Preparing the space station for solar array upgrades …
Rolling out the spacecraft for our Artemis I mission …
And the Webb Space Telescope team reaches another milestone … a few of the stories to tell you about – This Week at NASA!
Preparing the Space Station for Solar Array Upgrades
On March 15, NASA astronauts Kayla Barron and Raja Chari conducted a 6-hour and 54-minute spacewalk outside the International Space Station to prepare the station for upcoming solar array upgrades. They built a support bracket onto which a future ISS roll out solar array or iROSA will be mounted. So far, two of six iROSAs have been deployed on station, with the other four arrays to be delivered on future missions. The arrays will eventually help increase the station’s total available power from 160 kilowatts to up to 215 kilowatts.
Rollout of Our Artemis I Moon Rocket
On March 17, teams at our Kennedy Space Center began the rollout of the Space Launch System or SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft for our upcoming Artemis I Moon mission. After the 4-mile journey from Kennedy’s Vehicle Assembly Building to Launch Pad 39B, the integrated SLS rocket and Orion will eventually undergo a final prelaunch test known as the wet dress rehearsal. This involves loading the rocket’s fuel tanks with propellant and conducting a launch countdown. The primary goals for Artemis I are to demonstrate Orion’s systems in a spaceflight environment and ensure a safe re-entry, descent, splashdown, and recovery ahead of the first flight with astronauts on Artemis II.
Webb Space Telescope Reaches Alignment Milestone
Our James Webb Space Telescope team has reached another milestone in the critical process of aligning the telescope’s mirrors. After completing “fine phasing,” a key alignment stage in the commissioning of Webb’s Optical Telescope Element, they found that every optical parameter that has been checked and tested is performing at, or above, expectations. Although there are months to go before Webb ultimately delivers its new view of the cosmos, reaching this milestone means the team is confident that Webb’s first-of-its-kind optical system is working as well as possible. Learn more about the Webb mission at webb.nasa.gov.
NASA Extends Ingenuity Helicopter’s Mission
Flight operations for our Ingenuity Mars Helicopter have been extended through September. In the months ahead, Ingenuity, the first aircraft to operate from the surface of another world, will support our Perseverance rover’s exploration of Jezero Crater. Ingenuity’s mission extension comes on the heels of the technology demonstration’s 21st successful flight on the Red Planet, since April 2021. It was originally expected to attempt just up to 5 flights in 30 Martian days.
New Dish for Communications with Deep Space Missions
Deep Space Station 53, or DSS-53, is the newest member of our Deep Space Network. This family of giant antennas enables engineers and scientists on Earth to communicate with a growing number of spacecraft exploring our solar system. The 111-foot DSS-53 antenna is now operational at the network’s facility outside Madrid, Spain, one of three such ground stations around the globe. NASA officials and dignitaries from Spain and the U.S. attended an inauguration ceremony to mark the antenna’s debut.
That’s what’s up this week @NASA.