“Here’s some of the stories trending This Week at NASA!”
The NASA team that will conduct the OSIRIS-REx mission, the agency’s first to collect samples from an asteroid, was given the go-ahead on Wednesday to start building the spacecraft, flight instruments and ground launch support facilities, thanks to a successful Mission Critical Design Review. OSIRIS-REx is scheduled to launch in 2016, rendezvous with the asteroid Bennu in 2018 and return to Earth with a sample of the asteroid in 2023. The mission seeks answers about the organic materials of the early solar system that made life possible here on Earth. It also could support NASA's Asteroid Initiative, which will include the first mission to identify, capture and relocate an asteroid for astronauts to explore.
Budget and security hearing
NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden testified on Capitol Hill Tuesday before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and related agencies. The Administrator responded to questions about NASA’s Fiscal Year 2015 Budget request and he also addressed the agency’s requirement to properly balance the valuable involvement in its missions of international partners -- with the protection of sensitive information and technologies.
During a hearing of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation’s Subcommittee on Science and Space titled, From Here to Mars, NASA Associate Administrator for Human Exploration and Operations Bill Gerstenmaier and others, discussed the intermediate plans NASA and its international partners are working on in preparation to send astronauts to Mars. These include a human mission to a near-Earth asteroid to test and develop the technologies needed for long duration space travel.
The Jet Propulsion Laboratory hosted members of the media Wednesday for an overview of NASA’s Low Density Supersonic Decelerator project. In early June, LDSD will fly a rocket-powered, saucer-shaped test vehicle into near-space from the U.S. Navy's Pacific Missile Range Facility in Hawaii. This technology could help NASA develop future inflatable spacecraft systems capable of safely land heavier and larger payloads than ever before to planets with atmospheres.
During a visit to Johnson Space Center on Thursday, Administrator Bolden talked with employees about the FY2015 budget request. He also toured the newly renovated and historic White Flight Control Room in Mission Control -- previously used for the final series of Space Shuttle flights. The control room will now support NASA’s next generation of spacecraft and missions.
A Russian ISS Progress cargo ship launched on April 9 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan with almost three tons of food and other supplies for the crew aboard the International Space Station. Six hours later, the Progress docked in the same parking spot vacated by another Progress, which departed two days earlier carrying trash and other unneeded items.
On April 10, Disney Parks celebrated the 50th anniversary of the iconic song “It’s a Small World” and its namesake attraction that opened as a tribute to UNICEF’s work for children around the world at the 1964 New York World’s Fair. NASA is recognizing the anniversary with a video of the International Space Station and its crew, that highlights the Earth observations, space exploration, scientific experiments, technology testing and international cooperation that takes place aboard the orbiting laboratory. From its unique vantage point 260 miles above Earth, the ISS helps reveal that it really is a small world after all.
And that’s what’s up this week @NASA …
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Page Editor: Gary Daines