NASA, FAA Partnership Bolsters American Commercial Space Activities

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) signed a new memorandum of understanding (MOU) reaffirming the agencies’ longstanding relationship to foster robust American commercial space transportation capabilities, including commercial crew and cargo activities.

The NASA-FAA MOU follows the success of NASA’s SpaceX Crew-1 launch – the first crewed mission from American soil to be licensed by the FAA.

The new agreement will support the transportation of government and non-government passengers, cargo, and other payloads for orbital and suborbital space missions in a safe and cost-effective manner, as well as streamline spaceflight standards and requirements.

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NASA, NSF Sign Agreement to Advance Space, Earth, Biological, Physical Sciences

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA and the U.S. National Science Foundation  (NSF) have signed a  memorandum of understanding affirming the agencies’ intent to continue their longstanding partnership in mutually beneficial research activities advancing space, Earth, biological, and physical sciences to further U.S. national space policy and promote the progress of science.

The agreement addresses a broad range of research and activities in many areas of science, engineering, and education central to the missions of both agencies.

“When you look at the vast array of disciplines that make up NASA’s mission, there isn’t a single one that isn’t somehow informed by our partnership with NSF,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. “We look forward to continued collaboration on areas of research here on Earth and in space – including aboard the International Space Station – as well as inspiring the next generation of STEM professionals.”

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University Students to Present Ideas to Shed Light on Unexplored Areas of the Moon

WASHINGTON, DC (NASA PR) — University students from across the United States will present their innovative concepts for lunar payloads that could be used to help NASA explore previously uncharted areas on the Moon.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine will kick off the Breakthrough, Innovative and Game-changing (BIG) Idea Challenge virtual forum Jan. 6 at 10:30 a.m. EST. NASA will announce the team awards Jan. 11.

Presentations by the finalist teams will be livestreamed Jan. 6-7 and available to view after the event.

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Bill to Protect Lunar Artifacts Signed into Law

A close-up view, taken on Feb. 5, 1971, of the Laser Ranging Retro-Reflector (LR3), which the Apollo 14 astronauts deployed on the Moon during their lunar surface extravehicular activity. (Credits: NASA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

A bill designed to protect artifacts where Apollo astronauts and spacecraft explored the surface of the moon has been signed into law by President Donald Trump.

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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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NASA and DLR Strength­en Co­op­er­a­tion

COLOGNE, Germany (DLR PR) — On 17 December 2020, the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) extended their framework agreement on bilateral cooperation for a further ten years.

The agreement was signed by NASA Administrator, Jim Bridenstine, Chair of the DLR Executive Board, Professor Anke Kaysser-Pyzalla, and Member of the DLR Executive Board and Head of the DLR Space Administration, Walther Pelzer, who met via video conference to mark the occasion.

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NASA, UN Sign Memorandum of Understanding on Peaceful Uses of Space

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA and the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) pledging cooperation in areas of science and technology to support the peaceful use of outer space.

The MOU, signed Thursday, Dec. 17, brings together NASA’s wealth of publicly available Earth observation data and dynamic exploration opportunities with UNOOSA’s unique position as the only U.N. entity dedicated to outer space affairs.

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Gateway MoU and Artemis Accords – FAQs

Lunar Gateway (Credit: Thales Alenia Space/Briot)

PARIS (ESA PR) — ESA Director General Jan Wörner and NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to take Europe to the Moon.

The historic agreement will see ESA Member States contribute a number of essential elements to the first human outpost in lunar orbit, known as the Gateway.

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NASA Supports America’s National Strategy for Space Nuclear Power and Propulsion

Illustration of a Mars transit habitat and nuclear propulsion system that could one day take astronauts to Mars. (Credits: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — President Donald Trump has issued a new Space Policy Directive that will help propel NASA and humanity’s next giant leap – creating a sustainable presence on the Moon and sending astronauts to Mars.

The president issued Space Policy Directive-6 (SPD-6), the Nation’s Strategy for Space Nuclear Power and Propulsion (SNPP), Wednesday, Dec. 16. Space nuclear systems power spacecraft for missions where alternative power sources are inadequate, such as environments that are too dark for solar power or too far away to carry sufficient quantities of chemical fuels.

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NASA Administrator Signs Statement of Intent with Brazil on Artemis Cooperation

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine and the Government of Brazil Minister of Science, Technology, and Innovation (MCTI) Marcos Pontes signed a joint statement of intent during a virtual meeting on Dec. 14, 2020. The statement describes Brazil’s intention to be the first country in South America to sign the Artemis Accords. Brazil has expressed interest in potentially contributing a robotic lunar rover – in addition to conducting lunar science experiments and other investigations – as part of NASA’s Artemis program.

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ESA Welcomes Announcement of Next Astronauts to the Moon

Artemis Gateway orbiting the moon. (Credit: NASA)

PARIS (ESA PR) — Yesterday NASA announced the names of the 18 astronauts that will support the Artemis Programme and may be assigned to lunar missions. 

The Artemis team is a group of astronauts that will help pave the way for the next lunar missions including sending the first woman and next man to walk on the Moon in 2024.

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NASA Exploration Mission Integral to 2020 National Space Policy

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

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — President Donald J. Trump issued the National Space Policy Wednesday. Through this policy, the president reaffirms his commitment to move space exploration goals beyond low-Earth orbit and return humans to the Moon for long-term exploration and utilization, followed by human missions to Mars and other destinations. 

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NASA Names Artemis Team of Astronauts Eligible for Early Moon Missions

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — NASA has selected 18 astronauts from its corps to form the Artemis Team and help pave the way for the next astronaut missions on and around the Moon as part of the Artemis program.

Vice President Mike Pence introduced the members of the Artemis Team Wednesday during the eighth National Space Council meeting at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

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Chuck Yeager, Famed for Breaking the Sound Barrier, Dies at 97

U.S. Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett tweeted:

Brig Gen (ret) Chuck Yeager (@GenChuckYeager) was a barrier-breaking aviation legend who left an outsized impact on the @USAirForce & @SpaceForceDoD. My heartfelt condolences to his loved ones and those he inspired.

The following is a statement from NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine on the passing of Gen. Chuck Yeager:

“Today’s passing of Gen. Chuck Yeager is a tremendous loss to our nation. Gen. Yeager’s pioneering and innovative spirit advanced America’s abilities in the sky and set our nation’s dreams soaring into the jet age and the space age. He said, ‘You don’t concentrate on risks. You concentrate on results. No risk is too great to prevent the necessary job from getting done.’

“Among many firsts in more than 60 years in aviation, Chuck was the first man to fly at the speed of sound, and his achievements rival any of our greatest firsts in space. Not content to rest on his laurels, he went on to break his own record and travel at Mach 2.44. But even before that he was serving his country heroically in World War II. Long after he became a legend in his own time, he continued to serve his country through the military and later in his ongoing work to test new aircraft.

“Chuck’s bravery and accomplishments are a testament to the enduring strength that made him a true American original, and NASA’s Aeronautics work owes much to his brilliant contributions to aerospace science. As a young naval aviator, I was one of many around the world who looked up to Chuck Yeager and his amazing feats as a test pilot. His path blazed a trail for anyone who wanted to push the limits of human potential, and his achievements will guide us for generations to come.”

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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