The 8th Day Radio Show Proudly Features America’s Space News
Launching Our First Planetary Defense Test Mission
NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test or (DART) mission, launched Nov. 24 EST on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from California’s Vandenberg Space Force Base. The mission will crash a spacecraft into an asteroid on purpose to see if this is a viable way to change the trajectory of an asteroid that might be on a collision course with Earth in the future. In fall 2022, the DART spacecraft will impact a small moonlet asteroid within the Didymos binary asteroid system. DART’s target asteroid is not a threat to Earth.
Demonstrating DART on the Space Station
In an online video they shot while onboard the International Space Station, NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough and European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet used what looks like a microgravity pillow fight to demonstrate the kinetic impactor technique the DART mission will use to deflect an asteroid.
“Shane’s going to be the asteroid, and I’m going to be the NASA DART mission. You ready? All right, here it comes ….”—Thomas Pesquet, European Space Agency Astronaut
You can check out the full video at go.nasa.gov/DARTonStation.
New Docking Module Launches to the Space Station
The five-ton Prichal docking module was launched to the space station from Kazakhstan on Nov. 24. It was delivered by a Progress spacecraft two days later. Prichal, the Russian word for “port” or “berth,” has five available docking ports to accommodate multiple Russian spacecraft.
Orion Heat Shield Skin Arrives for Treatment
On Nov. 9, our Super Guppy transport aircraft landed at Moffett Federal Airfield near our Ames Research Center in Northern California with the Orion spacecraft’s heat shield skin for our Artemis IV mission. The heat shield skin will undergo heat and pressure treatment in California to give it the mechanical strength properties needed for Orion’s thermal protection system. The heat shield will protect Orion and astronauts inside the spacecraft from the intense heat generated on the return trip through Earth’s atmosphere near the end of the mission.
Happy Thanksgiving from Expedition 66
In their Thanksgiving Day message, members of the International Space Station’s Expedition 66 crew talked about what the holiday means for them.
“For us, its, uh – the food is a big part of it. Most, being thankful for the fact that we have it, and we can enjoy it. But also, as a reason to come together with all of our family and friends.”—Tom Marshburn, NASA Astronaut
“Okay, and I guess you are interested (in) what we are going to eat during Thanksgiving?”—Matthias Maurer, European Space Agency Astronaut
“I’ve got some crab bisque here, so that’s looking pretty good.”—Kayla Barron, NASA Astronaut
“I’ve got the best case here – the best one everyone’s after – the roasted turkey.”—Raja Chari, NASA Astronaut
“I also have potatoes au gratin.”—Mark Vande Hei, NASA Astronaut
“Yeah, I found the dessert; cherry blueberry cobbler.”—Matthias Maurer, European Space Agency Astronaut
“Happy Thanksgiving!”—Matthias Maurer, European Space Agency Astronaut/All Astronauts
Spacewalk to Swap a Communications Antenna
On Dec. 2, NASA astronauts Tom Marshburn and Kayla Barron ventured outside the International Space Station for a spacewalk to replace a faulty antenna system. The antenna recently lost its ability to send signals to Earth via NASA’s Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System. Although the antenna’s condition has had limited impact on station operations, mission managers decided to swap it out with a new antenna to ensure communications redundancy.
VIPER Moon Rover Practices All-Wheel Drive
NASA’s Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover, or VIPER, went through a second round of egress testing at our Johnson Space Center. Similar to a car after a cross-country trip on an auto transport, VIPER’s egress is the process of the rover making its way out of the lunar lander and down onto the surface of the Moon – albeit after a much longer journey; from Earth to the Moon. VIPER is the agency’s first lunar mobile robot and is scheduled to be delivered to the Moon in late 2023 as part of our Commercial Lunar Payload Services initiative.
Dec. 1 National Space Council Meeting
On Dec. 1, the first National Space Council meeting under the Biden-Harris Administration was held at the U.S. Institute of Peace in Washington. In her remarks, Vice President and council chair, Kamala Harris touched on several topics, including the need for global cooperation to help make space exploration as safe as possible.
“As activity in space grows, we must reaffirm, yes, the rights of all nations and we must demand responsibility from all space-faring nations. We must establish and expand rules and norms on safety and security, on transparency and cooperation.”—Kamala Harris, Vice President of The United States
The event also featured NASA Administrator Bill Nelson who spoke about how NASA helps to inspire students to pursue educations and careers within a science, technology, engineering and mathematics or STEM-focused area.
NASA Leadership Visits Marshall
Administrator Nelson and Deputy Administrator Pam Melroy visited our Marshall Space Flight Center on Nov. 29 and 30 for a first-hand look at the center’s vital work to advance the deep space exploration endeavors of our Artemis program. Marshall manages the agency’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket, which will power the next generation of exploration under Artemis, including uncrewed and crewed flight tests around the Moon that will pave the way for more complex missions to send astronauts to the Moon, in preparation for eventual human missions to Mars.
Seeking New Flight Directors for Human Spaceflight Missions
NASA is accepting applications for new flight directors to lead highly trained teams during human spaceflight missions to the International Space Station and upcoming Artemis missions to the Moon, and eventually the first human missions to Mars. Qualified U.S. citizens can apply. For more details visit nasa.gov/careers.