Getting Back to Business on This Week @NASA – February 1, 2019

Getting back to the business of NASA … An update on our Commercial Crew Program … And, our mission to the Sun is in full swing
… a few of the stories to tell you about – This Week at NASA! Our administrator Jim Bridenstine held an
agency-wide town hall at our headquarters on Jan. 29 to welcome employees back to work
following the partial government shutdown and to say … “Thank you for your patience and for your
commitment to this agency and to the mission that we all believe in so dearly.” The administrator pointed to some significant
exploration milestones during the shutdown the NASA workforce helped make possible … like
the OSIRIS-REx sample return mission’s arrival at asteroid Bennu. “We’re now in orbit around the smallest
object in space that we’ve ever been able to orbit – and we’re getting new scientific
information that’s going to be transformative.” And the New Year’s Day flyby of Kuiper Belt
Object Ultima Thule by our New Horizons spacecraft. The encounter – some 4 billion miles from
our Sun – is the farthest exploration of a celestial object by any spacecraft in history. “Flying by Ultima Thule is not a once in
a lifetime opportunity, it’s a once in humanity opportunity.” The town hall wrapped up with a “video look-ahead”
to 2019 and the many missions and projects the agency is working on. You can check out that video for yourself,
by visiting SpaceX, who along with Boeing, is one of our
partner companies developing spacecraft to restore launches of American astronauts from
American soil – recently performed checkouts, including a static firing, with its Falcon
9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft at our Kennedy Space Center, in Florida. The checkouts are in preparation for Demo-1,
the inaugural, uncrewed flight of the Crew Dragon. Meanwhile, our Mike Fincke has been named
to replace Eric Boe on the crew of the Boeing CST-100 Starliner’s Crew Flight Test. Boe is unable to fly due to medical reasons. This flight test, targeted for launch later
this year, will be the first launch of the new spacecraft with humans on board. Fincke joins our Nicole Mann and Boeing’s
Chris Ferguson on the crew. Our Parker solar Probe spacecraft, which recently
completed its first orbit of the Sun, has now begun the second of 24 planned orbits,
on track for its second closest approach to our solar system’s star, on April 4. With all systems online and operating as designed,
the spacecraft has been delivering data to Earth via the Deep Space Network. Data from the mission will help answer questions
about the Sun’s fundamental physics — including how particles and solar material are accelerated
out into space at such high speeds and why the Sun’s atmosphere, or corona, is so much
hotter than the surface below. That’s what’s up this week @NASA … For more on these and other stories follow
us on the web at

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