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May 29, 2014
This Week @ NASA, Mid-Year Report, 2014

The This Week At NASA crew is on a short mid-year hiatus – but we thought we’d leave you with a quick look back at some of the big and exciting news featured so far in 2014 on This Week at NASA.

In March, NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden announced President Obama’s Fiscal Year 2015 budget proposal for the agency … 

The 17-point-5 billion dollar budget keeps the agency moving forward on a path that sends astronauts to Mars in the 2030s, using a stepping-stone approach that was showcased in April at a public exploration forum.

The path to Mars starts aboard the International Space Station, where astronauts are helping develop the knowledge and experience needed for deep space missions. 

… and the Obama Administration’s decision in January to extend use of the ISS until at least 2024 means more opportunities for groundbreaking research on the station.

An Asteroid Initiative Opportunities Forum in March provided updates on NASA’s plans to capture, redirect and send astronauts to study an asteroid and to identify asteroid threats to human life.

And development of the Orion spacecraft has been steady, as NASA prepares for the December launch of the deep space capsule more than 36-hundred miles into space on Exploration Flight Test-1.

NASA’s pursuit of deep space exploration is also driving development of the technologies needed to power tomorrow's missions …

Such as solar electric propulsion technology – a “key” to reaching deep space destinations. In January, Administrator Bolden toured a Glenn Research Center facility for testing this technology.

In April, high school students from Hampton, Virigina won NASA’s Exploration Design Challenge. Their design for a protective radiation shield for astronauts on deep space missions will fly with Orion on Exploration Flight Test-1 …

Testing of the project Morpheus lander, which uses automated landing hazard avoidance technology, has received high marks …

And NASA’s Low Density Supersonic Decelerator project could lead to inflatable spacecraft systems capable of safely landing heavier and larger payloads than ever before on planets with atmospheres.

This is the first year in more than a decade that NASA is launching five science missions to address critical challenges facing Earth Right Now …

Launched from Japan in February, the Global Precipitation Measurement mission’s observations of global rain and snow events will increase our understanding of water and energy cycles.

In April, NASA celebrated Earth Day with activities such as the hugely popular online “global selfie” postings from around the world to help promote environmental awareness.

NASA aeronautics research this year has included ACCESS II – an airborne experiment that will help the airline industry transition to technologies to reduce fuel consumption, emissions and noise.

And in May – following the White House release of the Third National Climate Assessment, Administrator Bolden called 2014 the “Year of Earth” for NASA -- stressing the importance of NASA research in preserving the health of our home planet.

NASA has continued its commitment in 2014 to being a catalyst in creating a vibrant American commercial space industry.

Two U.S. companies are making regular cargo deliveries to the space station for the agency. In January, Orbital Sciences delivered more than 27-hundred pounds of supplies on the first contracted mission of its Cygnus cargo craft …

… While the SpaceX Dragon completed the company’s third flight to the station under NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services contract carrying nearly 2-and-a-half tons of cargo.

And several American companies are also developing new spacecraft that NASA intends to use to fly astronauts to the ISS from U.S. soil by 2017 – ending our sole reliance on Russia for flights to the station.

NASA also remains committed to planning, launching and operating flagship missions that meet the challenging objectives of the science community …

2014 began by celebrating the 10 year anniversary of the Mars Exploration Rovers, Spirit and Opportunity. The groundbreaking science enabled on Mars by them, Curiosity and other current and future robotic explorers is helping pave the path humans will take to Mars.

In April, data from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft and the Deep Space Network yielded evidence that a large underground ocean of water does indeed exist on Saturn's moon Enceladus – a theory formulated in 2005. 

In May, NASA solicited conceptual ideas for a mission to Jupiter’s moon, Europa to study the liquid-water ocean believed to be beneath Europa’s icy crust ...

And NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope discovered a new Earth-sized planet in April, about 500 light-years from us that also may have liquid water. 

That’s just a bit of what 2014 has brought so far. We’re back on June 13 with a fresh, new This Week At NASA! Until then – follow us on social media and visit www.nasa.gov/twan.

 

Page Last Updated: May 29th, 2014
Page Editor: Gary Daines