“Houston, Tranquility Base here – the Eagle has landed.”
NASA is celebrating the 45th anniversary of the historic Apollo 11 mission to the moon. On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, with crewmate Michael Collins manning the command service module from lunar orbit, became the first humans on the moon – with Armstrong’s historic first step onto the lunar surface becoming a symbolic giant leap for humanity. Today, with Apollo 11 as inspiration, NASA is taking the steps needed for America's next giant leap, to send astronauts to Mars. The path to Mars will use a stepping stone approach consisting of key elements, including human health and technology research aboard the International Space Station; development and evolution of NASA's Space Launch System rocket and Orion deep space capsule and development of other game-changing technologies to enable tomorrow’s missions.
An Announcement of Opportunity issued July 15 by NASA could lead to proposals by the research community for potential science instruments to fly on a future mission to Jupiter’s moon Europa. A Europa mission is a high priority for the scientific community – to improve our understanding of the potentially habitable moon, which is believed to have a liquid water ocean under its icy crust.
Orbital Sciences Corporation’s Cygnus Cargo craft arrived at The International Space Station July 16 with more than 3,000 pounds of food, supplies, spare parts and experiments for the crew onboard ISS. Cygnus will remain attached to the station’s Harmony module for about a month while the crew transfers cargo. Cygnus was launched July 13 on Orbital’s Antares rocket from Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.
About 8 hours after Cygnus arrived at the space station, the Expedition 41/42 crew, including NASA’s Barry “Butch” Wilmore, participated in a NASA Television news conference at Johnson Space Center. Wilmore and cosmonauts Elena Serova and Alexander Samokutyaev of the Russian Federal Space Agency are the next crew members set to launch to the International Space Station in September. The trio is scheduled to return to Earth in March 2015.
5th Anniversary of Bolden’s Confirmation
July 17 marked the fifth anniversary of Marine Corps Major General Charles F. Bolden Junior’s confirmation by the U.S. Senate as NASA’s 12th Administrator. As Administrator, he leads the NASA team and manages its resources to advance the agency's missions and goals. Of his thirty-four years in the Marines, Bolden spent fourteen in the NASA Astronaut office – traveling to space four times aboard the space shuttle between 1986 and 1994, including twice as mission Commander.
Administrator Bolden provided opening comments for an event at NASA headquarters July 14 about the unprecedented discoveries NASA space and ground observatories are making to facilitate our search for life in the universe. The program was moderated by Chief Scientist Ellen Stofan and featured NASA astronaut, and Associate Administrator for Science John Grunsfeld; Nobel Laureate John Mather of the Goddard Space Flight Center and other leading scientists and engineers. Also discussed was the James Webb Space Telescope – and how it will help rewrite scientific textbooks after its scheduled launch in 2018.