In what came across as a combination pep rally and old-time revival, Vice President Mike Pence asked flight controllers, engineers and astronauts at the Johnson Space Center Thursday to “rededicate” themselves to carrying out the Trump administration’s drive to establish a permanent U.S. presence around the moon in the early 2020s before eventual voyages to Mars.
Flight controllers have not heard from NASA’s Opportunity Mars rover since June 10 when an increasingly severe global dust storm blocked out the sun, preventing its solar arrays from recharging the robot’s batteries. But the dust storm is finally abating and engineers are hopeful the long-lived rover will wake up and phone home in the next few weeks.
Two astronauts floated outside the International Space Station Thursday and installed two new cameras on the front of the lab complex that will provide views of commercial crew ships during final approach and docking. The spacewalkers also replaced a faulty high-definition camera and closed a door that was jammed open on an external instrument.
NASA’s Opportunity Mars rover, 14 years past its original 90-day design life, has dropped out of contact with Earth after powering down everything but its master clock in a bid to weather a huge dust storm that is blotting out the sun, preventing the solar-powered rover from recharging its batteries, mission managers said Wednesday.