In a brief White House ceremony Monday, President Trump formally directed NASA to set its sights on sending astronauts back to the moon followed by eventual flights to Mars as part of a new national space policy intended to make sure America “once again leads and inspires all of humanity” on the high frontier.
Staging NASA’s third spacewalk in 15 days, two astronauts floated outside the International Space Station Friday and installed a new high definition camera, replaced a degraded camera on a recently attached robot arm grapple fixture, finished lubricating the mechanism and carried out a variety of other “get-ahead” tasks.
On Aug. 17, gravity waves rippled through the solar system, slightly squeezing and stretching the space Earth occupies, the result of a catastrophic collision of two compact-but-massive neutron stars, producing a so-called “kilonova” explosion that seeded the local environment with a flood of heavy elements ranging from gold and platinum to uranium and beyond, scientists said Monday.
Five days after work to replace the grapple fitting on one end of the space station’s robot arm, commander Randy Bresnik and flight engineer Mark Vande Hei ventured back outside the lab complex Tuesday to lubricate the new arm mechanism, to replace a degraded camera and to carry out a variety of lower-priority chores.
Vice President Mike Pence, chairing a revived National Space Council, said Thursday the United States will once again send astronauts to the moon, using Earth’s satellite as a critical stepping stone for eventual flights to Mars, and vowing to beef up national security space assets to counter rapidly escalating threats from adversaries.
SpaceX plans to begin construction of a new rocket and spacecraft next year that could lead to human landings on Mars as early as 2024, scaling up technologies currently being perfected with the company’s Falcon 9 family of boosters to ensure reliability, reusability and, as a result, realistically low costs, founder Elon Musk said Friday.
Thirteen years after reaching Saturn, NASA’s nuclear-powered Cassini spacecraft raced through its 294th and final orbit Thursday, collecting priceless data while hurtling toward a kamikaze-like plunge into the ringed planet’s atmosphere Friday, going out in a blaze of glory to wrap up an “insanely” successful mission.