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Must-See NASA TV

July 19, 2020

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 astronauts Robert 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.

During their 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 delivery mission.

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.

Then, on 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 minutes.

Live launch 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.

Mars 2020 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.