Press Release

NASA Invites Media to Interview Ames Experts About Mars Rover, Crew Dragon Return

By SpaceRef Editor
July 29, 2020
Filed under ,

NASA’s Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley invites members of the news media to interview experts related to two upcoming NASA milestones:

·       the launch of the Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover to Mars, and

·       the return of the agency’s SpaceX Demo-2 test flight with astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley from the International Space Station.


The launch of the Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover is scheduled for 4:50 a.m. PDT Thursday, July 30, on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.


David Des Marais, an astrobiologist at Ames who served on the Mars 2020 Science Definition Team, will be available for video or phone interviews between 8 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. on Thursday, July 30. Des Marais will discuss the exciting science that will be conducted and how this mission advances NASA’s high-priority exploration goals for Mars.


Media who are interested in interviews with Des Marais should RSVP by 5 p.m. on Wednesday, July 29 by contacting the Ames newsroom at 650-604-4789 or by email at


NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 crewed test flight to the International Space Station launched May 30 from the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida and docked to the space station May 31. NASA and SpaceX are targeting 2:42 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 2, for splashdown. This will be the first return of a commercially built and operated American spacecraft carrying astronauts from the space station. These activities are a part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, which is working with the U.S. aerospace industry to launch astronauts on American rockets and spacecraft from American soil.


Huy Tran, director of aeronautics at Ames, will be available for video and phone interviews from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Friday, July 31. She will discuss this new era in human spaceflight and Ames’ contributions to getting humans home again safely.


Tran is the lead inventor of Phenolic-Impregnated Carbon Ablator heat shield material, also known as PICA, a lightweight material designed to withstand the high temperatures of reentry into Earth’s atmosphere. Tran and her team helped verify the heat shield design for the Dragon capsule and transferred the PICA technology to SpaceX to help them scale up production of their PIXA-X version. 


For interviews with Tran, please RSVP by 5 p.m. on Thursday, July 30, by contacting the Ames newsroom at 650-604-4789 or by email at



For more information about Ames’ contributions to the Mars 2020 mission, visit:



For NASA’s Mars 2020 press kit, visit:



For more information about Ames’ contributions to SpaceX commercial crew missions, visit:



A media resource reel will be made available upon request.




Darryl Waller

Ames Research Center, Silicon Valley



SpaceRef staff editor.