Astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir, soaring 260 miles above a wave of public interest, suited up for history’s first all-female spacewalk Friday, the first two-woman “EVA” in the 54 years since a Russian cosmonaut carried out the first stroll in space just to prove it could be done — and to beat NASA to the punch.
Douglas Loverro, a veteran manager with broad experience in national security space operations, has been selected by NASA to lead the agency’s human space flight programs. He takes over at a critical moment as the agency assesses the readiness of new commercial crew ships amid a full-court press to land astronauts on the moon in 2024.
Boeing officials said Wednesday that the company is targeting Dec. 17 for the launch of the first unpiloted orbital test flight of the new Starliner crew capsule from Cape Canaveral on a week-long demonstration mission to the International Space Station, a precursor to a mission with astronauts next year.
After a 24-hour delay due to poor weather, an air-launched Northrop Grumman Pegasus XL rocket fired into orbit at 9:59 p.m. EDT Thursday (0159 GMT Friday) after release from a carrier jet at an altitude of 39,000 feet over the Atlantic Ocean northeast of Cape Canaveral. The Pegasus rocket carried NASA’s ICON satellite into orbit to collect measurements of the ionosphere.
After a year-long delay to troubleshoot recurring erroneous data signatures from the rudder of Northrop Grumman’s air-launched Pegasus XL rocket, NASA is eager to send a $252 million research satellite into orbit as soon as Thursday night off Florida’s east coast on a mission to probe the ionosphere, a region near the boundary between Earth’s atmosphere and space.
Companies have until Nov. 1 to submit proposals to NASA for a human-rated lander that could be ready in time to carry astronauts to the moon’s surface by the end of 2024, and the agency is leaving open the option for contractors to develop a descent craft that would bypass the planned Gateway mini-space station in lunar orbit, at least for the first landing attempt.