hurley, left, and Robert Behnken, wearing SpaceX spacesuits, are seen in the Tesla taking them to the launch pad for a dress rehearsal of their upcoming flight. (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — NASA will provide live coverage of prelaunch and launch activities for the agency’s SpaceX Demo-2 test flight on Wednesday, May 27, carrying NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley to the International Space Station.

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Crew Dragon Go for Launch on Wednesday, Weather Forecast Improves

NASA astronauts Robert Behnken, left, and Douglas Hurley, right, are seen on a monitor showing the crew access arm at Launch Complex 39A during a dress rehearsal in preparation for the launch of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft on NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 mission, Saturday, May 23, 2020, in firing room four of the Launch Control Center at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. (Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky)

NASA, SpaceX and U.S. Space Force officials said that a launch readiness review went well on Monday, clearing one of the last hurdles toward liftoff of the Falcon 9 booster and Crew Dragon capsule with astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley aboard at 4:33 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, May 27.

Officials said the launch day forecast for NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida has improved from 60 percent chance of weather violating launch constraints to 40 percent.

Backup dates if the launch is scrubbed are May 30 and 31.

Officials said a brief hot fire of the Falcon 9 boosters first stage Merlin 1-D engines went as planned.

The Crew Dragon mission will be the first orbital launch from American soil since the space shuttle was retired in July 2011.

NASA will provide live coverage on its website of the flight to the International Space Station beginning no earlier than 12:15 p.m. EDT on Wednesday.

Crew Dragon Astronauts Complete Dress Rehearsal

NASA astronauts Douglas Hurley, left, and Robert Behnken, wearing SpaceX spacesuits, are seen as they depart the Neil A. Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building for Launch Complex 39A during a dress rehearsal prior to the Demo-2 mission launch, Saturday, May 23, 2020, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)
NASA astronauts Douglas Hurley, left, and Robert Behnken, wearing SpaceX spacesuits, are seen in the Tesla taking them to the launch pad for a dress rehearsal of their upcoming flight. (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)
NASA astronauts Douglas Hurley and Robert Behnken depart the Neil A. Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building for Launch Complex 39A during a dress rehearsal prior to the Demo-2 mission launch, Saturday, May 23, 2020, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)
NASA astronauts Robert Behnken, left, and Douglas Hurley, right, are seen on a monitor showing the crew access arm at Launch Complex 39A during a dress rehearsal in preparation for the launch of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft on NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 mission, Saturday, May 23, 2020, in firing room four of the Launch Control Center at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. (Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky)

Crew Dragon Notes: Weather Forecast Poor, Trump to Attend Launch

Credit: 45th Weather Squadron

President Donald Trump will join Vice President Mike Pence at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center for the Crew Dragon launch scheduled for the afternoon of Wednesday, May 27.

However, Trump and Pence may end up disappointed by Florida’s stormy weather. The latest forecast predicts a 60 percent probability of violating weather constraints. The main concerns are rain, lightning and clouds.

The backup launch date is Saturday, May 30.

NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley are set to conduct a flight test to the International Space Station. It will be the first Crew Dragon flight with astronauts aboard.

NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 Teams Preparing for May 27 Launch

Inside the Press Site auditorium at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, agency and industry leaders conduct a virtual news conference with members of the media on May 22, 2020, following the conclusion of the flight readiness review for NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 mission. (Credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 mission is cleared to proceed toward liftoff on the first crewed flight of the agency’s  Commercial Crew Program, NASA and SpaceX officials said following a successful Flight Readiness Review concluded Friday at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

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