Some thrills are coming to a TV set (or much-loved device) near you: a spacewalk on July 21 and the launch of the Perseverance rover for Mars on July 30.
First up, NASA
Behnken and Chris
Cassidy and are scheduled to depart the International Space Station’s
Quest airlock Tuesday, July 21, for a spacewalk to conduct a series of tasks in
preparation for future upgrades to the station.
Astronauts (from left) Chris Cassidy and Bob
Behnken are pictured during previous spacewalks on earlier missions at the
space station. Credits: NASA
The duo will
set their spacesuits to battery power about 6:35 a.m. CDT July 21, signifying
the start of their spacewalk. NASA will begin its live coverage on NASA
Television and the agency’s website at 5 a.m.
spacewalk, the two astronauts will remove handling aids from two locations at
the base of station solar arrays, run cables, remove a lens filter cover from
an external camera, and prepare the outside of the Tranquility module for the
arrival later this year of the Nanoracks commercial airlock on a SpaceX cargo
This will be
the 231st spacewalk in
support of space station assembly and maintenance and the ninth for each of the
spacewalkers. Behnken will be designated extravehicular crew member 1 and wear
a spacesuit bearing red stripes. Cassidy will be extravehicular crew member 2,
wearing a suit with no stripes.
Thursday, July 20, NASA is targeting 6:50 a.m. CDT for the launch of its Mars
2020 Perseverance rover on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Space
Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The launch
window is approximately two hours, with a launch opportunity every five
coverage will begin at 6 a.m. on NASA Television and the agency’s website.
Engineers observe the first driving test for
NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover in a clean room at NASA’s Jet Propulsion
Laboratory in Pasadena, California, on Dec. 17, 2019. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech
The mission — designed
to better understand the geology and climate of Mars and seek signs of ancient
life on the Red Planet — will use the robotic scientist, which weighs just
under 2,300 pounds and is the size of a small car, to collect and store a set
of rock and soil samples that could be returned to Earth by future Mars sample
return missions. It also will test new technologies to benefit future robotic
and human exploration of Mars.
Perseverance is part of America’s larger Moon to Mars exploration approach that
includes missions to the Moon as a way to prepare for human exploration of the
Red Planet. Charged with sending the first woman and next man to the Moon by
2024, NASA will establish a sustained human presence on and around the Moon by
2028 through NASA's Artemis program.