Italy Takes First Steps Towards the Moon

Lunar multi-purpose module (Credit: Italian Space Agency)

The Italian Space Agency and Thales Alenia Space Italia are at work for the American lunar exploration program Artemis.

ROME (Italian Space Agency PR) — Italy is taking its first steps towards the Moon. The country system is preparing for the great leap on the surface of our natural satellite also thanks to the international relations between Italy and the United States and between the respective space agencies ASI and NASA, which have recently intensified on the basis of the mutual interest in collaborating on the program of Artemis exploration.

Within this strategic framework, a contract was born between the Italian Space Agency and Thales Alenia Space Italia, (JV between Thales 67% and Leonardo 33%) dedicated to the feasibility study and preliminary design (phases A / B) of a multi-purpose module linked to NASA’s Artemis mission which provides a human crew on the Moon.

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NASA’s $85 Billion Artemis Program

Credit: NASA OIG

The NASA Office of Inspector General released this snap shot of the space agency’s Artemis program to land astronauts on the moon. Total projected cost through fiscal year 2025: $85.7 billion. Only $35.2 billion has been obligated. An addition $50.5 billion has been requested.

Credit: NASA OIG

Ozmens’ SNC Delivers Prototype Lunar Crew Module to Dynetics

Prototype lunar module for Dynetics Human Landing System. (Credit: Sierra Nevada Corporation)

SPARKS, Nev., February 4, 2021 (SNC PR) – Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC), the global aerospace and national security company owned by Eren and Fatih Ozmen, delivered a prototype crew module for Dynetics’ Human Landing System (DHLS), to NASA’s Johnson Space Center (JSC). Dynetics is a wholly owned subsidiary of Leidos. SNC is responsible for providing key technologies and system integration of the crew module as part of the Dynetics-led HLS team.

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Thales Alenia Space to Provide Study for ESA’s Cis-lunar Transfer Vehicle

Artist’s conception of Cis-Lunar Transfer Vehicle. (Credit: Thales Alenia Space)

TURIN, Italy, January 25, 2021 (Thales Alenia Space PR) – Thales Alenia Space, joint venture between Thales (67%) and Leonardo (33%) has signed a contract with European Space Agency (ESA), worth €4.5 million [$5.45 million], for the study of Cis-Lunar Transfer Vehicle (CLTV), a transportation logistic space vehicle to be used for a variety of missions: from the logistic resupply of Lunar Gateway pressurized modules, to the transportation of space infrastructure in low Earth orbit, and the potential use in future missions in support of the European Large Logistic Lander (EL3).

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Dynetics Achieves Critical NASA Milestone, Delivers Key Data on Lunar Lander Program

Credit: Dynetics

The company and its subcontractors complete a major step in the Human Landing System (HLS) competition while continuing to perform significant hardware and software development activities

HUNTSVILLE, Ala., Jan. 6, 2021 – Dynetics, a wholly owned subsidiary of Leidos, has submitted its proposal for Option A of the Human Landing System (HLS) for NASA’s Artemis Program. The Dynetics team has also completed the HLS Continuation Review, a critical milestone during the 10-month base period, which NASA will use to assess progress on HLS hardware development and program plans.

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NASA Perseveres Through Pandemic to Complete Successful 2020

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — In 2020, NASA made significant progress on America’s Moon to Mars exploration strategy, met mission objectives for the Artemis program, achieved significant scientific advancements to benefit humanity, and returned human spaceflight capabilities to the United States, all while agency teams acted quickly to assist the national COVID-19 response.

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Artemis Update From the Department of Well Duh

An astronaut descends the ladder to explore the lunar surface. (Credit: NASA)

NASA’s Office of Inspector General terminates audit of Artemis program with words of obviousness

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

NASA’s Office of Inspector General (IG) has determined that the biggest problem the space agency faces in its Artemis lunar program is….wait for it….money.

“Based upon our audit work completed to date, we found that the most significant challenge NASA currently faces in returning humans to the Moon by 2024 is budget uncertainty, a challenge that could ultimately affect the Agency’s ability to safely accomplish the mission,” the IG said in a memorandum published on its website.

Well, yeah….

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National Team Submits Artemis Human Lander Proposal to NASA

Kent, Wash. (Blue Origin PR) — The National Team submitted its Option A proposal this week to land the first woman and next man on the Moon in partnership with NASA. Blue Origin leads the Human Landing System (HLS) National Team, which includes Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and Draper.

Together, these partners guided Apollo, established routine orbit cargo transfer, developed today’s only crewed lunar spaceship, and pioneered planetary precision landing with liquid hydrogen/liquid oxygen vehicles. The proposed solution uses flight heritage and modularity to manage risk, move fast, and attain sustainable operations on the Moon.   

