Moon, Mars and a Meteor Shower
Ingenuity continues to soar above and beyond all expectations. On its third successful flight, NASA’s tiny Mars ‘copter flew farther and faster than it ever had on Earth or Mars. It flew 50 meters (164 feet) north and reached a top speed of 2 meters per second (6.6 feet per second). Pictured: Ingenuity snapped this photo of the Perseverance rover from the air during its third flight. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech.
Also on Mars: Perseverance converted carbon dioxide from the atmosphere into oxygen. In its first run, the Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment (MOXIE) instrument on Perseverance created about five grams of breathable oxygen, which would hypothetically allow an astronaut to breathe for about 10 minutes. It’s a small—but significant—step for future human explorers on the Red Planet.
Blue Origin has filed a 175-page protest with the Government Accountability Office (GAO), accusing NASA of unfair treatment after the agency selected SpaceX for its multi-billion-dollar lunar contract. Blue Origin, which was previously in the running to develop a spacecraft for the Artemis program, said NASA’s decision “endangers America’s return to the moon.” Dynetics, the third main bidder for the contract, recently announced it also submitted a protest with the GAO over similar concerns.
After traveling about 1500 kilometers (900 miles), the Space Launch System (SLS) core stage has made it to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. At roughly 65 meters (212 feet), it’s the largest rocket stage ever built by NASA. All main elements of the SLS rocket that will carry out the Artemis I mission are now on site at the Kennedy Space Center.
China launched the first piece of its new space station into Earth orbit. Tianhe, which means “harmony of the heavens,” is the first of three modules that will connect to form a space station set for completion next year. A crew of Chinese astronauts is expected to visit Tianhe in June.