NASA releases another update on how the week ended and it's looking good for everyone! After the recent success of Elon Musk's SpaceX is able to send astronauts to the ISS, you would think NASA would be contented but no, everything is moving forward as usual.
On the 1st of July, both Chris Cassidy along with Bob Behnken was outside of the International Space Station to do their second spacewalk in only less than a week. The pair then continues to upgrade the power systems on the station by replacing the previous aging nickel-hydrogen or NiH2 batteries with the newer lithium-ion or Li-Ion batteries.
These battery upgrades are also expected to continue towards future spacewalks, with certain target dates and times yet to be announced once mission planners finally assess the scope of the existing remaining work to be done.
They also noted that the real feeling came when they finally arrived at the international space station and personally see the hardware and the modules that were put together and flying in space. It was also noted that it was truly one of the most incredible engineering achievements thinking of what humanity has been able to achieve.
NASA's very own astronaut Kate Rubins also discussed her upcoming second mission towards the space station, during a long July 1 press conference at the Johnson Space Center located in Houston. She was also joined by Sergey Ryzhikov and also Sergey Kud-Sverchkov from the Russian space agency known as Roscosmos. All three of them are targeting to launch to the station by October 14 from the Kazakhstan Baikonur Cosmodrome.
NASA has also been working with the contractor Northrop Gruman to finally build the Space Launch System otherwise known as SLS rock-solid rocket boosters in order to support as many as 6 more additional flights, reaching a total of up to 9 flights. Northrop Grumman is also the current lead contractor for these boosters that will finally launch the first three Artemis missions, this includes the one that will also land the very first woman and next man on the moon scheduled in 2024.
Closer to the moon
Progress has also been made with the Orion Structural Test Article which is a twin copy of the very own spacecraft that is needed to verify if Orion is actually ready for Artemis I. The testing previously began in the early 2017 and was designed to thoroughly and keenly evaluate Orion's own ability to withstand the extreme stress of launch, climb towards the orbit, harsh conditions of the deep space transit, and finally return to Earth.
Engineers also completed the Space Launch System or SLS rocket's own structural testing campaign for the Artemis mission which should be applying millions of pounds of force towards the rocket's own liquid oxygen structural test tank. The tank previously failed with the parameters expected but in turn, provided critical data for progress.