During the base period alone, the National Team is completing 25 technical demonstrations, making key progress toward NASA’s mission. Watch this video to learn more about the technical demonstrations and the approach to get America back to the Moon to stay.   

Blue Origin’s BE-7 Engine Testing Continues in Alabama

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (Blue Origin PR) — Blue Origin’s BE-7 engine program continues its testing at NASA Marshall Space Flight Center. This week, the program accomplished the fourth thrust chamber test of its high-efficiency engine. The hotfire testing further validates the engine that will power Blue Origin’s  National Team Human Landing System (HLS) in support of NASA’s Artemis program. 

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Northrop Grumman Completes Preliminary Design Review for NASA’s Gateway Crew Module

Artist illustration of Northrop Grumman’s HALO module and the Power Propulsion Element which form the first critical component of NASA’s Gateway. (Credit: Northrop Grumman)

Company based the design for HALO on its flight-proven Cygnus spacecraft

DULLES, Va., Nov. 18, 2020 (Northrop Grumman PR) – Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) has successfully completed its initial preliminary design review (PDR) event for the Habitation and Logistics Outpost (HALO). The module will serve as living quarters for astronauts at the Gateway during lunar exploration missions.

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Report: Loverro Feared 2024 Moon Landing Would be Imperiled by Boeing Contract Protest

Douglas Loverro (Credit: NASA)

A former senior NASA official violated procurement regulations in his dealings with Boeing out of fear the company could delay the Trump Administration’s plan to land astronauts on the moon in 2024, The Washington Post reports.

The Post reports that NASA Associate Administrator for Human Exploration Doug Loverro reached out to Boeing Senior Vice President Jim Chilton in February to tell the company it would not win a study contract for the Human Landing System, a vehicle that will take astronauts to and from the lunar surface. The call came at a time when NASA was not to contact any of the bidders.

Loverro, who abruptly resigned in May, wanted to find out if Boeing planned to protest its loss. If so, NASA would need to issue stop work orders to the winning bidders until the Government Accountability Office (GAO) ruled on the protest. GAO reviews usually take months.

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OIG Audit: NASA Gateway Elements Behind Schedule, Over Budget

Artemis Gateway (Credit: Thales Alenia Space/Briot)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

NASA’s attempt to use innovative acquisition practices to speed up development of the lunar Gateway has left the first two elements of the station over budget and behind schedule, according to a new audit from the space agency’s Office of Inspector General.

It is also unlikely the human-tended Gateway will be capable of supporting the planned 2024 mission to land American astronauts at the south pole of the moon, the audit concluded.

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Senate Appropriations Committee Sticks a Fork in NASA’s 2024 Moon Landing Plan

Artemis Gateway (Credit: Thales Alenia Space/Briot)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

It looks as if the Trump Administration’s goal of landing astronauts on the moon in 2024 is expiring at about the same time as the administration itself. The fatal blow is being struck by Congress, not the incoming administration of President-elect Joe Biden.

The Senate Appropriations Committee has released a fiscal year 2021 funding bill that includes $1 billion for NASA to Human Landing System (HLS) that will take astronauts to and from the lunar surface as part of the Artemis program. The amount is far short of the $3.2 billion that NASA has said is needed for HLS to keep the 2024 landing on schedule.

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Bridenstine to Leave NASA Administrator Post

Jim Bridenstine (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

In a decision that has disappointed his supporters, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine plans to leave his position even if president-elect Joe Biden asked him to stay.

Irene Klotz broke the news in Aviation Week. The story is behind a paywall, but Klotz did tweet:

“You need somebody who has a close relationship with the president of the U.S. … somebody trusted by the administration…. including OMB, National Space Council, National Security Council. I think I would not be the right person for that in a new administration –Bridenstine

Agency administrators usually change when a new president comes in, particularly if he is from a different party. Bridenstine is a former Republican Congressman from Oklahoma appointed by President Donald Trump, who was defeated by his Democratic opponent Biden last week.

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NASA, Human Lunar Lander Companies Complete Key Artemis Milestone

An astronaut descends the ladder to explore the lunar surface. (Credit: NASA)

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (NASA PR) — NASA’s Human Landing System (HLS) Program recently checked off a key milestone in its progress toward landing the first woman and the next man on the Moon by 2024. The HLS Program conducted Certification Baseline Reviews (CBR) with the three U.S. companies  competing to provide landers that will deliver Artemis astronauts to the Moon. These virtual meetings were the culmination of critical work by NASA and the companies since NASA announced the base period selections in April.

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