Last year was a busy one for suborbital flights as Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin and Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic conducted a combined four flights of their crewed suborbital vehicles. Despite hopes to the contrary, neither company flew paying tourists on their spaceships.
There were also 26 sounding rocket launches that carried scientific experiments and technology payloads above the atmosphere. The year saw:
Japanese startup Interstellar Technologies conduct a successful launch of its Momo commercial sounding rocket;
Texas-based Exos Aerospace continue to struggle with its reusable SARGE booster; and,
the first suborbital launch ever achieved by college students.
WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — When NASA sends the first woman and next man to the surface of the Moon by 2024 as part of its Artemis program, it won’t be going alone. The agency will be leveraging support from commercial partners and the international community as it establishes a sustainable presence on the lunar surface by 2028, paving the way for human missions to Mars.
Speaking at the International Astronautical Congress (IAC), held in Washington Oct. 21-25, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine reaffirmed America’s commitment to working with international partners on NASA’s Moon to Mars exploration approach.
The White House wants Congress to provide more money for the Artemis moon landing program, and to save about $1.5 billion by dropping the requirement that NASA launch the Europa Clipper mission to Jupiter’s icy moon on the Space Launch System (SLS).
GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — An advanced coating now being tested aboard the International Space Station for use on satellite components could also help NASA solve one of its thorniest challenges: how to keep the Moon’s irregularly shaped, razor-sharp dust grains from adhering to virtually everything they touch, including astronauts’ spacesuits.
HOUSTON, Nov. 5, 2019 (Boeing PR) — Boeing [NYSE: BA] today submitted a proposal to NASA for an integrated Human Lander System (HLS) designed to safely take astronauts to the surface of the moon and return them to lunar orbit as part of the Artemis space exploration program.
On March 26, Vice President Mike Pence went to Huntsville, Ala., to declare that the Trump Administration would use “any means necessary” to accelerate the return of American astronauts to the surface of the moon by 2024 — four years earlier than planned.
Pence was putting Huntsville-based Marshall Space Flight Center and prime contractor Boeing on notice to get the delayed, over budget Space Launch System (SLS) being built to accomplish that goal back on track. If they didn’t, the administration would find other rockets to do the job.
In his effort to accelerate the Artemis lunar program, however, Pence unintentionally contributed to delays in NASA’s behind schedule effort to launch astronauts to a much closer location: low Earth orbit.
WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — When the first woman and next man step foot on the Moon in 2024, they will be wearing the next generation of spacesuits designed to give astronauts enhanced mobility to accomplish their exploration tasks on the lunar surface. NASA is currently designing and developing a new spacesuit system, called the Exploration Extravehicular Mobility Unit or xEMU, for use during Artemis missions at the Moon and adaptable for other destinations near and far.
Astrobotic, Blue Origin, ExoTerra, Paragon and SpaceX among contract awardees for advanced technologies
WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA has selected 14 American companies as partners whose technologies will help enable the agency’s Moon to Mars exploration approach.
The selections are based on NASA’s fourth competitive Tipping Point solicitation and have a combined total award value of about $43.2 million. This investment in the U.S. space industry, including small businesses across the country, will help bring the technologies to market and ready them for use by NASA.
Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
Joint Statement on Cooperation in Lunar Exploration
During their September 24, 2019, meeting at JAXA Headquarters in Tokyo, NASA Administrator James Bridenstine and JAXA President Hiroshi Yamakawa welcomed the ongoing engagement between their agencies to realize JAXA’s participation in NASA’s Artemis program and vision for the participation of Japanese astronauts in lunar exploration.
WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA has led the charge in space exploration for 60 years, and as we mark the 50th anniversary of the first Moon landing, the agency is preparing for its next giant leap with the Artemis program.
Artemis, named after the twin sister of Apollo who is also the
Goddess of the Moon and the hunt, encompasses all of our efforts to
return humans to the Moon – which will prepare us and propel us on to
Mars. Through the Artemis program, we will see the first woman and the
next man walk on the surface of the Moon. As the “torch bringer,”
literally and figuratively, Artemis will light our way to Mars.
With this in mind, NASA is unveiling the new Artemis program
identity, a bold look that embodies the determination of the men and
women who will carry our missions forward. They will explore regions of
the Moon never visited before, unlock mysteries of the Universe and test
the technology that will extend the bounds of humanity farther into the
This new identity draws inspiration from the Apollo program logo and
mission patch. Using an “A” as the primary visual and a trajectory from
Earth to the Moon, we honor all that the Apollo program achieved.
However, through Artemis we will forge our own path, pursue lunar
exploration like never before, and pave the way to Mars.
With Earth Blue, Rocket Red and Lunar Silver for colors, every part of the identity has meaning:
THE A: The A symbolizes an arrowhead from Artemis’ quiver and represents launch.
TIP OF THE A: The tip of the A of Artemis points beyond the Moon
and signifies that our efforts at the Moon are not the conclusion, but
rather the preparation for all that lies beyond.
EARTH CRESCENT: The crescent of the Earth at the bottom shows
missions from humanity’s perspective. From Earth we go. Back to Earth
all that we learn and develop will return. This crescent also visualizes
Artemis’ bow as the source from which all energy and effort is sent.
TRAJECTORY: The trajectory moves from left to right through the
crossbar of the “A” opposite that of Apollo. Thus highlighting the
distinct differences in our return to the Moon. The trajectory is red to
symbolize our path to Mars.
MOON: The Moon is our next destination and a stepping stone for Mars. It is the focus of all Artemis efforts.
We go now to the Moon, not as a destination, but as a proving ground
for all the technology, science, and human exploration efforts that will
be critical for missions to Mars. On the lunar surface we will
pursue water ice and other natural resources that will further enable
deep space travel. From the Moon, humanity will take the next giant leap
HOUSTON (NASA PR) — Individual images taken by the Apollo astronauts were pulled together by NASA imagery specialist Warren Harold at Johnson, and the accuracy of the unique perspective they represent was verified by Apollo 17 astronaut Harrison “Jack” Schmitt, the only geologist to walk on the Moon.
“The Valley of Taurus-Littrow on the Moon presents a view that is
one of the more spectacular natural scenes in the Solar System,” Schmitt
said about the images stitched together from his Moon base Station 5 at
the Taurus-Littrow landing site.
“The massif walls of the valley are brilliantly illuminated by the
Sun, rise higher than those of the Grand Canyon, and soar to heights
over 4,800 feet on the north and 7,000 feet on the south,” Schmitt
added. “At the same time, the summits are set against a blacker than
black sky — a contrast beyond the experience of visitors from Earth.
And, over the South Massif wall of the valley, one can always see home,
the cloud-swirled blue Earth, only 250,000 miles away.”
The Apollo 17 panorama also has been converted into an immersive panorama viewable on the NASA Johnson account on Facebook.
Inspect these images and learn more about the sites they depict at:
Swedish camera manufacturer Hasselblad is celebrating the 40th anniversary of the first man – and first Hasselblad – on the moon by inviting a limited number of H3DII photographers to join astronaut Buzz Aldrin and the Hasselblad design team at the Kennedy Space Center for a weekend of seminars, professional photography training, and photography. Aldrin, who shot with a Hasselblad while on the moon, will present a selection of his favorite lunar photography, while the Hasselblad design team will provide photographers with “behind the scenes” info on Hasselblad design, past, present, and future. A special Space Center Photo contest, featuring valuable Hasselblad gear as prizes, will round off the event.