This Week @NASA: New Crew of Launches to Space Station, Planetary Science Missions

SpaceX Crew-4 Launch

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft is launched on NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 mission to the International Space Station with NASA astronauts Kjell Lindgren, Robert Hines, Jessica Watkins, and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti onboard, Wednesday, April 27, 2022, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Credit: NASA/Aubrey Gemignani

A new crew launches to the space station …

Another crew wraps up a historic mission to the station ….

And more time to explore for some planetary science missions … a few of the stories to tell you about – This Week at NASA!

The Crew-4 Mission Launches to the Space Station

On April 27, the astronauts of NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 mission launched to the International Space Station from our Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Later the same day, NASA’s Kjell Lindgren, Bob Hines, and Jessica Watkins, along with Samantha Cristoforetti of the European Space Agency, arrived at the station onboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft that they named “Freedom.” This is the fourth space station crew rotation mission to fly on a SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program.

Axiom Mission 1 Crew Splashdown

SpaceX’s Dragon Endeavour capsule splashes down in the Atlantic Ocean on April 25, 2022, marking the end of Axiom Space’s Axiom Mission 1 – the first all-private astronaut mission to the International Space Station. Credit: Axiom Space

Axiom Mission 1 Departs from the Space Station

The crew of Axiom Mission 1, the first all-private astronaut mission to the International Space Station, wrapped up its time on the orbital outpost on April 24. The four-person crew, led by Commander and former NASA astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegria, safely returned to Earth on April 25 with more than 200 pounds of science and supplies, including some NASA experiments and hardware.

Solar System Illustration

An illustration shows our solar system (not to scale). Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA Extends Exploration for Eight Planetary Science Missions

The planetary science missions of eight NASA spacecraft have been extended for at least three years. These include Mars Odyssey, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, MAVEN, the Mars Science Laboratory’s Curiosity rover, the InSight Mars lander, OSIRIS-REx, New Horizons, and the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. The missions were extended because of their scientific productivity and potential to deepen our knowledge and understanding of the solar system and beyond.

NASA Astronaut Shane Kimbrough Inside Kibo Laboratory Module

NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough is pictured inside the Kibo laboratory module with the Astrobee free-flying robotic assistants. Credit: NASA

Celebrating Three Years of Astrobees on the Space Station

Our Ames Research Center is celebrating three years of the free-flying robotic Astrobees busily “buzzing about” the International Space Station. The three robots have put in over 750 hours of work and completed more than 100 activities, from tech demonstrations to assisting in experiments. Robots like these are essential components of our Artemis program to return humans to the Moon and to eventually send people to Mars. Unlike the space station, future deep space outposts may not be crewed year-round, and may need robotic, autonomous systems to remain operational.


Roscosmos Cosmonauts Denis Matveev and Oleg Artemyev

Roscosmos cosmonauts (from left) Denis Matveev and Oleg Artemyev are pictured during a spacewalk on April 18, 2022, to configure the European robotic arm. Credit: NASA

Outfit Robotic Arm During Spacewalk

Outside the International Space Station, Cosmonauts Oleg Artemyev and Denis Matveev of Roscosmos conducted a spacewalk on April 28 to continue outfitting the European robotic arm that is attached to the Nauka multipurpose laboratory module. Future spacewalks are planned to continue work on the robotic arm and to activate Nauka’s airlock for use on future spacewalks.

That’s what’s up this week @NASA …

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